The Utah Jazz have won 20 of their last 22 games and are sitting in 7th in the Western Conference standings. And it doesn’t look like they’ll stop anytime soon. The next three Jazz opponents are the Kings, Hawks and Mavericks; three passengers on the tank train. It’s entirely possible Utah could end up with multiple 11-game win streaks this year.
While the eventual destiny of this year is doomed to fall well short of the grand goal of a Finals victory, it’s a great time to be a Jazz fan. A lot of great things are going on.
Before we get to the good stuff, let’s talk about some ugly stuff from last night’s game. Quick recap in case you missed it. Suns power forward/center Marquese Chriss air-balled a dunk attempt and then Jared Dudley took a cheap-shot at Ricky Rubio. Rubio started to confront Dudley but was then blindsided by Chriss.
Tempers FLARE in Sun-Jazz game pic.twitter.com/AEvzj3dRGP— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 16, 2018
After the game, someone asked Dudley about the incident on Twitter and Dudley responded with this.
Thought Quese got fouled, Ref gave them the ball while he was on the ground with my other teammate trying to help him up.. I wanted to stop the fast break( I always do this) The push was a little much but he flopped and sold it.. Flagrant 1 or 2 and you move on.. https://t.co/Yf6CYlcaFj— Jared Dudley (@JaredDudley619) March 16, 2018
I’m kind of sick of people accusing Rubio of flopping — first when he got body-checked running full speed by Jeff Teague and now this. And just watching the tape reveals the truth.
Dudley is generously listed as 225 lbs and is 6-foot-7. Rubio weighs in at 194 lbs and is 6-foot-4. Consider that the 225+ pound man full-out shoved Rubio and the latter didn’t end up on the ground; he stayed on his feet. Rubio only went to ground when the 6-foot-10, 233 lb Chriss blindsided him.
In the heat of the moment I’d be just fine if Dudley was annoyed because of some of the things he mentioned. He’s only human and we’re all petty in one way or another. But the shove by both him and Chriss was not “a little much,” it was completely uncalled for.
On a brighter note, here is your seemingly weekly reminder that Joe Ingles is not only a good NBA player but a FANTASTIC human being.
First off, there was a bit of a follow up on something Ingles did last year for a young Jazz fan who is legally blind.
Last year, Joe Ingles gave a legally blind young fan the gift of sight via special eSight eyewear.— Yahoo Sports NBA (@YahooSportsNBA) March 16, 2018
Tonight, Landon Carter is at his first Jazz game with his new eyewear! (via @NBA) pic.twitter.com/WSxTIWKrzp
That was before the Phoenix game. Toward the end, Ingles did something much less notable, but still gives you that warm feeling.
Little thing you can't see too well, but good stuff. Two-way guys Georges Niang and Erik McCree were sitting on the floor. Niang went to check in, leaving McCree alone. When Joe Ingles checked out, he originally sat on the bench but saw McCree and went to sit by him pic.twitter.com/GRWs8wcZUX— Ryan McDonald (@ryanwmcdonald) March 16, 2018
When Joe Ingles eventually leaves the Jazz (hopefully via retirement at age 50) I think I’m legit going to cry. He has had a huge positive impact on this organization and its fanbase.
Dante Exum returned to the floor for the first time since the preseason and I was way too excited about seeing a guy who’s averaged 5.5 point per game in his career. But I think a lot of fans were in my same boat.
In his first game back, the Aussie scored 10 points, pulled down three rebounds and dished out two assists. Not bad for his first night back on the job.
Rudy Gobert is redefining what it means to be a dominant center in this league. Most writers are looking to the flashy scoring of Karl-Anthony Towns or DeMarcus Cousins or Joel Embiid, but Gobert is out-playing all of them right now and even the blue check-marks on Twitter are noticing.
The Jazz went 20-2 in their last 22 games. In that span, Rudy Gobert averaged 15.6 points, 11.6 boards, 1.6 assists, 2.2 blocks, 0.9 steals and 1.6 turnovers on 62.4 percent from the field and 71.1 percent from the line with a +18.0 net rating.— Michael Gallagher (@MikeSGallagher) March 16, 2018
If we just look at his performance in March, we find that Gobert is averaging 19.0 points, 13.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 2.3 blocks per game.
Also consider this: Rudy has led the Jazz in scoring in nine games this year. Five of those games have come since Feb. 26.
Finally, a breakdown of how the Jazz got each of their 29 assists, with Rubio getting 11 of them.
Ricky Rubio's 11 assists included 3 to Joe Ingles (all 3-pointers), 3 to Jae Crowder (2 layups and 1 dunk), 2 to Rudy Gobert (both dunks), 2 to Donovan Mitchell (a layup and a dunk), and 1 to Derrick Favors (a dunk). Here's the Jazz assist network: pic.twitter.com/9V8cJI4IBF— Positive Residual (@presidual) March 16, 2018
Rubio’s 12 points, 11 assists was his 10th double-double of the season. He has five with points and assists and five with points and rebounds. He has three double-doubles in the last four games.