Crazy things happen in the NBA when the calendar rolls over to March. G-Leaguers start to fill tanking rosters. Some teams start eyeing Cancun more than the opposing team on defense. While there are a handful of games that actually matter in the final two weeks, usually the games leftover are as dry as a summer theatre’s repertory in September. Most teams are just going through the motions, saying their lines, and counting the days until they can finally get some rest. The Kings looked like that team last night as the Utah Jazz defeated them 119-98.
Never did a Jazz win feel in jeopardy of being lost. Never did the Kings ever feel like a formidable foe. The Utah Jazz outscored the Kings by 15 in the 1st quarter and 11 in the 2nd. It was for all intents and purposes an old fashioned blowout. Except in the ways it wasn’t.
The Utah Jazz were down Derrick Favors and Jae Crowder just recently returned from injury. Utah is still without Kyle Korver and Raul Neto. Then only 5 minutes into the game, Ricky Rubio left with a quad contusion—a troubling development for a team already down two point guards (Neto and Dante Exum). It had the makings of Utah’s game against the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday. They would pull away at some point, but a lot of energy would have to be spent to get there.
Shortly after Ricky Rubio left the game the Kings went on a mini run as Utah worked with Donovan Mitchell and Royce O’Neale as the backcourt. Then Grayson Allen checked in. Every game in the past—other than Wednesday night against the Suns—Grayson’s minutes have been official “HOLD ONTO YOUR BUTTS” minutes. They’d be considered a success if the Jazz were not outscored regardless of what Allen’s stat line showed after the stint. Few—if any—thought that Grayson would go full Lou Williams once entering the game so soon after setting a career high of 14 against the Suns.
THEN IT DID.
Grayson Allen went 5 for 5 from the field, 3 of 3 from beyond the arc. Scoring 13 points in just the 1st quarter. He’d then continue his stretch in the second by going 3 of 3. More importantly, he was playing good defense. Staying in front of his man, fighting through screens, and not getting caught ball watching when off ball. In just 10 minutes, he was a +12 on the floor as he played with a very depleted Jazz bench while playing against admittedly a very G-Leaguesque Kings bench comprised of Yogi Ferrell, Kosta Koufos, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and Corey Brewer.
“Grayson Allen accomplished that feat no more than an hour ago.” pic.twitter.com/Gztn6WcI4v— G (@hadleyjazzboy) April 6, 2019
The difficultly level got turned up in the 2nd quarter when he faced a lineup with De’Aaron Fox, Marvin Bagley III, and Nemanja Bjelica. Grayson Allen would finish the game with 23 points in only 26 minutes tied with Donovan Mitchell as Utah’s leading scorer.
Utah’s Non-Star Trio of Donovan Mitchell, Joe Ingles, and Rudy Gobert had amazing games as well. Donovan Mitchell had 23 points on 9 of 19 shooting. He continues to light it up from beyond the arc as he shot 40% from three tonight. Even more impressively, he had 9 assists to 0 turnovers. That’s REALLY good.
Joe Ingles continues to be the Dad Bod God. He had 17 points on 12 shots with 4 rebounds and 7 assists. He went on a stretch to start the game where he just looked unconscious shooting the ball. Interestingly, Quin Snyder opted to keep his minutes more in line with the bench unit. So while he started, he’d get the quick pull so he could be the stabilizing force while Donovan and Rudy were off the floor.
Speaking of Gobert, his All-NBA season continues without interruption. He had 17 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 blocks in only 29 minutes of play. Every Jazz win recap could simply be “Jazz win because Rudy Gobert is defensive god.” The Kings looked like a mess on the offensive end even before they lost a couple of their players to injuries because Rudy Gobert allows Utah to shut down the perimeter and he scares off teams from the paint.
Notes and Takeaways
What about Grayson Allen? As the great Scott Van Pelt would say, “Is this something or nothing?” This blip in the radar in Grayson Allen’s rookie season is most likely nothing ... for this season anyway. That is ... unless there’s more anticipated time off for Rubio and Neto. While it’s easy to say that Dante Exum has been injury prone, the rest of Utah’s point guard corps haven’t been the shining pillar of health. Ricky Rubio has missed 11 games and left 5 early due to injury. Raul Neto has missed 35 games due to injury. Grayson Allen is the break in case of player if the Jazz face point guard depth problems in the playoffs. He won’t see minutes unless the ship is sinking at which point Allen will be Quin’s flare gun. He’s not there to necessarily save the day, but merely to signal that the ship is going down.
a career night WILL NOT save you from a little locker room razzing pic.twitter.com/9oF3WUUZDN— x - Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) April 6, 2019
Grayson Allen could be an interesting X-Factor in the playoffs as the only real substantial tape of him is in the G-League. If he gets time, he could surprise for a game, but the time afforded to opposing coaching staffs would shut the door on that rabbit in the hat type magic real quick. The real value in Grayson Allen improving now is the confidence it’ll give him going into the offseason. He’s Nashing out there similar to Rubio, but Grayson has the tools to be a better shooter and scorer. He has the length and size to be a good defender. While the answer to whether it was a good draft pick won’t be answered for another year or so, this is encouraging after a rough season and spending so much time with the Stars.
Gorgeous Georges. Ever since we highlighted him on the podcast he has had two good games out of three. I would consider that a success. He had 8 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists with no turnovers in only 20 minutes. He was perfect from the floor (3 of 3) and two of those were threes. He’s a good find for the Utah Jazz. I look forward to seeing his development continue.
Tony Bradley has returned from injury. He looked PRETTY hype to be back on the floor. He put up 2 points and a rebound in his 3 minutes, but it’s good to see him back healthy. He was drafted with a wait and see approach because of his age (19) at the time. That wait and see approach most likely ends this season as the Utah Jazz will want to see some payoff from their investment. Good to see him healthy.
There’s been no word on Ricky Rubio’s status for the LA Laker game on Sunday. I’d assume with Grayson Allen playing well and Utah pretty locked into either the 4 or the 5 seed matchup that they won’t mess with anything and focus on getting guys healthy for the playoffs.
Speaking of the playoffs ...
The Utah Jazz have a real shot at getting homecourt this season and just like last season, it could be earned in the last week.— Mychal Lowman #BoilerUp (@My_Lo) April 6, 2019
Blazers plays the Nuggets on Sunday.
Jazz play the Lakers.
If Nuggets and Jazz win, Jazz would be tied with Blazers. Jazz own tiebreaker. pic.twitter.com/g5tFdeVUhF
Rudy Gobert’s mom was in attendance last night AND WE STAN A QUEEN
We’ll leave with this: