SALT LAKE CITY (AP)Donovan Mitchell says when the ball moves and the thinking stops, the Utah Jazz really shine.
”Aggressive decision making,” Mitchell said. ”When you start to think too much, that’s when the turnovers and the mistakes come in.”
Mitchell scored 30 points, Rudy Gobert had 21 points and 16 rebounds, and the Jazz beat the Portland Trail Blazers 129-107 Monday night.
Jordan Clarkson added 22 points for Utah, which used quick passes and spacing to make 19 3-pointers and shot 53% from the field a game after making a season-high 20 3s. The Jazz matched their season high with 46 made field goals.
”Our guys were unselfish and got off the ball when they needed to. As you spread it out and make some shots, all of the sudden lanes to the basket open up, too,” Utah coach Quin Snyder said.
Anfernee Simons scored a season-high 24 points and Jusuf Nurkic also had 24 as the Trail Blazers fell to 1-10 on the road this season.
”We’re such a different ball club on the road,” Portland coach Chauncy Billups said. ”We play with this casualness a lot of times, with no urgency. That’s dangerous. And at home, you can do that and a team can make a run and you got your crowd behind you and you can overcome a lot of times at home. On the road, you can’t do that.”
Utah’s Royce O’Neale missed his second straight game with a sprained ankle, but Joe Ingles had 14 points, four 3-pointers and six assists in his place. Clarkson made six shots from beyond the arc.
Portland’s Norman Powell was out with a right thigh bruise. Simons had a sparkling offensive performance, but the Trail Blazers didn’t get much from their star Damian Lillard to counter Utah’s offensive prowess.
”I think everybody is still trying to get used to the style of play Chauncey wants us to play. We have to keep emphasizing that this is the way we need to play. We got to stick to it,” Simons said.
After making two of his first three shots, Lillard only made two more buckets on nine attempts. Lillard has gone 16 for 45 over his last three games.
Utah’s defensive plan centered on getting the ball out of Lillard’s hands to make someone other than him or CJ McCollum make shots. Quick hands and flashing into the passing lanes paid dividends for the Jazz, who have won six of eight.
”We really just wanted to make his life a little harder. We wanted to force (Lillard) to drive into me and make sure we don’t give up easy 3s and keep him off the free-throw line,” Gobert said.
Ingles made back-to-back 3-pointers to cap a 16-3 Utah run to start the second half. Mitchell pushed the Jazz to a 21-point lead on a variety of floaters, layups and dunks. His 6-foot tear-drop in the lane made it 85-64 with 4:03 left in the third quarter, Utah’s ninth consecutive scoring possession.
”The ball started to go in on these on some of these shots I’ve been missing and that helps everything else fall into place,” Mitchell said.
But the Trail Blazers caught fire from deep as well and cut the lead to 94-84 entering the final period. The two teams combined for 15 of 24 from 3-point range, and the Jazz set a season high with 41 third-quarter points.
Of Gobert’s nine field goals, eight were dunks. Most of them came from alley-oops and others on mismatches from switches. Does dunking ever get boring?
”I actually like a challenge sometimes. When they throw it a bit behind and I really have to reach back, that’s nice. Really, I’m just happy to get a lob, no matter where it is,” Gobert said.
Ingles, who had six assists, said the way the Jazz attacked the blitzes and hedges the Trail Blazers showed made it easy to make the right read.
”It got to the point that we just needed to decide if we want someone like Bojan (Bogdanovic) to get an open 3 or Rudy to get a dunk,” he said.
Trail Blazers: Lillard came up limping after driving into Gobert early in the third quarter, but shook it off. … A review a couple minutes later took a three-point play opportunity away from Lillard by reversing a foul on Conley. … McCollum got a technical foul with 9:01 left after a no-call on a drive to the basket.
Jazz: Indicating a sluggish and passive start, Utah also had no fast-break points, no turnovers and no second-chance points in the first quarter. … Gobert blocked Lillard’s layup in the fourth-quarter and then gave the basketball stanchion a combination of punches while play continued behind him. … The Jazz missed both technical foul shots.
Trail Blazers: Host the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday.
Jazz: Host the Boston Celtics on Friday.
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