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Jazz Hoops - Hood goes off as Utah picks up first summer league win
Las Vegas - You can point to Rodney Hood's 29 points, or his seven made 3-pointers.
You can single out Rudy Gobert with his 13 points, nine rebounds and five blocked shots.
Trey Burke's team was a +24 with him on the floor on Monday night. Dante Exum followed a sensational debut with another solid outing.
But Utah's 87-71 win over the Milwaukee Bucks at the Thomas & Mack Center happened largely because of the offense. Not the made shots, but the execution that led to the made shots.
Simply, the Jazz were sublime with their ball movement. They made the extra passes. The guards got into the lane and created openings. The pick and roll action was much better than it was on Saturday in a loss to Philadelphia.
As a result, Utah scored seemingly at will. The Jazz blew open a tight game in the third quarter and cruised down the stretch.
"I liked how we played offensively, and I liked how we moved the ball," Utah coach Quin Snyder said. "The ball never stuck tonight, and that was big for us. It made out offense better. I was pleased with how we played."
Hood and Gobert, of course, were the big stories. Hood went off in the third period, knocking down open shot after open shot in having a big hand with breaking things open. Gobert - for the second consecutive night - was dominant defensively in the paint.
Time and again, Milwaukee ballhandlers entered the lane and tried to score at the rim. Time and again, they were denied by Gobert's long arms, timing and increasing mean streak. By halftime, the second year center had 11 points, five rebounds and four blocked shots. He was slowed by a sore shoulder in the third period, but that doesn't dimish the fact that the Jazz have a rapidly improving big man on their hands.
"I just tried to come out and compete defensively," Gobert said. "I want to do my job and shut down the lane."
The fun between Gobert and Giannis Antetokounmpo in the first half was something to see. On one play, the second year small forward from Greece drove the middle and dunked in Gobert's face. On Utah's next possession, Gobert returned the favor.
Utah had issues guarding Antetokounmpo, but were much more effective on No. 2 pick Jabari Parker. That, combined with the offensive efficiency, made Monday night's matchup ultimately a laugher.
Hood made sure of that, dropping in shot after shot in that third period, with many of them hardly grazing the rim. He was 11-16 from the field, 7-10 from beyond the arc. The amazing thing is that Hood actually passed up a few shots in the middle of his roll. They were shots that Snyder and Brad Jones would've had no issues with Hood taking.
"The thing I like is that he played defense," Snyder said. "He shot the ball well, but he played well in the other areas, too. I liked what I saw from him."
The Jazz move to 1-1 during the Las Vegas summer league, and will face the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night. Utah was helped by Brock Motum, who came off the bench to score 16 points. Trey Burke suffered through an 0-6 night shooting, but had six assists and six rebounds.
Exum scored six points, all in the first half.