Joe Ingles and the Utah Jazz get the last word in win over Sacramento
After each bucket, Joe Ingles seemed to have something to say to the Sacramento Kings bench.
So after finishing with 20 points to help the Utah Jazz rally to a 128-112 victory, Ingles was apparently done talking.
“No comment,” the forward said when asked about his conversations on the court.
While Ingles wouldn’t give any details, it may have very well been the thing that turned the night around for the first-place Jazz (40-13).
The Jazz got off to a sluggish start to the contest, one that saw them miss their first seven 3-point attempts and fall behind 12-1 early on. At halftime, the Kings led 65-59 behind 21 points from Richaun Holmes (8-of-8 from the field) and 18 from De’Aaron Fox.
Then something changed.
“Somebody said something to Joe and Joe gave an answer that I hadn’t heard in a while,” said Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell. “That fired me up. When Joe gets angry, I get angry. You saw it when he was coming down and cashing in. That’s really what turned the tide for me personally.”
While Ingles scored 11 of his 20 points off the bench in the period, Mitchell scored 16 of his game-high 42 in the third. In doing so, Mitchell became the first Jazzman since Karl Malone in 1993 to score 35-plus points in three straight games.
Neither the game nor the contested ended there.
The Jazz trailed 105-104 when Harrison Barnes got a wide-open dunk with 6:05 to play in the game.
Utah went on a 24-7 run from there to close it out, extending their franchise-record home winning streak to 24 straight games.
“When a team kicks you in the mouth to start, you have to find something to get your juices going,” forward Georges Niang said. “They were feeling confident and we kind of wanted to take their confidence away. Sometimes in the heat of the game, you get to jawing back and forth.”
It’s not likely to be the last we’ll hear from Ingles.
“It’s actually funny,” he said. “I never go into a game thinking of talking to anyone, but I probably get in more conversations than anyone else on our team. … It’s just little things, honestly. Deep down inside, I think it’s really funny. It’s more of a funny, comedy thing to me. But obviously it lights something up in me. It makes the game fun.”
— utahjazz (@utahjazz) April 11, 2021
Mike Conley had been held out of action on the second nights of back-to-back sets since returning from a hamstring injury in late February, a decision aimed at managing his minutes and preventing any future issues.
But the veteran point guard proved this week that he can and will be ready whenever he’s needed.
Conley logged 35 minutes in an overtime loss on Wednesday and bounced back to play 25 in the Jazz’s win over the Trail Blazers on Thursday.
“It felt good to be out there and know I feel just fine on back-to-backs,” he said Saturday. “If I’m needed or there are big games, I know I’m ready for that kind of workload.”
The Jazz needed Conley on Thursday, with sixth man Jordan Clarkson sidelined with a sprained ankle. But even before Conley knew Clarkson would be out the veteran point guard had declared to the team’s medical staff that he was ready to play.
“Our conversations have been very transparent,” Conley said of the team’s medical staff. “We are working together to do what’s best for me and the team. But I let them know on the plane ride back from Phoenix that I was prepared to play. I’ve felt really good and I’ve been waiting to play in back-to-backs.”
Whether Conley will be used that way going forward, remains to be seen. Conley said he felt fine on Friday after playing in consecutive games. “Nothing popped up,” he said, “just your normal 33-year-old body, aches and pains here and there.” But with games still coming nearly every other night, Conley may be asked to rest even when he doesn’t want to.
“That’s why we have our staff here,” he said, “to protect me from myself.”
The Jazz host the Washington Wizards on Monday night at Vivint Arena. Tipoff is 7 p.m.