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The Triple Team: Jazz run away with win vs. Kings in fourth quarter punctuated by unusual fan incident

Utah Jazz forward Rudy Gay (8), guard Joe Ingles (2) and guard Mike Conley (11) guard against Sacramento Kings center Richaun Holmes (22) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Randall Benton)

Three thoughts on the Utah Jazz’s 123-105 win over the Sacramento Kings from Salt Lake Tribune Jazz beat writer Andy Larsen.

1. Just keep the game close and go on a 10-0 run here and there

I thought this was a game that the Jazz won through their relentless talent.

That’s kind of a weird phrase, but let me explain what I mean: because the Jazz are this deep, they can stay with teams even when not playing their best, then go on a run when the other team cracks at all.

That happened tonight, I felt. You saw Donovan Mitchell scoring a lot of these kinds of points, where it’s not exactly great offense but because he’s just so talented, he gets a good look anyway.

That keeps you close. And then when the other team puts in some weaker players, or loses focus for a split second, just turns the ball over, or you just happen to hit a bunch of threes in a row, you can pounce. That happened tonight, with a 10-0 run in the fourth quarter, a 9-1 run in the third, and even a 19-4 run in the second.

I sometimes like looking at ESPN’s Game Flow charts to get a sense of what happened.

ESPN GameFlow of Jazz/Kings.

So the second-quarter run was due to just shutdown defense for a while. In the third quarter, they literally just hit a couple of threes in a row. And in the fourth, Jordan Clarkson got a couple baskets, Rudy Gay hits a transition three, and all of a sudden, you have a stranglehold on the game.

I didn’t think the Jazz played that well tonight, nor did the Kings play that poorly. But in the end, the Jazz’s ability to just take over 1-2 minutes at a time made the difference.

2. Transition threes rule

And a whole lot of the Jazz’s ability to go on these spurts is their ability to get three points out of transition opportunities. Tonight, the Jazz added 9.8 points compared to what you’d expect from opponent missed shots, simply because they pushed the ball in transition and made the shots.

Here’s a quick compilation:

So that’s 24 points that the Jazz score super early in the shot clock, before the other team really has a chance to get settled. For the most part, those are good looks!

According to NBA.com, the Jazz are shooting 40% from deep in early clock shot looks, after shooting 43% last year in the same situations. The transition twos score at about the same rate — 60% — but going deeper into the paint sometimes means a risk of turning the ball over.

Sprinting down the floor and getting open threes is good offense, and when the Jazz are able to do it, they’re at their best offensively. It’s also, in my opinion, just a lot of fun to watch.

3. An oral history of the Kings fan vomiting

Absolutely the most interesting thing to happen in tonight’s game came in the fourth quarter, when a courtside Kings fan started to vomit on the hardwood, causing the game to be delayed for a significant period of time. Here’s an oral history of the event, from Quin Snyder and the three players we talked to postgame.

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Quin Snyder: He was razzing me the whole game. Well, at least the first three quarters.

After taking just a four-point lead into the fourth quarter, the Jazz go on a 12-2 run to take control of the game — punctuated by a Rudy Gay transition three that leads to a timeout by the Kings. That’s when the unexpected occurred.

Rudy Gobert: When Rudy Gay hit the shot, that’s when he started throwing up. That’s what started the whole thing. I think he threw up in his mask first. That’s what I heard. But when I looked, he was throwing up on the floor.

Snyder: You guys see that? Just kept — (at this point, Quin makes a rotating hand gesture from his mouth to the floor). He couldn’t stop.

Jordan Clarkson: I don’t know, he was just throwing up, continuously!

Gobert: I kind of made eye contact with him too. He was smiling, so he was smiling and throwing up at the same time.

Donovan Mitchell: I didn’t see it happen, but I just saw, you know, the after effects. I just walked to the opposite side of the floor, I didn’t want to be around that.

As the Jazz’s players and coaching staff start to understand what happens, they move away from the bench area. A 13-minute break ensues as the fan is ushered off the floor and the cleanup begins. The offending material is placed into arena hazmat bags.

Mitchell: I was really just focused on getting out the way, I didn’t pay attention to anybody else. No parts, I don’t want no part of that.

Gobert: You just kind of stepped away and got away, until it’s cleaned up.

Clarkson went viral in his own right, popping up in front of his teammates in a made-for-GIF moment.

Clarkson: We were just having fun playing around, just making the best of a situation. You know, it was boring a little bit, it took like 40 minutes to clean it up.

Mitchell: I was enjoying the Sacramento crowd, just talking and chatting and having a good time. Those are the moments where it’s like, you’re playing a game, you’re locked in, but at the end of the day, people come and watch you play and they interact and we give that interaction, and I think it’s pretty dope. It was fun. We had a lot of jokes and laughs and there really wasn’t much to do during that time besides take photos.

Clarkson: The crowd had the best jokes. Everybody was laughing. You know, we all were just like, ‘Y’all better be careful, I hope they’re not serving it to y’all or you’ll be throwing up too.’

Mitchell: It was just crazy, just weird. It took forever to clean up too, which I didn’t expect. I guess you gotta do it right.

Clarkson: A shout out to the cleaning crew because I definitely wouldn’t have cleaned it up, it would have stayed there for a long time if I was part of that.

The Jazz’s players expressed their best wishes to the fan.

Gobert: Life is full of surprises, and I’m glad he’s OK. I mean, I just hope that he’s OK. The hot dog he was eating before (messed) him up.

Clarkson: To the kid, you know, that was throwing up: Man, we’ve all had nights like that. Just picturing being at the toilet throwing up... well, he wasn’t at the toilet, but it happens.

Mitchell: I hope the guy will be alright and wake up tomorrow morning, seeing he’s going viral and all that.

Clarkson: There’s a lot of tequilas he could have drank, some Bud Lights maybe, who knows, a lot of things. Nah, but, I hope he’s good. Drink a little Pedialyte, get his electrolytes, drink some water, and he’ll be straight.

At this point in his postgame interview, Clarkson took a sip of a Bud Light at the podium. Clarkson is asked if he’s angling for a Bud Light sponsorship.

Clarkson: I mean, I wouldn’t mind. Cheers, brother.

After the lengthy break, the Jazz tried to maintain the momentum they had before the timeout. They did, ending up with an easy 18-point victory on the road in Sacramento.

Snyder: That was a strange situation. We had gone on a pretty good run before that happened and you know, I thought we did a good job of keeping our concentration throughout.

Clarkson: We were getting a little tired. So, you know, I think they kind of helped us a little bit get our breath back.

Mitchell: Even when I subbed in, I walked right out on the floor, which could have been called a technical foul. But I’m not walking over there... I don’t want to be around that.

Clarkson: It was just a little experience that we had. It was fun, though.

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