Utah Jazz Danuel Home Jr. defends in opposition to Houston Rockets guard Eric Gordon (10) through the second half of an NBA basketball sport Monday, Feb. 14, 2022, in Salt Lake Metropolis. (AP Picture/Rick Bowmer) (Rick Bowmer, Related Press)
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PHOENIX — It was a call that Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder hasn’t had the posh to make.
Like so many others earlier than him, Royce O’Neale struggled in opposition to Devin Booker and had a tough time navigating screens and staying linked to the Phoenix All-Star. Up to now, Snyder did not actually have some other choice to show to within the scenario.
Abruptly, he does.
Danuel Home Jr. performed almost eight minutes within the fourth quarter; and in what was considerably of a shock, he completed the sport instead of O’Neale.
The end result? Booker was rather more restricted with Home on the ground and the Jazz got here away with one in all their finest wins of the season.
Home was glorious in getting round picks and making life onerous for Booker and the Suns. Home picked Booker up at full court docket, stayed linked to him and compelled the ball out of his palms a number of occasions. He dove to the ground, received his palms in passing lanes and was all-around a nuisance.
“My job was to ensure that I keep in entrance of my man and make it onerous as attainable tonight as a result of he is a gifted scorer,” Home mentioned.
Truthful sufficient. It is simply that job is often reserved for O’Neale — a minimum of late in video games.
Does that imply Home has all of the sudden taken O’Neale’s spot within the rotation? In all probability not (O’Neale, in any case, is the higher all-around participant). What it does imply is Snyder is not afraid to place Home on the market, if want be; and after years of desperately looking for one other wing defender, Home’s efficiency — and Snyder’s choice — is important.
For a number of seasons now, the Jazz have been a superb crew with a deadly flaw. As soon as the playoffs rolled round, they did not have the personnel to constantly defend the sport’s high wing and guard scorers.
Home has by no means actually been generally known as a real defensive stopper however has constructed up a strong popularity throughout his time in Houston as a hard-nosed and hard-working man on the perimeter.
“That mindset is actually nice to have,” Rudy Gobert mentioned. “Being so aggressive defensively after which it is inspiring for different guys. We step it up a notch.”
Home has solely been a full-time member of the Jazz for a few weeks, and really effectively could be the crew’s finest perimeter defender. That is how dire the scenario was — and nonetheless could also be.
Snyder mentioned that with the crew’s extra depth, there shall be alternatives primarily based on matchups for various guys to play. He credit his gamers for accepting that and rooting for one another.
“Danuel was doing a wonderful job, and Royce was the primary one on the bench speaking to him,” Snyder mentioned. “The identical factor with Hassan (Whiteside) and Rudy — how Hassan was taking part in, you would end the sport with Hassan. Mike (Conley) mentioned possibly let Jordan (Clarkson) end — in order that type of collective mindset and whatever-it-takes mentality and whoever it takes is one thing that is actually necessary.
To Donovan Mitchell, that angle is one thing he thinks makes the crew distinctive. He mentioned egos might come into play when choices are made about taking part in time, however he would not see that throughout the group.
“You have a look at Royce after, he’s as excited as anyone. I feel that is what makes this crew so particular,” he mentioned. “… Generally you simply take what’s working and that was tonight, after which we play Houston and it might be a distinct story.”