The first half of the fourth game of the Utah Jazz’s preseason schedule was enough for Quin Snyder to see all he needed from the Utah Jazz’s starters.
By the time Wednesday night’s third quarter was underway against the visiting Milwaukee Bucks, Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell, Mike Conley, Bojan Bogdanovic and Royce O’Neale had been replaced by Jordan Clarkson, Jared Butler, Hassan Whiteside, Eric Paschall and Miye Oni.
Needless, to say, the end result — a 124-120 victory — was secondary to getting one final look at some players, some actions, some schemes and some alignments.
There was, in fact, a bit of everything.
Like, say, Gobert confidently stepping into a midrange jumper in the second quarter and swishing it, sending the players sitting on Utah’s bench into celebratory histrionics.
And Butler getting an extended look at the lead guard spot, with both Conley and Mitchell on the bench for a spell in the first half. The rookie sensation had a few miscues while being defended by the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday, but nevertheless impressed again with exceptional ball-handling, heady playmaking and aggressively hunting his own offense.
The No. 40 overall pick finished with 16 points, seven assists, two rebounds and two steals — albeit against four turnovers and a disqualifying six fouls. He also fired up the Vivint Arena crowd when, early in the third quarter, he crossed up Bucks reserve and former Jazz point guard George Hill, then flew down the lane for a two-handed dunk.
There was also an improved performance from Whiteside, who largely eschewed the mistakes prevalent in the preceding game and looked like the effective backup big the Jazz were hoping for, registering seven points, five boards and two blocks. He also demonstrated generally better court awareness, at one point sensing a guard swooping in for a weak side double team, adroitly securing the ball, then locating O’Neale open in the corner for a 3-point try.
As for those aforementioned starters, there was nothing terribly out of character, the Gobert jumper notwithstanding.
Bogdanovic was his usual mix of sweet shooting (14 points) and cover-your-eyes-and-hold-on dribbling/passing (three turnovers). Conley utilized Gobert’s screens for wide-open 3s, burying 4 of 5 from deep for 13 points. Mitchell aggressively hunted isos against Antetokounmpo, and racked up 12 points.
Sixth man Clarkson led the team’s scoring effort, piling up 18 rapid-fire points, while adding eight rebounds.
And despite the Jazz’s bench guys being matched up against Milwaukee’s rotation regulars for an extended period in the second half, they still held their own for a bit, taking a lead into the final period before slowly slipping away.
A late-game unit headlined by Butler and Elijah Hughes (12 points) brought the team back, much to the delight of faithful fans who stuck found themselves surprisingly invested in an otherwise meaningless contest.
The preseason slate now over, the Jazz will open the regular season on Wednesday, Oct. 20, at Vivint Arena against the Oklahoma City Thunder.