Forrest Offers Boost As Jazz Outlast Raptors
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz outlasted the Toronto Raptors Saturday night to earn a 106-102 victory.
Bojan Bogdanovic carried the Jazz with 34 points as he continues to carry an enormous load for the team while Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell miss games due to injury.
The Raptors were led by Fred VanVleet who scored 30 points, but the second unit managed just 13 combined points to hand the Jazz the victory.
Raptors Run Out Of Gas
Though it was the Jazz who were on the second night of back-to-back games, having to play in two different cities, it was the Raptors who ran out of gas in the fourth quarter in Salt Lake City.
Toronto led by as many as 10 points in the game and four heading into the fourth quarter but had very little to offer over the final 12 minutes of the game to stay competitive.
After shooting 51 percent from the floor and 40 percent from the three-point line through the first three quarters, the Raptors managed to convert just 6-24 from the floor in the final period for 25 percent, and 1-6 from the three-point line for 16 percent.
“I think we just got better as the game went on,” Quin Snyder said. “They made some really tough shots early.”
Toronto scored 89 points over the first three-quarters of the game but managed just 13 fourth-quarter points as the Jazz escaped with a four-point victory.
It should be no surprise that the Raptors were running on fumes late in the game. Toronto was without their starting backcourt of Kyle Lowry and Gart Trent Jr. resulting in three of their four starters playing 40 minutes.
Only Bogdanovic played more than 34 minutes to the Jazz, allowing the team to have fresher legs down the stretch to earn the comeback victory.
Trent Forrest Earns His Keep
Trent Forrest is the lowest-paid player on the Jazz earning just under a half-million dollars this year.
Forrest is on a two-way contract and actually got a bump in salary after the NBA decided not to prorate contracts for two-way players for days spent with the team’s main roster, rather offering a flat rate of $449,155, up from a maximum of $385,000 last season.
After Saturday’s performance, it’s probably fair to say Forrest outearned his full-year contract in just 15 minutes of action.
A single win in the NBA costs roughly $2.6–2.9 million based on the league’s total salary divided by the total number of wins. And frankly, the Jazz probably wouldn’t have beaten the Raptors if it wasn’t for Forrest.
The rookie guard scored seven points, handed out three assists, grabbed two rebounds, and had one major blocked shot against VanVleet to help the Jazz retake the lead early in the fourth quarter.
While the Raptors were trying to milk their starters for every last drop, Snyder was able to steal rest for Joe Ingles due to Forrest’s excellent play in the second half.
“Trent was amazing,” Rudy Gobert said. “I don’t think we win this game without him and the minutes that he gave us in the third and the fourth.”
Forrest finished the game tied with Derrick Favors as the team leader in plus-minus and proved he can contribute on both ends o the floor.
“He really works defensively, he’s long,” Snyder said of the first-year guard. “He had that one big block on VanVleet and he’s unselfish, I think he’s got a great pace in pick and roll.”
After the team waived guard Shaq Harrison earlier in the season, Forrest became the defacto sixth guard but seems to have leaped Miye Oni to become the team’s go-to fifth option.
Since February 13, Forrest has appeared in more than half of the Jazz last 37 games and is averaging more than 10 minutes per game in his last 10 outings.
After his big performance, Forrest said he knew he’d have to be prepared to play critical minutes for the Jazz this season.
“Just staying ready, I feel like that’s the biggest thing,” the guard said. “Watching the film, knowing that your number is probably going to be called so you have to be ready.”
Forrest’s game still needs work to become a full-blown NBA player. He’s connected on just 20 percent of his three-point attempts this season, a number that must improve if he wants to find himself in a rotation permanently.
But for now, the two-way guard has found a way to help the Jazz win an important game this season, and turned his two-way rookie contract into a bargain.
West Standings Reshuffled Again
After losing the top seed in the West on Friday, the Jazz retook the number one spot with Saturday’s victory. They now sit a half-game ahead of the Suns who are likely to reclaim the spot Sunday when they face the Oklahoma City Thunder.
But beyond the top of the standings, a few other major shakeups occurred.
First, the Denver Nuggets beat the Los Angles Clippers, climbing into the third seed in the West and dropping the Clippers to fourth. With the win, Denver now owns a half-game lead over LA with the tiebreaker in their back pocket.
Additionally, the Dallas Mavericks leaped the Los Angeles Lakers with a victory over Detroit, climbing to the fifth-seed and bumping the Lakers down to sixth.
If the playoffs were to start after Saturday’s results, these would be the matchups.
1. Utah Jazz vs. 8. Play-In
2. Phoenix Suns vs. 7. Play-In
3. Denver Nuggets vs. 6. Los Angeles Lakers
4. Los Angeles Clippers vs. 5. Dallas Mavericks
It seemed after Jamal Murray suffered a season-ending knee injury the Nuggets would be the team most susceptible for a first-round loss. However, Denver is now 9-1 since the injury and looks poised to host a first-round matchup at home.
The Lakers got LeBron James and Anthony Davis back last week but lost to shorthanded Sacramento one game after the Jazz beat the Kings by 49 points on the road.
Most teams are still going to prefer to avoid James and Davis as long as they can in the playoffs but for now, no team in the West looks like an easy out.