Utah Jazz: Reactions to a thrilling overtime win over Portland

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - NOVEMBER 01: Jonas Jerebko (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - NOVEMBER 01: Jonas Jerebko (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images) /

The Utah Jazz eked out a tightly contested overtime win over the Portland Trail Blazers thanks largely to the stellar play of Ricky Rubio and Donovan Mitchell.

Wow. What a win for the Utah Jazz last night as they were able to best the Portland Trail Blazers in overtime by a score of 112 to 103 to remain undefeated (5-0) at home and raise their overall record to 5-3. Once again, as has seemed to be the case in all of their wins, the Jazz weren’t exactly perfect, but they were able to set aside some early mistakes and lean on their staunch defense to stay in the game until they finally took off offensively to earn the victory.

While watching the game and planning what to say in this piece, I started to think that it would center around how Donovan Mitchell was the star of the game, willing the Jazz to victory and sealing the game for them. In a lot of ways, it could be argued that such was the case. The Jazz rookie put up a new career-high of 28 points and essentially matched Blazers star Damian Lillard blow-for-blow.


However, even with Mitchell’s gutsy performance that should renew Jazz fans’ already immense excitement for his future with the team, the guy who truly ended up stealing the show and putting the icing on the cake in the final period and overtime was none other than Utah’s newly acquired point guard Ricky Rubio.

Rubio entered the fourth quarter with just nine points, but then went absolutely berserk from there, scoring 10 points in the fourth and 11 in overtime to put his total all the way up to a 30-point outing. And three of those 30 points came in the most clutch form possible as Ricky dropped the three-pointer that would eventually go on to seal the game.

In all, it was an absolutely incredible performance by both backcourt standouts – Donovan Mitchell and Ricky Rubio – as the two dropped in an astounding 58 combined points and also played well on the defensive end. Although Thabo Sefolosha (who also had an incredible game – more on that in a moment) was put on Damian Lillard for much of the latter part of the contest, Mitchell and Rubio did a good job of slowing him down as he struggled to get his shot going until the fourth quarter and he finished the game just 12-of-27 from the field and 4-of-15 from deep.

Unfortunately, another member of Utah’s backcourt didn’t exactly get in on the success that Rubio and Mitchell enjoyed. Rodney Hood, the starter over Donovan Mitchell, had a dismal night which saw him shoot 0-of-11 from the field for zero points. Not only that, but Hood’s defense was so lackluster, that he soon found himself on the bench behind the rookie as Donovan was much more reliable on both ends of the floor.

Now, I realize it was just one game for Hood and that every player is going to have their off nights, but this was an absolutely putrid showing. And unfortunately, these kind of off shooting nights seem to be all too common of an occurrence for Rodney. One of the biggest knocks against him (aside from his seemingly constant injuries) has always been his unbelievable streakiness and unreliability, and he showed that in full force last night.


After that performance against Portland, it honestly wouldn’t surprise me to see Donovan Mitchell creep up more and more on taking Hood’s playing time. By no means am I saying that the young Mitchell is already better than a more experienced Hood, but if last night’s trend continues in any way, shape or form, it won’t be all that long until such is the case. Coach Snyder definitely trusted Mitchell more last night and the reasons why were obvious.

At the very least, it would have been nice to see Hood have the craftiness to find another way to contribute it despite the fact that his shot wasn’t dropping. Had he attempted to attack the rim, get fouled, then get his shot going at the free throw line, it very well may have galvanized his offense. Unfortunately, Hood for the most part is so one-dimensional that without his shot falling, he wasn’t able to produce in any fashion while he was on the court.

Last of all, although not as surprising or quite as impressive as the play of Utah’s two star guards of the night, two other players deserve major props for helping the Jazz secure the victory – Rudy Gobert and Thabo Sefolosha. Rudy Gobert put up a modest stat line (according to his standards) of 16 points on 5-of-9 shooting, 10 rebounds and three blocks, but his defense was absolutely superb when it mattered most, including the potentially game-saving block below:

With “ice in his veins” Damian Lillard looking to seal the deal for the Blazers with the blow-by of Sefolosha, Rudy was there to get his finger tips on the floater attempt and deny the Portland star to force overtime. Gobert’s defensive play in the waning seconds of the fourth quarter may have very well saved the game for the Jazz.

Not only that, but although Blazers big man Jusuf Nurkic actually put up a very good game with 19 points on 50 percent shooting and 11 rebounds, Gobert made life miserable for him late in the contest and shut him down when it counted the most.

Then there was reserve Thabo Sefolosha who did a little bit of everything for the Jazz, including notching 15 points, three of which came in the form of a crucial three-pointer that tied the game down the stretch, and played stellar defense all night long to help keep the likes of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum in check, save Lillard’s hot streak in the fourth. Sefolosha logged several important minutes to close the game and ended up with the highest plus/minus of the team by a long shot of +24.


I also wanted to give a quick shout-out to Jonas Jerebko who logged significant minutes for the Jazz for the first time in the absence of the recently injured Joe Johnson and deserves a lot of credit for playing as he did. He logged eight points in 20 minutes on the floor, knocking down two of his three attempts from deep and bringing an incredible spark and energy off the bench.

Make no mistake about it, this overtime victory over Portland was a big win. The Blazers have played well so far this season and are likely to be jockeying with the Jazz for playoff position all year long. Therefore, the way that the Jazz were able to fight throughout the night and eventually squeeze out the win was very impressive.

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Hopefully that momentum and confidence will carry over and the Jazz can just continue to improve little by little from here. There are still aspects of their offense that most assuredly need to get better, but on a night where Ricky Rubio put up 30 and Donovan Mitchell put up 28, it’s hard to complain too much.

The Jazz will be back in action tomorrow against a likely ragged Toronto Raptors team that is finishing up a six-game road trip in Salt Lake City. If Utah’s defense can be as suffocating as it was against Portland and their offense can click as Rubio and Mitchell helped it to do in the latter part of last night’s game, they should be able to earn yet another home victory against the sturdy Eastern Conference opponent.