It didn’t really affect me much. I just wanted to go out there and play with energy and hustle and I think I did that tonight. —Donovan Mitchell
SALT LAKE CITY — For the first half, anyway, coach Quin Snyder’s change in the starting lineup with rookie Donovan Mitchell replacing Rodney Hood, looked genius. Unlike recent games when they came out slowly, as the Jazz came out with energy. racing to an early 10-5 lead and taking a 49-37 lead into halftime.
Mitchell scored 12 first-half points on 5-of-9 shooting, while Hood responded off the bench with 11 points, also on 5-of-9 shooting.
Then the second half happened. This time the lineup change didn’t look so great as neither Mitchell nor Hood could hit the ocean even with their toes in the water as the two combined for an abysmal 0 for 15 as Hood missed all 10 of his shots and Mitchell all five of his.
So you could say the new experiment was half successful.
Snyder had hinted before the game that he might make a change, saying, “It’s something we’ve (thought about), not because of one or two guys. “I’ve said this — you don’t want to be reactionary. We’re in the information-gathering phase and we’ll probably be there for awhile.”
Afterward, Snyder downplayed the lineup switch, saying it had little to do with the outcome.
“Tonight was so little about a lineup change, to be honest,” he said. “Both of them came out of the gate and played really well. Whether it was Donovan taking a few drives to the basket early and making some plays and Rodney when he came in . . . The bigger picture is our group. There’s no magic bullet. We just have to play better.”
Mitchell had already started three games this year, one when Hood had stomach issues right before tipoff and twice when he was out with a leg injury. So for Mitchell, starting made little difference.
“It didn’t really affect me much,” he said. “I just wanted to go out there and play with energy and hustle and I think I did that tonight.”
Hood had responded well in the previous game when he came off the bench in the second half and he scored 15 of his 17 points, but this time he his shots refused to fall.
“I just have to keep shooting,” he said. “It’s not time to think about it or pout about it. We know eventually they’ll fall.”
While Hood and Mitchell went 0-fer in the second half, the rest of Jazz weren't much better as the others went 4 for 18, giving the Jazz a 12.1 field goal percentage for the second half on 4 of 33 shooting.