Driven by George Niang’s 7-to-7 effort from the depths, Utah overcomes early misconceptions for 132-110 victory.
For most of three quarters Monday night, the Utah Jazz played dull basketball – do not bother with transitional defense, force isolation appearance, are careless with the ball, consumed by arguing with the referees.
They were down by two digits to the Charlotte Hornets with the game soon to go for the final 12 minutes.
And then they turned the mother to all contacts.
Rudy Gobert closed the paint down, and the edge’s defenders locked the Hornets’ shooting game. Georges Niang and Joe Ingles and Jordan Clarkson suddenly got all the open looks they could ever dream of and did not miss. And a blistering, burning, soul-crushing 26-2 run in a 5-minute stretch turned what turned out to be a bad loss into a ridiculously easy victory in 132-110.
“The way we played throughout the game, that’s the team we want to be. Nr. The 1st team in the league wins such a game, ”said Donovan Mitchell, who shook off six astonishing turnovers and finished with 23 points, eight assists and four rebounds. “I think that’s really where our head is – this is where we need to continue to be.”
Utah was down as much as 81-70 before it started getting things turned around. They were driving 90-85 when the real thing happened.
It started, oddly enough, with a Mike Conley 3-pointer that didn’t count.
Charlotte somehow sent six players out onto the field out of a timeout, and no one noticed until just around the time Conley was still wide open – playing five against six – for a 3. The shot was waved off, officials called a technical violation, and Clarkson got it.
Then he followed with a layup, and Niang added a 3 for a quick little 6-0 burst to end the period and put the Jazz on top.
They were just getting started.
In the fourth, Clarkson threw an alley up to Gobert for the latter’s first basket in the game. Then Clarkson hit a 3. Gordon Hayward got a bucket for Charlotte, but then … Niang hit another 3. Clarkson was another. Then Niang hit another. Then Conley hit one. And then Niang hit another.
It took less than 5 minutes. In this stretch, the Hornets shot 1 to 6 (thanks in part to back-to-back blocked shots by Gobert) and committed two turnovers. And just like that, the Jazz were up 111-92.
“They were really, really comfortable the whole game. We know we did not have much physical, much disturbance in the first half and they felt good. And when we started getting a little bit into them, getting physical, protecting the basket, it was a different game, ”said the Frenchman, who finished with 10 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks. “Most of the time we will be able to score, but if we do not play defense, we will not go anywhere.”
Niang also gave the credit to Gobert and his defensive efforts to trigger a turnaround. But given that the Iowa State product wiped out his shooting decline with a 7-to-7 effort beyond the arc, no one would let him get away with that kind of deflection.
“You can get frustrated if you do not see the ball go in the basket, especially someone like Georges, who is as good a shooter as he is. I just liked the fact that he did not hesitate and he kept shooting, ”said coach Quin Snyder. “And that’s how you break through, you keep shooting it. … His shooting is something that, when he continues like that, it’s a big thing for us. He’s a weapon. ”
Niang was, of course, completely zen and absolutely underrated over his breakout: “When you take shots, life is good, there are no problems ever in the world.”
Meanwhile, with the Ingles going 7 out of 10 from deep to 21 points and Clarkson hitting 5 out of 10 beyond the arc to 20 points, Utah’s bench set an NBA record with 19 made 3s (as part of a new team record 28 overall).
“It’s an incredible company. Nineteen 3s is a is a lot of points, ”Niang added. “I was not a math subject, but there are many points.”
And with that, they could afford to briefly draw on the 23 turnovers that led to 25 Hornets points. They could temporarily forget that their pick-and-roll defense was a target for nearly three quarters. They could take a minute to turn off Niang with water bottles at a postgame party and rejoice in being 25-6 on the season.
Cheating will ensure that the inventory comes.
But in the meantime … yes, there are many points.