UTAH JAZZ

Jazz Backcourt Outshines Bulls In Win

Mar 16, 2022, 10:34 PM | Updated: 10:35 pm
Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) congratulates Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson (00)(Courtesy o...
Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) congratulates Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson (00)(Courtesy of Deseret News)
(Courtesy of Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz got big performances from four members of their backcourt as they overcame the Chicago Bulls 125-110.

Donovan Mitchell, Jordan Clarkson, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, and Mike Conley combined for a staggering 93 points in the victory.

With the win, the Jazz were able to avoid falling behind the Dallas Mavericks for the fourth seed in the Western Conference.

Jazz Backcourt Shines Vs. Bulls

Not long ago there were seemingly significant questions about the Jazz struggling backcourt.

Jordan Clarkson’s shooting percentages had dipped significantly from his Sixth Man of the Year award-winning campaign last season, Mike Conley appeared to have lost a step over his last month, Nickeil Alexander-Walker couldn’t find the floor, while Donovan Mitchell was rumored to be wanting out of Utah altogether.

What a difference a few weeks make.

Against Chicago, the Jazz backcourt complimented each other perfectly by both working together and picking up where the other left off.

Conley had eight points in the first quarter to lead all scorers continuing his breakout play after Monday’s performance against the Bucks.

In the second quarter, it was Clarkson who took over, scoring nine points as he and Conley combined for 29 points at halftime.

Clarkson finished with 26 points and continued his improved efficiency scoring the ball by knocking down 10 of 13 shots inside the arc.

In the third quarter, it was all Mitchell who scored 25 of his 33 points in the period, including a franchise-record seven made threes in one frame.

“I didn’t know it was 25, it didn’t feel like 25,” Mitchell said of his outburst. “It felt like I could have kept going.”

It was an important bounce back after a tough shooting night on Monday when Mitchell scored 29 points but shot just 10-32 from the floor.

As Chicago adjusted its defense to slow Mitchell, little-used Alexander-Walker took over scoring 14 points on just six field-goal attempts to help the Jazz extend their lead over the Bulls.

Even with his scoring, it was the other side of the ball that drew the praise of head coach Quin Snyder.

“He was focused on defending and he was playing well even before he knocked down some shots,” Snyder said.

Alexander-Walker ended up playing 22 minutes as the Jazz were playing without Bojan Bogdanovic (calf), Danuel House Jr. (knee), and Trent Forrest (wrist). Short three rotational bodies, the recently acquired guard was tasked with defending the Bulls’ best scorers for long stretches of the game and did an admirable job.

Zach Lavine and DeMar DeRozan scored 58 points on a strong 21-40 shooting night, but the Jazz outscored the Bulls by 24 with DeRozan on the floor, by one with Lavine on the floor, and by 16 with Alexander-Walker on the floor.

Snyder will likely go back to the more familiar House Jr. and Forrest when they return from injury, but Alexander-Walker’s performance against Chicago it’s a good sign of his potential value on the roster.

The Jazz need good perimeter defenders and willing three-point shooters in the corners, House Jr. offers both, while Forrest is mostly a defender. If Alexander-Walker can hit shots consistently, he could make a push for more playing time.

Having gone just 4-4 in their last eight games, there’s not an argument to be made that the Jazz are playing their best basketball of the season. But with 13 games left to play in the regular season, several Jazz players are beginning to find their stride.

If they hope to make a deep run in the postseason, they’ll need more performances like they got tonight from their backcourt.

Jazz Not Getting Help From Mavericks

As the Jazz try to hold onto the fourth seed and home-court advantage in the first round, they aren’t getting any help from the Dallas Mavericks.

After beating the red-hot Boston Celtics on Monday on the road, the Mavericks went into Brooklyn and earned a win over the Nets to keep pace with the Jazz.

Led by 37 points from Luka Doncic, Dallas erased a 14 point fourth quarter deficit and downed the Nets 113-111 thanks to a Spencer Dinwiddie buzzer-beater.

The Mavericks have been on a tear since January 1 when they owned the eighth-best record in the West.

Since the New Year, Dallas has the second-best record in the NBA at 26-8 and has climbed into a tie with the Jazz in the fourth seed.

The two teams will face off in Dallas on March 27 in what will likely have a huge impact on the final standings. The Jazz own the current tiebreaker between the two teams 2-1.

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