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Aussies in NBA: Dante Exum scores career-high
Dante Exum turned on the jets and posted a new scoring career-high 22 points in the Jazz’s 104 – 112 loss to Oklahoma City.
His points came on an efficient 7-8 FGs, 1-1 3PT and 7-9 FTs, while adding 1 assist (really 2! Unless - like the OKC statisticians - you don’t count this one) in 26 minutes.
With the Jazz starters burned by their OKC counterparts, the team turned to a bench for more energy. Exum, looking decisive early, quickly becoming the focal point of the second-unit.
Exum --possibly inspired by the rampaging play of Russell Westbrook-- used his nitro speed to push the break and open up scoring opportunities.
In the half court, his quick first step saw Exum blowing past the first line with such ease, putting pressure on the help defenders to either foul or let him score.
He had a real impact on the game, leading a mini-comeback by the Jazz that brought a 22-point 3rd quarter deficit down to 7 points midway through the fourth, and finished with a Jazz best plus/minus of +15.
After the game, Jazz coach Quinn Snyder summed up the Exum experience beautifully to The Salt Lake Tribune:
"He's explosive. He's fast. He's got a gear," Snyder said.
"I think as he's gotten more physically capable, it's like having a really, really fast car, and learning how to drive."
What's exciting about this game for Exum, is he now has the blueprint on how he can be a regular 20 point per game scorer. Taking around one 3-pointer and nine free-throws will be his best ticket to getting there consistently.
"For him right now, that car is revved up. It's an adventure sometimes. Pretty soon he'll learn the lay of the land and stay on the road," Snyder said.
Exum's new career-high comes just ten days after he matched his previous high of 15 points against Minnesota, and his overall performances have lifted over the past two months.
It's not world-beating stuff just yet, but it's the right path to get there.