by Daniel Olsen
The Jazz had to immediately head back to Salt Lake City following the overtime loss to the Phoenix Suns. 24 hours later, the Utah Jazz were singing a good bye tune to the Portland Trailblazers with a final score of 122-103.
The Jazz started the game with a turnover but quickly made a statement with a put-back dunk by Gobert. After getting embarrassed by the Suns on the boards, the Jazz had to make a statement against the Blazers in Vivint Arena. The Jazz finished the night with a 44-32 advantage and 14-9 on the offensive glass.
Another fun play in the first quarter was a side step three by Donovan Mitchell. It looked Curry-esque as he made a quick step to the left to create space and made an effortless shot from beyond the arc.
A big play that ended the first quarter on a high note was earned thanks to a challenge made by coach Quin Snyder. Miye Oni defended Carmelo and guarded him straight up. The debate was whether he was standing in the normal landing zone of the shooter. The refs determined he was but Anthony kicked his leg out. That was what caused the confusion. This was nice as the Jazz were able to end the first frame up one instead of possibly down two. Since Anthony is a good free throw shooter and a foul was initially called on the three, the Jazz were wise to make this challenge when they did.
The Jazz seemed to defend well throughout the game overall, but it took them a while to warm up. They had to figure out how to not leave money shooters like Robert Covington open for three. One thing that was clicking early and often was the Jazz offense. They seemed to have an answer for everything.
One particular play seen in the second quarter involved a player like Bojan Bogdanovic catching a pass at the left corner three and then zipping the ball to a wide open Jazz player for an easy bucket. Other teams have scouted and know the Jazz love open corner threes but that doesn’t mean Utah won’t throw counter punches if they attack the outside shooters.
Near the end of the first half, Mitchell showed why he is knocking on the door of being a top-ten scorer in the NBA. He would have 37 points on the night. He is learning to create contact as he drew a foul from deep and made all of his three shots from the charity stripe. However, the ending to the first half was embarrassing as the Jazz allowed the Blazers to run to the other end for an easy lay-up at the end of the first half to give the road team a three-point lead.
The Jazz really heated up in the third quarter as they exploded for 40 points while only allowing 19 on the other end. At this point, the Jazz were just having fun. It’s nice when they know they are the better team and can get whatever shot they want.
Some of the memorable shots were a step-back three by Mitchell, a mid-air lay-up by Royce to get on board, and an utter annihilation of the Blazers at the hands of Gobert. On one possession, Gobert fought for the rebound and put the ball back in the hoop. He then flexed and the camera panned to teammate Royce O’Neale doing a nice imitation on the bench.
As dominant as Gobert was, Favors had the Vivint Defensive Play of the Game according to the Jazz broadcast. He got a paw in as the Blazers player went in for a lay-up and got that weak sauce out of there.
Near the end of the third quarter the Jazz went on a 10-0 run. The Jazz broadcast pointed out that the team is 28-0 when they score ten unanswered points in a game. Make that 29-0 now.
Clarkson was sidelined due to a right ankle sprain. He is also doubtful for tonight’s game for the same reason. With that being said, Georges Niang had the more efficient night off the bench even though Joe Ingles had a team high in scoring for the second unit. Niang was lighting it up on 50 percent shooting from the field.
The Jazz now sit at 2.5 games ahead of the Suns again for first place in the Western Conference. The Suns lost their second game on the back-to-back against the Clippers. They might have the edge in the head-to-head series but they will be hard pressed to catch the Jazz with just 20 games remaining in the regular season. The Jazz are building on their franchise record with 23 straight home wins.
The Jazz will be hosting the Sacramento Kings tonight at 7 PM Mountain Time. The Suns will be hosting the Washington Wizards an hour later and will look to keep that Jazz lead from getting bigger. Since they have clinched the season series, they would get the better seed as the head-to-head matchup is the first tiebreaker rule that is taken into account.
Take Notes (Taylor’s Version)
• Thirteen years ago when the original Fearless album was released by Taylor Swift, the Utah Jazz won the Northwest Division and defeated the Rockets in six games in a first round playoff series. Now that she has released the remastered version, the Jazz find themselves as the top seed in the Western Conference.
• Joe Ingles paid the ultimate tribute to Swift by scoring 13 points on the night. It happens to be her favorite number as she was born on December 13.
• I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 22 (combined points from Conley and Bogdanovic). It wasn’t their best outings but everyone else picked up the slack.
• Kanter and the Jazz are never getting back together. While he and the Jazz did not part ways on good terms six years ago, his heart has softened against the Jazz recently. He had eight points off the bench in this game.
• Gobert was fearless in his rebounding in his game. This 21 rebound night marks the fourth tome this season that he has had 20 or more boards in a game.
• When you wear #15 and your name’s Favors, you’re gonna have the Vivint Defensive Play of the game. Favors has recorded at least one block in all five games of April to this point.
• While Niang prefers the Michelle Branch song called Breathe, he definitely improved on the night Swift released her own remastered version of a song with the same name. He had 10 points and shot 40 percent from three.
Featured image courtesy Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports