With the starting lineup sputtering too often at the beginning of games, Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder sat down with his staff over the past two days and searched for a remedy.
His solution? Starting rookie guard Donovan Mitchell over Rodney Hood.
The move was made for one reason: The Jazz needed better offensive starts, and Mitchell has proved to be more aggressive, while Hood tends take his time getting into a rhythm.
“You don’t want to be reactionary,” Snyder said. “You look at five-man lineups and things like that and how telling is all that stuff after 10 games. At the same time, we’ve considered finishing different lineups. We’ve considered all of that.”
For one half at least, the move appears to have worked. Mitchell, aggressive from the outset against the Miami Heat, finished at the basket twice in the opening minutes. The rookie finished the first half as the leading scorer with 12 points. He hit a pair of 3-pointers. He shot 5 of 9 from the field and played his usual standout defense, although he went scoreless in the second half.
Hood’s first half was also encouraging. He shot an identical 5 of 9 from the field and finished the half with 11 points in 15 minutes. He and Mitchell shared the court for significant time, and the two spearheaded a second-quarter run that created a commanding lead for the Jazz. Hood led the Jazz in scoring overall with 19 points.
When Hood and Mitchell were on the court together, the Jazz put the ball into Joe Ingles’ hands and he became the primary ballhandler. He finished the game with five assists.
Nearing a return?
Jazz veteran Joe Johnson told The Tribune on Friday night that he will travel with the team next week on their road trip to the East Coast with the hopes of playing at some point during the trip.
“We’ll see what happens,” Johnson said.
Johnson’s been out for the past week with tendon instability in his right wrist. He’s working out, doing cardio in an effort to keep his wind where it needs to be.
He will be re-evaluated on Tuesday, when a decision will be made on his status. Without Johnson, the Jazz second unit has suffered from a lack of offensive creation and shot making.
Derrick Favors appeared in his 435th game with the Jazz on Friday night. That ties him with point guard Howard Eisley for 20th on the franchise list. Favors scored six points and grabbed a rebound in 13 minutes in the first half against the Heat.