Jazz Have Best Offensive Night Of The Season In Win Over Blazers

Nov 29, 2021, 10:33 PM | Updated: 10:36 pm
Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert celebrates next to Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (Photo ...
Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert celebrates next to Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz got an easy 129-107 win over the Portland Trail Blazers behind 30 points from Donovan Mitchell and a 21 point, 16 rebound double-double from Rudy Gobert.

The Jazz turned the ball over a season-low five times leading to just five fast break points for the Blazers allowing the Jazz to rely more heavily on their half-court defense.

As a result, Damian Lillard finished the game with only 11 points on 12 field goal attempts in the Jazz win.

Joe Ingles Excelling As A Starter

Joe Ingles had had a sluggish start to the season through the first 19 games of the season.

Last season’s Sixth Man of the Year runner-up was averaging 6.9 points, 3.3 assists, and 2.9 rebounds to open the year after averaging 12.6 points, 4.7 assists, and 3.6 rebounds.

But over the last two games, Ingles is averaging 14.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists, while shooting a blistering 64 percent from the floor and 61 percent from three.

The same thing happened last season for Ingles as a starter, especially in the playoffs when the veteran had to fill in for an injured Mike Conley against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Ingles averaged 15.4 points, 4.4 assists, and 4.0 rebounds while shooting 54 percent from the floor and 45 percent from the three-point line in five starts against LA, proving once again to be one of the NBA’s most valuable role players.

It should come as no surprise that with Ingles in the starting lineup the Jazz have had two of their best offensive outings recording a 135.8 rating against Portland (1st) and 127.5 (3rd) against the New Orleans Pelicans.

For his part, Ingles said he doesn’t have a strong preference on whether he starts or comes off the bench.

“Do I enjoy starting? Yeah, it’s fun,” Ingles admitted, but added rhetorically, “do I also enjoy coming off the bench with [Jordan Clarkson] and jacking and bunch of threes?”

Quin Snyder doesn’t seem intent on keeping Ingles in the starting lineup when Royce O’Neale returns from injury, and how the veteran defender would fit with the second unit is an unknown, but it’s nice to know it’s an option for the Jazz to put Ingles in the starting line up if either he or they run into a lull.

Chauncey Billups Discusses Rudy Gobert

Gobert dominated the Trail Blazers with a 21 point, 16 rebound double-double. Though he had only one block, he made life difficult for Lillard who made an effort to challenge the Jazz in the paint after connecting on just 1-4 threes during the game.

The Jazz star is one of the most unique players in the modern NBA, and historically, there are only a handful of players who have had his impact on the game.

Comparisons to Bill Russell and Dikembe Mutombo are perhaps the most common, but most recently, Ben Wallace has likely been his best comp. Before the game, Trail Blazers coach Chauncey Billups, who won a championship with Wallace in Detroit, discussed the impact Gobert has on the floor.

“Rudy is incredible how he manages that paint down there,” Billups said.

Wallace was undervalued during his first four seasons in the NBA, going undrafted out of Virginia Union, playing for the Washington Wizards and Orlando Magic before finding a home with the Pistons.

From there, the undersized big man went on to make four All-Star teams, win four Defensive Player of the Year awards, make five All-NBA teams, and six All-Defensive teams before being inducted into the Hall of Fame this past summer.

Now in the midst of his prime, Gobert’s accolades are starting to closely resemble those of Wallace.

Gobert has two All-Star nods, three Defensive Player of the Year awards, four All-NBA appearances, and five All-Defensive team appearances.

By the end of the season, the Jazz center might match Wallace in Defensive Player of the Years awards, and All-NBA/All-Defensive teams appearances, with several years left to surpass the Hall of Famer’s numbers.

“He’s a dominant defender down there,” Billups said of Gobert. “Even shots he doesn’t block he has an impact on. Guys won’t even shoot or they drive and kick it, he’s incredible at what he does.”

If Gobert can amass more end-of-season awards, it’ll help his Hall of Fame caus, though perhaps nothing would help as much as an NBA Championship which Wallace earned in 2004.

Gobert does have an edge on Wallace in international play which the Basketball Hall of Fame will consider at the end of his career, having won a silver medal this summer in Tokyo with the Olympics heading to his native France in 2024.

Regardless, Wallace was one of the most beloved players in recent NBA history due to his incredible defensive presence down low, it’ll be worth monitoring Gobert’s popularity over the second half of his career, and how that may impact his Hall of Fame bid.

You’re Wrong About Yellow Jerseys

I said early in the game that the Jazz yellow statement jerseys are some of the best in team history, and for the most part, Jazz fans disagreed with me.

The yellow jerseys have had an interesting history, as the Jazz wore them during Mitchell’s rookie season when they beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in the playoffs leading to some of the most iconic photos in recent team history.

But the next season, the yellow jerseys earned a negative reputation because of how poorly the team played in them.

While the Jazz went 40-16 in games when they any of their non-yellow jerseys for a winning percentage of .714, they were just 1-7 with a .125 winning percentage in the statement uniforms.

As a result, the Jazz pulled them from the rotation when they traveled to Orlando to finish the season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The jerseys have since returned in the lineup over the last two seasons, and the team is 3-2 this season while wearing them this year.

But regardless of the team’s record, I think they’ll be remembered as some of the best jerseys the team has ever worn, especially once they get pulled from the rotation.

Looking around the NBA, the overwhelmingly favorite jerseys from fans feature bright colors with a bold logo.

The Memphis Grizzlies turquoise jerseys might be the best in the NBA right now, while the Miami Heat Vice jersey might be the new uniform of the last several seasons.

Right now, it seems Jazz fans’ favorite jersey in recent memory is the throwback purple and white mountain jersey that they wore two seasons ago. In addition to its bright colors, it also represented the best teams in franchise history as John Stockton and Karl Malone wore them during their two trips to the Finals.

This current Jazz roster is easily the most talented since those teams, and the statement jersey has been tied to some of the team’s best modern memories.

Jazz fans may not like the yellow jerseys today, but in the not too distant future, they’ll be regarded as some of the best in franchise history.

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