Jazz Hustle To Victory Over Blazers Despite Controversial Call
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – All anyone will remember from Utah’s 117-114 victory over the Portland Trailblazers was the referees missed goal tending call on Rudy Gobert that would have tied the game up with 13.5 seconds left in the game.
But Utah wouldn’t have put themselves in this position without hustle. It’s not a novel concept, but something Utah has lacked during their 5-game losing streak.
“You know, we were just thinking to much,” said guard Mike Conley when talking about being down 72-58 at halftime. “We were trying to do the right things, almost too much. So we went out there, played free, played hard and we’re able to get back in the game.”
Conley doesn’t even believe the victory was tainted with the missed call because his team had to fight and claw to get back into the game. Everyone knew that the refs blew the call. Even Rudy Gobert admitted that Lillard should have had two more points.
“I just tried to make a play on the ball,” said Gobert. “Obviously after watching the replay, you can see it’s goal tending.”
It still doesn’t matter for the team. The Jazz five game losing streak is over because they finally exerted themselves before it was too late. It didn’t look like Utah was going to end that streak early on when Lillard, the former Weber State star, had his way with the hometown team. The guy who scored 51 points against the Jazz last Saturday had 27 points at the half including five 3-pointers.
The guy nicknamed “Dame Dolla” was just too good for the Jazz and Utah’s bigger wing players could not contain him on the perimeter. He finished with 42.
But then the Jazz actually tried to play defense in the 3rd quarter, and it actually worked.
“There are times when you have to change what you’re doing and there’s other times where you have to dig in and compete and do a better,” said Coach Quin Snyder. “I thought you just get to a point where you know, nothing else matters except competing and winning the game and that usually manifests itself on the defense end.”
The Jazz did everything they could to take the ball out of Lillard’s hands in the second half through double teams or forcing him into tough shots. Lillard almost looked tired in the 3rd quarter, forcing a 3-pointer that missed wildly off of the backboard and rim and a few triples that barely grazed iron.
Meanwhile, Bojan Bogdanovic and Mike Conley helped to get the Jazz back into the game. Conley scored key baskets in the 3rd quarter and finished with 18 while Bogdanovic picked up his aggressive play and scored 27 points. But even he wanted to focus on Utah’s defense.
“I think the first time in the last 6 or 7 games we didn’t put our head down at halftime,” said Bojan Bogdanovic. “We were not aggressive enough, especially defensively.”
Bogdanovic bemoaned the fact that Lillard and the Blazers scored so easily in the first half.
But when it came down to it, the Jazz made the hustle plays at the right time to secure the victory. In fact, Donovan Mitchell’s last basket really symbolized how Utah was able to overcome their poor play over the last five games.
Mitchell drove to the hoop and missed a layup. He hurried and secured the rebound and passed it back out. That’s when he was given the ball again and aggressively attacked the hoop.
“I told him after the game how happy I was for him just just to finish the game out like he did,” said Conley of Mitchell’s effort. “You know, we try not to let him be too hard on himself because he’s his biggest critic at the end of the day and…tonight he took us home.”
But only after the refs missed a crucial call.
Yep, that’s probably the only thing that anyone will remember from this game.
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