Utah Jazz: 2 studs and 1 dud in blowout win over Raptors

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Utah Jazz

Utah Jazz forward Royce O’Neale (Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports)

After a handful of disappointing losses, the Utah Jazz appear to be right back on track. Last night’s 119-103 victory over a hard-nosed Toronto Raptors club came with so many positives, we’re afraid we’ll lose count.

The Jazz shot the 3 ball with hyper-efficiency for the second game of a row, knocking down 19 of their 46 attempts (41.3%). If you live and die by the 3, the Jazz have been living like Ferris Bueller with an entire week off over the past couple of games.

These are the conditions that every three-point dependent NBA team have to accept. It’s a feast-or-famine strategy, and Utah Jazz fans can only hope that the squad is able to eat in this year’s postseason. For the time being, they improve to 10-5 in a contest that was close until it wasn’t. The Raptors hung in with the Jazz until the end of the third quarter, when Utah’s half court defense tightened up.

Once again, the Jazz took care of business against an opponent they were supposed to beat, but did it in such a convincing fashion that it’s worth celebrating. Here are 2 studs and 1 dud from last night’s performance.

Utah Jazz stud: Royce O’Neale

As we recently document, Royce O’Neale is having an excellent season under the radar. The rugged Utah Jazz wing currently ranks 14th in the league in steals per game at 1.6. That number doesn’t even necessarily encompass O’Neale’s elite brand of perimeter stopping as accurately as his 2.5 Defensive Box Plus/Minus (DBPM). He is a player you have to watch to appreciate.

Last night, on the other hand, he occupied a position that your average box score reader can readily comprehend.

O’Neale finished this contest with a season high 16 points, shooting 6/8 from the field and 4/6 from three-point range. Notably, O’Neale hardly changed up his general offensive approach. His 8 field goal attempts hardly strayed from his usual 5.8 attempts per game, and his 6 attempted threes were only slightly more than his average 3.9.

He deserves credit for resisting the urge to jack up shots in excess in spite of his accuracy. O’Neale plays within the flow of the offense whether his shot is falling or not. Last night, it simply was. He chipped in 4 rebounds and 3 assists in this contest as well.

Oddly enough, the only thing he didn’t do was steal the ball.

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