The Jazz are still perfect–in the standings at least.

Thanks to another excellent performance by its reserves, Utah jumped out to an early 14-point lead after the first quarter before taking down Houston 122-91 on Thursday night.

“For tonight to be able to get a little bit of rest. … If we can get out of here because someone said a tornado is coming or some bad weather. … Get a little bit of rest before Saturday or whenever the next one is,” Utah’s Joe Ingles said postgame.

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

1.) Utah Gets Much Needed Rest
With head coach Quin Snyder wanting to prioritize health and rest throughout the regular season, Thursday’s game against Houston was as good as it gets.

Nobody played more than 28 minutes (Rudy Gobert), while 10 players played at least 14 minutes (Jared Butler). Seven players scored in double figures, with Bojan Bogdanovic leading the way with 19 points. Eight players also finished with a +/- of +13 or better.

“We’re an older team than a lot of teams,” Ingles said with a laugh. “I think anytime we get the chance to be able to rest guys at the end of the game, I think coach will do it most times.”

While the rest was good physically for the team, Snyder believes the mental side of resting is precisely what the team needed before playing back-to-back games against Chicago (4-1) and Milwaukee (defending champions), beginning Saturday.

“I think it’s important, even psychologically too, that they don’t feel like they’re tired. I don’t think we are, but sometimes it’s mental as much as anything,” Snyder said postgame.

2.) Gobert Remains Unstoppable On Both Ends
Gobert came into Thursday’s game averaging 18.7 points and 19 rebounds per game, career-highs in both categories.

In playing his lowest minutes of the season, the reigning defensive player of the year put up his fourth straight double-double in as many games with 16 points and 14 rebounds. He shot 5-of-7 from the floor and 6-of-8 from the free throw line, showing once again that he’s much more than a presence on the defensive end of the court.

At some point, teams will have to start respecting Gobert on the offensive side of the ball. But once they do, it will open up Utah’s offense even more, a terrifying thought when one of the most efficient teams in the league can still get better.

3.) Mitchell Both Struggling And Succeeding
There are multiple ways to look at the box score.

On one end, seeing the numbers Donovan Mitchell is putting up may have Jazz fans concerned as his shooting percentages are all lower than his career averages.

While his shot has struggled to go through the hoop, that’s all it is. Mitchell is getting good shots–the ones he’s practiced thousands of times as he puts it–but sometimes the ball doesn’t go through the hoop. 

Even when his shot isn’t falling, there are multiple ways to affect the outcome of games and that’s precisely what he’s doing. His defense has remarkably improved, a strong emphasis for him this past offseason, and his offensive play-making is at an all-time high. 

His +/- through four games this year is a +50, showing that while his shot isn’t falling the Jazz are still a significantly better team with him on the court. Mitchell is too good for his shot to not go through the hoop eventually–imagine how much tougher that will be for future opponents once it does?

4.) Paschall Is Becoming A Good Problem 
In a span of two days in August, the Jazz added power forwards Rudy Gay and Eric Paschall. Gay came to the team as a free agent from San Antonio while Paschall arrived via trade with Golden State.

But Gay has yet to play a game this season while recovering from offseason heel surgery. That’s left the door open for Paschall, and it’s become apparent that he’s thriving playing with this team. 

Through four games, Paschall is averaging just 4.7 points and 4.0 rebounds per game. But he’s playing 16 minutes per game and has a +23 rating on the season. He does all of the little things right for the Jazz; keeping the ball moving, sacrificing his body when needed, and bringing the energy and physicality required for the second unit to thrive.

“He moves the ball as much as anything. … You can feel him competing,” Snyder said of Paschall following the game on Tuesday. “Something as simple as not letting the ball stick, driving into the lane, and kicking it out to a shooter, those are simple plays, but those are the plays we make. They’re hard to guard, and he made them.” 

When Gay returns, Snyder will have decisions to make regarding minutes allotted for everyone–but Paschall’s play has earned him some of those minutes as the season goes on.

5.) Welcome To The NBA, Rook
It may have taken four games and 20 minutes of NBA action, but Jared Butler finally got the first points of his NBA career. 

With 7:59 left in the fourth quarter of Thursday’s game, Butler sunk his second free throw attempt. He later made his first field goal of his career, a 27-foot setback three-pointer with 4:17 left in the game.

After a solid preseason in which he led all rookies–and the Jazz- in scoring with 18 points per game, there were high hopes that he might be able to carve out a role in Snyder’s regular season rotation. But with most rookies, there’s a substantial learning curve in the league and Butler was experiencing those growing pains.

Regardless, getting his first points out of the way should allow the rookie to keep progressing in his game and potentially evolve into another threat for Utah.


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