Home Jazz “The energy is just different” | Different vibes lead to victory

“The energy is just different” | Different vibes lead to victory

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Utah Jazz fans had waited nearly a month to hear the lyrics.

“Number 45…from Louisville…Donovan Mitchell.”

After missing the last two and a half weeks with severe concussion symptoms, Mitchell made his triumphant return to the field. The newly named star showed no signs of rust as Utah won visiting Brooklyn 125-102 on Friday night.

“To be honest, I was making the joke before the game like I didn’t care if the ball went in or out. … I was just happy to be out there running.” Mitchell said post-game.

Here are five things to know after the win:

1.) Donovan Mitchell, the Superhero
After two and a half weeks off, most of which came without the ability to train or train, there were some questions about how Mitchell would look upon his return.

It took 2 minutes and 13 seconds to get the answer. Utah took a 10-0 lead and never looked back, thanks in large part to Mitchell.

He opened the game with a no-look pass to Royce O’Neale for an easy and one. He followed that up with a pair of free throws and a deep three-pointer before finding Udoka Azubuike for a lay-up with another no-look pass.

Just over two minutes into the game, Mitchell had five points and two assists, showing his absence hasn’t hampered his shooting and playing ability.

“We have a lot of special guys in our league, but there are a few special guys who even separate themselves from this group of just being special and he’s one of those people,” Kyrie Irving said of Mitchell.

In just 22 minutes of action — not because of a minutes restriction — Mitchell finished with a team-high 27 points, adding six assists, three rebounds and a +21 rating. He was hyper effective on the night, shooting 8 of 10 from the floor, 6 of 7 from three-point territory and a perfect 5 of 5 from the free throw line.

It’s clear the Jazz missed his ability to penetrate and reach the rim, as he constantly opened up the ground for Utah’s shooters to take advantage of.

“He looked really good,” head coach Alex Jensen said of Mitchell. “He was running, defending, passing. … He looked really good there.”

2.) Udoka Azubuike impresses with his double-double
When it was announced before the game that Hassan Whiteside was available to play after dealing with lower back pain, many assumed the big man would start with Rudy Gobert still out.

Instead, he was a different big man in the starting lineup.

With Whiteside far from 100% while recovering from a serious case of COVID-19 and back pain, Jensen thought it would be best to get him off the bench and insert Azubuike into starting training.

Azubuike did not disappoint, finishing with the best game of his young career. He recorded the first double-double of his career with 10 points, 11 rebounds and a +23 rating. It was an impressive performance as he showed improved skill around the hoop at both ends of the court.

But according to Mitchell, the points and rebounds weren’t even the most impressive parts of Azubuike’s game — it was his hustling. While there were countless moments when the big man sprinted at his enemy on the field to establish his position, Mitchell said his best play was when he rushed to close on a three-point shooter in the corner.

With Gobert expected to return soon and Whiteside on the road to full recovery, it’s unclear where Azubuike’s minutes go from here – but if nothing else, this little preview shows the future is promising.

3.) Quin Snyder is still part of the game plan
One of the most overlooked aspects of Utah’s two-game winning streak is that he’s arguably without his most dangerous weapon.

Head coach Quin Snyder has been out the last three games due to health and safety protocols, which means senior assistant head coach Alex Jensen has taken over the reins.

While the Jazz turned things around after a tough January, many fans believe Jensen is the main reason. Whether it’s because of his starting lineups, rotation or in-game tweaks, some believe he deserves all the credit.

Without taking anything away from Jensen – he was sensational when thrown into a tight spot – but even telling him the turnaround was a collaborative effort. According to Jensen, Snyder is still an integral part of the game plan and is as active and involved as possible in his absence.

“The process is actually the same,” Jensen said. “We met the coach on Zoom yesterday and today, and there’s been a lot of moving parts with our roster. … So it’s no different except that obviously he’s not there. .”

4.) Bojan Bogdanovic and Mike Conley are thriving
With Mitchell out the past eight games, much of the offensive pressure and leadership has fallen on the shoulders of Bogdanovic and Conley. That’s not to say they aren’t capable of carrying such a heavy load, but Mitchell’s absence takes away one of their key teammates who helps keep the offense running so efficiently.

So when he returned to the pitch on Friday, it’s no surprise Bogdanovic and Conley were thriving.

Bogdanovic had come to his senses, thriving in his role as a secondary goalscorer. He finished with a double-double of 19 points and 11 rebounds, shooting 8 of 14 from the floor and 3 of 7 from beyond the arc. But the most impressive part of his performance was four assists, showing a part of his game that isn’t seen as much.

Conley also appreciated the return of his running mate.

With Mitchell getting so much attention from Brooklyn, Conley found open lanes everywhere and was able to get to the edge at will. He finished with 14 points, three rebounds and three assists.

“He takes the pressure off the other guys, especially Mike,” Jensen said of Mitchell’s presence. “There’s so much focus on him that he’s freeing up other guys offensively. That’s Donovan Mitchell. … He makes everything a lot easier for everyone.”

5.) Different Energy, Different Vibe
It’s no secret that the Jazz had a tough January.

A team that entered the month closer to the No. 1 seed than the No. 4 seed, Utah stumbled to a 4-12 record, including a five-game losing streak for end the month.

But once the schedule shifted to February, the Jazz started winning again. Wins over Denver and Brooklyn, the latter aided by the return of Mitchell, breathed new life into Utah. There’s a different energy and vibe around this team that you can see, but you can also feel.

The Jazz pay a lot less and seem to be having fun again. While winning heals a lot of things, it’s the question in which the Jazz win that fuels them. There are laughs and smiles, there are celebrations on the bench again.

Whether that energy will continue for the rest of the season is unclear, but what is clear is that Utah is rejuvenated as its star players return to the field.

“It’s the mark of a composed team, and you understand that you have to go through adversity to get to the top,” Mitchell said. “It’s having fun with the game, even in our losses. I can’t say our losses were fun, but you look at the effort. … The energy is just different.”