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Big Third Quarter For Utah Leads To Victory Over Toronto | Utah Jazz

When Joe Ingles was asked this morning about why the Jazz often pass up good shots to make the extra pass for a great shot, he said simply, it’s just “making the right play.”

As he continued to talk about the intricacies of Utah’s offense, he paused and changed the subject, saying that Royce O’Neale is one guy who needs to shoot the ball more because he’s so efficient behind the arc. 

Although O’Neale never heard Ingles’ comments, he played as if he did.

On an evening when the debut of Rudy Gay stole the headlines — and rightfully so — it was the play of Ingles and O’Neale that helped Utah take down Toronto 119-103 on Thursday night.

“I thought that efficiency helped our transition defense,” head coach Quin Snyder said postgame. “Maybe the biggest thing that we did defensively since the game went on, we got a lot better on the offensive boards.”

O’Neale had his best game of the season, finishing with 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting and 4-of-6 from beyond the arc. He added four rebounds, three assists, and one block.

With Toronto making a solid effort to blitz the pick-and-roll, it forced the Jazz to constantly find the open man by either kicking it out or swinging the ball around the perimeter. This left O’Neale as the primary beneficiary and he made it count, knocking down shots the team wants him to take more of.

“Just reading the defense. … I think a big emphasis on tonight was, you know, finding the open guy and sharing the ball,” O’Neale said. “It makes us difficult to defend with the ball moving around like that. A unique thing with us is that nobody really cares who scores, everybody being unselfish, and that’s what we are going to keep doing.”

Ingles was sensational off the bench, finishing with a near triple-double of 10 points, eight assists, and seven rebounds. He did an excellent job of attacking the defensive glass (six rebounds), which allowed him to bring the ball quickly up the floor and exploit the mismatches in favor of the Jazz.

“I think it almost forces us to play the way we want to play to a certain extent,” Ingles said of Toronto’s defense. “I think we’re at our best when we play like this. I think regardless of the coverage that other teams play, tonight with what they were doing obviously makes it very easy to do what we did.”

With O’Neale and Ingles helping the Jazz end their five-game homestand with a win, it was Gay who stole the show with a debut to remember.

After missing the first 14 games of the year recovering from offseason heel surgery, Gay entered the game with 2:28 left in the first quarter to a rousing ovation. He was sensational in 18 minutes off the bench, finishing with 20 points (7-of-8 shooting), five rebounds, two assists, and a +14 rating.

His ability to space the floor (5-of-6 from deep) as a part of that second unit allowed Ingles to do what he does and thrive by dictating the offense. The ball constantly moved with no sticking points — a point of emphasis for the Jazz — Utah’s bench outscored Toronto’s bench 47-20.

“One thing I did good today? I didn’t hold the ball. That’s a big thing with this team. … When we do that, we’re hard to beat,” Gay said when asked about his performance.

The game was a back-and-forth affair to start, with each team going on runs.

Toronto jumped out a 9-2 lead early on before the Jazz responded with a 13-5 run. The Raptors stretched their lead back to six late in the quarter before Utah ended the first with a 15-4 run to lead 32-27.

Toronto made a comeback in the second quarter, taking a 63-61 lead into the half.

The third quarter is when the Jazz took over, going on a 24-10 run that resulted in Utah taking a 92-80 lead entering the fourth.

The Jazz ran their lead to 21 over the final 12 minutes before settling for the win, ending the homestand at 3-2.

Snyder was particularly complimentary of Mike Conley, noting how the veteran point guard dictated the tempo and offense for the Jazz by taking just four shots. Although he finished with just seven assists, he had numerous “hockey” assists, finishing with a season-high +33 rating.

“Frankly, Mike Conley dominated the game,” Snyder said about his all-star point guard. “It says a lot about who he is as a player when he takes four shots and dominates the game. We had a lot of people contribute, but Mike in my mind, the way that he played to be that unselfish and facilitate. … Plus 33 jumps out.”

Rudy Gobert added another double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds, while Donovan Mitchell added 20 points and four steals. Jordan Clarkson and Hassan Whiteside combined for 23 points off the bench, helping that second unit succeed.

Utah hits the road for the first time in 13 days when it faces Sacramento on Saturday. It’s the third time this season — second time in California — that the Jazz have played the Kings. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. MST on AT&T Sports Network.

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