I think we’re one of the best defensive teams in the league when we are focused and we are connected in what we’re doing and how we want to play. —Joe Ingles
SALT LAKE CITY — For the most part, members of the Utah Jazz are pretty mild-mannered.
Ricky Rubio is fairly quiet. Derrick Favors minds his business. Rodney Hood is family-oriented — typically inviting his young son inside the locker room after home games.
If there were ever a character in the Jazz lineup, it’s certainly Jinglin’ Joe Ingles.
Or “Slow Mo Joe,” as some might say.
Whether it’s talking trash to opponents on the court, using his dry humor for laughs or occasionally trolling the media, the left-handed Aussie is not your average Joe.
“He’s a good dude, but he likes getting under people’s skin," Hood said. "It’s more than just a regular defensive sliding your feet type of stuff; he makes it uncomfortable for people.”
In his fourth season with the Jazz, the same guy waived by the Los Angeles Clippers in 2014 has accepted an expanded role in Utah.
Ingles, 30, has started all 18 games for the Jazz and is the team’s sixth-leading scorer, putting up a career-best 10.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.28 steals per game.
His 47.8 percentage from beyond the arc is also the fifth-best in the league.
Last season, Ingles finished third in the NBA with a 44.1 percentage on 3-pointers. Jazz coach Quin Snyder doesn’t hesitate to call him the team’s "glue guy."
“To use the word glue, what that does is it binds people together. So, usually, what that means is a lot of different things to help your team win, and that’s really my expectation for Joe,” Snyder said.
In today’s NBA, Ingles is a rare breed. He lacks athleticism and cat-quickness, but has a canny ability to be in the right place at the right time on both ends of the floor. He rarely ever does too much.
“Whether he’s playmaking, or he’s spacing for shots, the biggest thing for Joe, and the reason that Joe got on the floor and earned minutes two years ago, is because he embraced defense,” Snyder said.
He knows his role will vary from game to game, but he keeps the same tough-minded approach nightly to help the team in any way possible.
Sometimes that might require going 5 for 5 from 3 for 15 points, four rebounds and four assists like he did Friday in Brooklyn, or dishing out six assists with six points in 23 minutes of a 40-point blowout win Saturday in Orlando, or maybe even guarding the opposing team’s top perimeter player.
“I think we’re one of the best defensive teams in the league when we are focused and we are connected in what we’re doing and how we want to play,” Ingles said. “It’s not going to be perfect, and there’s a lot of games where we just want to be as good as we are defensively, and, again, just stick together.”
The glue guy’s role is doing whatever it takes to win as Utah struggles to find its identity with key players injured.
His international experience of playing professional basketball since the age of 18 in Australia, Spain, Barcelona, Israel and the Australian National Team prepared him for the NBA, and he’s using all the tricks of the trade to help the Jazz break out of its recent slump. The Jazz (7-11) have lost eight of their last 10 games — including a 107-86 road game Monday in Philadelphia.
Utah returns to Vivint Arena to host the Chicago Bulls Wednesday at 7 p.m.
“We just need to stick together,” Ingles said. “I think that’s the biggest thing, not losing the group and not losing the players to the coaching staff.
“We know our system,” he added. “We won 51 games with the system we’ve got this year. Obviously we’ve got different personnel, but, when we’re fully healthy, I think we’re a really good team.”