New Orleans coach Stan Van Gundy was asked before Tuesday’s game if the Utah Jazz’s 3-point prowess necessitated a departure from his preferred inside-out defensive style. He said no, his primary concern remained preventing Gobert from getting dunks and Donovan Mitchell from getting layups.
And then, early in the third quarter, the Jazz ended six consecutive possessions with a made 3, generating an 18-point advantage that effectively ended the game.
Still, as pretty as the offense was to watch in the Jazz’s eventual 118-102 victory over the Pelicans, they’ve made their prodigious exploits almost commonplace of late.
Tuesday marked the fourth time in Utah’s now-six-game winning streak that team made at least 20 shots from beyond the arc.
They hit 21 of 47 attempts against New Orleans (44.7%). They drilled 20 of 44 vs. the Hawks (45.5%). Before that, it was 24 for 45 in Cleveland (53.3%). And the Jazz kicked it all off with a franchise-record 25 made 3s in a franchise-record 53 attempts in Milwaukee (47.2%).
“As our group has played a lot this year, I think we’ve been pretty open in saying this is the way and style we want to play, and, obviously, which we think we’re good at,” said Joe Ingles, who returned from a three-game absence to knock down 5 of 6 tries from beyond the arc for 15 points.
Yeah, they’re apparently pretty good at it.
Through Tuesday’s schedule games, the Jazz are now leading the NBA in 3-pointers made per game (16.5), while ranking fourth in percentage (40.1).
They are also the only team in the league hitting at least 40% of at least 40 attempts per game.
Donovan Mitchell, who went 4 of 7 from deep and parlayed a hot start into a 28-point, seven-rebound, four-assist night, said it comes down to players being unselfish, moving the ball, knowing they’ve got a roster full of guys capable of burying open looks.
“I think the biggest thing was just shooting our shots, not passing up 3s,” said Mitchell. “… We’re getting good looks. J.C. and Mike had 16 combined assists, I had [four] — the biggest thing is getting into the paint and just finding the open man.”
To his point, seven Jazz players made at least one 3-pointer on Tuesday.
Of course, while the Jazz certainly have a bunch of guys who are brilliant at shooting, it’s a bit more nuanced than that.
For starters, center Rudy Gobert, aspiring jump shooter or not, was not among Tuesday’s 3-point cabal, making all six of his baskets from close range. He nevertheless played a role in the team’s latest long-distance outburst.
“We’ve got guys that run, our bigs run, and obviously that opens it up — with Rudy running down the lane, they collapse in a little bit,” Ingles said. “And then we’ve got guys that can make plays, with the four guards that are out there at times.”
Along those lines, Mitchell mentioned Utah’s transition prowess, noting how the simple act of pushing the ball ahead can throw a defense off-balance and thus create more-open looks.
“It’s easy to scout half-court [offense]; it’s tough to scout transition,” he said. “It’s really impossible to scout transition, when guys are spacing so many different areas.”
Extrapolating further, he pointed out that such transition opportunities ultimately begin with solid defense — a notion that coach Quin Snyder brought up just minutes before.
It’s a pretty simple sequence in the coach’s eyes: get a stop, push the pace, space the floor, move the ball, and if you’ve got a good shot, take it.
“Honestly, it starts defensively. When we get stops, our guys are committed right now to running,” Snyder said. “… We’ve just got to make sure we’re spaced. That’s maybe the biggest thing, is that we’re staying focused to space and re-space. And when we do that, and move the ball, we’re capable of getting some looks. And we’re making them right now.”
JAZZ 118, PELICANS 102
Key moment • Early in the third quarter, the Jazz finish six straight possessions with a made 3-pointer to take a 73-55 win and blow the game wide open.
Big number: 21 • For the fourth time in this six-game win streak, the Jazz make more than 20 shots beyond the arc, this time going 21 for 47.
Up next • The two teams will go at it again in a Thursday night rematch set for an 8 p.m. tipoff at Vivint Arena.