When Gordon Hayward left.
When Rudy Gobert got hurt.
When they were 19-28.
When they lost to the Hawks at home.
When they got blown out in game one versus the Thunder.
When they blew a 25-point second half lead in game five.
When Ricky Rubio got hurt.
When they got beat handily by the best team in the NBA in game one of the second round.
These are all moments when many counted the Jazz out. It might have been yourself, your friends, your co-workers, the analysts on TV, blog boys on twitter, players around the league, or even some of our very own SLC Dunk staff members. At any of these moments, and possibly others, the Jazz were knocked down. But they kept on getting back up. Just when you thought there was no way they could recover, they did. Just when you thought they didn’t have enough, they found more. The Jazz have proven everyone wrong all season long, starting this offseason on July 4th. This team is built for battle. They are dogs that come out to fight every night. They are coached by a relentless evil surgeon in Quin Snyder, whose relentless mentality has been forced upon these Jazz players. And if you are going to take them down, it’s going to take one heck of a fight.
Game two of the Western Conference semifinals showed everyone that the Utah Jazz aren’t going down without a fight.
After getting out to an early 19-point first half lead, the Jazz were firing on all cylinders. The Rockets, as they have done so many times this season, went on a scorching run and erased the entire defecit within the first couple minutes of the third quarter. The Jazz had lost all momentum, and it looked like it was a game that could be getting away.
But it didnt.
The Jazz’s mental toughness shown brightly on display once again. Holding off the Rockets after their hot tear. Battling for rebounds after tough defensive stops. Just when you might have thought the Jazz were out of it last night, they got back up and threw some haymakers. It’s what they’ve done all season long, bouncing back up after getting knocked down. It was a huge win, stealing home-court advantage and returning to Salt Lake City with the series tied at one game a piece.
Many scoffed at the idea that the Jazz could pull of a win last night, and here’s your opportunity of enjoyment in seeing a few of them being proven wrong before their very eyes.
Thank goodness for Twitter, and thank goodness for the Utah Jazz.
Last night’s victory was once again an incredible team effort. The Jazz got an all-time performance out of Joe Ingles, who scored a career-high 27 points, breaking a franchise playoff record for threes made with 7. Alec Burks was awesome off the bench, and Dante Exum released all of his frustrations and emotion with a thunderous dunk that had me startling my children with loud noises (more on this later).
These performances from guys not named Donovan Mitchell, had national NBA watchers #takingnote. The Ringer’s Haley O’Shaughnessy wrote about these performances and how they carried the Jazz through game 2.
In cased you missed it, Donovan Mitchell YAMMED on everyone again in last night’s win.
This play is just ridiculous. It’s just not fair. He almost made it look too easy as he soared up into the Houston air to rattle one down and put the fear of the Spida into Rockets fans in the arena. The thing that got me the most is how he hung on the rim for just a second longer after the dunk. Like “yeah.. I just did that..”
The reactions on the bench were also very incredible.
And from media members.
With a victory in the Western Conference Semi-Finals last night, it was the first time in ten years that the Jazz had done that.
First win in the conference semis by the Jazz in 10 years.— - (@TheNoLookPass) May 3, 2018
This win came on May 9, 2008, in a hard-fought game against Kobe and the Lakers in Salt Lake City. Here’s the box score from that game (via Basketball Reference).
It’s kind of crazy that it’s been ten years since this game. Ten years since the Jazz have won in the Western Conference Semi-Finals. It’s good to get another win in the second round. Great for this franchise to have winning basketball being played the way it is right now.
This section is entirely reserved for Dante Exum. What a performance last night. Exum’s box score was humble, but his impact on the game was anything but. In the fourth quarter, when James Harden usually goes into beard mode, Dante stepped up in a huge way. With Exum defending him for the majority of the quarter, Harden went 2 for 7 in the final 12 minutes of the game last night, which turned out to be the difference in the Jazz win. For a few minutes, this was my favorite play of the game.
Dante Exum’s got heart. And if you don’t believe me, watch this play. After losing a slight step in the dance-off with Harden, he sticks to it and defends until the end. His effort affects Harden’s shot, and draws the offensive foul with the clear push-off. What gets me in this play is Exum’s reaction. Exum has struggled in these playoffs finding a groove. You could tell at several points in these games where he appears frustrated and down on himself. His reaction after this play is great, because he shows how much he just wants to play. He wants to be out there with his team going to battle, and making plays that help them win. He did just that with this monsterous effort.
OH YEAH, AND THEN HE DUNKED ON THE ENTIRE CITY OF HOUSTON WITH THIS HAMMERHEAD, MAMMOTH TUSK, SABERTOOTH TIGER FREAKING DUNK THAT GOT ME ALL FIRED UP.
That’s all I have to say about Dante Exum. Until next time.