For all the talk about Cleveland, Boston, Golden State and Houston, the Utah Jazz are quietly the hottest team in the NBA. The Jazz (29-28) beat the Spurs 101-99 on Monday to win their tenth straight game and trail the New Orleans Pelicans (30-26) by just one-and-a-half games for the final playoff spot in the West.
“Ten games in a row, that’s huge,” Jazz forward Royce O’Neale said on Ferrall on the Bench. “We’re focusing on defense, and our offense is just sharing the ball, making the right plays and everybody’s playing unselfish. It’s good for us.”
Seven of Utah’s 10 wins during the streak have come on the road. The Jazz have beaten the Raptors, Warriors, Trail Blazers, Pelicans, and Spurs (twice), among others.
It’s been impressive.
“Definitely,” O’Neale said. “We’re just focusing in on each game, taking one game at a time. Coach is drawing up the game plan, defensively we’re coming together, rebounding, taking it one possession at a time, and making the right plays on offense for us to win. A couple of guys get hot, and we keep giving them the ball. It’s a team effort and us playing collectively.”
Donovan Mitchell scored a game-high 25 points against San Antonio to go with seven rebounds, five assists and three steals. The former Louisville star was the 13th overall pick in 2017.
“You can tell each game he’s gaining more confidence,” said O’Neale, who played at Baylor. “Us helping each other out, being rookies, playing off each other, telling each other what we see on the offensive and defensive end and him playing with a great sense of humor and smile and focus – he’s just growing each day.”
O’Neale was the only Jazz starter who didn’t reach double-figures against San Antonio, but he’s okay with that. Joe Ingles (20), Derrick Favors (19), and Rudy Gobert (10) combined for 49.
“We’re playing team ball,” O’Neale said. “You never know who’s going to be the hot guy that night.”