Sports / Utah Jazz / 
Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson drives against Memphis Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane (22) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, March 31, 2021, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)

Brandon Dill, Associated Press

From the comments: How the Jazz overcame a scary flight and Mike Conley shows he's an option in the clutch

By Ryan Miller, | Posted - Apr. 1, 2021 at 1:02 p.m.

SALT LAKE CITY — A night after an "eerie" failed flight, the Utah Jazz beat the Memphis Grizzles 111-107 on Wednesday. Even with the flight, a rattled team and the absence of their All-Star guard, the Jazz were able to get their seventh straight victory.

Let's go to the comments.

"I give total props to Coach Snyder and staff for helping the team remain focused to pull off the road win. It also goes to show the resilience of the players in dealing with and compartmentalizing the whole incident enough to play ball without their leader on the floor." — CWJ

On Wednesday morning, the Jazz didn't officially hold a usual morning shootaround. They did, however, hold a meeting. How could they not talk about what had just transpired?

Jazz head coach Quin Snyder had no illusions that the conversation would let the team move on completely from the frightening flight that had many worried that the plane was going down, but he felt like it was important to at least speak as a group about what the team had gone through.

"I don't know that an experience like that is just suddenly passed on and away," Snyder said. "Everybody's impacted in different ways — all very significant. It wasn't something that we were going to solve by just talking through everything but I think it was important to acknowledge what we all went through (Tuesday)."

Donovan Mitchell didn't get on the second flight — something his teammates supported — and there may be many others that are dealing with some extra nerves following the ordeal.

Planes are designed to survive what happened on Tuesday; but when you hear an explosion, see flames and things start to drop, it's only natural to think the worst is happening.

Yes, there are dozens of studies and numbers that show that flying is one of, if not, the safest form of traveling. But when have fears ever been rational? You're not likely to be harmed by spiders, needles or a social interaction either — yet, there are people who avoid those at all costs. If someone with a fear of snakes came across one while hiking a trail, they probably wouldn't venture onto that path immediately after.

Hearing the team talk about the incident, they were genuinely afraid for their lives — with some grabbing their phones to send what they thought were goodbye texts to loved ones. That's not something you just laugh off.

"It's just something that we got to push through and come together and keep going on, stay strong and support each other," Jordan Clarkson said. "Whatever how much time we got to take off or whatever — talking to our mental health people, or whatever it is. That's a serious situation."

Snyder respectfully declined to address a question if there was any worry about Mitchell's availability for future road games. The Jazz only stated that he wasn't on the trip due to "personal reasons."

With everything that surrounded this game, it ended up being one of the more impressive wins of the year. The Jazz were able to push the clearly traumatic experience out of their mind and focus on a game, and then somehow overcame Ja Morant shooting out of mind. Morant scored 36 points on 18 shots, despite having pretty good defense played on him all night.

It's difficult to beat the same team three times in a week, and even more so after going through what felt like a near-death experience. The Jazz should be really proud of Wednesday's win.

"You have a gratitude, and an appreciation for the many people and relationships that we all have in our lives and feel fortunate," Snyder said. "Those are things that I think we say and we mean, but in those times, you truly feel your awareness is at a heightened level."

"Way to step up, Conley! I was worried about this one but they pulled it off." — PracticalThoughts

We're not breaking news here to say that Mitchell is extremely important to the Jazz. In the 10 games since the All-Star break, he's averaged 29.2 points and 5.9 assists; but he's even more important in close games.

Mitchell is usually the focal point of the offense, with a usage rate of 31.8% (meaning nearly 32% of Utah's possessions end with a Mitchell shot, turnover or free throw when he's on the court). In clutch minutes, that number balloons to 43%.

When the game slows down, the Jazz give him the ball because they think that's their best option at a good shot. That has worked at times (notably against Boston earlier this month) and has failed in others (Mitchell only has an effective field goal percentage of 39.3% in clutch situations this season). But without Mitchell against the Grizzlies, the Jazz needed another option to go to in the end.

Enter Conley.

The veteran point guard was 5-of-5 in the fourth quarter for 13 points and also added three assists. In the final five minutes alone, he was 3-of-3 for 8 points and had two assists. He did that with a usage rating of 38.5% — well above his season average. He played the Mitchell role against the Grizzlies late, getting into the paint and scoring 6 straight points in the final two minutes.

What does that mean for the Jazz moving forward? It anything, it showed that Snyder has other options in the clutch. If Mitchell is being flanked by a Paul George or a Kawhi Leonard type, Utah can put the ball in Conley's hands and let him control things.

Options are good, and the Jazz have plenty of them.


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