HOW ‘BOUT THIS JAZZ? (Game 12)
By Rustyn Burnside, ESPN 977
GAME 12 VS LOS ANGELES LAKERS (11/08/22)
For maybe only the second time this season Jazz fans looked at the schedule, looked at the opponent, looked at the injury report, and thought to themselves “we should win this game.” The Jazz had just come off a gritty win in LA versus the Clippers the night prior, but their opponent, the Lakers, had also just played and had to travel into Salt Lake. Add the fact that Lebron James, Patrick Beverley and Lonnie Walker joined Thomas Bryant and Dennis Schroder on the injury report, and it is easy to see why Utah fans felt confident about a potential victory even without Jarred Vanderbilt. The cherry on top of it all going into this game was that Utah had just blasted the Lakers on their home floor only three days ago. The Jazz were favored due to home court, injuries, the Lakers being atrocious and the like. More importantly, the Jazz were also favored because they’ve proven themselves to be a team capable of winning a variety of ball games early on this season.
That favoritism and confidence was not misplaced. There was no shock value or surprises, just the better team taking care of business. The Lakers actually would get off to a blistering offensive start despite the tired legs and a starting lineup featuring Nunn, Reaves and Gabriel. The Lakers started off 7 of 9 from the field and would maintain that pace most the first half. They would go into the locker room at half shooting at a 63 percent clip and have 71 points. Unfortunately for them, the Jazz would still lead by 5. This was the story of the game, as when the buzzer sounded the Lakers walked away with their best shooting performance of the entire season with a 48.8 percent and a 23-point loss to boot. This wasn’t just a fun Jazz win, this was a bona fide beatdown of a team that actual put up very respectable stats without their stars. A lot of teams likely would have struggled with the Lakers performance that night, Westbrook was solid, AD couldn’t be stopped for quite some time and yet it mattered little. The Lakers were the 6th best defense coming into the contest and Utah hung 76 points at half and 115 points after three quarters. The Jazz have scored 115 points in three quarters only twice in franchise history. The fact that this group of players made it happen the third time, is another example of why Jazz fans and the NBA world are in awe of what Utah’s doing and who they are doing it with. With the win the Jazz advanced to 9-3 and 5-0 in Vivint arena, joining the Bucks, Cavaliers and Nuggets as the teams yet to lose at home.
The them of #Team49 has remained in full force throughout each Jazz win, with this drubbing over LAL no different. From Talen Horton-Tuckers terrifying throwdown to quarter buzzer beaters off the hand of Jordan Clarkson and Rudy Gay, the Jazz had multiple moments and multiple players rise to the occasion. Walker Kessler and Malik Beasley were tons of fun, and Sexton and Markkanen did what they’ve done all season long, but tonight we go to an old friend. Mike Conley got a huge shoutout from backcourt mate Collin Sexton after the victory over the Clippers, and this was just a small example of the leadership and calm he brings to a chaotic group. For a guy who was expecting to get traded in the offseason, he has embraced and mentored this young team to perfection. It goes beyond the locker room however, and this win over the Lakers is living proof. Mountain Mike is free, able to lead and able to play as he wants in Will Hardy’s system. In less than 24 minutes, Conley put up 14 points on 5 of 7 shooting, including a 3 of 4 from deep stat line. These stats are fun and all, but the real beauty was the 12-0 Assist to turnover ratio. Conley was dishing in a big way and finding ways to get all teammates involved. The THT dunk got a ton of love, but what went under the radar was the crafty backwards bounce pass Mike fed him while cutting off a defender to allow Horton-Tucker’s revenge rim rocker on his former team. Mike may not be a long-term building block but his handprints are all over this 9-3 ball club.
THREE KEY NUMBERS:
- 5.2- Mike Conley will get all the love for his massive assist performance and rightfully so, but it is worth mentioning another Jazz veteran who is sharing the rock at a personal all time rate. Jordan Clarkson and his 5.2 assist per game more than doubles his assist average since suiting up for the Jazz. He had 2.5 the last two seasons and 1.6 his first year in Salt Lake
- 151- Remember the 115 points through three quarters? Well, per David Locke the Jazz posted and Offensive rating of 151 in those three quarters. This was against a team that despite all the struggles in Laker land at least had confidence in the defensive unit. That confidence may not be gone but its surely shaken. The Celtics currently lead the league in offensive rating at 116.7.
- 1- The Utah Jazz are the #1 seed in the Western Conference after Phoenix fell in Philadelphia. Though not likely sustainable its incredibly fun to bring up. You can pin that to a team currently top ten in the association on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. The only other teams accomplishing this right now according to StatMuse are the Cavaliers, Suns and Raptors.
CLIP OF THE NIGHT:
OPPOSING FAN COMMENT OF THE NIGHT:
“You can’t spell lackluster without “L A K E R S”. – ASTRAYATTHESEA1708