The Utah Jazz (6-5) dip above .500 with a rare home victory (rare because, well, this is just the 3rd home game of the season) over the tired Toronto Raptors (7-6) 93-89. The Raptors started off this season 5-0, but have now just finished playing 9 home games, and in the middle of an extended West trip, just didn't have the juice to finish this game. That's not to make excuses for them -- they were swinging hard to knock the Jazz out tonight. But they just couldn't keep up with Utah's offense. Sure, the defense won the game, but I think the Jazz offense is getting there. In the first quarter and were conducting things. And while the offense disappears at times I still feel, with all of my heart, that the offense is going to click at some point and really blow people away.
The Jazz won this game, yes, because their end of game offense was superior. But we'll get there.
Yes, the Raptors were staying alive early because of Luis Scola. DeMar DeRozan and weren't killing the Jazz, it was Luis. It was close at halftime, only three points down, but the Raptors did a marvelous job closing the first half. At one point down 10, they turned on the jets like a playoff team is supposed to and held significant control during long stretches. Things didn't look good in the third either, as the Jazz offense stalled. was having a poor first half. *kinda* had a stealth benching. And Lowry and DeRozan started getting to the line.
If Utah was going to win tonight they would have to do it after being down after three quarters. So far this season that 'comeback' victory had eluded the Jazz. But it was the offense that won out.
How do I mean? Well, the team did score 34 points in the fourth quarter. That's not nothing. Yes, DeRozan had a poster jam on-- but this team was really locked in during the fourth quarter. started to make some shots. Alec Burks started to make some shots. They both remembered that was on the team, and got him the ball and he produced.
With 7:35 left in the game the Raptors were up 74-69. Rodney Hood made two free throws, only forto hit a three next trip down the court. Gordon Hayward replied ( assist). Then DeMar got a too easy foul call, and went to the line and calmly made two more. The Jazz took another time-out and there was only 6:15 minutes left in this five point game. A switch seems to have been flipped.
Trey hit a three (Gordon with the assist), Luis finally missed a shot, Rodney Hood make a shot to tie the game at 79-79 and -- well, lookseehere -- we DID have a game on our hands. DeMar missed a shot, Gordon then burried a three to put the Jazz up 82-79 with 4:54 to play. DeMar would then score four straight points as both teams took turns coughing up the ball.
But Derrick Favors settled things down with a 15 foot jumper (Alec assist) with 3:16 left to play. He put the Jazz back up 84-83. The Raptors took the lead again with 1:21 on a Junas Valanciunas second chance put back. (Jazz defense had to switch a lot in the fourth on pick and rolls to corral Lowry.) After a time out Alec Burks took a very confident midrange jumper off the bounce, swish. Jazz up by one. DeRozan missed, Favors got the rebound, and after a slip the pick move Alec got Favors for a layup. And-one! Favors made the free throw, and really, that's why I saw our offense carried the team over the goal line in this one.
At times our team just gels. Hood was a triple threat in this game. Gordon came alive with his shot making. Alec helped the team close the game out. You just cannot expect to beat all three of those guys all game long. Favors would cap the night off with an excellent dunk (from a Joe Ingles pass) with 23 seconds left to play to put the Jazz up 91-87.
The offensive threats were varied and effective. And it's a product of passing, probing, and unselfishness.
And it worked against a Raptors team that had no defensive scheme to bottle it all up.
Yes, Toronto is a great offensive team and the Jazz held them to 89 points. The defense DOES get props from me because they had to step up when the team was down and the game looked out of hand. But it's really time to take notice of all the pieces of offense that are slowly coming together.
Favors is a great finisher off of pick and rolls, pick and pops, face ups, and post ups. The more confidence he gets as the nucleus of this offense, the more dangerous this team ultimately will become. And in this game he scored 18 points off of 9 shots, and also pulled down 11 rebounds, and had an assist and steal to boot. If he shot a little better from the FT line (only 4/7) he would have had yet another 20/10 game this year.
Gordon Hayward continues to miss a lot, but he's not the only one on the team. He went 6/15,went 2/7, Trey Burke went 3/7, and Alec Burks went 5/12. HOWEVER, those four guys would end up going 5 for 16 from deep -- with most of those makes coming in the second half. So when it mattered the points came.
Rodney Hood kept the Jazz afloat in the first half, and finished the game with 16 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 made threes, and 1 steal. Gordon had 17 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 block, with 2 made threes. Alec had 13 points, 2 assists, 2 rebounds, one steal, and one block, with one made three. Trey Burke had 10 points, 2 assists, 2 steals, 1 rebound, and two made threes.
We got to see some, for 8 minutes, and he made his one shot and added a rebound and block. Raul Neto was really nice going to the rim, and he finished with 6 points, 2 assists, and 2 steals. Rudy Gobert didn't dominate, and finished with just 7 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 1 assist. He did force a necessary turn over on DeRozan late in the game to help the Jazz pull out the win. He also changed countless shots during the game.
And while Joe Ingles didn't have a lot of playing time after the stealth benching (Seriously,is playing?) . . . but he had the game winning, or 'dagger' assist to favors for that Jam with seconds left to play.
A comeback victory. A home victory. A victory against a tough playoff team.
It's nice to be home.
The Jazz play next on Friday, against the Dallas Mavericks.