* Recap: Jazz 121, Bucks 108
Defending without big man Rudy Gobert as their anchor down low hasn’t been fun for the Utah Jazz. With the Jazz’s rim protector sidelined by a bone bruise to his right leg, the team has slipped a bit to eighth in defensive rating (101.7) compared to last season’s third overall. Utah ranks 17th in opponents’ field goal percentage and is getting outrebounded by four per game.
Then again, the Jazz have hit upon a workaround in Gobert’s absence: They’re scoring more. They topped 100 points six times in the eight games he had missed through Saturday, after doing that five times in the first 12 games with the towering Frenchman in the lineup. Most recently, in beating Milwaukee handily, the Jazz shared the ball as well as they had through the first month. Here is some of Kyle Goon’s report for the Salt Lake Tribune:
He fired a dagger 3-pointer in the face of an All-Star and led the Jazz in points again with 24.
And yet, maybe the most impressive thing Donovan Mitchell did all night didn’t come on a basket he scored.
In the third quarter, Rodney Hood sent a pass to the rookie that he had to leap to reach. While still in the air, Mitchell fired a pass under the rim where a wide-open Thabo Sefolosha was waiting. The play took less than two seconds to get from Hood’s hands to the bucket — a perfect read that almost surprised Sefolosha
“That was nice,” Sefolosha said afterward, laughing. “It’s instinctive.”
It was the way the Utah Jazz (9-11) played in the 121-108 win over the Milwaukee Bucks: unselfishly and decisively. Tying a season high with 32 assists, there were plenty of shots to go around.
Against a Bucks team (9-9) that prides itself on disrupting ball movement, the Jazz looked like they were playing as free as they have all year on offense on the way to a season-high 56.8 field goal percentage. And it’s a noticeable change from how the team was playing during a stretch in which it was 1-7.
The Jazz played aggressively in the pick and roll, and moving without the ball helped set up a number of plays for uncontested shots.
“I thought we were unbelievably unselfish,” coach Quin Snyder said. “Offensively we were really connected and trying to help each other. When you do that, you have a better chance of having a good shooting night, and we obviously had that.
No one player had to carry the Jazz to victory: Six Jazz men finished with 11 or more points on Saturday night. It was also telling that five players also had three or more assists, led by Joe Ingles with nine assists to go with his 15 points.
“When the shots didn’t fall as much at the beginning of the season, we started to play hero ball sometimes,” [guard Ricky Rubio] said. “But we went back to playing as a team, and we’re unstoppable that way.”