Utah may be three games into the season, but an exciting trend is already starting to develop. 

With their deep and talented veteran-laden squad, the Jazz are proving to be quite dangerous in the fourth quarter.

Last Friday night, Utah turned a one-point lead heading into the fourth to a nine-point victory over Sacramento. Come Tuesday night, the Jazz once again took a one-point lead into the final quarter against Denver, only this time to turn it into a 12-point win.

Led by seven players in double figures, Utah took down Denver 122-110 on Tuesday night for its biggest win of the season.

“I think we started to move the ball more,” Rudy Gobert said of what changed in the fourth quarter, where Utah outscored Denver 31-20. “It’s kind of the cycle when we play well defensively, our offense gets better. … I don’t know, I like when that happens, and that’s when we play our best basketball.”

Here are five things you need to know following the win:

1.) Utah Reigns Supreme In Fourth Quarter
The Jazz continue to get better in the fourth quarter, the sign of a very mature team who knows how to win close games. 

As for what’s allowing Utah to thrive and take control over the final 12 minutes of games, it comes down to a balanced plan of attack on both ends of the court. 

On defense, the Jazz lock up and do a phenomenal job of communicating regarding rotations–as well as grabbing every rebound in sight. Offensively, the team pushes the pace more and does an excellent job of getting into the paint where a layup, or an open three-pointer, awaits.

“I thought we really responded and defended in the fourth,” head coach Quin Snyder said. “We did a good job on the boards, I think that was a big part. We did a better job contesting shots, we were just more locked in.”

While it’s never good to have to rely on big fourth quarters to win games, the Jazz aren’t exactly playing with fire as they’re proving more than capable of executing at a high level late in games.

2.) Second Unit Stays Dominant
Already armed with the reigning Sixth Man of the Year (Jordan Clarkson) and the guy who finished second in the voting (Joe Ingles), scoring depth was never a massive concern for the Jazz.

But where Utah set out to improve upon was finding guys who could play physical and bring the energy when needed. Enter Hassan Whiteside and Eric Paschall. 

Whiteside has been a revelation as the backup to Rudy Gobert, averaging 8.0 points and 7.7 rebounds in 16.3 minutes per game. Paschall has brought some much-needed energy and physicality off the bench, something Gobert says is “contagious” for the entire team.

Clarkson, Ingles and Whiteside combined for 43 points in Tuesday’s win, while Clarkson, Ingles, and Paschall all finished with a plus-minus greater than +16.

Utah’s bench is suddenly tough on defense, physical in nature, and can score at will–and that’s without the addition of Rudy Gay, who has yet to play this season but is expected to have a prominent role.

3.) Gobert Continues Offensive Evolution
Gobert entered last night’s game averaging 16.5 points and 20.5 rebounds, finishing with more rebounds than points in each contest. 

But against reigning MVP Nikola Jokic, Gobert flipped the script and showed what he’s capable of on offense. He finished with a season-high 23 points, adding in 16 rebounds to have his third consecutive double-double to begin the season.

What was most impressive was that because the Nuggets couldn’t slow down the Jazz on offense in the fourth quarter, they went with the hack-attack and intentionally fouled Gobert to put him on the line. 

How did he respond? He went 8-for-10 from the charity stripe in the final 12 minutes, finishing with 14 points in the quarter and proving there was no way to stop Utah on offense.

“I was mad at myself for missing four free throws in the first, so they gave me a great opportunity to redeem myself,” Gobert said. “Gotta embrace it. … I know I’m a good free-throw shooter, so I got to knock them down. 

4.) Another Game, Another Ejection
After Ingles was ejected on a questionable (at best) call last Friday against Sacramento, Whiteside was the latest Utah player to hit the showers early.

Whiteside, who has added a level of physicality to Utah’s second unit, got tangled up with Denver’s JaMychal Green late in the fourth quarter. While no punches were thrown, both players squared off and shoved each other before teammates broke up the ruckus. 

It was nothing more than a simple dust-up, but officials saw fit to eject both players from the game. While it’s not a big deal in the grand scheme, the Jazz are unintentionally sending a message that they will not be backing down from anybody this season.

“I think anytime you have scuffles, competition in games, it’s just part of the NBA game,” Snyder said. “Those things happen because guys compete at a high level. I think the main thing with Hassan, he’s doing the things that help us win.”

5.) Milestones For Clarkson and Ingles
It’s nice when you have the reigning Sixth Man of the Year coming off the bench. It’s great when you have the runner-up for the award on the court as well. It’s a downright luxury when both of those players are established veterans achieving new milestones in their careers.

With 17 points against Denver, Clarkson has now reached 8,000 for his career–not bad for a second-round pick who has finally found a home in the mountains.

“I thought Jordan really gave us some boost in the first half. He got some clean looks. … He did a good job of getting into the lane when we needed to attack the rim,” Snyder said.

For Ingles, he finished the night 3-for-5 from beyond the arc, the last of which was his 1,000 career three-pointer. He is already the organization’s career three-point leader and continues to add to that number.

“I thought Joe, particularly when they’re switching and when they’re blitzing, his ability to pass the ball and find people makes it easier on everybody,” Snyder added postgame.


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