Huge Second Half Powers Utah Past Washington

Ryan Kostecka
Digital Content Writer

On the final day of a four-game east coast road trip, it came as no surprise that the Jazz might've had some heavy legs. After all, Saturday's game against Washington was their third game in four days, all of which came in different cities.

But with great teams, there are no excuses. Utah overcame a rough night from three-point territory to find another gear in the second half and rout Washington 123-98. The victory was Utah's seventh in a row, five of which have come by 20+ points.

"I think we're a better team than we were when we left," head coach Quin Snyder said. "The way we defend tonight was really good."

With Utah playing the final game of its long road trip, the offense appeared lethargic early on as the Jazz weren't as sharp as they'd been in the past. Although the turnover count was low, the team couldn't buy a bucket from beyond the arc and shot just 28.6% in the opening half.

But Washington, coming off two full days of rest, couldn't take advantage as the Jazz defense was superb. Utah did an excellent job closing out on shooters and communicating in the pick-and-roll while Rudy Gobert and Hassan Whiteside took control in the paint.

What resulted was 11 lead changes, six ties, and a 51-50 Wizards lead at the break.

As per a theme throughout the road trip, the Jazz were impressive in the second half. They outscored Washington 73-47 in the final 24 minutes, including 42 points in the fourth quarter.

While the defense stayed active, the offense found its rhythm as the Jazz shot much better overall. They finished 63% (29-for-46) from the field and 38.9% (7-for-18) from three-point territory in the second half.

"I mean, I think about it because it's my job to think about it," Snyder said when asked if fatigue played a role tonight. "We don't talk about it unless it's something that we're basically going to acknowledge that we're not going to be tired. I think guys were locked in."

Once again, Utah largely dominated due to Gobert and Whiteside's play, both of whom finished with double-doubles for the second straight game.

Gobert finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds, and a +14 rating, showing his ability to positively affect the game on offense as much as he does on defense.

Whiteside dropped 18 points, 14 rebounds, and four blocked shots in just 20 minutes of action as he continues to recover from a left glute contusion that caused him to miss the first two games of the road trip.

"I think tonight, the way we played on both ends, the mindset that we had was really like a contender mindset," Gobert said. "We got better throughout the whole game, every quarter we got better. … And we played defense, that was the key for us."

The game remained close midway through the third quarter, with Utah taking a three-point lead at the 5:35 mark. But the Jazz finished with a flurry on both ends of the court, ending the quarter on a 13-4 run, punctuated by a Donovan Mitchell alley-pop dunk off a pass from Jordan Clarkson.

"My picture of that (dunk) was like a D-Wade (Dwyane Wade) and LeBron (James)," Clarkson said with a laugh as he spread his arms open. "That's what I was hoping for, but it kind of just went like downhill from there."

With the double-digit lead entering the fourth, the Jazz wasted no time extending that advantage.

Clarkson and Joe Ingles, leaders of the second unit, got things started by scoring Utah's first eight points of the quarter. The lead blossomed to 20 points with 2:53 remaining following a Bojan Bogdanovic three-pointer, allowing Snyder to pull the starters and get them a few extra minutes of rest.

Mitchell was the only Jazz player to play more than 28 minutes, as nine players played at least 18 minutes.

In his 32 minutes of action, Mitchell finished with a game-high 28 points, adding four assists, two steals, and a game-high +16 rating. Bogdanovic added 16 points, while Clarkson chipped in 11 points, five assists, and three rebounds.

With the game being more about possessions than pace, point guard Mike Conley was sensational managing the game. While he finished with just 11 points, he dished out eight assists, grabbed four rebounds, and finished +10.

Utah returns home for an extensive six-game homestand, but will have three days off before starting a nationally televised showdown with the Los Angeles Clippers. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. MST and will air ESPN.