Jazz Need Rebounding, Improved Royce O’Neale In Game Two

Aug 19, 2020, 1:28 PM | Updated: 1:30 pm
Royce O'Neale of the Utah Jazz defends Jamal Murray of the Denver Nuggets (Getty Images: Kevin C. C...
Royce O'Neale of the Utah Jazz defends Jamal Murray of the Denver Nuggets (Getty Images: Kevin C. Cox)
(Getty Images: Kevin C. Cox)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – How can the Utah Jazz rebound from their game one loss to the Denver Nuggets? By rebounding, of course. Outside of Donovan Mitchell’s incredible 57 point performance, rebounding was one of the Jazz strengths in the series opener, and coach Quin Snyder wants to see the Jazz trend continue in game two.

“They shot the ball extremely well,” Snyder said of the Nuggets performance. “And as a result, there weren’t as many rebounds. Not to diminish the effort we had on the boards, but that’s going to be something that is always going to be crucial.”

The Jazz won the rebounding battle 52-43, and limited Denver to just eight offensive boards. The Nuggets had the third-best offensive rebounding rate in the fourth quarter this season, grabbing nearly 30 percent of available offensive boards. The Nuggets snarred just two offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter on Monday, though it may have determined the outcome of the game.

With the score tied at 113 with 26 seconds remaining in the game, Jamal Murray missed a step-back jump shot, one of his few misses in the period, which led to a Nikola Jokic offensive rebound and subsequent free-throws. The Jazz tied the game after Jokic’s makes but could have had the final possession of regulation to win the game had it not been for failing on the defensive glass.

“There are a few things when you look at it, there was some places where you just have to tip your hat,” Snyder said. “And then obviously there are things we feel that we can do better.”

Jazz Need O’Neale To Bounce Back in Game Two

Royce O’Neale had perhaps the worst performance of any Jazz player in game one. The defensive-minded forward was sidelined by foul trouble for much of the game. When he was on the court, he struggled to contribute offensively. As a result, the forward had a game worst -21 plus-minus.

O’Neale finished with just three points on 1-6 shooting, knocking down just one of his three three-point shots. With 1:12 left in the fourth quarter and the game tied at 111, O’Neale missed a wide-open three-point look that would have given the Jazz the lead late.

“Foul trouble is always difficult for any player, it takes you out of your rhythm,” Snyder said. “And Royce is such a key part of what we do.”

With Mike Conley out of the lineup, O’Neale was forced to play additional minutes, including assuming extra playmaking duties. The forward also has perhaps the most difficult defensive assignment facing up with the significantly bigger Michael Porter Jr. in the series.

“You’re going have some frustration,” Snyder said of O’Neale game one struggles. “You either have it on a single game basis or within the course of the game. He’s ready to move forward and we have tremendous confidence him.”

The Jazz and Nuggets tip-off at 2 pm MT. The game will be broadcast nationally on TNT and locally on AT&T SportsNet.

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Jazz Need Rebounding, Improved Royce O’Neale In Game Two