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Snyder challenges shooting narrative as Jazz beat Hawks



Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY β€” As coach Quin Snyder walked off the podium following the Utah Jazz's 110-98 win over Atlanta, he offhandedly said: "We made a shot!"

In another game, that would have been the big story.

The Jazz, who were marred in a season-long struggle from behind the arc, finally broke out a bit Tuesday night. Utah was 15 of 38 from 3-point range, or 39.5%. That's not usually a notable number, but after hitting under 20% of its 3-point attempts Sunday, the Jazz will take the slight improvement.

"It gives you life," said Donovan Mitchell, who had 27 points and five assists in the win. "You can say all you want about being able to guard through not making shots, and you can do that two or three times; it's tough to do it consecutively four, five, six, seven times. It's the truth."

But Snyder's parting comment didn't end there.

"Not as many as they did," he finished as he left the room.

He was right. The Hawks were 18 of 35 for a blistering 51.5% from 3-point range. Kevin Huerter was 6 of 9 from deep and finished with 28 points, and Trae Young hit five 3-pointers on his way to 27 points.

Once again, the Jazz were outshot again from deep. Yet, the Jazz scored 122.0 points per 100 possessions to Atlanta's 104.3. That hearkened back to a conversation Snyder had with reporters a couple hours before the game about his team's shooting.

Snyder understands the narrative surrounding the team. After blitzing through the league with a high-powered, long-range attack, the Jazz, with mostly the same players, have gone cold. Utah entered Tuesday ranked 26th in the league in 3-point shooting. So what gives?

Utah's shot quality, according to league tracking data, is mostly the same as last season's shots. There are some changes to the number of catch and shoot 3s and pull-up 3s but not really noteworthy. So what's been the problem?

Has it been the early-season travel? The new ball? The short offseason? A stronger emphasis on perimeter defense tiring out legs?

There's a collective shrug from the team and the coaching staff when it comes to an answer.

"I don't think there's anybody on our team who re-did their shot over the summer," Snyder said, somewhat cheekily.

But does it even matter?

Even with the chilly shooting numbers, Utah entered Tuesday with the second-best offense in the league (a number that is now No. 1 after Tuesday's win). For Snyder, that's the more important story. He'll take a team bricking shot after shot if the end result is still a top offense and a win.

The league, as a whole, has been trending toward what many fans see as a straight-up 3-point contest. If teams make them, they win; if they don't, it's going to be a rough night. This season, Utah is proving that's not exactly the case. The Jazz improved to 8-3 on Tuesday, so wins are still happening.

Utah has overcome its less-than-stellar shooting by getting to the rim, getting to the free-throw line and rebounding its own misses at a near-league best rate.

Against the Hawks, the Jazz were 13 of 19 at the rim, and 8 of its 15 shots in the paint were outside the restricted area. There were multiple Jazz players who found success in those areas: Mitchell, Bojan Bogdanovic, Eric Paschall and Hassan Whiteside were all able to efficiently score when they were close to the basket.

The Hawks, meanwhile, were 17 of 39 in the paint β€” it helped the Jazz to have a steady diet of rim protection in Rudy Gobert and Whiteside. If the Hawks weren't firing from deep, odds were they weren't going to score anywhere else.

So even as Huerter and Young's shotmaking allowed Atlanta to go on runs to keep the game relatively close, their chances ultimately petered out. Utah's defense locked down and the offense got some timely buckets. Rinse and repeat until the end.

"That's the difference in the game; we got stops periodically throughout the game and were able to make runs," Snyder said.

But it no doubt helped that some deep shots started to fall β€” even if Atlanta made more.

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