The road isn’t always a friendly place.
And returning from a brutal six-game road trip where the Jazz only picked up one W, seeing the Rocky Mountains after mostly staring at hotels, arenas and tarmacs might’ve been just what the team needed.
With rookie sensation Donovan Mitchell missing his second game in a row with a sore great toe, Rudy Gobert out with a bone bruise and Raul Neto recovering from a concussion, the Jazz weren’t playing with a full deck of cards. The visiting 22-win Spurs were in town Thursday and it seemed like Utah weren’t getting the warm welcome they’d hoped for.
With both teams playing on the wrong side of a back-to-back and key players donning snazzy suits instead of warm ups (San Antonio was without Danny Green and Manu Ginobili, while Kawhi Leonard was on a minutes restriction), it seemed like having a nationally televised game might be brutal for both squads and, quite frankly, viewers.
Luckily for Jazz fans, Rodney Hood came to play, lighting up the Spurs for a game high 29 points, making five shots in the fourth quarter after San Antonio made it tight in the third off of three consecutive made Patty Thrills (or Mills, whatevs) 3-pointers.
“We know they’re a great team. We know they’re going to go on a run,” Hood said of his team’s mentality. “That’s what all teams do, and we’ve got to withstand that run and go back at them.”
Jazz head coach Quin Snyder was happy with his on-the-bench, off-the-bench shooting guard’s play, who was in the starting lineup with D-Mitch out with a sore toe.
“He’s been doing that, you know,” Snyder said of Hood’s scoring punch. “I think tonight he knew in the fourth he was going to have to step up and provide us some offense and he was able to do that.”
“He came out that way,” Snyder added. “I think he just knows that’s something that we want from him and expect from him and I think he expects that from himself.”
In particular, Snyder was happy that Hood took as many 3-point shots as he did — 10 in his 34 minutes on the court. Even though only three went down, it was the proper process, even if it wasn’t the desired result.
Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich had kind words about Rodney’s performance.
“You noticed he was pretty good huh?” Pop said. “I thought they did a really good job in pick and roll of attacking and getting the ball to really open shooters. I mean the last two 3s he hit, they were contested pretty well and he made great shots, but in general they did a great job executing and finding the open man on a pick and roll, and really sliced and diced us in that regard. So that was nice to watch in a weird sort of way.”
“Hell of a player,” Patty Mills said of Hood. “Lefty, hard to guard. Especially when he knocks down a couple. off the dribble, off the catch, coming off screens…”
After coming out flat Wednesday in Oklahoma City, starting center Derrick Favors was happy his team came out with more of an edge.
“It was a good team effort, came out, played with a lot of energy defensively and tried to make them take tough shots,” Favors said.
Though the Spurs shot well from distance (10-21 on 3s) and outscored the Jazz 40-26 in the paint, they took eight long 2s (making one) and took 28 shots in the midrange, shooting 35% there.
The Jazz held the Spurs to 38 points at the half, taking a 12-point lead into the third quarter. The Spurs would ultimately only ever lead by one point.
Though six Spurs scored more than 10 points, Bryn Forbes was the leading scorer with 12.
After getting smacked by the Thunder last night, the Jazz will have another chance at Russ & Co. Saturday night at home.