Call me crazy, but I actually feel pretty good about this game. It snapped a 5-game win streak, but it felt like the first time in a while that we got a solid 48-minute effort from the Jazz. To boot, it came in a road contest at the end of a 3-game trip against one of the East’s elite squads through the season’s first 30 games. A few of the last wins against mediocre talent have felt like losses to me; this loss felt like a win.
Rational reaction #1: The Jazz lost this game in the fourth quarter
For once, it was the Utah starters that let down the team. With eight minutes left in the fourth quarter, the game was tied at 85. The Heat scored the next 10 points and won the first seven of those final eight minutes 18-10 before a frantic scramble in the final 30 seconds took us to a final deficit of 3. Stepping up big time for the Heat in those moments was rookie Tyler Herro, who scored 9 of Miami’s 18 points. The Jazz, meanwhile, shot 4-of-10 with 3 turnovers in those minutes, and the attempted Miami Miracle repeat at the end came up just short.
Rational reaction #2: Insertion into starting lineup continues to reinvigorate Joe Ingles
The Joe Ingles renaissance continued tonight as Ingles put up 27 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal and shot 7-of-12 from 3. Since being reinserted into the starting lineup, Ingles’ averages are up to 13.1 points, 6.3 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 1.4 steals and is shooting 50% from 3.
Ingles made plays on the pick-and-roll with Rudy Gobert all night, which has been a key to Joe’s starting lineup turnaround. His game is opened up to a completely different level when he shares the floor with an elite roll big.
Overreaction #1: Derrick Jones Jr. had the dunk of the year on Rudy Gobert
Let’s be clear, here. Rudy Gobert played like peak Stifle Tower tonight and was all over the floor. He finished with 18 points, 14 rebounds and 5 blocks and plenty of highlights of his own.
Now, with that out of the way, hoo boy, did Derrick Jones Jr. get the two-time defending DPOY good at the rim tonight.
today‘s Derrick Jones Jr. wtf dunk pic.twitter.com/iNSuRwbGPW— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) December 24, 2019
Rudy’s highlights, for equal coverage:
Overreaction #2: The bench was... Good?
Ok, so that might be a bit of a stretch. But for the first time in what felt like a while, the bench didn’t dig a hole that the starters had to dig out of. Emmanuel Mudiay turned in one of his best performances of the season, finishing with 12 points and at times scoring at will.
Jeff Green, who was waived shortly after the game, was a mixed bag, as every night with him was an adventure. He made quite a few plays but also left you scratching your head a lot.
At the end of the day, this was progress for a bench unit that has struggled mightily this season. It will be interesting to see what the impending arrival of Jordan Clarkson can do for them, but there’s some hope.
Under-reaction #1: Bam Adebayo is the best NBA player no one talks about
Bam Adebayo is the engine that makes the East’s current 3 seed go. He finished the night with 18 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals and 3 blocks, but even that doesn’t quite translate how dominant he was in the second half tonight.
Bam matched Gobert stop for stop in the paint and was an all-around nuisance on both ends of the floor. He should absolutely be in the running, if not the leader in the clubhouse, for Most Improved Player.
Is this how opposing teams feel with Gobert? Bam is freaking everywhere.— Mychal Lowman (@My_Lo) December 24, 2019