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From the comments: Will Game 4's thrilling win have a lasting impact on the Jazz?


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DALLAS — The Utah Jazz have new life.

After coming back from 4 points down in the final 39 seconds to beat Dallas in Game 4, the Jazz return to Texas for Game 5 with the series tied 2-2. The Jazz spoiled Luka Doncic's return and sparked some hope in the process.

Let's head to the comments.

"The Mavs haven't seen our best ball yet where we're clicking on all cylinders, and we're fortunate to have (Jordan) Clarkson." — J D.

It's true, the Jazz haven't had a great offensive game this series, but Saturday actually was pretty close.

After struggling all series to get clean looks from 3-point range in the first three games of the series, the Jazz generated 27 open 3-point attempts in Game 4. The problem? They only made eight of them. Shooting under 30% as a team on open looks isn't great, but that doesn't mean the shots were bad.

Whenever the Jazz attacked Doncic in the pick and roll, they were able to collapse the Dallas defense and get the ball moving. They should be able to duplicate that again, but they'll still need to knock them down.

As for Clarkson, he was one of the few that did that. He was 3 of 5 from deep on Saturday (and 2 of 3 on open 3-point attempts). He scored 9 straight points for Utah in the middle of the fourth quarter, and Snyder closed the game with him instead of Mike Conley.

In the series, Clarkson has averaged 17.5 points per game on 60% shooting — a level of efficiency he's not really known for. As Dallas has sold out to stop Utah from shooting 3s and getting lobs at the rim, it's left the midrange a bit free — and Clarkson has taken advantage. He's shooting 68% on shots between 5 and 15 feet.

On Saturday, he scored 25 points and the Jazz outscored the Mavericks by 18 points when he was on the court.

"He's just doing everything," Mitchell said of Clarkson, "It's not so much just the offense because he's hitting shots, he's also been able to get into the paint and create for others and find guys, but also his defense. His all-around game was huge."

"Doncic might be one of the top five players in the NBA. However, the Mavericks may be a better team without him. I would like to believe the Jazz have rediscovered their mojo but I'm not sure a one point win warrants such a declaration. One game at a time though and who knows … " — Kennyo11

The Mavericks aren't better, per se, but they might be a slightly better matchup for the Jazz with Doncic in the lineup.

Dallas is more susceptible in pick-and-roll coverage with Doncic in the lineup, and the Jazz took advantage. After averaging 26 3-point attempts in the first three games of the series, Utah got 35 up in Game 4; it gives the Jazz someone to attack.

Doncic slowed the game down a bit when the ball was in his hands, and went hunting for Rudy Gobert on switches late. While that occasionally happened when Jalen Brunson was dominating the ball in the early part of the series, it was mostly out of coincidence rather than anything else. The Mavs were more than happy to have Gobert stuck in the corner and away from the action. Doncic, on the other hand, purposely brought Gobert into the play.

"I think it's a slower pace," Mitchell said when asked what the difference was with Doncic in the game. "He's a guy that dominates the ball and impacts the game in different ways than Brunson and Dinwiddie do. It's a different ballgame. It's more tactical, and being able to rotate and shift."

And maybe a bit less about having to stick in front of speedy guards, which is probably a win for the Jazz. Now, Doncic did score 30 points in his series debut, and his step-back 3-pointer with 40 seconds left sure looked like it would be the dagger for the game and the series.

Utah had a couple lucky breaks at the end (Mitchell should have been called for an offensive foul, according to the NBA's last-two-minute report, on his critical and-one put-back, and Dwight Powell missed two free throws with under 20 seconds remaining). Without those, no one is talking about how Doncic's presence benefits the Jazz.

It's a different game; not necessarily an easier one.

The win, though, no doubt brought back some energy into the team and the fan base — and the last 39 seconds was proof of that.

"It felt like when we were down 4, rightfully so, everybody was kind of nervous," Mitchell said of the energy in Vivint Arena. "The crowd got quiet. I was like, 'Come one, man, we've got a chance. There's still time.'"

A few key plays later and that once-quiet crowd was deafening. The Jazz celebrated like they had got a new lifeline on the season and said all the right things afterward. Was the close win cathartic and healing enough to serve as a springboard for an improbable playoff run?

We'll see — one game at a time.

"Does anyone know what's going on with Rudy Gay? I thought he was added for extra punch in the playoffs…" — Arches33

On March 31, Jazz coach Quin Snyder, with a full roster of forwards at his disposal, chose to play Juancho Hernangomez over Rudy Gay.

Following the game, Snyder said he discussed Gay's role with him and that matchups would determine his playing time moving forward; however, Snyder made sure to make it clear that he felt the team had a "higher ceiling" with Gay.

Since then, though, Gay has appeared in just three games and has yet to play a minute in the playoffs. Credit needs to be given to Hernangomez, who has shot nearly 44% since he joined the Jazz in the trade that sent Joe Ingles to Portland, for how he has forced Snyder to play him over Gay. But there's no doubt the Gay signing has been a disappointment.

Gay was signed to a two-year deal (along with a player option) with the hope that he'd be able to make Utah a more versatile defensive team. The Jazz saw him as someone who could guard on the perimeter and play some small-ball five in a pinch, and he figured to be a major player come the playoffs. That clearly hasn't happened — at least not yet.

If the Jazz can get past Dallas, maybe Gay fits into Snyder's plans in future rounds. But as of now, the Gay signing hasn't worked out as expected.

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