Utah Jazz take to the sky in scrimmage at Hill Air Force baseadmin
The most talent-rich basketball game ever played at Hill Air Force base finished 49-41, but the score was irrelevant.
For several hundred servicemen and women and their families who packed the fitness center bleachers and crowded the second-story rail above the court, it’s as close as they’ll ever get to the Utah Jazz.
The team played its first public scrimmage of the season Friday afternoon, to the applause and whistles of the Hill Air Force base faithful. It was a brisk visit — the Jazz were in and out within an hour and a half, during which they squeezed in a 32-minute scrimmage — but the team’s first scrimmage on the base was definitely relished.
The organization has partnered with the Davis County base (where some 26,000 Utahns work) several times in years past, but never played on its courts.
“I think it was really cool that they chose us to do their scrimmage,” spokesman Micah Garbarino said. “We’re rooting for them.”
The Jazz wished to express that they, too, were rooting for their audience. Coach Quin Snyder said the team talked pregame about the sacrifices of the people they were playing for.
“You can’t articulate the respect, admiration and appreciation we have for the service men and women and what they do on a daily basis for us,” Snyder said. “To be able to come here, play here, in the process of doing this, it gives you a chance to reflect.”
The most important game-related element of the scrimmage was the roll call: Twenty healthy Jazzmen arrived, and they all appeared to leave the same way. But the team did give some indicators of how they’ll look once the preseason begins Monday against the Sydney Kings.
One of the most noticeable factors was how Utah seemed to deliver on its promise to share the ball. Among the highlights were a court-length pass from Ricky Rubio to Joe Ingles; a behind-the-back dish from Raul Neto to Jonas Jerebko; a transition thread from Royce O’Neale to Neto; and many more.
One of the biggest recipients of the generosity was Rudy Gobert, who made the most of his 7-foot-9 wingspan by catching lobs around the rim. One of the early connections came on a no-look assist from Rubio, which seemed to bode well for their partnership this season.
It was also a promising afternoon for Derrick Favors, who finished a few tough buckets at the rim, and Alec Burks, who had a tomahawk dunk in the second half that drew audible “oohs” from the crowd. Both have been working their way back to health after missing chunks of last season.
Donovan Mitchell starred in Summer League, and in the rookie’s first public action with the full team, Snyder complimented his decision making, while acknowledging he’s still “figuring it out” on defense where he picked up fouls. Fellow rookie Tony Bradley also got kudos.