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SALT LAKE CITY — Donovan Mitchell put three fingers up and started walking back on defense before the shot had been fully released.
That’s how confident he was that Utah Jazz teammate Joe Ingles was going to bury the wide-open 3-pointer near the end of the second quarter. And Ingles didn’t disappoint, nailing the shot and then giving the Brooklyn Nets’ bench a staredown as he backpedaled.
Brooklyn didn’t heed the warning.
Just two minutes later, Ingles walked the ball up the court right into an unguarded 3-pointer. And just 30 seconds after that, the Nets allowed him to pull up from deep again for his third consecutive 3-pointer.
Ingles led the Jazz with 27 points as Utah rolled to its 10th straight win with a 118-107 win, beating the Nets on Tuesday at Barclays Center. The Jazz are 15-1 in their last 16 games.
Ingles’ second-quarter 3-point barrage sparked a 14-2 run to the end the first half and turned a 2-point Utah lead into a 14-point lead at the break. Even with Nets’ guard Kyrie Irving looking like he is 100% in his second game back from injury (32 points, 11 assists), the Jazz were able to keep that double-digit advantage for much of the second half.
They can thank Ingles — whose 27 points tied his career-high — for that. He was 6-of-8 from 3-point range and added four assists and three rebounds.
But Brooklyn really should have been prepared for Ingles’ 3-point prowess. Entering Tuesday’s game, Ingles had been shooting 50% from 3 during Utah’s winning streak.
That percentage went up on Tuesday.
“It was how they were playing me,” Ingles said. “They were sending me right; the big was backing up. They were back, Rudy (Gobert) was setting great screens, and we got some really good looks.”
But it hasn’t mattered much how teams are playing Ingles. During Utah’s 10-game winning streak, he has shot an average of 6.8 3-pointers per game.
“I don't know why teams keep giving him that 3, but he finds a way,” Mitchell said. “You look at one possession, I think he went under a screen, over the screen, and back under a screen just to get to his spot. He knows how to get to a spot. No matter how teams play, he always finds a way to get back there.”
That could be said about Utah’s current 10-game winning streak. This is the only 11th time in franchise history that the Jazz have won 10 games in a row, and they’ve been doing it in different ways.
Tuesday was no different.
“I think we’re getting contributions from a lot of guys. I thought Rudy Gobert was terrific,” Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said. “It was a dominant performance by him on both ends of the floor. Joe Ingles (is) obviously playing with Rudy, even driving and making plays. You kind of go on — Donovan Mitchell, especially late when we really needed to score. … All the way down the line, and everyone is defending. It’s not going to be perfect every possession, but the guys are really committed to defending together.”
Gobert had 22 points and 18 rebounds to go along with his usual stellar defense as he continues to put together a resume that will be really hard to ignore once All-Star teams are selected.
Mitchell overcame a poor first three quarters to score 14 points in the final 6:03 of the game and finish with 25.
Bojan Bogdanovic had 18 points and Jordan Clarkson, who has yet to lose playing in a Jazz uniform, finished with 13.
“We’re in a groove,” Mitchell said. “I think a lot of the offense comes instinctively; defensively, I think it’s the same. A lot of times, in the beginning of the year, we had to communicate a lot. Now it’s just like if we make a mistake, we have each other’s back. We’re just flowing. A lot of it’s not called. A lot of it’s just natural instinct taking over.”
That “natural instinct” is leading to a lot of wins.