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Utah Jazz arrive fashionably late from All-Star break, beat Washington Wizards

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Utah Jazz are now on a one game winning streak.

Washington Wizards v Utah Jazz Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

The Utah Jazz’s first win after the All-Star break started much like the four past losses with bad turnovers, lazy defense, and iffy execution. That stop and start play went on the entire first half until FINALLY in the third quarter the Utah Jazz finally returned from All-Star break. The Utah Jazz beat the Washington Wizards 129-119 with a strong second half. The second half wasn’t perfect but it stops the disappointing four game slide the Utah Jazz have been on. This win was powered by Donovan Mitchell’s 30 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 assists.

Rational Reaction #1: The Utah Jazz are not back but it’s a start

It didn’t matter if the Jazz won by 1 or by 40 tonight, the takeaway from the game would have been the same: it’s a start. The Jazz offense put up 129 points tonight. Effort was there, they defeated a team with a really good offensive threat in Bradley Beal. They looked engaged. They are not anywhere near where they need to be as far as execution and defensive intensity (more on that later).

But they didn’t look disengaged. Too many times during this post All-Star stretch the Utah Jazz have looked absolutely dejected anytime the opposing team went on a run. Utah was surrending faster than an early 20th century French parliament. Now? Now they have stopped the bleeding. They avoid falling to closer to the 7th seed and Jazz fans can feel have a better start to the weekend.

Rational Reaction #2: The defense was still bad

The Jazz gave up 119 points to the Washington Wizards. They got Bradley Beal, but they’re still the Washington Wizards. They can and must do better. The Jazz were outscored by Rudy Gobert 16 points while Rudy Gobert was in the game. Surprisingly enough, the Jazz’s bench did the saving tonight. They—along with Mike Conley—outscored the Wizards by 17 or more points while they were on the court. Conley was masterful in the second half. He had 16 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists in the game and most of those came in the second half.

The Utah Jazz were missing backcuts, struggled against the Bradley Beal PnR, and gave up 42 points to Beal and 16 points to Thomas Bryant. The Utah Jazz did try to get Rudy Gobert involved offensively early to get him engaged defensively late (which worked to a degree in the 4th qtr). But there were too many times that little Shabazz Napier was out hustling or out rebounding Rudy Gobert. Gobert isn’t showing the same fire consistently throughout the game on defense or on the boards since All-Star break.

Overreaction #1: Donovan Mitchell LOOKED like Donovan Mitchell tonight

Donovan Mitchell has been scoring a lot of points since All-Star break but he has only had a few flashes of looking as dominant as he has the potential to be. Tonight he just flat out took over. He had a dunk that about ended the life Rui Hachimura and he passed Mehmet Okur on the Jazz’s All-Time made three pointers list. If you look at the list, it’ll quickly make you realize that Donovan will be #1 on the list in only a couple seasons and then hold the title for a long time. Donovan was 9 for 21 from the field which looks inefficient then you take a look at his three point attempts. He was 4 of 6. Even better, he got to the line 10 times and made 8 free throws. Donovan is back to looking for contact and the floater appears to * knocks on wood * gone.

Underreaction #1: Jordan Clarkson should be in consideration for 6th Man of the Year

Jordan Clarkson once again checked into the game tonight and got buckets. He scored 20 points in 23 minutes. He also pulled down 8 rebounds, 4 of them offensive, had two assists and two steals. He was a ball hawk defensively and a peregrine falcon offensively. He was everywhere, fast, and precise. Jordan Clarkson is easily one of the most impactful midseason trades Utah has made in recent memory and that’s including Crowder and trading away Kanter.