This is the way we’ve wanted to play all year and I think it’s all starting to click. —Donovan Mitchell
SALT LAKE CITY — Now that NBA trade deadline is over, it was back to the regularly scheduled program for the Utah Jazz.
Another night. Another victory.
On Friday night, the Jazz returned from a four-game road trip to win their eighth consecutive game, beating the Charlotte Hornets 106-94.
“Jinglin’ Joe” Ingles popped a career-high 23 points and added six assists and five rebounds as the Jazz are now just two games behind the Denver Nuggets for the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference standings.
“For me, playoffs was always the goal,” Ingles said. “Obviously, as we’ve gone through a bit of adversity, I think we’ve still had that goal in mind but it obviously looked harder from the outside in but we’ve kept working.”
New acquisition Jae Crowder was in Vivint Arena but can’t suit up until all the physicals are cleared in the three-team deal. The Jazz acquired Crowder Thursday, along with former MVP Derrick Rose, while shipping Rodney Hood to Cleveland and Joe Johnson to Sacramento.
The team is unsure whether or not Crowder will be able to make his Jazz debut in Sunday’s game at Portland but he was able to witness the Donovan Mitchell dunkathon up close and personal.
Mitchell posted 25 points and six rebounds on the night with a pair of tomahawk jams in the second and fourth quarters. He recorded his 25th game of 20-plus points, which is the most among rookies this season while the Jazz were able to notch their longest win streak since 2010.
“This is the way we’ve wanted to play all year and I think it’s all starting to click,” Mitchell said. “I think Ricky kind of led the charge and kind of started it off and I think the San Antonio game we really realized that this is legit.”
Ricky Rubio entered the game on a hot streak, with 29 points in Utah’s win at Memphis Wednesday, but would end with six points and seven assists after leaving the game with left hip soreness at 7:27 in the third.
“We’ll have to wait for the specifics on the medical report but his hip is glued so he couldn’t continue playing,” said Jazz coach Quin Snyder. “We’re not going to put our guys in situations where something can happen so he was feeling it, he tried to go.”
At halftime, Utah led 55-46 then outscored the Hornets 28-14 with points in the paint in the second half.
Charlotte would shoot just 41.2 percent from the field as Dwight Howard fouled out at 4:16 in the fourth. Howard ended with five points and nine rebounds while Jazz center Rudy Gobert added 20 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks. The Jazz also won the rebounding battle 49-33.
Kemba Walker was Charlotte’s leading scorer with 19 points and five assists while shooting 8 for 19 from the field.
“I think it’s on just both ends of the floor,” said Jonas Jerebko, who ended with 10 points and five rebounds. “We’re really playing together. It starts with having fun out there. We’re sharing the ball. It’s different guys every night playing good basketball. We’ve got great game plans coming into the game and we’re executing them. We just have to keep it rolling.”
Utah (27-28) will look to win their ninth in a row Sunday in Portland. When the Jazz hold opponents to less than 100 points, the team is 16-4 on the season.
“Chemistry has been there all year. Confidence is obviously high,” Ingles said. “We are playing well. We’ve been on the road for a long time, so it’s obviously great to be home. Guys have handled that adversity all year really well. It’s just really fun to play at the moment.”