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SALT LAKE CITY — It’s hard for a 30-point game to be overshadowed. But that’s kind of what happened to Bojan Bogdanovic’s 31-point effort in Utah’s 127-116 win at Washington on Sunday.
First off, that speaks to Rudy Gobert’s dominance and how he can almost single-handily take over a game.
But it also helps that Bogdanovic has reached the mark with somewhat regularity.
Bogdanovic has played in 38 games this season; he has now scored 30 or more in eight of those. It was less than a week ago that he was dropping 35 in against the Pelicans in a Jazz win. And last month, he hit the total in back-to-back wins against the Warriors and Magic.
On Sunday, Bogdanovic's early play allowed Gobert to take over and the Jazz to recover and come back from 15-points down in the second half to win their ninth straight game. Because without him, that deficit would have likely been much bigger.
With the Jazz struggling in the first half, it was Bogdanovic that kept them afloat. He scored 22 points on 9 of 14 shooting in the opening two quarters. That meant when Utah's defense came around, the Jazz were still in striking distance.
He was aggressive early and often (he used Utah’s first three possessions) and he found ways to score from all over the court. He hit floaters, used the post-up game and got to the free-throw line.
And none of that was a surprise to Washington coach Scott Brooks after coaching Bogdanovic for 26 games at the end of the 2016-17 season.
“Bojan is one of the all-around best wing players that I've coached,” Brooks said. “The way he plays, the way he's been, he was great for us and he's great for them. The way he plays, he's hard to guard. He moves, he's smart, he's a high IQ basketball player that plays hard every night.”
The Jazz are 7-1 when Bogdanovic scores 30 or more, and 11-1 when he scores at least 25. But one of the impressive things about Bogdanovic is he’s a scorer that doesn’t feel that he always has to score. Bogdanovic added three rebounds and three assists to go along with his 31 points Sunday.
In fact, he is more than happy to defer to his teammates.
“It’s amazing for us to have this unselfish group,” Bogdanovic said. “A lot of ballhandlers, so we can pick the guy who we want to attack. Then once again whoever stepped on the floor tonight, gave us something.”
Jazz coach Quin Snyder credited Bogdanovic, Emmanuel Mudiay and Jordan Clarkson for how they started to attack different as the game went on. The Wizards were mostly going under screens, but instead of settling and playing behind the pick, they started using them to attack downhill.
That created good looks on the perimeter for teammates and created rolling opportunities for Rudy Gobert, who feasted with 19 points in the second half and helped lessen the loss of Mitchell.
“It is always harder to play without Donovan because of his ability to get to the rim and to create for himself, and for others,” Gobert said. “He is almost relentless. Of course, we miss that, but we know that we have a lot of guys that were going to need to step up, and they did.”
Just like Bogdanovic has been doing all season.