Jazz Obliterate The Warriors On Historic Night
The final score was nowhere near indicative of the feel of the game, as the Jazz led by nine points after 12 minutes, 30 at the half, and 36 heading into the fourth quarter.
Donovan Mithell led the Jazz with 23 points, while the team once again hit at least 20 three-pointers to coast to an easy victory.
The Jazz Are The Best Team In Basketball
It’s always dangerous to make sweeping statements like this, but the Jazz are the best team in basketball right now. Truthfully it might not be close.
The Jazz have the league’s longest winning streak and owned the third-best offensive rating entering the night and the second-best defensive rating.
Then, they scored 127 points against the Warriors including a 77 point first half, while allowing just 108 points from Golden State. all night
They might not be the best team by season’s end, and the Los Angeles Lakers will remain the champions until they are dethroned, but nobody in the NBA is playing better than the Jazz.
Included in the win streak are road wins over the Milwaukee Bucks and Denver Nuggets, and blowout wins over Golden State, New Orleans, Atlanta, and Cleveland. None of those teams they blew out are world-beaters, but it’s hard to decimate opponents at any point in the season and the Jazz are doing it more often than not of late.
The Jazz opened the game on a 14-0 run and a perfect 5-5 from the field. The Warriors worked themselves back into the game but still gave up 39 points in the first quarter thanks to eight made three-pointers by the Jazz.
To open the second, Golden State tried to pressure the Jazz high on the floor defensively to prevent them from getting open looks from three, and the Jazz scored 38 points, even though they only made four threes in the second period.
Without the long rebounds that come from Jazz missed threes, Golden State couldn’t get out and run and were held to just 17 second quarter points.
Mitchell has evolved into one of the games truly great scorers and is averaging 26 points per game during the Jazz streak, while Mike Conley continues to look like the best player in NBA history never to make an All-Star.
Conley scored 17 points in just 26 minutes for the Jazz and the Jazz outscored the Warriors by a staggering 40 points while he was on the floor.
“I really loved how aggressively he came out tonight,” Snyder said of Conley. “I thought he set a tone early with his aggressiveness shooting the ball, and we want to take what the defense gives us. He’s done a great job, he and Donovan both.”
The team will have mediocre stretches this year, and injuries and the league’s COVID-19 protocol tracing will hurt every team in the NBA at one point or another. But right now, the Jazz just have too many weapons to beat their opponents and nobody else in the league has been able to keep up.
The Worst In-Game Contest In NBA History
You don’t need to be a basketball expert to go to an NBA game. Nor do you need to be a historian, you’re still welcome. But on Saturday night the Jazz hosted the worst in-game historical trivia contest in NBA history.
Tony Parks, the Jazz in-game entertainment host had two Jazz fans face off against one another with one goal — name the most former Jazz players in 20 seconds.
Look, nerves are a real thing, and performing in front of a live crowd is difficult. Heck, former Jazzman Rodney Hood used to make himself sick before games due to the nerves of playing in games, even several years into his career.
But what these two contestants did, and more importantly didn’t do was beyond comprehension.
The first contestant, we’ll call him Player A, had a truly pitiful performance. Player A stepped up the mic and named Karl Malone, John Stockton, Jeff Hornacek, Greg Ostertag, Bryon Russell, Deron Williams, and … “shoot.”
Player A stalled at six.
Six former Jazz players
According to basketball-reference.com, there have been 305 players to don a Jazz uniform since 1975. If you subtract the 16 players currently on the roster, as the contest specifically asked, Player A named just 2 percent of the former 296 Jazz players.
When Player B took off his headphones, all 1,498 other Jazz fans at Vivint Arena assumed he would cakewalk to victory. As long as he remembered the first six players Player A named, and added one single additional name, he’d coast to a victory.
What happened instead was truly jaw-dropping.
Player B grabbed the microphone, promptly said Kirilenko, in reference to former Jazz All-Star Andrei Kirilenko, then froze like a deer in the headlights.
The next name he said was Donovan.
Donovan Mitchell is the current star of the Utah Jazz.
Player B corrected himself and named Deron Williams, perhaps the Jazz last true league-wide star before Mitchell and Rudy Gobert.
He then sat silent for nearly 10 seconds as the clock ticked down to six seconds, at which point he dropped out of the contest. The final six seconds were so painful that everyone in the building had to be spared a paltry six seconds of their lives to survive the awkwardness that had consumed downtown Salt Lake City.
Let’s add some reference to how bizarrely bad this performance is. There are two statues inf front of Vivint Arena, they stand about 15 feet tall, they’re bronze, and they bear the resemblance of John Stockton and Karl Malone.
The intersecting roads on which Vivint Arena rests are called John Stockton and Karl Malone Drive.
Karl Malone has two MVP trophies. John Stockton is the NBA’s all-time leader in assists and steals. Their names are literally plastered around the arena. Both players have their jerseys retired with enormous banners hanging over the team’s floor.
Malone has a separate banner recognizing his MVP awards, as does Stockton for his all-time records.
Parks, hosting the contest, even asked Player B if he knew the statues out front AND HE SAID “YES.”
Six players is bad. Considering there are seven Jazz players whose numbers have been retired by the team that hang in the arena, six players is impressively bad.
But naming just two, or .06% of the 296 former Jazz players, and forgetting two of the 50 greatest players in NBA history whose names are as synonymous with the Jazz as the state of Utah is a performance for the ages.
We’re in the midst of a pandemic, only 1,500 fans are allowed inside the arena. One would think only the craziest of die-hard Jazz fans would literally risk their lives to come to sit at a game surrounded by screaming fans, but on Saturday night, we learned nothing could be further from the truth.
Historic Three-Point Shooting
There were two three-point shooting records set between the Jazz and Warriors during the game.
First, and most importantly, Steph Curry passed Reggie Miller as the NBA’s second-most prolific three-point shooter. The future Hall of Famer connected on 5-10 deep balls and now has 2,562 made threes in his career.
Ray Allen is the NBA’s all-time leader at 2,973, 411 ahead of Curry. Considering Curry connects on 3.6 threes per game for his career, he’ll pass Allen in about 114 games, or midway through next season.
The Warriors were awful tonight, especially compared to the dynastic run they had between 2015 and 2019, but Curry remains one of the league’s most electrifying players, and he’s rightfully taking his place in the history books among the best who have ever played.
The Jazz meanwhile have made more threes in an eight-game stretch than any team in NBA history. They have 268 on the year and a staggering 153 in the last eight games alone.
The team is averaging 19.7 made threes per game over the last two weeks, and they’re making them at a better than 42 percent clip.
“What stands out on tape is number one they’ve been good for a long time so the continuity is apparent right away, they all know each other so well, they execute their stuff beautifully,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of the Jazz. “What’s different this year is they seem to be hunting threes more quickly and more often. And that’s given them an even tougher dynamic.”
The team will see their shooting numbers drop this season because the current rate is unsustainable, but the number of open looks they generate, and their quick alterations in-game have made them one of the league’s most potent offenses, and they’re difficult to stop right now.
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