UTAH JAZZ

Jazz Fly Past Hawks In Defensive Spree

Jan 15, 2021, 10:15 PM | Updated: 10:17 pm

Mike Conley of the Utah Jazz (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)...

Mike Conley of the Utah Jazz (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz earned their second straight blowout with a rush 116-92 victory over the Atlanta Hawks Friday night.

The win marked their second consecutive home win and their fourth straight win over after returning home from a six-game road trip across the east coast.

The Jazz were fueled by a turnover-forcing defense, hot shooting, and a dominant performance once again by Donovan Mitchell.

Jazz Stifle Trae Young

Perhaps the most important thing the Jazz did all night was slow the play of Trae Young. The Hawks third-year guard scored just four points on 1-11 shooting. He averages 24.8 points per game.

The four points match a career-low for Young and the lowest since the 14th game of his career in Atlanta.

The Jazz regularly double-teamed Young before Atlanta even inbounded the ball and it prevented him from getting going.

The defense also threw a few zone defensive looks at the guard to keep him guessing and he never found a rhythm. The Hawks signed Danilo Gallinari and Bogdan Bogdanovic to alleviate the pressure on Young this season, but injuries have kept them out for long stretches this season.

“We did a good job of showing our hands, try not to give him anything easy,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “I think Rudy [Gobert] and [Derrick Favors] as well being able to protect the rim and try to make him hit contested shots.”

It highlights the value the Jazz found by surrounding Donovan Mitchell with Bojan Bogdanovic and Mike Conley, who even when they don’t have brilliant offensive nights, can still make Mitchell’s night much easier.

The Jazz guard finished with an easy 26 points on 10-20 shooting, including 6-10 from three.

Jazz Thick As Thieves

The Jazz don’t play a turnover-forcing style of defense. With Rudy Gobert sitting back to gobble up any opposing player who dares to venture into the paint, Quin Snyder is happy to funnel guards towards the rim and force bad shots against the two-time Defensive Player of the Year.

Gobert finished the game with four blocks, so the defense worked as planned, but they got a big boost from seven steals between Mitchell and Conley, leading to 27 fast-break points against the Hawks.

The seven steals are the most for the Jazz starters in a game this season, though neither Gobert, Bogdanovic or Royce O’Neal forced a turnover.

The 27 fastbreak points are by far the Jazz biggest number of the season and led to an easy win over the Hawks.

“Creating turnovers and deflections, that gives our offense a little bit of a boost by getting out and running and getting easy baskets,” Conley said. “We want to run and get up and down and get shots up.”

Conley finished with 15 points and eight assists.

 

Pushing the opposing offense towards Gobert is the right gameplan from Snyder, and its why the team has been on the top half (and usually top five) of the league in defensive rating over the last five seasons, but generating transition opportunities could allow the offense to shift into a higher gear than what they’ve shown in recent seasons.

Miye Oni Proving His Worth

Every week on the Jazz Notes podcast, fans submit questions about why Shaq Harrison has yet to carve out a role in the rotation. There was some assumption that behind Georges Niang, Harrison was the team’s 10th man in the rotation.

Now, it looks like Miye Oni has earned that spot. With Joe Ingles missing his third game in the last four outings, Oni appears to be the go-to option for Snyder.

Against the Hawks, he proved his worth.

Atlanta repeatedly challenged Oni in the first half of the game, using De’Andre Hunter and Kevin Huerter to run the second-year guard off screens and then use their more developed frames to operate against him in the post.

In the first half, it worked.

Hunter and Huerter combined for 18 points on 9-14 over the first two quarters. But Snyder went back to Oni in the second half and got a significantly better result.

Oni accepted the challenge, and Huerter and Hunter combined to shoot just 2-10 from the floor for 6 points in the second half.

“He knows defensively that he can be impactful,” Snyder said. “In the first half a couple of shots he actually played really good defense, and if we’re giving up contested twos and not fouling, he’s done his job.”

The Yale product finished with six points on 2-5 shooting from the three-point line and was a +10 in 18 total minutes on the floor. The Jazz entered the season with a loaded rotation, knowing it was going to be hard to find minutes for the young players, but Oni has made the most of his minutes and looks like he’ll have a role on the team in future seasons.

The team now travels to Denver for a rematch of last season’s playoff series that ended the Jazz season in seven games.

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