by Daniel Olsen
The Jazz struggled early, but they counted on a noteworthy performance from Donovan Mitchell and clutch shooting from Mike Conley. This helped them make a late surge to pull ahead with a 128-112 victory over the Sacramento Kings.
The team started out rusty as the Kings jumped out to a 12-1 lead. The only point the Jazz got was one made free throw by Rudy Gobert. The Jazz got on board with their first field goal of the game on an alley-oop to the same Gobert. This marked the third straight game that the first Jazz field goal came from a Gobert dunk.
Both teams caught fire as the Jazz led 34-31 at the end of the first quarter. This was thanks to three-pointers on the last four Utah Jazz possessions of the first frame. Georges Niang and Conley both exchanged buckets from beyond the arc to give the Jazz the momentum they needed heading into the second quarter.
The biggest play in the second quarter was a monstrous block by Mitchell. With just a minute to go in the first half, the Kings were on their way to a fast break. That was before a flying Mitchell came out of nowhere for a chase down block. The quarter as a whole was a wash as the Jazz entered the locker room with a six-point deficit.
There is only one team that leads the NBA in third-quarter production and that is the Utah Jazz. According to TeamRankings, the Jazz have a +3.6 average differential against teams in this quarter in the 2020-2021 season. That’s over a point better than the next best team in the Los Angeles Clippers. The differential has been even greater lately as the Jazz have now averaged +15 in their last three contests.
The Jazz scored a game-high 36 points in this third frame and allowed just 24 points on the defensive end. NBA coaches at this point must be wishing they were flies on the wall at coach Quin Snyder’s halftime speeches. One player that took his words to heart must have been Mitchell. He drilled consecutive three-pointers to start the second half. He and teammate Joe Ingles fed off each other as they both seemed to have a fire lit under them throughout the night.
Mitchell found some easy buckets in the fourth quarter as he sliced the defense for easy inside buckets. While his 42 points were impressive, the cherry on top was actually a different play that he was a part of that turned out to be the Morgan Jewelers Diamond Play of the Game according to the Jazz broadcast. With two minutes left in the game, Mitchell intercepted a telegraph pass and hit Conley with a no-look dime on the other end. That play resulted in a three-point swish in the right corner.
With the win, the Jazz maintain a 2.5 game lead over the Phoenix Suns. They will look to avoid a season sweep at the hands of the Washington Wizards but will have to do so without the service of Conley and likely Jordan Clarkson as well. The game will be broadcast tonight at 7 PM Mountain Time.
The 30–second timeout
• Mitchell has averaged 40 points in his last three games.
• The Jazz are 2-0 in the games Clarkson has missed so far.
• Conley and Mitchell combined for 68 points as the only starters to score in double figures.
• The Jazz are 5-2 against teams from California so far this year.
• With Clarkson injured, Oni has seen significant time in the last two games. However, he has shot just 3-11 from the field in that span.
• Gobert pulled down double-digit rebounds for the fourth straight game. He had 11 on the night.
• The Jazz are the only team in the NBA in the top five in points-per-game (117.1) and points allowed (107.4). They are currently third in both categories.
Featured image courtesy Deseret News