Joe Ingles had his name called yesterday. For the first time this season, Ingles started for the Utah Jazz.
An injury to Gordon Hayward sidelined the forward for the game against Cleveland, and it was time for Ingles to step up. He was thrust straight into the action, and given possibly the most difficult task in basketball; guarding LeBron James.
LeBron was in attack mode from the first tip and scored 13 first half points. Ingles struggled to stay within reach of him and because of this LeBron got some almost uncontested jump shots off. Having said that, Ingles didn't shy away from the task at hand and played a huge role in the Utah defence that ultimately kept Cleveland to 85 points.
Coach Quin Snyder relied heavily on Ingles throughout the entire game. Slo-Mo Joe played a season-high 37 minutes and filled the stat-sheet. He finished with 6 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists.
Check out some of his highlights below.
In his 37 minutes, Ingles only attempted 6 shots and connected on 2 of them. It was his playmaking that was the key to his strong performance on the offensive end. He consistently made the right decision and on multiple occasions he passed up a good shot in favour of an even better shot for a teammate.
Jinglin' Joe hit a couple of threes, but the highlight of the night would have to be the dime to Rudy Gobert who finished with a massive dunk.
With the game tied after 3 quarters, the Jazz stormed home to record an inspired 94-85 win. Ingles was instrumental in the win and drained a massive 3-pointer down the stretch that kept the Cavs at bay.
Utah now sits in the ninth seed in the Western Conference with a record of 32-35. Houston and Dallas, in the seventh and eighth spots respectively, both have a record of 34-33. With just 15 games remaining, it is now or never for Ingles and his Utah teammates to make a late playoff push.