SALT LAKE CITY, UT - NOVEMBER 18: Joe Ingles #2 of the Utah Jazz talks to Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz during the game against the Toronto Raptors on November 18, 2021 at vivint.SmartHome Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)
Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Five Things To Know Following Utah's Win Over Toronto

Despite taking just four shots from the floor, all-star point guard Mike Conley thoroughly dominated the Raptors after finishing with a +33 rating

With 2:28 left in the first quarter, Rudy Gay got off the bench and walked to the scorer's table. After removing his jacket and sweats, Gay checked into the game as a loud ovation thundered down upon him from the Utah faithful.

What followed during his 18 minutes of action was nothing short of dazzling. He finished with 20 points (7-of-8 shooting), five rebounds, two assists, and a +14 rating.

"One thing I did good today? I didn't hold the ball. That's a big thing with this team. … When we do that, we're hard to beat," Gay said when asked about his performance.

Gay wasn't the only star as seven players scored in double figures, leading Utah to a 119-103 victory over visiting Toronto on Thursday night.

Here are five things you need to know following the win:

1.) Welcome Back, Rudy Gay
After exactly one month of waiting, Gay made his Jazz debut a special one. 

His ability to space the floor (5-of-6 from deep) as a part of Utah's second unit opened things up for the rest of the team. Joe Ingles was able to thrive dictating the offense with the added space, allowing the ball to constantly move with no sticking points — a point of emphasis for the Jazz.

Gay had two games last season for the Spurs where he scored 20+ points, but neither of which came on the sort of efficiency he played with Thursday night. While he won't always shoot 87.5% from the floor, his versatility to fit it on both sides of the court gives Utah another legitimate weapon on offense and defense.

"I'm gonna be honest, this is one toughest offseasons and start to a season that I've ever been a part of," Gay said postgame. "I'm 35 years old, coming off of foot surgery, basically had to teach myself how to walk again. You've got to be a little crazy. … You've got to be a little different. And I'm a little different."

Entering his 16th season in the league, Gay proved that he's more than capable of playing a significant role on a team in search of its first championship — and that's a terrifying thought considering one of the deepest teams in the league just got deeper and more talented.

2.) Mike Conley Dominates Without Shooting The Ball
Conley understands that with so many talented scorers surrounding him, he doesn't need to take 10-15 shots to dominate a basketball game.

The 15-year veteran knows that he's capable of taking over games despite taking minimal shots. Through his leadership, passing skills, and defense, Conley can impact a game just a much as Donovan Mitchell does when he scores 40 points on a given night.

Conley proved just that against Toronto.

Although he finished with five points on 2-for-4 shooting (1-of-2 from deep), he dished out seven assists, grabbed two steals, and had one block. Most impressively though, Conley dictated the tempo and offense for the Jazz, having numerous "hockey" assists and finishing with a season-high +33 rating.

"Frankly, Mike Conley dominated the game," Snyder said about his all-star point guard. "It says a lot about who he is as a player when he takes four shots and dominates the game. We had a lot of people contribute, but Mike, in my mind, the way that he played to be that unselfish and facilitate. … Plus 33 jumps out."

After battling injuries at the end of last season and in the playoffs, the Jazz wanted to make health a priority for Conley this season — he's already sat out two of Utah's 15 games. While never a proponent of not playing, Conley is proving that a bit of rest will pay dividends in the end for Utah.

3.) Joe Ingles Nearly Notches Triple-Double
One of the game's best sharpshooters, Ingles has taken over as the de facto backup point guard to Conley when he comes in and runs with the second unit.

Even then, the reigning runner-up sixth man of the year had gotten off to a slow start this season as his points, rebounds, and assists numbers are all down when compared to last. While there were talks of why that was, Ingles didn't concern himself with them, already knowing that he was doing what was needed to help the Jazz win.

But come Thursday night against the Raptors, Ingles got back to his old ways and took over as the leader of the second unit. 

With Gay and Jordan Clarkson combining to shoot 9-for-17 from beyond the arc, Ingles had more room to work with than ever before this season, and it showed. He was sensational off the bench, finishing with a near triple-double of 10 points, eight assists, and seven rebounds. 

"I think it almost forces us to play the way we want to play to a certain extent," Ingles said of Toronto's defense. "I think we're at our best when we play like this. I think regardless of the coverage that other teams play, tonight with what they were doing obviously makes it very easy to do what we did."

Ingles did his most damage by attacking the defensive glass (six rebounds), which allowed him to bring the ball quickly up the floor and exploit the mismatches in favor of the Jazz. He was able to control Utah's offense as the Jazz outscored Toronto 47-20 off the bench.

4.) Utah Looks Like Old Self On Offense
It's impressive when a player hits the coveted 50-40-90 throughout a regular season — but it's also impressive when a team hits those marks for a game. 

That's what the Jazz did at Vivint Arena on Thursday night.

Utah shot 55% (44-for-80) from the floor, 41.3% (19-for-46) from three-point territory, and 92.3% (12-for-13) from the free throw line against the Raptors, finding that efficiency that made them so dangerous in the past. 

The Jazz dished out a season-high 34 assists on the night, with five players each notching three or more. With Toronto making a solid effort to blitz the pick-and-roll, it forced Utah to make quick reactions and swing the ball across the perimeter to find the open shooter.

"Just reading the defense. … I think a big emphasis on tonight was, you know, finding the open guy and sharing the ball," Royce O'Neale said postgame. "It makes us difficult to defend with the ball moving around like that. A unique thing with us is that nobody really cares who scores, everybody being unselfish, and that's what we are going to keep doing."

Led by O'Neale's 16 points on 4-of-6 shooting from three-point territory, seven players finished in double figures scoring. Rudy Gobert added another double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds, while Donovan Mitchell added 20 points and four steals. Jordan Clarkson and Hassan Whiteside combined for 23 points off the bench, helping that second unit succeed.

5.) Jazz End Five-Game Homestand
Ten games into the season, and Utah had yet to play in back-to-back cities this year. Then the Jazz returned to the comfortable confines on Vivint Arena for a five-game homestand, looking to establish a rhythm on both ends of the court.

"A lot of us have had up and down games, we haven't been able to have a complete game where we feel good about it," Conley said before the homestand started. "I think finding consistency and a good place to do that is being at home for a good stretch, being in a routine you're familiar with. It's a little bit easier because you're a little more familiar with everything."

The homestand did its job, as Utah went 3-2 during that period to improve to 10-5 on the season. Most important though, the Jazz found their rhythm on both ends of the court — especially in their last two wins over Philadelphia and Toronto.

Utah shot over 50% from the floor and over 40% from beyond the arc, averaging 30.5 assists and 51 rebounds per game. 

The Jazz hit the road again for the first time in 13 days when it faces Sacramento on Saturday. It's the third time this season — the second time in California — that the Jazz will have played the Kings.


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