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Instant analysis: Jazz execute down the stretch, hold on to win close game over Raptors

SHARE Instant analysis: Jazz execute down the stretch, hold on to win close game over Raptors
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Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) goes to the basket after getting around Toronto Raptors forward Norman Powell (24) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, March 19, 2021, in Tampa, Fla.

Chris O’Meara, Associated Press

The Utah Jazz fought right down to the final buzzer to pull off a 115-112 win on the road over the Toronto Raptors on Friday night.

High notes

  • The Jazz needed something special in the final moments and they got it from Donovan Mitchell. Not only did he score some clutch points in traffic to give the Jazz the lead in the final minutes, but he had some really important free throws. Those charity stripe points can make or break games and he went 15 of 16 from the free-throw line en route to a game-high 31-point performance.

“Donovan showed a lot of resolve. There was a toughness that he had. Not only was he aggressive and forceful but he was also precise and I thought made really good reads. Particularly for him down the stretch, he really let the game come to him, and then at the appropriate time he exerted himself and made an impression on the game.” — Jazz head coach Quin Snyder

  • Joe Ingles’ release seems so much quicker over the past month. I have absolutely no data to back up the actual height and speed of his release changing, but the eye test says that he has been less hesitant as of late and that has shown itself in his production and efficiency. 
  • In the month of March, Royce O’Neale is shooting 14 of 33 (42.4%) from 3-point range. Offensively he is shooting at a higher volume and a career-best percentage this season. There’s a lot of talk about how much trouble the Jazz have had containing the perimeter and that’s fair, but it also glosses over the one bright defensive spot that has been pretty consistent this season and that’s O’Neale. He can’t do it all by himself, but the Jazz would but much worse off without him.

  • Speaking of perimeter defense Rudy Gobert was pulled out of the paint often on Friday by the Raptors’ lengthy players who can easily work from outside, and Gobert acquitted himself well, especially in the second half.
  • One of those lengthy, switchy players for the Raptors is Chris Boucher, who I really can’t say enough good things about. He’s such a solid player. Last year I suggested the Jazz should go after Boucher while he was being underutilized in Toronto. He really does everything on the floor.
  • The Raptors had an incredible shooting night and they were really physical with the Jazz. Despite being on the second night of a back-to-back, coming off a loss, and Gobert being a game-time decision because of a bruised hip, the Jazz held on and were able to play pretty well in the fourth. That’s a good sign.

“If you look at the way we were played — the physicality of the game I think is what stood out, and for us, one withstanding it and matching it throughout the game. And honestly exceeding their physicality, playing through screens fighting through stuff, continuous attacking... When teams start to do that we have to be more precise with what we do. As a whole, I think we did that tonight.” — Donovan Mitchell

  • The final buzzer sounded just as a 3-point attempt from Pascal Siakam, that would have tied the game and sent it into overtime, curled around the rim and just barely fell out. That’s a fun way for a game to end. I like a little bit of excitement and tension.

Low notes

  • Mike Conley had a bit of a rough game as far as ball control is concerned. He committed six turnovers, four of them after having played just over eight minutes. There’s definitely a certain amount of turnovers that you can live with from Conley because his presence and distribution skills are so important to the Jazz. He has a calming quality on the offense and just makes things run a little more smoothly. That being said, six turnovers is too many.

“They’re a team that turns you over, that’s what they do. They’re very active and got long wings who get in the passing lanes. A couple of times I just got a little bit too deep in the paint, and then there was some other times there was some miscommunication, but it just seemed like that kind of night for me as far as like every time I got the ball something like that was going to happen. But I just fought through it. You have nights like that every now and then, and it’s a good thing that it’s uncharacteristic of me and that it’s not something I do a lot.” — Mike Conley

  • Defensive communication breakdowns led to quite a few open shots and second-chance opportunities for the Raptors. It’s defensive communication that the Jazz have harped on the last few days, saying that it needs to be better. There’s really no fix for that other than just talking more. It’s really basic stuff, calling out switches and rotations and trailing players, directing traffic. Just keeping the talking loud and constant. The Jazz need to get back to that.
  • This was by no means the nicest looking game the Jazz have played, but there were some improvements and some flashes of the Jazz from the first half of the season. Not great ... but something to build on.

Flat notes

  • Multiple clock malfunctions and some scoring mishaps just make the game ugly. Game operations get a knock on this game.
  • For this being such a close game and one that was clearly important for the Jazz to put in the win column, it was a very slow game with a lot of fouls and a lot of free throws and slow games aren’t fun.