Jazz Dominate Wall-less Wizards by 47

December 4th, 2017 | by Clint Johnson

After winning a sixth straight victory by a whopping 47 points, Jazz players are finding smiles, like that of Jonus Jerebko (8), are growing contagious. (AP Photo/Alex Goodlett)

Story of the Game

If there is such a thing as a perfect half of basketball, the Jazz hit the Wizards with it in the first half of tonight’s 116 – 69 blowout.

Start with player scoring:

Donovan Mitchell – 15 points

Thabo Sefolosha – 9 points

Derrick Favors – 7 points

Alec Burks – 7 points

Jonas Jerebko – 6 points

Joe Ingles – 5 points

Raul Neto – 5 points

Rudy Gobert – 4 points

Ricky Rubio – 3 points

Royce O’Neale – 3 points

Not only did every player who entered the game in the half score at least three points, but every single player had at least one assist. That combination almost never happens for 10 players over the course of an entire game much less one half. It was utter domination.

When halftime came, Utah had out-rebounded Washington 30 to 14, out-assisted them 15 to 4, out-shot them 60 to 27 percent from the field and 41 to 14 from long range, and turned the ball over only twice.

Offensively overwhelming and defensively dominant, it was perhaps the finest half of basketball in the Quin Snyder era. By the time the second half came, the Wizards offered about as much resistance as a plastic bag fresh off a six-lane highway. Despite 10 turnovers in the third quarter alone, the Jazz upped their lead by two in the period and a fourth quarter of going through the motions widened the chasm by another 11 points.

Many had wondered what the Jazz might look like if their recently unstoppable offense combined with their traditionally impenetrable defense. One half of the combination cratered the Wizards’ psyche and earned the Jazz a 6th straight win by a whopping 47-point margin.

Stars of the Game

Superstar: Quin Snyder

This game seems a fitting place to honor the coach who has become quite possibly Utah’s greatest asset. Never has Snyder’s offensive system, predicated upon constantly moving both players and ball and making quick decisions in the flux, and his defense system, which prioritizes forceful resistance and deflections, been more clearly illustrated than in tonight’s masterful first half. There is a reason great NBA minds ranging from Jeff Van Gundy to ESPN writer Zach Lowe1 to veteran players both in the NBA (Joe Johnson) and internationally (Milos Teodosic) have gone on record with their admiration and respect for Snyder. No other coach, including Brad Stevens or Rick Carlisle, maximizes his players’ talents better through teaching and scheme.

Secondary Stars: Alec Burks and Donovan Mitchell

Utah has two true shot creators and they have become arguably the two most important offensive players on the team. On this most egalitarian of nights they both contributed when everything was flowing and did more heavy lifting when the magic trickled away in the second half. Burks led the team with 27 points on 13 shots, including making three of five three pointers and making all six three throws, and threw in five rebounds, three assists, and a steal. Mitchell added 21 on 13 shots, including three of six threes and making both free throws, along with three rebounds and two assists.

Each player has scored 20 or better in the last three games, over which span they have provided superstar efficiency. Just look at the duo’s per game stats over this span:

55 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, and 2 steals on 49 percent shooting from the field and 50 percent from three! If these two play anything remotely like this, Utah is nigh impossible to beat given the depth and talent of the rest of the roster.

Secret Star: Royce O’Neale

It seems unappreciative to let any player go without some acknowledgement after tonight, but perhaps using the occasion to give credit to someone who has warranted more attention but not gotten it is in the spirit of the night. O’Neale played probably his best game as a pro, earning 11 points on only five shots (including making three of four from three) and added seven rebounds, a team-high six assists, as well as a steal and a block. On a night with gaudy plus-minuses across the board, his was the best: plus-35.

Stats of the Game

12.5 percent – Wizards shooting from 3:33 in the first quarter to 1:43 remaining the second. Over that span the Jazz lead swelled from four points to 32. Here is Washington’s shot chart for that span.

NBA.com

62.5 percent – Utah’s field goal percentage over the same span as above, as represented by this shot chart:

NBA.com

28 percent – The gulf between Utah’s field goal accuracy (57 percent) and Washington’s (29 percent) this game.

27 percent – The gap between Utah’s three point shooting (47 percent) and Washington’s (20 percent).

21 – Utah’s rebound advantage, including a humongous 42 to 19 advantage on the defensive boards.

26 – Utah’s advantage in points in the paint.

20 – More assists by the Jazz (29) than the Wizards (9).

Sundries

  • All eyes were on Rudy Gobert in his return to action after an 11-game absence. Apart from a few physical plays where a defender tripped into Gobert’s feet, taking him down, or Marcin Gortat bear hugged him from behind, stopping an attempted layup, it was an easy return to the floor for Utah’s franchise player: Only four points on four shots but a strong 10 rebounds, three assists, two blocks, and one steal in 21 minutes. Perhaps most importantly, he moved well and looked to be able to sprint and leap with full force, which was not the case two seasons ago after he returned from injury.
  • Nearly as much attention was focused on the pair of Favors and Gobert as was on the Frenchman alone given the notable struggles the offense endured early in the season with both on the court. Not much was learned tonight. The duo combined on-court for less than six minutes in the first and third quarters, a span in which the offense went three of nine and scored eight points. It’s far too early to draw any conclusions, however, especially because arguably the clearest offensive dampening agent this season–Ricky Rubio, who was once again Utah’s least efficient offensive player with four points on six shots–was on court for all of those minutes. Somehow, to really see how the offense works with both bigs on the court, Snyder is going to have to try that combination with three quality shooters.
  • While the Wizards clearly missed John Wall, it’s unlikely he would have had much of an impact on this game given how it went. Washington looked unready to tangle with a butter-knife-wielding opponent and found a rival hurling fistfuls of dynamite. As great as Wall is, he likely would have been drowned in the wash with the rest of his team.
  • No player for Washington made any impact tonight. Bradley Beal scored only 11 points on 15 shots. Otto Porter Jr. put up a respectable 14 points on 13 shots but never made his presence felt. Recently, opposing centers have really struggled against Favors. Tonight he combined with Gobert to all but erase Gortat from the offensive side of the ball: zero points on only four shots, one of which Gobert stuffed down his throat after a series of pump fakes. There isn’t much bright side for Washington other than this one’s over and they can be fairly certain their worst game of the year is now behind them.
  • The Wizards’ 69 points tie them with the lowly Bulls for the lowest scoring game in the NBA this season–a fitting way to welcome the Stifle Tower back.

Utah’s undefeated in a December being widely reported as the most difficult month faced by any NBA team. They’ll try to keep the mojo running hot tomorrow on the road against the yet-to-gel superteam in Oklahoma City.

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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