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Jazz forward Trey Lyles lauded for 'one of his best' games

SALT LAKE CITY — Friday’s 95-68 win over the Atlanta Hawks was certainly one of the Utah Jazz’s best games of the season.

The same could be said of Trey Lyles.

In fact, Jazz coach Quin Snyder said just that when asked about the second-year power forward’s performance against Paul Millsap and the Hawks.

“It’s one of his best (games),” Snyder said of Lyles.

Statistically, it was Lyles’ best all-around game of the 2016-17 season. The 6-foot-10 athlete recorded his first double-double of the year, scoring 13 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in 27 minutes.

It wasn’t, however, the best shooting outing for Lyles. He missed five of six 3-point attempts and only hit six of 14 shots overall.

Snyder was mostly impressed that Lyles was still able to make an impact on the game despite his shooting woes and five turnovers.

“The thing that most people gravitate to with Trey, on the eye test, is 3-point shooting,” Snyder said. “The reason that this game was a significant one for him was because he didn’t make shots. He got himself going on the glass first. Then he drove the ball and was a playmaker. It’s hard to do that.”

To that point, Lyles had a subpar showing in the first half. He only made one of six shots for two points.

The 21-year-old broke out in the second half, though, just as the Jazz broke this lopsided victory wide open.

Lyles scored 11 points with six rebounds in 15 second-half minutes. Utah outscored Atlanta by 16 points while he was on the court.

That kind of performance makes it much easier for the Jazz to absorb the absence of starting power forward Derrick Favors, who is out with a bruised left knee bone.

Snyder elaborated on what he liked about Lyles on this night.

“The gameplay is fast and it’s easy for us to say, ‘You should’ve made that pass or all those decision.’ What he did tonight, the game slowed down for him,” Snyder explained. “He had his eyes out the whole time. He was making plays for his teammates.”

That is what can separate the athletic Lyles from other stretch-four power forwards.

“I know he can shoot the ball, but making plays for your teammates, that is what can make you a unique player,” Snyder said. “Just want to continue to embrace that. His head was in the right place, and he didn’t get bothered.”

It’s easy to drop your head and fall into a pattern of frustration when your shot isn’t falling, and Lyles made the better choice to fight through it.

It started with rebounding.

Lyles had a game-high four offensive rebounds.

“Just more recently, Coach talked to me about he wants me to attack the glass more often,” Lyles said. “There’s opportunities for me to make plays on the offensive glass, so I took that into account. That was really something I’ve been focusing on lately.”

Snyder, who gave his team the day off Saturday ahead of Sunday's flight to Minnesota for Monday's game, appreciated that.

“He missed shots, but he tried to impact the game other ways, impacted the game on the glass, impacted the game as a playmaker,” Snyder said of Lyles, who had a pair of assists. “It doesn’t show up in his assists, but he had a lot of really good decisions and selfless plays.”

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