Joe Ingles came up big for the Utah Jazz as they defeated the LA Clippers 105-98 and levelled the series at two games apiece.
Having lost game three on their home court in Salt Lake City it was crucial that Utah took game four before the series switches back to Los Angeles.
Aussie swingman Ingles was crucial in delivering this victory as All-Star forward Gordon Hayward was only able to play nine minutes – and score three points – as he suffered from food poisoning. In Hayward’s absence Ingles stepped up to plate dishing out 11 assists, grabbing two steals and hitting two crucial three pointers late in the game.
In the latter stages the Jazz’s other Joe also played a starring role. Joe Johnson – following on from his game one heroics – was clutch again in the fourth quarter. Iso-Joe scored 28 points off the bench and helped the Jazz erase a five point deficit late in the fourth.
Joe Johnson will get most of the attention but let’s not forget the enormous contribution of Ingles.
Ingles carried the burden of the playmaking duties in Hayward’s absence – consistently using screens to penetrate the paint before threading precise passes to big men Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert for easy buckets.
The unselfish play of the veteran Australian should come as no surprise to those who have followed his globetrotting career. Spells in Spain and Israel preceded his chance in the NBA and he has always been an outstanding teammate who sacrifices personal stats for the good of the team.
This quote from Hayward illustrates why Ingles is considered such a great teammate – “The thing that makes Joe special are the other things that don’t show up. His passing, his cutting, his playmaking and his defence”.
These are the things that NBA players really appreciate from their teammates. The guys that understand the game and how they can impact it in the most useful way. Ingles has been doing this all season for the Jazz.
All of the things Hayward talked about were evident last night as Ingles delivered yet another classically understated but excellent performance. If Utah are to cause and upset and beat the star-studded Clippers they will need plenty more of the same from underrated Australian.