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SALT LAKE CITY — As Joe Ingles began to walk to the bench, the Vivint Arena crowd voiced its displeasure. With 2:22 left in the game, Ingles' night was done — and was done just one rebound short from a triple-double.
So the fans gave some light-hearted boos.
But then they cheered.
The majority of the sold-out crowd stood and gave Ingles long applause.
“Tonight not only shows our support but the fans support, the NBA’s support, I think it’s really special to have nights like this,” Donovan Mitchell said.
And while Ingles didn’t get the needed rebound to hit the triple-double mark, a much more important work had already been accomplished in Utah’s 115-100 win over the LeBron James-less Los Angeles Lakers Wednesday night at Vivint Arena.
On Wednesday afternoon, Ingles sat with his wife, Renae, to his left and his daughter Milla bouncing on his lap while he spoke about the family’s journey to finding out their son Jacob had autism.
“I was just going on a different journey that was so much bigger than basketball at the time,” Ingles said.
Later that night, basketball allowed him to give to the cause.
As part of the Utah Jazz’s autism awareness night, Vivint agreed to donate $5,000 (up to $25,000) for every assist Ingles passed out on Wednesday.
The Jazz forward appeared to take that to heart. Ingles finished with a career-high 14 assists to go along with 11 points and nine rebounds as the Jazz rolled over the Lakers to improve to 45-30 on the season.
“I said to a few guys before the game that I didn’t know how I would, so just to get would be good and we would move on,” Ingles said. “But it was more than I ever expected, I guess. Not only with my teammates and the coaches, but the fans, people walking down the street, just the past few days have been kind of overwhelming, to be honest.”
Ingles drained a contested 3-pointer late in the game to give him 11 points in the game, leaving him just one rebound shy of the first Utah Jazz regular season triple-double since 2008. But with the game well in hand, he wouldn’t get a chance to finish it off.
Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder took him out of the game, giving the fans an opportunity to give him a standing ovation while waving blue rally towels that read “Let’s talk about autism.” Jazz fans also chanted for Ingles to be put back in during the game’s final minutes.
“There was no chance. It’s not me. It’s not our team,” Ingles said. “We obviously had a lead and the guys were in, were in. You guys know that have never for that reason and I never will. If it happened during the game, great. We can all cheer and I will probably do nothing and move on.”
So the regular season triple-double drought continued. But so did Utah’s winning ways. The Jazz have now won eight of their last nine games and now sit fifth in the Western Conference.
Rudy Gobert had a dominant performance, finishing 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting and 11 rebounds. And he even made a 20-foot jumper from the top of the key.
“That’s not the most important thing — it’s the second most important thing,” Gobert said of his jumper — only behind Ingles’ special night.
Derrick Favors added 20 points and six rebounds as the Lakers were no match for the Jazz inside — or anywhere else on the court.
Los Angeles was playing without James, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Tyson Chandler, Josh Hart and Reggie Bullock, so things were always going to be an uphill battle for the visitors. Former University of Utah star Kyle Kuzma led the Lakers with 21 points and that helped keep LA close for a while.
The Jazz led by only seven points at halftime, but outscored the Lakers by nine in the third quarter to blow the game open.
And then all eyes were on Ingles to see if he could cap the special night off with a rare Jazz triple-double.
“Oh my gosh, I told him to go back in,” said Mitchell, who finished with 11 points. “He’s a little more mature than I am at this point.”
Ingles was perfectly satisfied with the win, the arena waving the rally towels and the money raised for autism. The Jazz presented a check of $1.2 million for the cause to add to all the other donations on the night.
"I am glad we got the win," Ingles said. "And glad about the awareness and the arena was filled out and that was the more important thing to me."