Joe Ingles continues to remind the NBA why he belongs. On a night where the Utah Jazz easily dispatched of the Indiana Pacers, Ingles put forth one of his best performances of the season.
The Australian helped pace an offensive effort that continually broke the Pacers’ defence down. A constant stream of pick and rolls led by Ingles was too much for Indiana’s defence and allowed Utah to score 60 first half points with ease. Ingles finished with six assists, falling one short of his career high, and was a vital cog in an efficient Jazz machine. Truth be told, that assist figure could have been much higher, had the team converted on all their open looks.
Ingles spoke to The Pick and Roll following the game, and reinforced the unselfish character underpinning this Jazz roster. “We’ve got a super unselfish team. When your best couple of players are the most unselfish guys in the team, it makes it pretty easy for everyone else to pass the ball.
“We’ve a fun group to play with, and a really unselfish group.”
With Rodney Hood still out with a leg injury, Ingles started his third straight game and got more minutes playing alongside Utah’s top talent. The 5 man unit consisting of Ingles and Utah’s other four starters (Rudy Gobert, Derrick Favors Gordon Hayward and George Hill) has a net rating of 23.1 so far this season.
Rest is now high on Ingles agenda after playing over 70 minutes of basketball during the last 24 hours.
“Yeah I’m tired, going to go home and crash tonight." Ingles noted. "Spend the next day and a half recovering. We’ve got another back to back coming up so just get some rest, spend some time with the kids and come back Monday.”
Not to be overly self indulgent, but the reason for Ingles success was obvious (he could feel the Australian disturbance in the force).
That’s said with jest, of course, as Ingles deserves all the credit in the world for his career season. Tonight was just the latest example of why Jinglin' Joe is now a permanent fixture in a Jazz side pushing for home court advantage in the Western Conference play-offs.
This achievement might not jump off the page, but it represents growth for an athlete who couldn’t make a wing-deprived Los Angeles Clippers roster in 2014.
Will Ingles attend the All-Star Weekend's three-point contest?
There is a growing school of thought in Salt Lake City that we may see Ingles at All-Star weekend.
Despite claiming he would prefer some R&R with the family, duty could come calling for Aussie Joe. Ingles being selected for the 3 point shooting contest could be a tremendous fillip for Australian basketball. It would mark the first time any Australian has competed in the weekend’s shooting contest.
When asked about the recognition for Aussie hoops that might stem from the contest, Ingles admitted he hadn't thought about it too much, suggesting his focus was on finishing the remaining games before All-Star Weekend came around.
"It's one of those things, that kind of weigh up when it happens, if it happens," Ingles told The Pick and Roll after today's game.
"There's a lot of guys that are --obviously in this league-- that can shoot the ball. To pick eight or, I don't even know how many they pick... we'll see what happens. If it comes about, we'll weigh it up then. But priority's to spend some time with my wife and kids."
In a tangible sense, it could also provide another chance for Ingles to prove himself on the biggest stage. Nobody will ever confuse a shooting competition with important basketball, yet with Ingles in a contract year, any chance to show off in front of the NBA world might help boost the bank account come July.
Some random thoughts from Salt Lake City
Ingles received a rowdy reaction when announced with the Jazz starters. It may be a foreign land, but there is some love in Salt Lake City for Mr. Ingles.
Dante Exum continues to be overlooked by Quin Snyder. The reliably mediocre Raul Neto supplanted both Exum and Shelvin Mack as Utah’s backup point guard tonight. With Exum not in Snyder’s immediate plans, it bears exploring whether a stint in the Developmental League could provide the impetus he needs to regain NBA minutes.
Alec Burks looked really good again tonight. There will be even less minutes available for Exum if the injury-plagued veteran can maintain good health.
On paper, this looked like a challenge for the Jazz. Coming off an overtime game in Dallas, one in which Ingles, Gobert, Hayward and Hill all played over 38 minutes, backing up against Paul George and the Pacers should have been a test. Well…. that was my theory anyway. Indiana rolled over and it was that simple. George fouled out in the final quarter and was joined in the change rooms by his head coach Nate McMillan soon after.
Despite being thoroughly beaten, Nate McMillan provided all the entertainment any basketball fan could need. With his team getting shredded by every Jazz pick and roll, you may think the Pacers head coach would be concerned with fixing the defensive problems. Nope. Instead, McMillan spent the entire first half (this isn’t even an exaggeration) fixing his suit, pacing the sideline in silence and folding his arms. At least he looked dapper as the Pacers got destroyed.
Finally, it snowed today in Salt Lake City and it snowed harder than it has all winter. Just thought you might like to know that as you enjoy the summer sun!