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Three thoughts on the Jazz's game plan being executed extremely well in the most important game of the year so far, the great play of Jazz PGs Ricky Rubio and Dante Exum, and the importance of closing out shooters well.

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SALT LAKE CITY — For the second game in a row, the Utah Jazz could be without starting point guard Ricky Rubio.

Rubio is listed as questionable with left hamstring soreness for Sunday’s game against his former Minnesota Timberwolves team.

He also missed Friday’s home game over Memphis with the same injury, but the Jazz were still able to win, 107-97, with Dante Exum stepping to score a season-high 21 points off the bench up in his absence.

“It was different without him, but (Dante Exum) was huge in the last quarter,” Jazz forward Joe Ingles said of playing without Rubio. “He had to get on the rim and go and make plays for other guys, some steals at the end. It was a huge part of getting that lead up.”

Rubio is extremely familiar with Minnesota.

He spent the first six seasons of his career in a Timberwolves jersey before being traded to the Jazz for a 2018 first-round pick on June 30. He still holds the second-most assists in franchise history (2,991), but never won more than 40 games or reached the postseason throughout that stretch.

With six regular season games remaining, Rubio has already logged 43 victories with the Jazz as they sit in the seventh spot on the Western Conference standings with a serious chance to jump as high as fifth. Rubio averages a career-best 12.8 points, 5.4 assists and 4.5 rebounds this season.

Although he hasn’t had any playoff experience in the NBA, the Spaniard has been a professional since the age of 14. Rubio has also won EuroLeague, Spanish League, FIBA EuroChallenge and ULEB Cup championships with clubs overseas, so he’s not...
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EMPTYING THE NOGGIN
Summary: Jazz get a needed win win over a tanking Grizzlies team highlighted by a Dante Exum explosion

• I think the Jazz are worn down. They don’t seem as sharp as they were earlier in the stretch. But this has been grueling. Everyone is playing huge minutes. Every game is a must win. Every moment is intensified. Shots are falling short. The defense tonight wasn’t sharp. This has been an unreal run by this group to be back in the playoff chase and it has taken a toll on everyone involved. The team is doing its best to keep the guys as fresh as they can be. They are shortening practices, taking shootaround off but the wear on these guys is real right now. I am not sure if and when they re-gain their bounce. Though I am not sure the other teams in the playoff run are in any different circumstances.

• The Jazz have had slow starts the last few games and it was a focus tonight to make sure they didn’t have that issue. They didn’t. They lead 20-10 and 29-14 at the end of the 1st quarter. The 14 points was the fewest allowed all season.

• Then the game lost its energy. Marc Gasol went bananas. He ended up with 28 points on 11 of 12 shooting. He took over the game and the Jazz couldn’t get stops. The Grizzlies hit on 26 of 39 shots in the 2nd and 3rd quarters. They outscored the Jazz 60 to 52 in that stretch. The Jazz couldn’t stop Gasol and really couldn’t stop the Grizzlies.

• The Jazz offense won the game tonight. They struggled on the above the break 3 again for most of the night but they were good in the 2 point range and they generated 7 corner 3s. Unofficially, the jazz were 5 of 17 on above the break 3. They are below 30% since the all-star break.

• Dante Exum was fabulous tonight. His speed is special and he looks like he is learning how to use it. He is getting into the paint at will and he has shown a...
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SALT LAKE CITY — The real Donovan Mitchell isn’t Utah Jazz player No. 45 or the slam dunk champion that the basketball world has fallen in love with.

The real Donovan Mitchell is a momma’s boy, who is close with his family, and isn’t much different from most 21-year-olds off the court.

An original 15-part Young Hollywood series will introduce the world to the real Donovan Mitchell through an exclusive digital docu-series that kicks off around 1 p.m. MDT Tuesday, April 3.

Mitchell’s life will be the subject of “Rookie On The Rise,” which will offer viewers a behind-the-scenes look at his first season in the NBA.

“I think they’re going to see the real personal side of him because now it’s a bunch of fresh after-game press interviews and locker room-type stuff, but this is real intimate,” said R.J. Williams, Young Hollywood’s founder and CEO. “We’re in his hotel, eating with him, what does he eat before the game? Why does he choose the haircut that he chooses? Why does he decide which sneakers he’s going to wear for the slam dunk contest?”

Young Hollywood launched in 2007 and has grown a reputation for shining a spotlight on the top up-and-coming stars in entertainment, previously working with Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez and Lady Gaga.

Mitchell is one of the first sports star to be featured on the platform, and the series will be available on Young Hollywood TV, Apple TV, Amazon and Facebook Watch.

Each episode will last two to five...
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SALT LAKE CITY — The playoff-bound Boston Celtics handed the Utah Jazz a tough 97-94 loss at Vivint Arena on Thursday night when Jaylen Brown hit a game-winning 3-pointer with 0.1 seconds to play.

Turning point: With the game tied at 94-all in the final minute, a poor possession by Utah — which included Jae Crowder’s 3-point attempt being blocked and Joe Ingles missing a floater — gave Boston the chance to win in regulation. On the ensuing possession, the Celtics found an open Brown for the 3-pointer.

https://twitter.com/NBA/status/979205845941702656
Donovan Mitchell's heave didn't connect after a timeout, as Boston ended the game on a 9-0 run.

The hero: Brown had a team-high 21 points and hit three 3-pointers for the Celtics. He also had a key steal with just over a minute remaining that led to a dunk in transition, and Brown added five rebounds, three assists and two steals.

3 keys

  • Both teams had dominant quarters. The Celtics outscored the Jazz 30-15 in the second and hit four 3-pointers while shooting 62.1 percent from the field. Utah then outscored Boston 32-19 in the third and hit five 3-pointers while shooting 45 percent from the field.
  • Boston made 12 of 21 3-point shots on the night, while Utah was 9 of 33 from long range.
  • The Celtics had a 15-12 edge in second-chance points.
Jazz almanac: 42-33, Lost 1
Playoff picture: The loss knocks the Jazz back to eighth place in the Western Conference, a half-game behind the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Up next:

Friday vs. Memphis (21-54), 7 p.m. MDT (AT&T SportsNet)

Sunday at Minnesota (43-33), 5 p.m. (AT&T SportsNet)

Tuesday vs. Los Angeles Lakers (32-41), 7 p.m. (AT&T SportsNet)

Full Story from the Deseret News...