Utah did exactly what good teams are supposed to do in close games.

The Jazz cut down on the turnovers, made the extra pass to find the open man, and played tenacious defense.

After Sacramento cut Utah’s led to four early in the fourth quarter, the Jazz responded with a 12-0 run and the eventual victory — a 123-105 win over Sacramento on Saturday night.

“I think we had good communication in the pick-and-roll. … I don’t know what the offensive rebounds were but we weren’t giving up a lot,” head coach Quin Snyder said postgame. “I thought, for the most part, our guards did a good job on the defensive glass. … And you know, if we can do that, we can really be committed to running.”

Sacramento did everything it could do to slow down the Jazz early in the final quarter, but nothing worked — literally.

Following the 10-0 part of the run, a TV timeout occurred. Usually a 2-3 minute break, this stoppage lasted a full 15 minutes as a fan sitting courtside vomited all over the floor multiple times, causing a delay for the clean-up and sanitation.

“Shout out to the cleaning crew because I definitely wouldn’t have cleaned it up. … That probably would’ve stayed there for a long time,” Jordan Clarkson said with a laugh. “At that point we was just flowin’ and getting a little tired. … So they kind of helped us a little bit, get our breath back.”

Even the delay wasn’t enough to slow down Utah, as they put up 39 points in the fourth and expanded its lead to 21 on multiple occasions. It was the sort of closing performance you’d expect from a veteran team that isn’t easily rattled, especially with four players scoring at least five points in the quarter.

“I thought we did a good job of keeping our concentration throughout the, definitely strange occurrence,” Snyder said. “Sometimes we’ve got to be willing to give ourselves up for each other, to just make plays for each people. And when we do that, whether there’s one pass or no passes, you know, we can be really effective.”

In what’s becoming a theme for the Jazz early in the season, it was once again a team victory. Six players scored in double figures, paced by Donovan Mitchell’s game-high 26 points and Rudy Gobert’s 21-point, 14-rebound double-double.

After taking just four shots on Thursday against Toronto, Mike Conley came out firing to start the game. He dropped an early eight points en route to 17 for the game. He shot 7-for-10 from the floor and 3-of-4 from beyond the arc, adding two assists as well.

“Mike is making the right play,” Gobert said. “He’s gonna read what the defense gives him and then take advantage of that. When he plays, we want him to be aggressive and look for his shot first. … He’s been amazing.”

Sacramento came out of the gates hot, jumping out to a quick 5-0 lead. Then Conley got cooking, responding with eight straight points for the Jazz to make it a one-point game. After the Kings regained the lead, Utah responded with a 12-4 run en route to a one-point lead after the first quarter.

The Kings retook the lead following a Tyrese Haliburton floater midway through the second, but the Jazz responded again. Utah started with a Joe Ingles three-pointer, hitting three straight from beyond the arc to begin a 13-0 run. But Sacramento responded and cut into the deficit as the Jazz led 54-49 at the half.

The third quarter was like a heavyweight fight, with each delivering blows but neither backing down, resulting in a four-point advantage for the Jazz entering the final 12 minutes.

It appears Utah is coming out of its early-season shooting funk. They have shot 50% from the field and 40% from beyond the arc for the third consecutive game — all victories.

But the best part of the winning streak has come on the other end of the court.

Utah has been dominant on defense, holding opponents below 45% shooting and 33% from three-point territory. They’ve also outrebounded their opponents by 14 during that span, winning the offensive rebound battles and points in transition.

On Monday night, the Jazz return home for a 2021 playoff rematch with the Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.


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