Some things are inevitable.
It was inevitable that the Utah Jazz’s franchise-record home winning streak would someday come to an end, as it did Monday with a disappointing defeat to the Wizards.
It was inevitable, too, that the league-leading Jazz would bounce back quickly.
Enter the Oklahoma City Thunder, a rebuilding squad and owners of the league’s worst net rating.
The Jazz were without Royce O’Neale (rest), Jordan Clarkson (sprained right ankle) and Joe Ingles (sore left knee). They fell behind double-digits early, as OKC built up a 17-point lead in the first half.
Inevitably, the Jazz bounced back with a 106-96 victory at Vivint Arena on Tuesday night.
Jazz head coach Quin Snyder and his team walked away pleased to have added another win to their 41-14 record, but the coach wanted to see more defensive focus from his team, especially early on.
“We didn’t have the presence defensively,” he said. “They were too comfortable. Dort came out making shots. They got on the offensive glass. There were a number of things they were doing well, but we weren’t providing enough resistance defensively. We have to have the right frame of mind defensively at the beginning of the game. It’s something that we’re mindful of and we need to keep focused on.”
“We started the game a little soft and they got a lot of confidence,” said center Rudy Gobert. “Maybe sometimes we don’t come back from this against a team with more experience.”
• The Jazz had three players notch double-doubles: Gobert (13 points, 14 rebounds), Mike Conley (15 points and a season-high 14 assists) and Georges Niang (18 points and 10 rebounds).
• Niang made his first start of the season.
“I just go in there and play my game,” he said. “I don’t really see any difference [between starting and coming off the bench.] My role is to space the floor and make shots and sometimes get in there and play-make for others. … I treated it like any other game and just wanted to go out there and do what I do on a daily basis. I think when people try to do stuff they’re not capable of, that’s when bad things happen.”
• Gobert finished with seven blocks.
“They kept attacking the rim, so I kept being there. That’s it,” Gobert said.
• Bojan Bogdanovic scored a team-high 23 points on 6-of-14 shooting. Bogdanovic scored 10 of those points from the free-throw line.
“We had a couple guys out on the back-to-back so we ran way more set offense for me, so I was able to get to the basket and draw the foul even when I didn’t’ start the game well,” he said. “I was just trying to be more aggressive.”
• Utah used a 33-16 third quarter to take control of the game. The Jazz led by as much as 25 before a late rally by the Thunder closed the gap in the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
• OKC’s Luguentz Dort scored a game-high 42 points.
• With three rotation players out, Snyder went deep into his bench Tuesday. Matt Thomas (15), Ersan Ilyasova (12), and Jarrell Brantley (22) all saw significant minutes. Brantley finished the game with 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting and four rebounds.
“Most players at some point have heard, ‘Keep working, stay ready, you never know when your opportunity is going to present itself,’” Snyder said. “JB has done a great job of doing exactly that. Jarrell got an opportunity tonight and came in with a defensive mindset and was able to impact the game.”
• Royce O’Neale watched this one from the sidelines. Few players are more deserving of a night off. No player in the league has spent more time guarding the opponent’s best player. According to BBall-Index.com, O’Neale has spent more than 41 percent of his 1,600 minutes guarding a Tier-1 opponent.
Snyder said he hoped the night off would benefit O’Neale and the Jazz in the long run.
“Not just with Royce, but with our entire team, I think in order to get better you have to be as fresh as you can be,” Snyder said. “As a coach and a team, you’re evaluating certain things and you get a better picture of who you are on a certain level.”
— utahjazz (@utahjazz) April 14, 2021
— utahjazz (@utahjazz) April 14, 2021
Looking for an excuse to leave work early on Friday. The Jazz host the Indiana Pacers. Tipoff at 1 p.m.