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Analysis: Rudy Gay showed how he can help the Jazz in their win over the Raptors

SHARE Analysis: Rudy Gay showed how he can help the Jazz in their win over the Raptors
Joe Ingles high fives Rudy Gay

Utah Jazz guard Joe Ingles (2) congratulates Rudy Gay (8) during the game against the Toronto Raptors at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021. Gay hit five 3-pointers and scored 20 points in his debut with the Jazz.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

The Utah Jazz beat the Toronto Raptors 119-103 on Thursday night at Vivint Arena with a big performance from newly healthy Rudy Gay.

High notes

  • Gay made his debut for the Utah Jazz on Thursday night and he was great. He finished with a team-high 20 points to go with five rebounds and two assists. I don’t expect him to continue to shoot 83% from 3-point land, but it was certainly a nice way to start things off in a Jazz uniform.
    “Making shots always stands out but there’s other things that he did that helped our team and that’s what stood out to me.” — Jazz head coach Quin Snyder
  • Joe Ingles finally had a good game. It hasn’t been a great season for the Aussie forward. His shooting efficiency is still great, which isn’t really a surprise, but he has been less engaged, a little slow and how aggressive he plays from one night to the next is a roller coaster. But he was really well-balanced against the Raptors and was crisp and smart in his playmaking, and for the most part he shot the ball when he was open and made the right decisions. He finished with 10 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, getting close to a triple-double.
  • Royce O’Neale has had some really excellent games this season and has at many times looked like the best player on the court. He’s just so smart and when he is not passing up shots and he’s being aggressive on drives, it pairs so beautifully with his defense and strength. He had one of those games on Thursday and was a huge part of the reason that the Jazz were able to stay close to the Raptors before eventually pulling ahead for the lead.

Low notes

  • The Jazz have a few guys who are getting caught in situations in which they do not perform well. So first we have Bojan Bogdanovic, who was having trouble scoring through the first half. He missed four 3-pointers and a couple of looks at the rim before getting one to go. With that in mind it’s understandable that he would want to work in the post and get a couple easy buckets to just see the ball go in, but he is historically not great at slow-dribbling while in traffic. He gets stripped, loses the ball, falls on the floor and is slow to get back and it’s just not great.
    “We had a spell where we weren’t spaced as well and we turned the ball over trying to make plays. It’s in the right spirit, but getting off the ball sometimes is more important than anything so that someone can get off the ball.” — Quin Snyder 

Then we have Jordan Clarkson, who I maintain is a great dribble in traffic guy, because even when he looks like he’s lost his dribble he usually is able to keep it and make a play. But what we’ve been seeing a bit of is Clarkson not being aware of who is around and how close they are. Particularly he’s getting picked off from behind. Although he’s paying attention to who is in front of him, if someone creeps into the play on the backside he gets trapped and has been dribbling for too long.

Finally, Donovan Mitchell. The guy who is handling the ball more than anyone else is going to be at greater risk for turnovers, but there are some situations where Mitchell is guilty of the same thing that Clarkson is, in that he waits too long to make a decision and by the time he does the defense is set, closing in, and then he has almost nowhere to go. This all really comes down to making quicker decisions, and that’s something the Jazz need to clean up. 

Flat notes

  • When the Jazz perimeter defense breaks down, it always seems like it’s a complete and disastrous breakdown. What I mean is that there’s never just one or two missed rotations or small mistakes that happen every few possessions. It seems like they have long stretches where they just don’t know how to stay in front of their man and then it puts too much pressure on Rudy Gobert and Hassan Whiteside and, in turn, forces the two of them to make mistakes because their hands are full. They usually need a quarter to end or halftime to come around to get back on course. This isn’t backed up by any data or numbers that I’ve looked up, it’s just the feeling that the team gives off, which I realize is not the best way to report something, but I have to think that others are feeling the same thing. And it’s always the same kind of team that sends the Jazz into this sort of tailspin, crafty small guard-led lineups.