Apparently the Utah Jazz are contenders.
Tonight they beat a Los Angeles Clippers team eager to improve their position in the Western Conference, 110-102. It’s something they wouldn’t have done last season, couldn’t have done if we’re being honest.
By the end of the 3rd and the start of the 4th quarter, you could feel momentum towards the Clippers and the roar of the crowd grew louder. The Clipper faithful were hungry for the Jazz to fall apart, which the Jazz had done consistently over the past three seasons. But this Jazz team is different.
Down Jarred Vanderbilt, and looking for an answer he came across the Young Bull, Collin Sexton. With the score close and the game on the line, Sexton took the reins and wanted points on the board for the Jazz late in the game. He charged relentlessly on the rim, making 9 free throws, with a majority on the 4th. Without Sexton, the Jazz might not win this game.
And that’s probably what defines this team, there’s always another side to the snake. The Clippers did everything they could to keep the ball from Lauri Markkanen, who was tasked with guarding Paul George, and that meant opportunities for other players. Mike Conley had a big night scoring 17 with 7 assists. If you take out Mike Conley, you have to stop Jordan Clarkson, who was on fire after three 6/9 outings and scored 23 points. In a weird way, that’s the strength of this team, there’s no one way to slow them down. If you stop one player, another starts attacking.
All of this wouldn’t happen if the Jazz weren’t so selfless. They move the ball relentlessly but with purpose. There is no superfluous mixer; instead, it’s a sharp knife in the hand of a skilled chef. Each cup has a goal in order to create an open shot, the constant goal. It’s also a high IQ team and every player knows the different ways to bake a cake. Are you out of cocoa powder? We have vanilla and cream, we’re just going to make a vanilla cake this time. Oh look we have limes, we can make a lime pie. It’s the same mentality on the court. At one point in the 4th quarter, while the game was in play, Lauri Markkanen looked for the ball in the post but noticed that Malik Beasley was open. Kelly Olynyk looked for Markkanen, but when he saw Markkanen signal Beasley, he made the correct pass and Beasley knocked down the three.
This jazz team may not have a top 5 player, but they have a top 5 record and it’s a lot of fun. Whatever happened, it was a very fun ride.