In the wake of back-to-back losses against the Minnesota Timberwolves, more bad news cascaded the organization as Mike Conley was ruled out ahead of Monday night’s action against the Sacramento Kings after reaggravating a prior injury to his hamstring.
Needless to say most in Jazz land began preparing for the worst.
Now while a relatively low risk and anticlimactic bout with the Kings won’t (and shouldn’t) send the fanbase careening to the opposite extreme, a historic win for the franchise is more than enough reason to put a smile back on our faces!
The Utah Jazz defeated the Sacramento Kings 154-105, setting a new franchise record for most points scored in a game!
Most points in franchise history #TakeNote pic.twitter.com/doc4qf7SOv— utahjazz (@utahjazz) April 29, 2021
Prior to tonight’s game, the previous single game scoring record was from the New Orleans Jazz in 1978 when they scored 153 points in a win over the Spurs.
The highest single game point total scored in a non-playoff game over the last 20 years was in 2018 when the Jazz scored 139 in another win against the Spurs (per Basketball Reference).
While the Jazz were certainly undermanned without Mitchell and Conley, the Kings were also without De’Aaron Fox and Harrison Barnes. Both teams came into tonight without much clue what to expect from the other.
They a nice 1st quarter, but really got cooking in the subsequent frames. Bojan Bogdanovic paced the Jazz with 12 first quarter points. His aggressiveness in transition off of steals and defensive rebounds was infectious.
Croatian Creation pic.twitter.com/TJm47PI4y9— utahjazz (@utahjazz) April 29, 2021
Georges Niang tagged in with 12 points of his own in the 2nd quarter. He was stroking from deep, 5-7 from beyond the arc while contributing 4 assists and 3 rebounds.
From then on it was an absolute wave of contributions from the entire team...yes, the ENTIRE team (more on that later).
While the scoring is obviously the headline in this contest, the Jazz posted an incredible night on multiple fronts.
Utah recorded 36 assists, their highest total in a game this season, while keeping the turnovers to a respectable 13.
They only allowed 3 offensive boards to the Kings. Big kudos goes out to Bojan Bogdanovic and Derrick Favors for their extra effort on that end.
Utah also got to the free throw line 21 times, missing just once.
A massive story in the context of the turnaround made by Utah from their mini-series with the T-Wolves to this game against the Kings was their 3P shooting. After shooting a dismal (though perfectly plausible) 33.7% from 3 the previous 2 games, the Jazz ended the night with 58.5% shooting from distance.
As fantastic as the normal rotation was, it was truly the work of the reserves that pushed the 3PM total to 24, buoyed the efficiency, and secured the record setting point total.
Buzzer beater pic.twitter.com/ybsjXMCUJ7— utahjazz (@utahjazz) April 29, 2021
Brantley and Thomas went 3-3, Ilyasova 2-2, and Forrest hit 1-2. Their 9-10 minutes of play in the 4th quarter was a bizarre outcome given what we’ve come to expect from the 3rd stringers.
Let’s take a look at the Four Factors from the game:
eFG% advantage: +25.6
TOV% advantage: -1.0%
OREB% advantage: +16.3%
FTArate advantage: +7.2
Talk about a dominant, DOMINANT game from virtually every perspective.
While understandable and even warranted to a certain extent, nights like tonight confirm how night to night variance should rarely alter opinions for good or bad.
In context of tonight’s action where the Phoenix Suns survived a battle with the LA Clippers, take a look at odds for the #1 seed based on rest of season simulations:
Current odds— McCade Pearson (@McCadeP8) April 29, 2021
Jazz at #1: 79.074
Jazz at #2: 19.980
Jazz at #3: 00.946
Lakers at #5: 51.588
Jazz are still fine, but man, a win against LAL 10 days ago would have been so nice, feel like that is gonna be a big regret.
“Never too high, never too low” - Ricky Rubio
MVP - Bojan Bogdanovic
There’s no easy choice for this crown on a night like tonight, but I believe Bojan’s aggressiveness early in the game set a tone for the rest of the team and served as a warning to the Kings.
24 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 block, 1 steal and only 1 turnover is the kind of night that Bojan is capable of when he needs to step up. Most impressive were the 10 free throw trips he made to turn his night into a very efficient one despite going 1-5 from deep.
While in hindsight this game was never in doubt, feelings were certainly different prior to tipoff. Without Conley and Mitchell, with the exhaustion certainly plaguing the entire roster, you had to question who would step up.
Multiple Jazzmen rose to the occasion and I’d wager followed Bogdanovic’s example.
The Phoenix Suns will play host to the Utah Jazz Friday night in what has all the makings of determining the #1 seed. Utah is likely to still be without Conley and Mitchell. Though helpful that only one Jazz rotation player logged more than 29 minutes of action, the odds are stacked against us for this weekend.
But who knows, maybe the Jazz can moonlight as a Timberwolf down in the desert to rain on Suns’ parade. Wow, yeah, way too many metaphors.