Rotating Cast Of Characters Is Carrying The Jazz Blistering Offense
BROOKLYN, New York – The Utah Jazz won their 10th straight game with a 118-107 victory over the Brooklyn Nets. Despite a slow start, the Jazz offense found its rhythm late in the first half and never allowed the Nets to make a true push to get back into the game.
When Donovan Mitchell missed the Jazz game against the Washington Wizards, Bojan Bogdanovic stepped up offensively with 31 points to fill the void. When Mitchell once again looked sluggish as he returned from the illness that forced him to sit out the last game, Joe Ingles took over.
Ingles finished the game tied for his career-high 27-points, after spurring a 14-2 run with back to back to back three-pointers to end the second quarter to turn a Jazz two-point lead into 14 at halftime, a lead the Jazz coasted with for the rest of the game.
Ingles was particularly dangerous initiating the pick and roll with Jazz center Rudy Gobert.
“He’s finally shooting the ball,” Gobert said of Ingles recent uptick in play, “I’ve just got to set screens and let him do his work. He’s magic.”
Jazz coach Quin Synder agreed with Gobert’s assessment.
“He’s been more focused on getting his shot and getting volume,” Snyder said, “And when you do that and you’re a good shooter, it kind fo takes your conscious mind out of it, he doesn’t need to think.”
The Jazz, who have the best offense in the NBA over the last 10 games have done so with a rotating cast of characters happy to move the ball from one player to another until they find the mismatch, and then grind the opponent into a fine dust as they exploit it.
It’s not just Ingles playing the role of magician for the Jazz over the 10-game win streak. In the team’s last five games, Mitchell, Ingles (2x), Bogdanovic (4x), Rudy Gobert (2x), Jordan Clarkson (2x), and Emmanuel Mudiay have all scored 20 points at least once for the team.
“Our whole goal has been to try to get better and I think we’ve been able to win in different ways,” Snyder said of the team’s multifaceted scoring approach.
“Different guys have stepped up and not just had big games but big stretches in the games we’ve needed something. I think Jordan [Clarkson] and Emmanuel [Mudiay], both of those guys have done it during stretches.”
Perhaps the most impressive part of that stat Mitchell, the Jazz leading scorer, and the NBA’s 15th leading scorer at 24.2 points per game didn’t find his name on the scoring list until the final game of this five-game stretch.
It’s a testament to the team’s newfound offensive explosiveness that is pushing the Jazz towards the top half of the league in offensive efficiency. The Jazz offensive ranking dropped to as low 26th early in the year. Entering the game the Jazz had the 11th best offense for the season with an offensive rating of 110.1.
The Jazz were sluggish for the first 19 minutes of the game and led the Nets just 45-43 with 4:58 left in the first half. Then the dam broke. The Jazz closed the half on a 14-2 run, including nine straight points from Ingles, a run bookended by finishes at the rim from Gobert and Bogdanovic.
Not only was the Jazz offense impressive over the five-minute stretch, but the defense may have had it’s best run of the season. The Nets scored just once in their final 12 possessions in the half.
The Jazz entered the half with a 59-45 lead and the Nets never shrunk the deficit to smaller than eight.
While Ingles carried the scoring load for the first three quarters, Mitchell took over in the fourth. The third-year guard started the game just 3-13 from the field but closed making 5-6 from the floor, scoring 14 of his 25 points in the final period.
“I had to give my team something,” Mitchell said, “I was struggling all game, obviously a little under the weather, but my teammates trusted me int hose moments.”
Mitchell scored 14 of the Jazz final 16 points over the final 6:03 of the game, matching baskets with Kyrie Irving. Irving finished a game-high 30 points but was outdueled 14-12 in the final quarter.
“You look at how he took over the game in the fourth,” Mitchell said of Irving’s offensive finish, “I try to implement that in my game.”
The Jazz outscored the Nets in three of the four quarters and led by as much as 20 in the third quarter before Brooklyn cut into the lead.
The Big Picture
The Jazz won their 10th straight game and now stand alone with the second seed in the Western Conference, .5 games ahead of the Denver Nuggets.
Ingles matched a career-high with 27 points. In one of the stranger stats in the NBA, Ingles has scored 27 points six times in his career but has never been able to eclipse his long-standing career mark. Ingles scored his final basket of the game with 7:45 left in the fourth quarter but attempted just one more shot in the game, a missed three-point shot.
The Jazz prepare to face the New Orleans Pelicans to finish this three-game road trip. The Jazz beat the Pelicans on the third game of their last three-game road trip on a controversial non-foul call against Gobert. The Pelicans are expecting former top overall pick, Zion Williamson, to make his regular-season debut with the roster when they face the Jazz.
The Jazz have won 9 of 10 on the road and now are 13-9 away from home.