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‘They were the more aggressive team on the floor’: Utah Jazz look to flip script in MLK Day rematch with Indiana Pacers

Indiana Pacers guard Aaron Holiday (3) drives on Utah Jazz forward Georges Niang (31) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Indianapolis, Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
AP

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz have been playing so well lately, going 17-3 in the last 20 games, that it can be a little hard to remember how up and down things were to start out the season.

On Nov. 27, the Jazz were hit in the mouth by the Indiana Pacers in a 121-102 loss, Utah’s seventh loss of the season at that point. On Monday night, the 29-13 Jazz will take on the 28-15 Pacers and try to prove that the early season fumble was not a representation of who the Jazz are today.

“They were the aggressors actually,” Bojan Bogdanovic said of the last time the Jazz played his former team. “They were the more aggressive team on the floor.”

The Pacers found a way to exploit every weakness the Jazz had early in the season. As the Pacers stars Malcolm Brogdon and Domantas Sabonis combined for 55 points, with little resistance from the Jazz defense, Utah’s offense also struggled to find its footing.

“We were one of the worst teams on defensive transition, we turned the ball over a lot and our defense was not on point,” Bogdanovic said. “The last month or so we are playing great basketball. We are number one offensively and then our defense has been way better than beginning of the year.”

Physicality played a role in the loss to the Pacers, as Sabonis drew seven of the Jazz’s 21 fouls on his own and the Jazz gave up 16 turnovers, which isn’t a terrible number, but allowed 22 points off the miscues.

“They have one for sure but two possible All-Stars in Brogdon and Sabonis, then on top of that you have a great scorer in T.J. Warren,” Donovan Mitchell said Monday morning. “They have a lot of threats so we’ve got to be able to go out there and take them out of what they do, but also continue to be ourselves.”

The Jazz are expecting for the Pacers, who are on a five-game win streak, to come into Vivint Arena and play just as physically as they did in their last bout, but Mitchell said that the Jazz are more prepared and more comfortable now and looking forward to the challenge.

“They took us out of stuff,” Mitchell said. “We just have to go out there and be aggressive, understand that it’s going to be a physical game.”