Jazz Blow Out Pacers for 9th Straight Road Win

March 7th, 2018 | by Clint Johnson

The Indiana Pacers hardly slowed down Ricky Rubio and the Utah Jazz as they sprinted to a 20-point win in Indiana, their ninth straight road victory as Utah closes ever-nearer playoff position. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Story of the Game

The Utah Jazz played one of their better games of the season, which was enough for a 20-point road win against the Indiana Pacers, 104 – 84.

The Pacers jumped out to a quick eight to two lead and, though the Jazz soon fought back, midway through the quarter this looked like the game many had anticipated: a tight contest between one team fighting to keep home court in the East and the 10th ranked Western team charging hard for a playoff spot. But the Pacers offense was heavily reliant on midrange jump shots while Utah missed six of their first seven three point shots. 

Later in the quarter both those things changed and the Jazz reeled off a 21 to six run to close the quarter, giving them a 32 to 20 lead. They would not relinquish that double-figure advantage for more than a few moments for the rest of the night.

With Utah’s defense playing well – Indiana shot only 39 percent from the field in the game – and its offense humming to the tune of 51 percent shooting from the floor, the Pacers’s only hope was the ever-present wild card of the NBA game, the three point shot. Unfortunately for them, the Pacers are a team that, like the Jazz, is prone to prolonged cold spells from long range, and tonight they were sealed in an ice locker. Indiana managed only three made threes on 23 attempts (13 percent), and one of those came in the final minute of a game long lapsed to garbage time.

Without the ability to chew away at the lead three points at a time, Indiana’s only run of the game in the third quarter was only able to cut the lead from 20 to 10 by the end of the period. The Jazz calmly went on a nine to nothing run to start the fourth quarter, ballooning the lead back to 19, and the Pacers mentally gave in on their home floor.  

The win is the Jazz’s ninth straight on the road, one of the longest such streaks in the NBA this season and probably the most unlikely given Utah started the year out as the worst road team in the NBA.  

Stars of the Game

Superstar: Rudy Gobert (23 points, 14 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal)

Last year Gobert closed out the season terrorizing the league, and since returning from injury this year he’s doing exactly the same. The Stifle Tower regularly dictates play on the defensive end, but in the last four games he has scored 16 or more points per contest on an incredible 78 percent shooting from the field. Tonight’s 23 points are notable because only three came from the free throw line (on four attempts). Gobert’s ability to score 20 points on 10 of 14 shooting shows just how much his offensive game has developed, to the point where he can rightly claim to be one of the most impactful all-around players in the NBA.

Secondary Stars: Joe Ingles (11 points, 10 assists, 4 rebounds, 1 steal, 2 threes)

Donovan Mitchell scored 20 and dished six assists, but turned the ball over six times. Ricky Rubio scored 18, added seven assists, and six rebounds, but required 18 shots for those points. Ingles was quietly more influential than either guard, scoring 11 on only eight field goal attempts and leading the team with his career-high 10 assists. As is commonly the case, an apparently quiet game by Ingles proved extremely influential in the win, as illustrated by the Aussie’s team-high plus-22 in the game.  

Secret Star: Raul Neto (0 points, 3 assists, 1 rebound, 1 steal, 0 turnovers)

Neto had struggled since his return to the lineup from injury, proving a liability while on the court and heightening anticipation of Dante Exum’s return. Tonight the Brazilian steadied the ship, helping the Jazz outscore Indiana by 15 in his nine minutes of play. That he didn’t take a shot but managed three assists in that span shows how well he ran Utah’s offense, and that type of orchestration will be necessary off the bench for Utah to make the playoffs. 

Stats of the Game

30 – Jazz assists, their fifth time this season hitting the 30-assist mark, all wins. 

20 – Indiana’s advantage in second chance points, where they destroyed Utah 24 to four. It’s amazing that this was so and they still lost by 20.

40.3 percent – The Pacers’s effective field goal rate, nearly 10 percentage points lower than the NBA’s most futile offense, the Phoenix Suns, have averaged this season.

1 – Made free throw by Utah in the first half on three attempts. They upped that to 10 on 13 attempts in the second half. 

8 – More threes made by the Jazz than the Pacers. A team that gives up 24 from beyond the arc just won’t win the modern NBA.


  • The Jazz allowed Indiana only a single substantial run tonight, a scoring burst near the end of the third quarter that cut the lead from near 20 to 10 by quarter’s end. But the Jazz led this game by double figures for most of the night, so allowing only a single such burst is quite impressive. It’s really hard to keep a double figure lead for the majority of an NBA game, especially on the road against a good team. The Jazz did that tonight.
  • Gobert made a pair of ridiculous shots in the fourth quarter. The first was an off-balance giraffe of a midrange fall away jumper that went in. A minute later he was fouled going to the hoop and, turning his body with the contact, flicked the ball in the air sidearm and banked it in. When those two went through the hoop, the Pacers must have known this wasn’t their night.
  • While Derrick Favors wasn’t super involved tonight, it is interesting that the Jazz opened the game with Favors cutting to the hoop after curling around a screen at the elbow for a score. He also made his ninth three pointer of the season. For what it’s worth, Favors has now taken three shots from long range in four games season. He’s made at least one in each game and is five of 12 overall in those contests.
  • Thaddeus Young is one of the more underrated players in the league and has killed the Jazz in the past. Tonight he wasn’t particularly involved despite playing 31 minutes. 
  • Mitchell has dished at least four assists in five of his last six games and seven of his last nine.
  • The Jazz are now 11 and two when Rubio takes at least 14 shots. I have no idea how this works.
  • Trevor Booker debuted for the Pacers but managed only two points and two rebounds in 14 minutes of play.
  • Lance Stephenson had a uniquely awful game: zero points on five missed shots, one rebound, three turnovers, and a technical foul. He was a minus-19 for the game.

The Denver Nuggets host the reeling Cleveland Cavaliers tonight. Should Utah’s fellow Wasatch Front franchise lose that game, Utah would be tied with the Nuggets and only half a game behind the Clippers for the eighth playoff spot in the West. Whatever other teams do, expect the Jazz to storm into Memphis on Friday with confidence they will run their road win streak to 10.

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.

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