Deja Vu: Jazz Blitz Warriors Again, 119-79

April 10th, 2018 | by Steve Godfrey

Mitchell’s 22 powered Utah to its 48th win. (Game still)

Right from the opening tip of Tuesday’s home season finale, the Utah Jazz played with energy and intensity. It wasn’t just a five-minute stretch either, as Utah kept it going throughout the game and blitzed the Golden State Warriors Tuesday night, 119-79. 

What led to the boys of Salt Lake destroying the defending champs? Defense, duh. 

The Defense

The defense was dominant. Sure, the Jazz have the luxury of being anchored by Rudy Gobert, the soon-to-be Defensive Player of the Year (author bias), but everyone on the floor in Tuesday’s game was all over the place defensively. Deflecting balls, diving on the floor, picking off passes – it was all of that, and it was all astonishing. 

Especially in the first half. 

Golden State scored 16 points in the first stanza (Mitchell almost matched their output with 12 by himself, by the way), and then 17 in the second. Together, the 33 points on 32 percent shooting were their season lows in those categories. The Jazz led 62-33 at intermission. 

The absence of two-time MVP Steph Curry certainly impacted the game, but they still had three other All-Stars on the court. Draymond Green looked disengaged and a step too slow, finishing with four points. Four. Kevin Durant was a minus-35 from the floor. Sharpshooter Klay Thompson had a 2-for-13 first half, finished 8-of-26 on the game and a minus-40 as Mitchell and Joe Ingles harassed him on every possession. 

Proper Perspective to Appreciate Said Defense

To put the dominant defensive performance in proper perspective, consider the following: 

  • Assists per game: Golden State averages 29.5/game while Utah passes out 22.5/game. Tuesday night Golden State had 13 while Utah had 25. You read that right, 13. Like an annoying teenager. Like, under half their average. 13. 
  • We know the Jazz are mean on D. They allow 100.1/game. GSW gives up 107.3. Remember that score listed above: Jazz scored 12 more than Golden State gives up while holding Golden State 21 points fewer than the Jazz normally allow. 
  • And another. For offense: GSW puts up 113.9/game while Utah puts up 104.1. For Golden State, they came up 34 points short compared to their average. 

Yup. 

Recent History of the Jazz Getting the Dub against the Dubs

The Jazz have been pretty good versus Golden State of late. In fact, in the last two meetings (both Jazz wins), all five starters for Utah have scored in double figures. Ingles missed the mark on Tuesday (only finished with four), but dished eight assists in an even more lopsided win.. 

On January 30, the night the Jazz rolled out their city jerseys, they then rolled the Warriors 129-99. That night, the Jazz had scored 85 points after three quarters and their largest lead was 21. Tuesday, it was 93 points after three and the largest lead ballooned to 43.  

Making a Statement – in 26 minutes

Sunday night and most of Monday, a social media firestorm was brewing in regards to the Rookie of the Year race. Sixers rook Ben Simmons failed to mention Mitchell — or any other rookie — when he was asked earlier this week if other first-year players had caught his eye. Donovan posted his frustrations about the snub, Simmons’ teammate Joel Embiid chimed in, and fans from both parties continued to mount their defense for either side. By Tuesday, the wreckage had seemed to subside, until Mitchell strolled into Vivint in savage-like hoodie.

Hint: look closely. 

Made it 🙃

A post shared by Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) on

Not only does Mitchell talk-the-talk, but he walks-the-walk as he blazed through the first quarter like a man possessed. To start off, he guarded hot -shooter Klay Thompson, who went 0/4 with the Rookie of the Year (?) on him. Offensively, he did what Jazz fans are used to seeing: he hit two threes, crossed former DPOY Draymond Green into a sandbox, and got to the lane with ease to finish the quarter with 12 points and more highlights on his utility belt.

Sub-Star of the Game

Everyone on the team deserves MVP honors, and I literally mean everyone. Jae Crowder came off the bench for 11 points, Jonas Jerebko swished 4/8 threes, and the starters were all high on the +/- scale: Favors, +18; Ingles, +32; Gobert, +36; Rubio, +36; Mitchell, +37.

But the OTHER rookie, Royce O’Neale deserves a shout-out tonight. 

O’Neale was struggling of late offensively, while still contributing hustle stats and valuable defense. Tuesday night, in the second quarter specifically, he found his groove and was playing excellent all-around ball. In the second quarter alone, he contributed 9 points, 5 rebounds, and a +8 from the field.  

Two More Tidbits

  • Mitchell continued to make history, as he made three threes in the ball game. The last triple broke Damian Lillard’s record of the most made deep bombs in a rookie season. On top of that, Mitchell pitched in his 46th 20+ point game, which is the most by a rookie since Blake Griffen in 2010-2011. One more? Sure. The 48 wins are the most by a team with a rookie leading scorer since David Robinson with the Spurs in 1989-1990. Just another day at the office for The Rook. 
  • Before the game, Steve Kerr gave an awesome compimentory shoutout to the Jazz. He said, “One of the best stories in the NBA this year is the way the Jazz have come on. (There’s) a lot of subplots to that. Donovan Mitchell playing as well as he has. Quin doing an amazing job. They are probably the biggest surprise of teams that have exceeding expectations.”

What’s Next?

You already know, why are you asking me? The Jazz play in Portland in a nationally televised game (8:30 MT tip) that holds massive playoff, homecourt advantage and Northwest Division implications. Tune in: it’s the best pre-playoff party you could ask for. 

Steve Godfrey

Steve studied journalism and English, and now teaches high school in Northern Utah. He started his own website and writes about being a Tortured Jazz fan at: http://www.thetorturedfan.com/. He joined the Salt City Hoops team at the start of the 2017-18 season to connect with more Jazz fans and to continue to apply his passion for writing and for basketball.

One Comment

  1. John Jenkins says:

    For a team not playing not to win the 3 starters playing over 30 min with such terrible stats says it all for GSW. For once the Jazz came out with fury and simply put the Warriors away. The defense on Kalyn and Durant was smothering and Green looked pudgy. Is he sick? Loved the fire in Royce and Derrick.

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