by Daniel Olsen
The Utah Jazz started out strong and never looked back in a solid 110-99 win at Vivint Arena. Capacity is now increased to 6,700. Front row seats are now being sold provided that these ticket holders wear their mask at all times throughout the game.
The Jazz entered this game following a season sweep over the Raptors and definitely looked like a team ready to open the broom cupboard over the Spurs. There’s a lot to get into so it’s time to pull up a clipboard and call the timeout.
The Jazz built a small lead from the start and would gradually build it throughout the first quarter. They seemed like a snake slowly strangling its prey. On one particular play, Bojan Bogdanovic backed down Demar DeRozan and then put him in the spin cycle for an easy layup. The inside-out strategy has certainly paid off for Bogdanovic in his second year with the Jazz. He finished the night with a team high 25 points and was a big reason the Jazz were ahead by nine points after the first quarter.
While the Jazz did commit 16 turnovers, they still managed to score 21 points off of the 13 Spurs turnovers while only allowing 22 points off the ones they committed. On one play in this quarter, the Spurs fumbled the ball. The Jazz got running and Gobert bounce the ball off the backboard, got the rebound and dunked it back home. The confidence he has to know that he can grab the boards on any missed shot at the rim is astounding. The Jazz won this quarter 29-21 and led 60-43 at halftime.
In the second half, the Spurs came to score. However, the Jazz were ready to do the same. DeRozan, four-time NBA All-Star, led the way for San Antonio with 22 points on the night. With 8:31 to go in the third frame, Royce O’Neale played a little hot potato at the top of the key. O’Neale passed it to Niang who passed it back to O’Neale who passed it one more time to Niang for a three-point swish at the top of the key. This unselfish play led to a 29 point third frame which kept the Spurs at bay despite a 29 point outing of their own.
It was time eventually to put this game to bed and let the starters rest while the bench got their work in. Trent Forrest took full advantage of the opportunity. He had nine points in 21 minutes and also made a three-pointer. While Clarkson led the bench with 16 points, Forrest deserves some extra credit for his higher efficiency at 60 percent from the field and 50 percent from three.
Drawing up the next Game Plan
With the win, the Jazz are going back and forth with the Suns to determine who will get that top seed. The Suns survived an overtime scare from the Cavs on Tuesday night to tie up the Jazz. The Suns own the tiebreaker so the Jazz will need to keep winning and hope Phoenix loses at some point.
Utah will play the Spurs again tonight. The game will start at 7 PM Mountain Time. The Jazz will need to keep doing what they’ve been doing and look to make in-game adjustments as well. Coach Popovich is a Hall of Fame caliber person so he’s going to make adjustments. However, Snyder is a Popovich disciple and having a career year as a Coach of the Year candidate. The Jazz could lose this game if they are flat but they will do everything in their power to get another win for the home crowd.
- For the first time ever, Forrest got the water bottle treatment as his teammates splashed him following the big win. Hopefully the rookie will continue to build on this career game.
- Bogdanovic leads the team in points scored over the Spurs this season with 53 total points scored over the Spurs this season. Clarkson is second with 34 points scored in two games.
- Gobert now has two double-doubles in as many games played in the month of May. He had 24 points and 15 rebounds in this win. In contrast, former Ute Jakob Poeltl had just six points and three rebounds for the Spurs at the center position.
- The Jazz really got after the Spurs in the paint. They scored 66 points inside compared to just 46 points scored by San Antonio.
- With the win, the Jazz are 6-1 against teams from the state of Texas. They are, in fact, messing with Texas this year.
- Georges Niang made a team high three shots from downtown on the night.
- The Jazz have held their opponent to under 100 points five times starting from the month of April.
- The Spurs bench did score 39 points compared to just 30 from the Jazz. The starters did most of the work for Utah in this one.
Featured image courtesy Rick Bowmer, Associated Press