Tuesday night the Earl Watson-led Phoenix Suns were in Salt Lake City to complete the back end of a back-to-back for the Utah Jazz. While the Jazz were able to pull out a 112-105 win, it was not as comfy as the Jazz would have hoped.
When you look at the point differential in a linear chart, you get a good understanding what happened. The Jazz opened up an early and looked like they were going to dominate the game. Utah appeared to be the better team in every aspect of the game as they watched they lead grow to 23 points in the third quarter.
Rodney Hood had re-injured his hamstring and did not play the second half, so yes the team began to be limited in bodies with George Hill, Derrick Favors, and Alec Burks already declared out for the game. In the fourth quarter the Suns bench began to get hot and Coach Watson ran with them. The bench unit, led by Brandon Knight, Leandro Barbosa, and Jared Dudley outscored the Jazz 30-18 in the fourth quarter and was able to tie the game up for the first time since tip-off. The defense up until the Suns really struggled as Knight and Barbosa were able to get past their defenders and create plays for the team.
After the Suns tied up the game, the Jazz fixed their defensive issues and began to show a stronger mentality than in years past. Joe Johnson got a steal and made a nice tip pass to Hayward for the wide open dunk.
Gobert then blocked Knight’s next shot and ultimately had the game sealing reverse alley-oop.
While the Jazz would have rather not given up their 23 point lead and allowed the Suns to make this a close game, they showed they have become a team that is mentally tough. Last season we saw the Jazz lose some games similar to this where they let a team who was not as good as them get hot in the fourth quarter. Tonight the team made the proper adjustments when it counted and relied on their stars.
Gordon Hayward put up another monster stat line with 28 points, five rebounds, four assists, three steals, 8-16 FG, 2-3 3P, and 10-13 FT. He is proving once again that he is not just on a hot streak and has elevated his game to another level this season. Rudy Gobert also was a beast for the Jazz, and he is our Game MVP.
22 Points, 11 Rebounds, 4 Blocks, 6-8 FG, 10-11 FT, +21
I couldn’t decide who to elect as the game MVP between Gobert and Hayward as both had great games so I threw out a poll on Twitter, where you guys selected Gobert as the MVP of the game. This selection fits as Gobert notched a new career high in points, hit his first basket outside of 10 feet, and lead the team in +/-. Gobert is known as a defensive player, which he is, but he has made huge stride on the offensive end. Currently Gobert leads the league in field goal percentage, is 3rd in true shooting percentage, and is 18th in the league in free throw attempts.
Who do you have as the MVP of tonight’s game? I cannot decide between Gobert and Hayward, so I’ll let you pick and I’ll write accordingly!
— Spencer Wixom (@JazzJargon) December 7, 2016
Here are some highlights from Gobert versus the Suns.
— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) December 7, 2016
Play Of The Game
With four only a four point lead and 23 seconds left in game Hayward gets doubled. Instantly he recongizes this and makes the pass to an open Shelvin Mack who is able to drive in and throw a pass to Gobert for the reverse jam.
According to FiveThiryEight the Jazz are now looking at a projected record of 51-31. The Jazz had a 86% projected chance to win the battle with the Suns. Playoff teams don’t let teams with a 6-15 record beat them, and the Jazz acted like a playoff team.