In a game the playoff pursuant Jazz had to win against a sub-.500 team, Gordon Hayward led his team with a ho-hum1 line of 22/5/3/2 and had a +/- of 20 which lead the Utah squad to a 98-85 win over the soon-vacationing Minnesota Timberwolves.2
Missing big man Derrick Favors, the Jazz were able to put the Wolves away by keeping them off the free throw line, a place where they usually make a league 4th-best 79% of their average 27.2 attempts a game.
Surprisingly, Wolves have only shot six free throws so far. They usually get their mail forwarded to the FT line.
— Zach Harper (@talkhoops) April 2, 2016
The Jazz limited that number to just six made FTs of 10 attempts, keeping the Minny Pups 15 short of their average 21.5 points scored at the line.
Quin really emphasized the importance of guys being ready to contribute to the team when called upon in the course of the season, even if they aren’t regularly getting time. When it became clear that Derrick wouldn’t play in tonight’s game, Trey Lyles was inserted as the starting power forward. The rookie showed up to play tonight, scoring 18 points, snagging 5 rebounds, dishing an assist and blocking a shot in his 34:50 on the floor.
Quin called Lyles’ development a “silver lining” to the injuries the team has faced throughout the course of the year; that Trey was able to step up and be a scoring force when the team needed him is a little bit thanks to the games missed by D-Fav and Rudy.
“When you have a guy as skilled as he is, when he competes, he’s going to make things happen,” Quin said. “It’s one of the things, the silver lining that we’ve been looking for about having all the injuries that we’ve had. This was not an unfamiliar situation for our group.”
Lyles’ play ran the full gamut of rookiehood, as Trey would have some incredible drive sequences, including two and-1 opportunities in the second quarter. He ended the first half on spice 7/9 shooting for 17 points.
A video posted by Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) on
He also had some not-so-great moments, including a bizarre 8-second violation after Raul passed him the ball at half court, which he wasn’t ready for, and then failed to cross over the line in time. Oops.
That… was an ugly turnover. Lyles wasn’t ready for the pass in the back court. 8 second violation.
— Andy Larsen (@andyblarsen) April 2, 2016
“I thought he got tired in the second half, but he’s doing a lot,” Coach Snyder said of Trey after the game. That showed in a 0/7 second-half showing, his only point coming on a trip to the free-throw line, which he split.
But his play overall was encouraging, and he ended with a not-shabby line of 18/5/1/1/13.
Former Kentucky teammate Karl Anthony Towns said of Lyles, “…he is getting his chance at the NBA level to do what he does. He’s going out there and proving it every night that he was worthy of the pick he was taken. He’s going to be the future of this team.”
Another Jazzman who got extended burn tonight was shot-blocking center Jeff Withey, who played some stellar defense on shoe-in Rookie of the Year Karl Anthony Towns. KAT had an incredible stretch in the third quarter that looked a little like this:
Four-play sequence for Karl-Anthony Towns:
1. Runout dunk
2. Pick-and-pop jumper
3. Post-up turnaround and one
4. High post jumper
— Kevin Pelton (@kpelton) April 2, 2016
It really was an astonishing display, considering the rook was born the same year “Toy Story,” “Pocahontas”5 and “Babe” were released.
Then Jeff Withey subbed in after this crazy run and KAT would then miss two consecutive 2’ layups and wouldn’t score during the remaining five or so minutes in the quarter.
Here’s what Q had to say about Jeff:
“Every time I play him, he plays well. I should probably play him more. You know, that’s on me. I’m glad he stays ready. He does all the things you tell a player to do, and he stays focused. He stays ready and there’s games like this where he invariably has an opportunity to come in and he did that, you know, throughout January. And it was one of the reasons were able to stay afloat when we were missing both Favors and Rudy and Alec, ‘cause he gave us really good minutes, and he did that again tonight.”
I’m not sure we should blow by the fact that the guys at the end of the bench remain engaged, even when they’re not getting consistent playing time. I don’t think that should be taken for granted.
Quin put it perfectly:6
“You don’t ask them to play well every game. No player does that, but I think they play the right way every game and they’re not afraid. They throw themselves into the group and our guys are confident in them, and that makes a big difference.”
The b-ball universe isn’t really doing the Jazz any favors here, as the Dallas Mavericks — also fighting for their playoff lives— won a game they were not expected to against the Pistons in Detroit. This is mostly because the Pistons7 scored a pitiful 11 points in the second quarter and J.J.8 Barea had a stupid 29 points. Stupid. Stupid.
In other news, we found out that Steph Curry almost rested during Monday’s heartbreak game versus the Jazz. So, salt meet wound.9
Kerr says they nearly rested Curry in Utah. After checking with him on game day they decided against
— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) April 2, 2016
Oh, and the Spurs are heading on a road trip and are probably resting guys for most of those games, BUT NOT AGAINST THE JAZZ!
Asked Tony Parker if Spurs’ Big Three will board a plane again before playoffs. He chuckled and says he thinks they’ll at least play in Utah
— Jeff McDonald (@JMcDonald_SAEN) March 30, 2016
Yayyyyyyyyyyy *lights self on fire*
The Jazz did a cool thing tonight by showing awareness for Autism and those affected by it. This included handing out blue glowy sticks that looked pretty cool in a dark arena and by having a moment honoring kids and their families during a timeout.
— Chase Ward (@wardchase) April 2, 2016
— Angie Treasure (@snark_tank) April 2, 2016
Coaches and team employees also donned blue puzzle piece pins on their lapels10.
The Jazz travel to Phoenix for a game Sunday against the Suns. It’s another winnable game against a team that plays hard, despite their record. They’ll need to keep the focus they brought into tonight’s 48-minute bought in order to make it out alive.