SALT LAKE CITY — On a fastbreak in the fourth quarter, Joe Ingles ran to the wing and called for the ball. When it came, there was no hesitation; Ingles let it fly from deep.
Something happened next that hasn’t been happening for the Utah Jazz in their short stay in Orlando — the ball actually went in. Turns out, games are easier to win when that happens.
The Jazz went 18-of-45 from 3-point range as they beat the Memphis Grizzles 124-115 Wednesday afternoon in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
“Donovan (Mitchell) picked a better ball at the start of the game,” Ingles joked.
It was a shooting breakthrough for Utah, which came into Wednesday’s game hitting at just 26% clip from 3 in the bubble. Everyone — from coaches to players — assumed the poor shooting numbers wouldn’t continue. The Jazz were the second-best 3-point shooting team in the league this season. Surely the rims in Orlando weren’t that different from everywhere else.
“The way that the season has gone with such a long time off, we can't forget we were the highest percentage catch-and-shoot team in the league,” Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said. “That may not mean we're the best, but we're certainly pretty good. So I don't think our guys have forgotten that; they just need to take them (shots) and keep taking them.”
The 45 3-pointers attempted on Wednesday matched the Jazz’s season high. They hadn’t forgotten.
“Coach, the whole time, has told us to keep shooting,” Ingles said. “We knew the shots we’ve been taking were good shots. I don’t think we’re a team that really takes bad shots, so we were aggressive. … We’ve got good shooters, so the more confidence we have in each other, we’ll keep building that. Not saying we don’t have any, but we’ll keep building it, we’ll keep shooting. I think we’ll have more games like this than we don’t if we shoot open shots.”
Ingles had 12 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, including back-to-back 3s late to help the Jazz to a 14-3 run that put the game out of reach. He was 6-of-11 from behind the arc for the game after hitting just three 3-pointers combined in Utah’s first three games in Orlando.
It was an aggressive Ingles — the Ingles the Jazz will need going forward, especially sans injured shooter Bojan Bogdanovic, if they are to make any kind of run in the playoffs. Ingles is a pick-and-roll savant, using angles and a change of pace to get open shots for teammates. But there are times that the best play is him just taking the shot.
“He's an excellent playmaker and pick-and-roll (player),” Snyder said of Ingles, who also added five assists on Wednesday. “But when people go under or get screened and he's got a shot at the 3-point line, that's good offense, and we want him to take those shots. And I know all of his teammates have confidence in him.”
Ingles admits he has a tendency of passing up open looks — heck, everyone has done that. The Jazz have built an offense around swinging the ball and making the extra pass. That means overpassing can occur.
“Everyone’s probably passed up a bit and not been, not aggressive, but probably not taking advantage of some opportunities,” Ingles said. “Obviously picking my spots and my time, it’s a part of it with the Bojan thing, finding when I can be aggressive and when other guys are going, so it is what it is.”
Mike Conley, who had 23 points and seven assists on Wednesday, said there will be times moving forward where the Jazz will ask Ingles to take over much in the way that Bogdanovic would.
“We’ve just got to continue to give him opportunities, continue to look at him at different points of the game and say, ‘Hey, Joe it’s on you. You got it,’ and let him go because he’s a big piece,” Conley said.
Ingles wasn’t the only hot hand on Wednesday, though.
Royce O’Neale was 3-of-7 from 3-point range on his way to a season high 15 points. Conley was 4-of-9 from deep, and Donovan Mitchell was 3-of-7.
Conley had 23 points and seven assists, Rudy Gobert added 21 points and 16 rebounds, and Mitchell finished with 18 points and six assists in a balanced-scoring game from the Jazz.
The Jazz (43-25) improved to 2-2 so far in their eight seeding games and, for the moment, are still holding onto the fourth spot in the West.
Early on, though, it looked like the Jazz would be heading for their third-straight loss.
Utah had no answer early for Grizzlies swingman Dillon Brooks, who scored 13 consecutive points in the second quarter to help Memphis to a double-digit lead. But Utah answered with a 22-1 run to end the first half. Conley had five assists and Ingles added 8 points during the flurry that turned the game around.
Next up for the Jazz will be a matinee contest against San Antonio on Friday at 11 a.m. MDT.