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Emptying The Noggin – Mack is pivotal in Jazz’s win over Sacramento

By David Locke, Utah Jazz

SUMMARY: The Jazz take care of business against an inferior opponent, despite another set of injuries, 112-82. Shelvin Mack came off the bench and was key in the victory.

  • Sometimes, the deals not made are the most important. It was highly anticipated that the Jazz would trade Shelvin Mack at the deadline. That never happened. Tonight, the no-deal turned into a big deal for the Jazz. There is value in having someone on the bench who knows your system and knows what your coach wants. If the Jazz had traded Mack, they very well may lose this game, which seems insane to say in a 30-point blowout. But without Hill and Neto, Utah needed Mack. The Jazz were negative when Exum was on the floor until garbage time. Mack was the key to the win tonight.
  • The Jazz came out focused defensively and didn’t let the Kings get a field goal until the 7:28 mark of the first quarter.
  • The Jazz led by 20 points after the first quarter, stretched the lead to 24, but lost their focus and connection to the game, and the Kings eventually got the game back within four points. The Jazz reestablished their dominance and won, giving the kings their largest loss of the year and allowed the Kings to score their fewest points this season.
  • Gordon Hayward showed real leadership tonight. He battled through significant pain and injury to play in this game because the Jazz need it. He wasn’t great. His line — 20 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists — was probably better than his performance, but the message and commitment was clear for all his teammates to see.
  • Rodney Hood was 5 for 5 from 3. If his knee is really feeling better, he can bring some much needed consistency to the guard line.
  • One has to wonder if the wing rotation will be much deeper than Hayward, Hood and Ingles in the playoffs. If Hayward ups his minutes to 36 or even up to 40 and Hood can manage 32 with Ingles playing about 28, there are no more minutes.
  • Jeff Withey has been giving the Jazz a really big 14 minutes a night. He’s a total pro who wasn’t pleased with being dropped from the rotation, but did exactly what he was asked and now is in a little rhythm and playing every night. He is not a great player, but he understands the system and showed a stronger roll to the basket game tonight than we usually see from him. The Jazz were +20 when he was on the floor versus Sacramento.
  • Unfortunately, Dante Exum didn’t excel in his start at the point guard. He had been pulled from the point guard rotation because he killed possessions too often by getting caught in the air, turning the ball over or over dribbling. On one of the first possessions tonight, he drove into the lane, jumped in the air and threw the ball away. Quin pulled Dante out of the game to talk to him again about those plays. Quin reinserted Dante into the game, but he never got going. He finished 0 for 6 shooting and 0 for 5 from 3, he finished with 0 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 turnovers and was +1 in a 30-point win.
  • It was really cool that Shelvin Mack was ready to go and carried the Jazz to the win. If the Jazz hold onto the four seed, it isn’t going to be by more than a game. Shelvin’s performance tonight might be the different between Game 1 in SLC or Game 1 in LA (or elsewhere).