It is officially the start of a new era of Utah Jazz basketball. After an eventful offseason, there was much anticipation leading up to Utah’s preseason opener. And if Tuesday was any indicator, there are a lot of exciting times ahead. Behind a balanced attack and a lot of energy, the new-look Jazz easily defeated the Golden State Warriors, 101-78.
Paced by new point guard John Lucas’ 16 points, Utah saw six players reach double figures. Moreover, they displayed aggressive defense, holding the Warriors to a mere 32.6 percent shooting night from the floor. The Jazz’s hustle and energy was consistent throughout the night, and after taking the lead in the second quarter, they never were threatened.
Changing of the guards
It has been a long six months since last season concluded. Every free agent, including leading scorers Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Mo Williams and Randy Foye, has departed. Filling their places is a whole new cast of characters, with just five returning from last season’s roster. Every player is assuming a new role. As a result, there are a lot of unknowns, and Jazz fans got their first taste Tuesday of what they can expect.
The returning young veterans — Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Alec Burks and Jeremy Evans — all looked confident and ready for the challenge ahead of them. While some struggled with their shots, they still contributed greatly in different ways. The newcomers, led by Trey Burke and Lucas, showed what they can potentially bring to the table with their outside shooting and play-making. While head coach Tyrone Corbin will be mixing and experimenting with line-ups during the course of the preseason, there is a lot of intriguing talent on Utah’s roster.
There will be nights where Utah will probably struggle offensively and others where the defense will be lacking. One area in which they can be consistent is rebounding. Led by Favors’ 14 boards, the Jazz dominated a fatigued Warriors team 60-41 off the glass. Favors set the tone early, grabbing nine first-quarter caroms. High-flying Evans tallied 13 and Hayward added seven of his own. Moreover, the Jazz did a great job boxing out, tipping the ball to teammates. Rebounding could be a key all season.
Odds and ends
- Fifteen of the 20 players on Utah’s training camp roster saw court time, with returning-from-injury Marvin Williams and Brandon Rush both sitting out. Forward Dominic McGuire saw the most time of those without guaranteed contracts, hustling and playing hard for 17 minutes.
- Beyond the boards, the Jazz controlled the scoring inside as well. They outscored the Warriors 42-20 in the paint.
- Utah reserves also outperformed their counterparts, winning the bench scoring battle 57-38.
- Random note: Utah has a number of former Golden State players. Besides the three acquired in this summer’s trade — Rush, Andris Biedrins and Richard Jefferson — McGuire, Scott Machado and Dwayne Jones have all spent time in the Bay Area.
David Smith provides instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also blogs for the Utah Jazz 360 website. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.
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