Dennis Schroder Career Night Leads Atlanta to a 99-94 Upset of the Jazz

March 21st, 2018 | by Steve Godfrey

Mitchell scores two of his 24, but he and the Jazz fall short at home (Game still, AT&T SportsNet)

Atlanta came into Utah with just five road games all year and Dennis Schroder did everything he could to make it six. Sure, it wasn’t pretty, but Schroder’s career-high 41 points helped the Hawks score an upset win in Salt Lake City, beating the Jazz 99-94. 

With Jazz legends John Stockton and Karl Malone in the house, both teams played an appropriately 90s style basketball: physical, tough defense and some low-scoring offense. There were eight ties, 15 lead changes, and another hard foul against Ricky Rubio, so the game clearly had it all. It was supposed to be a win for Utah, but Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer kept his squad playing hard and making runs until the final bell sounded. Throughout the game, it never felt like a sure thing despite the visitors’ 20-50 record.

Why? Schroder, the point guard for Atlanta, used his speed and length to harrass Utah and make the game close throughout the night. Both teams made runs and it seemed every Hawk run was instigated by the German speedster. In fact, the game started as a battle of the points guards as Ricky Rubio had eight of the first 13 Jazz points while Schroder had nine of the first 17 for Atlanta.

Throughout the season, Schroder really sets the tempo for Atlanta as he uses his quickness to accelerate into the lane and create quick reads to teammates. He isn’t much of a jump shooting threat, but he can get to the lane at ease for buckets or passes. Consequently, Schro leads the team in both points, 19.1, and assists, 6.2. Tuesday, the Jazz threw Rubio, Donovan Mitchell, and Dante Exum at him defensively, but it didn’t matter. He surpassed both averages to finish with a season-high 41 points and 7 assists. 

For Utah, the reason they couldn’t stretch their win streak to double digits was because they couldn’t consistently make shots. The team shot 31% from the field in the first half and finished the game 6/34 from deep (17%). The Jazz would go out on 8-0 and 9-0 runs, but that offense would fizzle and Atlanta would tighten up on D. Mitchell led the Jazz with 24 points, but it took him 28 shots and an abysmal 1/10 three-point shooting performance to get there. 

Another reason why Utah struggled Tuesday night was they gave up too many points off turnovers. 15 is their season average when it comes to giveaways, and that’s the number they hit vs the Hawks. However, Atlanta scored 26 points off the turnovers which is too many in a close, dogfight type game. 

Rubio was Jekyll and Hyde for Utah as he did a little good and a little bad. The Good? He knocked down two threes in the first quarter as defenders went under the screen, daring him to shoot. In their defense, it’s not a bad strategy as he is shooting 31% from deep this year. However, once a few buckets from deep start to drop, a defense has to be more honest which enables Tricky Ricky to be a threat from outside of the paint and make reads and lobs like this: 

Rubio finished the game with 23 points, but only three assists and a -11 from the field. He also had four turnovers and was the primary defender on Schroder who spun him around like a washing machine more than once. In fact, in the closing minutes, Rubio was involved in another flagrant foul as Schroder completed a blow-by layup and gave Rubio’s face a swipe on his way back down the court. Rubio may have flopped a bit, but the swipe was intentional and deemed a flagrant one. Rubio sank both free throws and on Ingles made two more on the ensuing possession to give the Jazz the lead, but like most of the night, they just couldn’t hold a lead. From that point forward, Atlanta scored eight of the game’s final 10 points.

Dante’s Bucket of the Night

Dante Exum played his third game of the season and continued to show glimpses of why fans were so distraught when another season was lost to injury. In his 16 minutes, he had six points and two steals. My favorite was this: 

Baylor Brothers:

Former roommates Royce O’Neale and Taurean Prince squared off, even guarding against each other at times. The two played together for Baylor from 2013-2015, compiling a 50-22 record and back-to-back NCAA appearances, the first it had happened for the Bears. Prince, technically selected by Utah with the 12th pick in 2016 but shipped off as part of the three-team trade that netted George Hill, has put together a quality season for the Hawks averaging 13.5 points, 5 rebounds, and 2.5 assists a game. He stuggled in Utah Tuesday night, but calmly sank two free throws to seal the deal for Atlana. He finished with 11 points, two steals, two assists, and three rebounds and a +9 on the court. 

To End On a Positive Note:

The Jazz will take on Dallas on Thursday night, then begin a stech against San Antonio, Golden State, and Boston. Playoffs are likely, with the 5th/6th seed still as possibilities, but this loss should temper expectations a bit. However, we can’t end on a sour note so let’s end with some really pretty hair. 

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. David says:

    Awesome as always.

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