Through two and a bit quarters against the Charlotte Hornets, the Utah Jazz were playing some pretty uninspiring basketball. Slow in transition defence on one end and careless with the ball on the other.
Until they decided otherwise.
So often we talk about elite teams having that extra gear, a new level of play that other teams simply can't match and tonight the Jazz further added to their title-contending credibility with an emphatic explosion on both ends of the court as they buried the Hornets under an avalanche of 3-pointers.
Spanning late in the third quarter and early in the fourth the Jazz went on a 41-11 run, including a 26-2 spurt over a five-minute stretch. With Joe Ingles, Georges Niang and co. raining in 3s on one end, Rudy Gobert was an immovable object at the other.
"They were really comfortable the whole game," Gobert said after the 132-110 win. "We didn't have much physicality and they were feeling good. When we started getting into them a little more, get physical and protect the basket, it was a different game."
1) Rudy: how?- utahjazz (@utahjazz) February 23, 2021
2) Mike 3
3) Georges cele after his SIXTH three!#TakeNote pic.twitter.com/3XQ15elPRX
After holding a one-point leading heading into the fourth, three minutes and 30 seconds later they were in front by 19.
For a third time this season, the Jazz set a new franchise record, draining 28 of their 55 3-point attempts, breaking their previous best of 25, which also came against the Hornets earlier this month.
The Jazz are now 5-0 on the season when attempting 50+ threes, including wins over the Blazers (50), Bucks (53), Warriors (50) and twice against the Hornets (50 & 55).
Donovan Mitchell led them in scoring with 23 points, but it was the bench trio of Joe Ingles, Jordan Clarkson and Georges Niang who did the bulk of the damage from deep, combining for 19 of the team's 28 triples and 62 points overall.
Ingles knocked down 7-of-13 for his 21 points, adding six assists and five rebounds, while Clarkson went 5-of-10 from 3 for his 20 points. Niang proved to be the lighting bolt for the Jazz, needing just 16 minutes on court to go 7-of-7 from deep for his 21 points.
"I don't want to just give credit to the bench," Niang said post-game. "But I think that's an incredible accomplishment. Nineteen 3s is a lot of points. I wasn't a math major, but that's a lot of points."
Seven Jazz players finished in double figures, with four players scoring 20+ points, three of those off the bench, further underscoring their depth and 'next-man-up' approach. On any night, the Jazz can have a different player catch fire...tonight it was Niang.
"All his teammates know how hard he works and he's doing all the little things he can do to help the team," head coach Quin Snyder said of Niang. "His shooting is something that, when he's on like that, it's a big deal for us. It's a weapon."
Former Jazz player Gordon Hayward scored 21 points for the Hornets, before exiting the game in the fourth quarter with an apparent hand injury, while rookie LaMelo Ball filled it up with 21 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals.
The Jazz, who now hold a league-best 25-6 record will put their credentials to the test when they face LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers at home on Wednesday at 8:00 p.m. ET.
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