Five Things To Know Following Utah’s Win Over Atlanta | Utah Jazz

It was the perfect time for Jordan Clarkson to break out of a shooting slump.

With star Donovan Mitchell on the bench nursing a sprained right ankle, Clarkson scored a season-high 30 points as Utah took down Atlanta 116-98 on Thursday night.

“I heard him the whole time,” Clarkson said with a laugh when asked about Mitchell’s support. “He was like, ‘Oh yeah, yeah, this is it right here,’ and then seeing him do it. … He knows what I’m getting to when I see someone in the corner like that, he knows what I’m going to. That’s pretty dope though, that’s an All-Star. Having that support from him is amazing.”

Here are five things you need to know following the win:

1.) Welcome Back, Jordan Clarkson
Everybody in the Jazz organization knew Clarkson would come out of his recent shooting slump — they all told him so.

So when Clarkson dropped 30 points, 25 in the second half, against the Hawks on Thursday night, the bench was on its feet going crazy. Everyone knew how big of a night it was for Clarkson mentally, even if they all knew it was coming. 

“Obviously with JC, we know how aggressive he is coming off the bench, and you expect him to do that every night,” Joe Ingles said. “I think as a team, you’re trying to go out of your way to make it easier for him. … Not have him overthink it or feel like he’s letting the team down. It was a good game for him.”

Clarkson didn’t let the team down as his second half burst helped Utah score 77 points in the final 24 minutes, overcoming a one-point halftime deficit and turning it into an 18-point victory.

“In my mind, I just try to continue to be myself,” Clarkson said postgame. “My teammates, all the way down the line to the coaches, the owner, all of them coming up to me and saying ‘JC keep shooting.’ Don (Mitchell) before the game telling me, ‘Bro, it’s going to happen, when you start hitting, it’s going to keep falling.’… Hats off to them.”

2.) Joe Ingles Starts Hot
As Mitchell sat sidelined with the ankle injury, it meant that Ingles found himself in the starting lineup rather than the first guy off the bench. It also meant that the Jazz would have to find a way to make up for Mitchell’s team-leading 24.9 points per game.

Ingles did his best to make up that deficit as he scored 13 points in the opening half, finishing with a total of 19 while adding in four rebounds and three assists. His three three-pointers in the first half almost all came at crucial times when it looked as if the Hawks were going to pull away.

“I’m going to take good shots within our team and in our system. … That’s just how I’m going to play,” Ingles said. “For me, when I’m taking the shots I want to take, the ones the team wants me to take, I feel confident I’m going to make them.”

While Utah was only able to muster up 15 points in the opening quarter and 39 at the half, Ingles’ offense allowed them to stay within striking distance.

Ingles is no stranger to starting, often filling that role when the Jazz are down a player. But what makes him so unique is that he always lets the game come to him instead of forcing the issue. Whether scoring, rebounding, assisting, or playing defense, Ingles knows what role to fill when he’s on the court.

3.) Utah Hangs Its Hat On Defense, Again
One part of what makes the Jazz special is that when the offense is struggling, their defense can keep them in games.

That’s what happened in Atlanta as Utah found itself trailing 40-39 at the half after shooting 37.8% from the floor, 25% from three-point territory, and committing nine turnovers.

Despite those measly numbers, the Jazz were able to stay present thanks to its defense. 

Utah held Atlanta to 36.2% from the floor and 12.5% from beyond the arc in the first half, outrebounding the Hawks 29-19. Rudy Gobert and Hassan Whiteside were impressive during that stretch, combining for seven points, 13 rebounds, and two blocked shots.

“I thought our defense was really solid, which allowed us to be in a position so when our offense kicked in, we were right there,” head coach Quin Snyder said. 

That aggressive defense continued the rest of the game as Utah held the Hawks to 98 points, their third-lowest scoring output of the season. The Jazz forced eight turnovers in the second half and finished with a +15 advantage on the boards.

It’s remarkable when a team can score just 39 points in a half yet trail by just one point because it plays such connected and communicative defense. 

4.) Eric Paschall Continues To Impress
Looking strictly at the final box score, and some may come away unimpressed with what Paschall did on Thursday night: Two points and three rebounds in 24 minutes.

But in the stat that matters to the Jazz, Paschall thrived. He finished with a +24 rating in those 14 minutes, the second-highest on the team next to Clarkson’s +28 performance.

He was sensational on the defensive end of the floor, guarding anyone from point guard Trae Young to center Clint Capela. His ability to fill that small-ball center role for the Jazz makes the team much more dynamic, a trait many felt might have been their only weakness.

Paschall also shows off some shockingly impressive athleticism and explosion, especially for someone listed at 6-foot-6 and 255 pounds. For the second week in a row, he threw down a monstrous dunk — this time coming against one of the best rim protectors in the game in Capela. 

It’ll be interesting to see how Snyder doles out minutes when Rudy Gay returns — but until then, Paschall is more than making the case that he belongs in the regular rotation regardless of who’s healthy and available.

5.) Second Half Explosion
Snyder has said it multiple times this season. So have the Jazz players themselves.

Despite early-season struggles from everyone shooting the ball, all of their shots were going to fall at some point. That time came on Thursday as the Jazz exploded for 77 points in the final 24 minutes. 

“We felt like we were getting pretty good looks, and we weren’t making them,” Snyder said of his team’s first-half performance.

The extremely impressive and efficient showing began with Clarkson catching fire and Bojan Bogdanovic finishing it off in the fourth quarter. Clarkson ended up with 25 in the half while Bogdanovic added 17, combining to outscore Utah’s 39-point first half output by themselves.

The Jazz shot 27-of-45 (60%) from the floor and 12-for-21 (57.1%) from three-point territory in the final 24 minutes. But what was most impressive was the 20 assists the team dolled out, showcasing their ball movement, willingness to find the open man and pass up a good shot for a great shot.

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