Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images
Danté Exum gets the starting nod and his first career double-double in the Jazz's win over the Knicks
An injury kept Ricky Rubio out of action on Saturday night, forcing Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder to shake up his starting lineup. But when Donovan Mitchell heard the plan, his mind was at ease.
“We didn’t feel like there was going to be any drop off,” he said.
That’s a testament to the work Danté Exum has put in and the strides he has taken of late. Exum rewarded that confidence Saturday, getting the starting nod and notching the first double-double of his career. Exum finished with 13 points and a career-high 13 assists in a 129-97 win over the New York Knicks.
“I am playing comfortable,” Exum said. “That’s the main thing with me, just trusting my teammates that they are going to make shots and that is what they did tonight.”
Exum started the game off with a lob to Rudy Gobert for an alley-oop dunk on the first play of the game.
“I always love to play with Danté,” Gobert said. “He’s a very good passer and tonight he was great. He really gave us the spark we needed early in the game.”
By halftime, Exum had a dozen assists to his name.
“He did an excellent job tonight,” Snyder said. “Sometimes you get an opportunity to start and you want to play differently. I thought he played the game the way he has been playing. He’s just been really efficient and he was able to find other guys on the floor. He was rewarded tonight with the result of all the work he’s put in.”
“The biggest thing we’ve talked about with Danté is to not be discouraged or elated by the results of your performance,” the coach added. “Stay steady, keeping putting in the time and keep working. That’s what he has been doing.”
Danté's turn pic.twitter.com/46BFQjft78— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) December 30, 2018