by Daniel Olsen
NBA records were broken as the Jazz made the most threes in a half in league history with 18 made at the break. Everyone, including Bubble Donovan himself, was firing on all cylinders as the Utah Jazz pummeled the Orlando Magic by 46 points.
The final score of 137-91 was the polar opposite of the Final Four game being played simultaneously. The Gonzaga Bulldogs of former Jazz great John Stockton beat the UCLA Bruins in the championship in overtime on a bank three. While it wasn’t that kind of thriller, we did learn more about this Jazz team.
First Quarter: Early Jazz Heat Check
Ball movement and a plethora of elite shooters is a perfect recipe for success in the modern NBA. Even the bench chipped in 10 three-pointers as every member of the Jazz got at least some points on the board.
It’s always a long night for the opposition when Joe Ingles gets going and he did from the very start. After the first 39 seconds, Ingles connected on a three that gave the Jazz a lead they would not relinquish at all for the remainder of the game. He finished with 17 points with almost all of his shots coming from beyond the arc. While Ingles averages about 50 percent from deep at Vivint Arena, he surpassed even that clip with 5-7 going in from downtown.
As well as the Jazz played, they cooled off a little after the Ingles three. For them, cooling off means going almost two minutes without scoring. It was that kind of night. O’Neale finally broke the ice with an alley-oop to the outstretched arm of Rudy Gobert that got the Jazz going from the inside out. That sparked a barrage of three-pointers from Donovan Mitchell, Ingles and the gang. With just under three minutes to go in the first frame, Georges Niang made a three to give the Jazz a double digit lead for the rest of the way.
Second Quarter: Game gets ugly for Orlando
In the second quarter everyone was so on fire on the Utah side that for a split second, it seemed like even big man Gobert was going to hit one. However, he thought better of it and made it a pump fake instead. He kept the ball moving to Miye Oni who knocked it down to pour gas on the fire. The ball movement was great but honestly not the greatest ever by Jazz standards. The Magic were just outmatched due to injuries, trading their two best players and being tired with only seven guys playing the majority of the game.
The Magic didn’t really fight through screens so once the Jazz got the open look off a play, they fired from long range. A great three-point team like Utah will make opposing teams pay if they go under the pick. The tough part about guarding the Jazz is they have so many weapons. If Ingles doesn’t have a good look, he can drive and kick it out to any player except maybe Gobert for an open three.
Third Quarter: Bench makes early appearance
With five minutes to go in the third quarter, it was just silly at that point. The Jazz were ahead by about 45 to match Mitchell’s jersey number. At that point, Mitchell had all but secured the game ball with 22 points on the night. Just like the fire Dark Mode city jersey, Mitchell was so red hot from three that he needed to rest just to cool off his hands. He made all but one of his seven three-point attempts.
Favors thrived with the second unit. Whether it was moving the ball, grabbing a rebound or hustling for a lay-up, he made an impact. The sub of the game still had to be Sixth Man of the Year candidate Jordan Clarkson. With 15 points on the night, he earned an early exit.
Fourth Quarter: Jazz unleash end of the bench
Players like Jarrell Brantley, Matt Thomas and Trent Forrest had their time to shine. While Brantley had the best play of the bunch (a two-hand dunk for the play of the game) and Matt Thomas had a three, Trent Forrest deserves the most credit with the most efficient shooting night. He finished with eight points on the night on 4-6 shooting from the field.
If the Jazz had shot more attempts from there in the second unit, they would have had a real shot to be the first team to hit 30 shots from downtown in a game. They still had 26 three-pointers on the night which is one of their better shooting nights in franchise history.
Quick Notes: Final Four Special
• The only player on the Jazz from an alma mater that reached the Final Four. He repped his Baylor Bears before the game to celebrate their win that advanced them to the NCAA Championship on Monday.
• The Gonzaga Bulldogs have yet to win an NCAA Championship. While that could change Monday night, their claim to fame is one alumni who still holds the NBA assists and steals record. That would be the lovable Jazz man John Stockton.
• The second Final Four matchup featuring the Gonzaga Bulldogs and UCLA Bruins overlapped almost the whole Jazz game. It started at 6:34 but, with the game going into overtime, it ended just minutes before the Jazz game did.
• Baylor represents the Big 12 Conference in the championship on Monday. Four Jazz players on the current roster played college basketball in that conference.
• The Jazz will play in Dallas on Monday at 5 PM Mountain Time. That should give O’Neale enough time to catch the NCAA game on the way home as Gonzaga tips off with his Baylor Bears at 7:20 PM Mountain Time on CBS.
• The NCAA Championship takes place at Lucas Oil Stadium which is 900 miles away from American Airlnes Center in Dallas where the Jazz will be playing.
• The last time a team from Utah appeared in the NCAA National Championship was 1998. Both the Jazz and Utes finished in second place at their respective levels. It was a great time to be a Ute and Jazz fan in that time but so difficult to see victory slip away in those final games.
Featured image courtesy Russell Isabella-USA TODAY Sports