When NBA watchers think of the Utah Jazz, they’re probably envisioning a relentless barrage of three-pointers. That’s a reasonable association: team emphasizes three-point shooting up to historical efficiency. That said, the inner dominance of this group also cannot be underestimated.
Rudy Gobert’s line of statistics from last night, while impressive, won’t turn heads. The 20 points and 11 rebounds he contributed to a dominant 123-98 Jazz victory over the Wizards reflects the kind of performance we expect from the marginal MVP candidate. Admittedly, he scored above his average, but we already knew that Gobert was capable of this type of performance.
His replacement, Hassan Whiteside, was the real story of last night’s game.
Utah Jazz Dominates Inside For 48 Minutes
Whiteside finished the game with 18 points, 14 rebounds and 4 blocks. More impressive still, he handled all this production in just 20 minutes.
Hassan Whiteside has had, to say the least, a strange NBA career. He went from undrafted to seen as a potential Miami Heat star, to maligned and criticized throughout the league for his uneven play and perceived immaturity.
Putting all that aside, there’s no denying that Whiteside is a productive player. He could probably claim a starting position in a handful of NBA teams. Having it back up is a luxury for the Utah Jazz.
Whiteside replicates much of what Gobert brings to the table: elite rim protection, rebound, and overall interior dominance. His skills allow Quin Snyder to let his team control the paint for 48 minutes if he wishes. Last night the benefits of this luxury were fully on display.
NBA teams often favor an offensive approach in reverse. The ability to generate easy layups and dunks forces a defense to adapt in a way that allows this team to have easier three-point attempts.
Nothing has been easy for the Washington Wizards in this game. Having an elite rim protector on the ground for 48 minutes allowed Jazz’s perimeter defenders to stay on their men with great success. All told, the Wizards had a meager 98 points and shot 8/25 (32%) from depth for that exact reason.
Utah Jazz takes another resounding victory
It was Jazz’s seventh straight win, and if you’ve been careful you saw that most of those wins came fairly easily. The indoor dominance we highlight has been a big part of the equation, but of course no NBA team in 2021 will get very far without an elite offense.
Fortunately, the Utah Jazz have one. Last night’s 123-point performance was ho-hum compared to some of the totals they posted on what is now a 7-game winning streak. Their 13/39 three-point shot (33.3%) was passable. Donovan Mitchell 28 points in 10/20 shooting and 4/9 three point accuracy.
Big hop. These Utah Jazz, in a way, hold an even higher offensive level than they encountered last night.
This is exactly what makes them contenders for the NBA Championship.
The Utah Jazz might have been expected to beat this inconsistent Washington Wizards team, but they still deserve credit for delivering. They will look to do the same against the Los Angeles Clippers tomorrow night.