He hasn’t practiced once and he’s just out there competing, communicating with his teammates, and it’s been great. —Jazz center Rudy Gobert on Jae Crowder
SALT LAKE CITY — A buoyant, sell-out crowd at Vivint Arena showered No. 99 with cheers as he checked in for Derrick Favors at 6:35 in the opening quarter.
In Jae Crowder’s first home game as a member of the Utah Jazz Monday, he contributed to the 10th consecutive victory against the San Antonio Spurs, 101-99.
Crowder missed his first 3-point attempt, then had his layup swatted by Kyle Anderson, but displayed his versatility throughout the game as he grew more comfortable.
He drained his first triple at 9:37 in the second, en route to posting 14 points with three boards in 14 minutes off the bench.
In his first game at Portland Sunday, he shot 5 for 11 with 15 points and five rebounds.
The former Cavalier was acquired before the trade deadline last Thursday as part of the three-team deal that sent Rodney Hood to Cleveland, and Crowder seems to be loving every minute of being in Salt Lake City.
“It was rocking tonight, the crowd was into it, they really got us this win, and we fed off of that,” Crowder described. “It was a great first (home) game for myself to be able to get the win, and keep playing good basketball was big for us.”
Crowder has yet to practice with the squad, but is quickly picking up on Jazz coach Quin Snyder’s schemes. His physicality and strength allow him to play small and power forward while also guarding guards and forwards on the defensive end.
“He’s been great just coming in,” said Jazz center Rudy Gobert. “He hasn’t practiced once and he’s just out there competing, communicating with his teammates, and it’s been great.”
Snyder is being careful not to overload Crowder with too much too soon. Keeping things as simple as possible is the main thing right now as he eases into the rotation.
“I think the thing that I have told him is the goal is 10 feet and it’s still just basketball and don’t get hung up on, ‘Do I know the right play?’ or, ‘Am I in the right spot?’” Snyder said. “If you aren’t in the right spot, keep playing.
“The things he does I really value,” he added. “His defending, his activity, his spirit, his toughness those things are appreciated. It’s not like they don’t work. They work regardless of what he is doing if he is on the floor."
Crowder says he maybe knows two of the sets from Snyder’s thick playbook but continues to study film on his iPad while picking up as much as he can on the fly.
In two games for Utah, he’s putting up nightly averages of 14.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 31.0 minutes, which is far more productive than he was in his 53 games in Cleveland, where he was scoring just 8.6 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.1 assists.
Utah fans have welcomed Crowder with open arms as he’s embraced Jazz Nation, also the former home of his father, Corey, who played for Utah during the 1991-92 season.
He’s back to having fun again, and it shows.
Crowder is fitting right in, especially alongside his former Celtics teammate Jonas Jerebko.
“This group is very much on the same page and fighting for the same goal,” Crowder said.