Atlanta All-Star Trae Young can score from just about anywhere.
So Mike Conley knew he was in for a busy night.
“It’s obvious the skills he has and how he can stretch the floor and make plays for his team,” the Utah Jazz point guard said before Friday’s game. “He’s the engine that gets their team going. He’s the initiator on the offensive side. We have to eliminate the easy ones and make him take tough shots, try to get the ball out of his hands as much as possible. Make the others beat us.”
Conley and the Jazz did just that, effectively shutting Young down in a 116-92 win at Vivint Arena. Young finished the game with just four points, well of his average of 24.8 points per game, on 1-of-11 shooting.
“Our guys were the ones that executed,” Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said after his team had improved to 8-4 on the season. “I thought everybody that guarded him, particularly Mike and Royce [O’Neale], they were solid.”
The Jazz managed to keep Young off the free-throw line, where he’s taken nearly 10 shots per game. On Friday, he took just two freebies in Salt Lake City.
“We did a good job of showing our hands and tried not to give him anything easy,” Snyder said.
The Jazz put pressure on the Hawks from the jump, a tip-in dunk by All-Star center Gobert putting the team up 18-4 just four minutes into the game. Gobert finished the game with 15 points, 13 rebounds and four blocked shots.
“I just try to be a little more locked in and be locked in every single possession,” Gobert said of his effort. “I want to make sure we’re the best defensive team we can be.”
While Gobert patrolled the paint, Conley and company did a good job on Young early. The point guard struggled to find his touch to start the game, missing his first seven attempts from the field.
The Hawks’ early shooting struggles didn’t stop there. Atlanta went 1-for-12 from 3-point territory in the first half. The Jazz knocked down nine triples before intermission.
Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell scored 20 of his game-high 26 points in the first half. The Jazz held a 61-46 advantage after two quarters.
The Hawks showed some life in the third, as they scored the first 11 points on the quarter.
But Mitchell pushed the Jazz lead back to 10 with a 3-pointer midway through the third. In the fourth quarter, a Jordan Clarkson triple — part of a
24-2 run over the end of the third and start of the fourth — pushed Utah’s lead to 30.
Snyder looked to his bench to close out the win shortly after that.
— utahjazz (@utahjazz) January 16, 2021
Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder serves with Atlanta coach Lloyd Pierce on the National Basketball Coaches Association’s Committee on Racial Injustice and Reform. The task group was established in June after the NBCA issued a strong statement condemning recent instances of “police brutality, racial profiling and the weaponization of racism”.
“It’s been tremendous,” Snyder said. “This league is such a competitive league and often times as coaches you don’t have the opportunity to spend time with people and connect and learn from them. It usually revolves around basketball when that does happen. For me, personally, to have the opportunity to learn from Lloyd, to get to know him, to call him a friend, has been incredibly impactful in my life.”
The Jazz head back out on the road for a rematch of last season’s first-round playoff series. The Jazz and Denver Nuggets are set to tipoff Sunday at 6 p.m. MT.