UTAH JAZZ

Utah Jazz rout Toronto Raptors in preseason home opener | 105-90

Oct 3, 2018, 1:40 PM | Updated: 2:27 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz came away with a win against the Kawhii Leonard led Toronto Raptors in the team’s preseason home opener yesterday.

After coming off a win against the Perth Wildcats on Sept. 29th, scoring 130 points, 44 in the first quarter, this team had to be feeling good coming into last night.

Last season the Jazz were 1-1 against the Raptors and while the Toronto based team brought back almost all of their major pieces, Utah fans finally got to see Kawhii Leonard in a Raptor’s jersey for the first time.

Picking up where the Jazz left off

This is going to come as one of the least surprising things you’ll read all year — the Jazz are pretty good at defense.

Trailing 54-39 with almost 2-minutes left in the second quarter, the Jazz decided to turn things up defensively.

Back-to-back 3’s and a 2 by NBA veteran Joe Ingles would get them within 9 points starting the third quarter after a series of forced turnovers.

By the third minute of the 3rd quarter, the score was 78-63 and the Jazz had officially flipped things around and we’re heading towards a blowout.

A late push by the Raptors bench would cut it close at the top of the 4th but the Jazz would finish the game with a double-digit lead.

Reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Rudy Gobert showed no signs of rust after back-to-back blocks on Toronto center, Jonas Valančiūnas and tallying 5 blocks, as well as a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

The return of Kawhii Leonard

To be completely honest, it’s still absolutely mind-boggling to see Kawhii Leonard in a Raptors jersey but that’s the world we live in.

Leonard played 18 minutes against the Jazz and ended the game with 17 points and five rebounds on 50% shooting from both the field and the three.

His integration into the Raptors system is going to be incredibly seamless as he slides into the starting lineup, replacing OG Anunoby and in turn, giving them a better opportunity to switch multiple positions defensively.

Toronto Raptors NBA basketball team player Kawhi Leonard is photographed during media day in Toronto, Monday, Sept. 24, 2018. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP)

Toronto Raptors NBA basketball team player Kawhi Leonard is photographed during media day in Toronto, Monday, Sept. 24, 2018. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP)

One of the biggest questions many NBA fans still have is how first-time head coach Nick Nurse is going to fill former Coach of the Year, Dwane Casey’s shoes.

Nurse’s imprint can be seen all over the Raptors offense last season and as the year continues we’ll be sure to see Nurse experimenting with different lineups to take advantage of the weaker Eastern conference.

Leonard should find some comfort in playing alongside his former Spurs teammate, Danny Green, so at least he has a familiar face around him.

Raptor’s fans should be feeling pretty good about their Eastern Conference Finals chances right about now.

Joe Ingles’ birthday gift

Yesterday was one of Utah’s most beloved Aussies’ birthday and he definitely showed out.

Ingles celebrated his 31st birthday by going off last night, scoring 24 points on 8-15 shooting in only 24 minutes.

I cannot explain the amount of trust Utah fans have for Ingles when he pulls up from the three at this point and somehow the rest of the league still hasn’t gotten the memo.

Ingles has shot 44% from the 3-point line in the past two seasons and cemented his place in Jazz history last season after scoring 179 three-pointers, the most by any Jazz player.

To top it all off, Rookie of the Year runner-up, Donovan Mitchell, made sure to show just how much he appreciated Ingles’ performance during his post-game interview.

The team is scheduled to face off against the Trail Blazers in Portland on Oct. 7th at 7 pm.

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Utah Jazz rout Toronto Raptors in preseason home opener | 105-90