40 Point Blowout of Magic Gives Jazz First Road Win

November 18th, 2017 | by Clint Johnson

Utah’s Derrick Favors (15) was too strong for Orlando to stop, much like the rest of the Jazz team. (The Canadian Press)

Story of the Game

Blowout wins are always welcome. For a Jazz team who had lost six of their past seven and become the NBA’s lone franchise without a road victory, their 125 – 85 demolition of the Magic was desperately needed.

For perhaps the first time all season, Utah played a quality game on both sides of the ball for 48 minutes, which allowed them to win all four quarters. Up three after the first quarter, they added 12 points to that margin in the second, another 15 in the third, and capped that off with an additional 10 in the fourth, most of which was garbage time.

While the Jazz’s superiority in the game is amply evident statistically, it was what numbers don’t fully show that best explain Utah’s overwhelming success. Offensively, every Jazz player broke the paint with force and aggression, often resulting in several strong drives on a single possession. The constant pressure on the rim resulted in both bountiful interior scoring–50 points in the paint–as well as numerous quality attempts from long range–Utah made 14 of 34 three point attempts (41 percent). Defensively, the Jazz combined active hands (10 steals) with toughness fighting off screens, recovering on help defense, and solid responsibility for individual defensive assignments.

The result was that for the first time in a long time, the Jazz got plenty of the shots they wanted while giving the Magic hardly any attempts their offense is designed to create. Orlando contributed to Utah’s feel good result with an uninspired effort, perhaps thinking a Jazz team playing its third game in four nights would decide not to show up. But the Jazz were in desperate need: of a road win, of confidence, of direction early in a tumultuous season and in the absence of their superstar Rudy Gobert.

All that happened tonight.

Stars of the Game

Superstars: Derrick Favors and Rodney Hood

Utah really needs players to rise to this level of impact, particularly with Gobert out of the lineup, and tonight both Favors and Hood did to full measure.

Favors provided arguably the most complete Jazz game of the season, racking up 25 points on 83 percent shooting (10 – 12) while making all five of his attempts from the stripe. He added 11 rebounds, including a massive 6 offensive, as well as 3 assists and a pair of blocks while only turning over the ball once. In the 25 minutes he played, he was the best player on the floor.

Where Favors provided consistent excellence, Hood showed once again that while he hasn’t yet reached reliable offensive impact he certainly retains his explosive scoring ability. 21 of his 31 points, one shy of his career high, came in the second half. He scored 15 in the third quarter alone, nearly matching Orlando’s 19. His 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and steal were nice, but it’s increasingly obvious that Hood goes as his jumper does, and tonight he blistered the nets for seven threes on 13 attempts. When Hood is taking volume threes with confidence, the Jazz offense is transformed.

Secondary Star: Donovan Mitchell

With several candidates for this position, the rookie gets the nod for showing a new side to his game: quiet competence. Before tonight, Mitchell provided numerous great games as well as some stinkers but always by being a loud presence on the court. A high volume shooter with a mixture of dazzle and questionable decision making, he doesn’t easily fade into the background. Tonight he played a good all around game in such a controlled manner it was easy to miss. 12 points on only 9 shots–his fewest attempts in a game since October 30th against Dallas–including three of four from beyond the arc and making his lone free throw. He added a big six rebounds as well as a trio each of assists and steals. He was very good quietly, which isn’t something he’d shown himself capable of previously.

Secret Star: Raul Neto

The Brazilian followed up his career high scoring night with what was really a superior game. Scoring a respectable 9 points on 5 shots and adding a team high 7 assists and 2 steals, it was his defensive effort and soundness, as well as his insistence at breaking the paint, that were his greatest contributions. Point guards who play well have cascade effects throughout their teams perhaps more than any other position, and Neto displayed that tonight as Utah outscored Orlando by an amazing 44 points with him on the court.

Stats of the Game

30 – Jazz assists, a season high.

13 – Magic assists, a season low by a wide margin1.

37 – The margin Utah outscored the Magic by in the final three quarters of the contest.

6:02 – Time left in the fourth quarter when Utah matched their previous season high in scoring at 114.

37 – Magic points allowed in the second half.

Double – Utah’s bench scoring over Orlando’s, 58 – 29.

Sundries

  • Perhaps the best example of Utah’s effort tonight was a Jonus Jerebko defensive rebound and outlet pass to Favors streaking down the court fast enough to earn an obvious clear path foul. The play showed a number of things the Jazz did well tonight that hasn’t been true recently, certainly not in combination. The quick, accurate pass from Jerebko showing awareness and control. Favors anticipation and effort to beat every other player down the floor. Favors making both free throws, keeping him perfect in five attempts, showing poise. It was the type of odd play that happens in a game where effort and skill combine at a high level.
  • Both Thabo Sefolosha and Ricky Rubio played tonight (18 and 16 minutes respectively). While Sefolosha performed the better of the two, Utah used these minutes to keep the energy level up on the tail end of a back to back and third game in four nights.
  • Sefolosha may be Utah’s most consistently solid contributor this season. He entered the night shooting 49 percent from the field, 41 percent from three, and 83 percent from the line while adding 4.7 rebounds and 1.3 steals and, revealingly, a plus-1.1, the only Jazz man playing more than 20 minutes with a positive plus-minus. Tonight he rolled along with 8 points, 4 rebounds, an assist and 2 steals and another plus-minus gem, plus-29. He’s been rock solid.
  • Four of Utah’s starters produced three of more assists: Ingles (6), and Favors, Rubio, and Mitchell (3 each). The ball movement looked much better given the repeated hard drives to the basket followed by kick outs, often leading to another drive to the hoop.
  • No Magic player exerted much influence at all in this game. Aaron Gordon had a superficially strong stat line of 18 points and 9 rebounds, but he produced nearly all of those in one on one offensive action and repeated attempts at the rim of his own misses. The Magic won’t win many games with an offense built on isolating Gordon. Terrance Ross had a 12 point burst in the second quarter but disappeared for the rest of the game. Utah’s defense and energy really dictated the shots Orlando got, a dynamic that the Jazz have been on the uncomfortable side of too often this season.
  • Favors notched his second 20 – 10 game since Gobert went down with an injured knee, and it’s no coincidence those are the only Utah wins in that stretch. This team needs interior scoring both off the pick and roll and from offensive rebounds, an area where improvement has been needed. But Favors made three of four jumpers beyond ten feet as well as all of his free throws. He’s taken 11 or more shots four of the last five games. In any of the five games before that, he hadn’t taken more than seven. When Gobert returns Quin Snyder still faces the mammoth challenge of finding a way to maximize having both Gobert and Favors on this roster together. They’re probably two of his top three players, and might just be the two best when each is used to maximize his skill. This team doesn’t threaten the playoffs unless Snyder finds a way to use them to greater combined effect. Favors can’t just be a significant contributor in the minutes he spells Gobert.

The Jazz have a day to capitalize on the confidence from this game before they seek a revenge win on the road against the 76ers on Monday.

Clint Johnson

Clint Johnson

Clint Johnson is a professional author, writing educator, and editor. He teaches writing at Salt Lake Community College. A frequent presenter at both writing and educational conferences, he writes about the Jazz as a break from his other writing work.

5 Comments

  1. John Jenkins says:

    Clint, for once an article that I have nearly zero disagreement with. Your analysis is spot on including the notes on offensive rebounds, a pet peeve normally about the Jazz. I also liked Thompson article on Deadspin about Ekpe and his + – with out scoring. Really apples to Thabo as you mentioned. Thanks. John

    • Clint Johnson says:

      Thanks John. I too liked the Thompson piece. And I agree with you about offensive rebounding, particularly when Gobert and Favors return to playing together. I know there are various reasons why teams are de-emphasizing the offensive glass in the modern NBA, but given the team’s personnel, I think crashing the offensive glass could be an important element of stabilizing their offense.

  2. Spencer says:

    One item of note not mentioned here. Ricky Rubio just doesn’t fit this offense, and sadly doesn’t really fit any offense in the NBA. If your pg can’t shoot he better be the Greek freak. We got a little fools gold the first of the season, but the truth is whenever Rubio shoots you hold your breath hoping. He can’t finish at the rim or shoot from anywhere but the free throw line. Additionally, his defense-while giving great effort-is too full of gambles (just like his passing) and forces everyone else out of position. Defensively and and offensively I see him as a net negative.

    Neto is better in most cases due to his excellent 3-point shooting, more precise passing (I know that sounds crazy) and solid on ball defense. He does get overmatched fairly regularly so he is not a starter, but frankly neither is Rubio.

    Both Rubio and Udoh are completely ignored on offense by the other team. Gobert is a great rim runner and finisher, so that space has to be his. The only way, then, to have an efficient offense is to have four other shooters on the floor.

    I really hope the Jazz are smart enough to use the next two months to showcase and trade Rubio, Alec Burks, Joe Johnson, really any of the rotation guys except Mitchell and Gobert (and pardon if I blaspheme here, but I would even entertain a Gobert trade for the right picks/young players if we are confident Favors can stay healthy and resign).

    What do you think it would take to get the following players?

    Aaron Gordon (Maybe a big offer next summer?) I think he has the potential to be a worse shooting better at everything else version of Hayward from the PF position. (LeBron James extra lite)
    Og Anunoby Ideal 3-4 guy (Kawaii Leonard extra lite)

    • Clint Johnson says:

      My general rule of thumb is that young prospects of interest almost always cost more than they end up being worth. I’d only do such a deal if I was really sold on a prospect, and personally, I’m not on either of the two you mention given the likely cost.

      There’s no question Rubio is an awkward fit right now. I do think he can be a net positive but he’s going to have to get comfortable. He very clearly isn’t at this point. Also, I’m reluctant to succumb to the four shooter strategy because it’s so far from current personnel. I’m fond of Mark Cuban’s advice that finding a new way to compete is often better than using the same formula everyone else is and just trying to do it better.

      • Paul Johnson says:

        This game looks like a wild anomaly in retrospect.

        Another young player the Jazz may want to target at the SF position is Kelly Oubre, Jr. He has all the defensive tools and appears like he could learn to play offense much better than Aaron Gordon. He should also be available in restricted free agency in two years, whereas Washington is way up there in luxury tax territory, just paid a max contract to Otto Porter, Jr. to be their SF of the future, and they already have Bradley Beal established as their SG of the future. At the beginning of free agency in 2019-2020, the Wizards will be paying about $104 mil. to only 4 players (Wall, Beal, Porter and Mahinmi), and they can probably ill afford to pay another $18-20 to Kelly Oubre, Jr., so they will probably let him go if he gets a big offer. They also may be willing to trade him for a draft pick or younger player prior to him hitting free agency, so they get something out of him, rather than lose him for nothing in free agency.

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