Ingles and Exum combine to lead Jazz to opening night win
Aussie duo Joe Ingles and Dante Exum have combined for 35 points and 10 assists to help motor Utah to an opening night win over the plucky Sacramento Kings.
The Jazz leaned heavily on both Ingles and Exum at different stages of the contest -- particularly in the first half as Utah were plagued with poor execution early.
Ingles was able to get Utah their first points of the season on a breakaway jam, but it was a rare highlight for the Jazz as they stumbled into a 14-point hole midway through the first quarter.
Dante Exum, who registered 13 points, four rebounds and four assists, checked into the game with four minutes to play in the first quarter and promptly connected on his opening shot -- a catch-and-shoot triple from the left wing. Exum then found Rudy Gobert on an entry pass that resulted in a dunk as the Jazz mounted a 21-9 run to close within four at the first break.
Ingles canned his first triple of the season during the extended comeback, just the first of his four makes from downtown in the first half as he paced Utah with 17 heading into halftime. He was also destructive on the defensive end, registering four steals.
Exum's energy off the bench continued to be a catalyst for the Jazz in the second quarter, with the Aussie setting Derrick Favors up for a dunk shortly after quarter time before getting two points of his own via a well executed cut to the basket.
With Donovan Mitchell and Ricky Rubio struggling -- and Rudy Gobert locked in an engaging battle with his center counterpart Willie Cauley-Stein -- Joe Ingles was the pick of the Jazz players in the opening 24 minutes. Dante Exum was second.
Ingles maintained his play to record 22 points, six assists, and four steals on 75 percent shooting as he eventually received help from Mitchell and others to help close out the game in the second half.
Exum's play off the bench allowed him to finish with a team high +21 in 26 minutes of court time, with the Aussie being super aggressive in his play making and ambition to push the ball.
The Jazz were staring at a surprising 0-1 start to the season, and the game may very well have gone that way if it weren't for the play of Exum and Ingles.
Next up the Jazz take on the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors on at 1:30PM AEST on Saturday.