Utah left no doubt.
After watching Indiana battle its way back following a big run in the second quarter, the Jazz buckled down and got to work. Following a 17-0 run, Utah took advantage and never looked back, cruising to a 139-119 win over Indiana on Friday night.
"Good team win," head coach Will Hardy said. "I'm proud of the guys. … Those games are hard to play. It's hard to play when up big for a long period of time, and I thought our guys kept their mental focus for the most part."
Here are five things to know following the win:
1.) Whistle Happy
There's no other way to put it — the third quarter was beyond brutal, not because of the Jazz or Pacers.
The officials took over in the third quarter, calling 17 fouls and bringing the game to a complete halt. Because of that, neither team could establish much of a rhythm and had to find success in other ways.
Utah did that, overcoming the fouls to end the quarter on a 20-8 run and completely seize control of the game. Altogether, there were an NBA-high 63 fouls called on Friday.
"Pretty disjointed game for a variety of reasons, but I thought our guys really dug in," Hardy said. "There is a flow to a basketball game, and when there is a lot of fouling going on, that can leave to some disjointed feeling. It was an odd night. … This happens a couple times a season, but I think it's better to win these games than to lose them."
2.) Second Quarter Response
The Jazz appeared to be in control early on, jumping out to a 10-point lead behind the strength of 15 points from Lauri Markkanen.
But Indiana responded, finding a rhythm on both ends of the court. After a 13-3 run, the Pacers tied the game at 54, seizing the momentum and silencing the Vivint Arena crowd.
However, it was short-lived.
Beginning with a Jarred Vanderbilt dunk, the Jazz countered with a soul-sucking 17-0 run as Jordan Clarkson got going on offense. Except for a Markkanen three-pointer, Clarkson and Vanderbilt scored 14 points as the Jazz picked up the intensity on defense, which got their offense rolling.
"I thought our guys maintained their aggressiveness," Hardy said of the run. "Our pace didn't slow down. … I thought it was on both ends of the floor. That sparked our momentum, and then we had them on their heels for a couple moments there."
3.) Career Night For The Rookie
Coming into Friday, much talk has been made about rookie Walker Kessler and his ability to affect games on the defensive end. His ability to stay vertical and use his length to either block or affect shots is already among some of the best players in the game.
He finished with his second career double-double, dropping 20 points and 11 rebounds, both of which are career-highs. He also blocked two shots and altered numerous others, by far the most complete performance of his career.
"The ones he doesn't block, he's everywhere it feels like," Hardy said of Kessler. "Because his instinct is to protect the rim and alter shots, he can be out of position. … I thought he picked his spots well. These decisions are hard to make in real time. … I think he's continuing to improve."
4.) Feels Good To Be Home
After spending most of the season at airports and in different cities, the Jazz are making the most of being home and sleeping in their own beds.
Utah has reeled off back-to-back wins, and they're in the middle of a stretch where eight of their nine games are at the comfortable confines of Vivint Arena.
But according to Hardy, it's much more than simply playing at home. The Jazz can spend more time at practice and the facility, taking care of their bodies and ensuring they return to a regular routine. They can also be with their families and sleep in their own beds, which are massively underrated parts of life.
"The last couple of days have felt amazing to not think about a suitcase and head towards the airport," Hardy said. "Our guys have been spending more time at the facility getting treatment and taking care of their bodies. … It's great to be home."
5.) Saturday Night vs. Portland
Playing their seventh back-to-back of the season, the Jazz will welcome the Trailblazers to town on Saturday night.
After a hot start to the season, the Blazers have cooled of late with a three-game losing streak.
With Damian Lillard still out, Portland has relied heavily on Anfernee Simons — and he's responded by averaging 23.8 points and 4.5 assists on the year. Jerami Grant is averaging 22.2 points per game on 47.7% shooting from beyond the arc, while Jusuf Nurkic is a double-double machine with averages of 14.2 points and 10.0 rebounds.
Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.