Friday morning, Quin Snyder suggested that sitting out four starters would at least result in the ability to see what the deeper-in-the-rotation guys can do.
The more cynical out there might argue that seems more like a secondary benefit of, rather than a primary motivation for, such a decision. And yet, in the aftermath of the Jazz’s 119-111 loss to the Spurs on Friday afternoon, in which the team started Georges Niang, Ed Davis, Miye Oni and Emmanuel Mudiay alongside stalwart Joe Ingles, the only postmortem of consequence was evaluating how those guys did.
“They just competed. That’s kind of our expectation for our whole group. Whoever is on the floor, that’s what they expect of each other,” Snyder said. “I thought Miye, at the beginning of the game, his defensive effort, his presence, and Jarrell [Brantley] as well, those two guys on the defensive end really set a tone. We weren’t defending real well early, but I thought once we dug in on that a little bit, we were much better, and those two guys had a lot to do with it.
“To come into the game and to have the willingness to get out and compete on defense and let the game come to you, that’s a formula for opportunity — and those two guys got it and they made the most of it,” Snyder added.
Oni made an impact on the other end, too, totaling 14 points on 4-for-9 shooting, including 2 of 4 from deep. He also hit 4 of 5 free throws and contributed seven rebounds.
Asked which of the youngsters made an impression, veteran sixth man Jordan Clarkson initially responded “all of them,” before singling out the rookie wing from Yale.
“Miye did a good job catching everything in the flow, a lot of catch-and-shoot opportunities for him,” Clarkson said.
Among the other guys on the fringe, Brantley had eight points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals while nailing a pair of 3s. Justin Wright-Foreman poured in eight points in 11 minutes. Rayjon Tucker fired up a trio of 3s, and hit one, for five points and two boards. Juwan Morgan had four points and five rebounds but exited with a knee injury.
As for the regulars, center Tony Bradley asserted himself against the Spurs’ primarily smallball lineups to the tune of 15 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks.
“I just wanted to go out and play as hard as I could, showing effort on defense, just taking advantage out there,” he said. “Whatever I can do to get more time.”
Meanwhile, forward Niang — who has boasted the team’s top 3-point percentage for much of the season — remained curiously off-target, nailing his first two tries but making just 1 of 9 the rest of the way. He finished with seven points and eight rebounds. As for Mudiay, he chipped in 14 points and five assists and encouragingly earned eight free throw attempts. But he was wildly inefficient on offense (4 for 13) and generally lost on the other end.