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Milwaukee • There may not be a Utah Jazz player in Quin Snyder's rotation who sees his minutes fluctuate more than Joe Ingles.
And he's fine with that. Years of playing overseas have hardened him to some of the harsh realities of professional basketball like the variation of playing time. With the Jazz, Ingles may play five minutes on one night. On another, he could see that bump to 20 minutes. He never knows from game to game what his role will be.
The key for him is being professional. Taking things one night at a time, and never letting himself get too high or low emotionally. That's how he's made it this far with the Jazz. Being able to master the art of not knowing one way or the other.
"My job is to be ready to help the team, whatever way that is," Ingles said. "I have to stay ready. Sometimes it's scoring, sometimes I have to help in other ways."
It isn't much of a secret that the Jazz bench this season has been one of the most criticized and talked about topics surrounding the team. And there's no secret that the Jazz have had a depth issue on many nights.
But on Sunday, Utah's bench play went a long way toward the Jazz gliding to a win over the Milwaukee Bucks at the Bradley Center. That bench play essentially consisted of Ingles and rookie power forward Trey Lyles. In large part because of those two, the Jazz are 1-1 on a five-game road trip, heading into Wednesday night's pivotal game in Houston against the Rockets.
In a word, the two were terrific. Lyles scored 14 points, handed out four assists and grabbed four rebounds. Ten of those points came in the second quarter, including a 3-pointer to end the first half that allowed the Jazz to enter the locker room with a 42-41 advantage.
Ingles stole the show in the fourth quarter, going 4 for 4 from 3-point land on his way to 12 points. Time and again, Ingles spotted up in the corners and became lethal for a night from beyond the arc. His shooting allowed the Jazz to maintain a working margin, while the starters rested.
More important than the points is the impact those two had on the game. More than once this season, even following the all-star break, the Jazz starters found themselves building a lead, taking their normal rest, and then finding that lead either gone or almost gone.
So the recent uptick in bench play has become a boon for team morale, as much as anything.
"It's energizing," Jazz forward Gordon Hayward said. "It's energizing for us, and it's deflating for the other team when our bench plays well. It just gives us a huge boost. It's hard to do that, day in and day out, not knowing whether you're going to play or not. It's hard to stay ready under those circumstances. I thought Joe and Trey both did a tremendous job for us. Both have been really good."
It's noteworthy that on Sunday night against the Bucks, Snyder constricted his bench in a manner he hasn't done almost all season, especially in the second half, when he played just eight guys instead of the usual 10.
Forward Trevor Booker and guard Chris Johnson were the main casualties, as neither played against Milwaukee in the second half. Point guard Trey Burke has yet to see a minute of action on the trip.
Snyder said a lot of his rotations lately have been due to feel. And especially on Sunday, he was hesitant to split Lyles' minutes with Booker because the rookie was playing so well. But Ingles has been playing more in the past week, starting with last Monday's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, where he subbed for Hayward as a starter. Once Hayward returned on Saturday from injury, Ingles still played a lot as the main wing substitute off the bench.
"We have confidence in those guys shooting the ball," Snyder said. "Their identity cannot be tied to their shot, and that's the main thing. I thought Joe did a good job throwing himself into the game, and it's nice when the shots go in."
Jazz at Rockets
P Wednesday, 6 p.m. MDT
TV • ROOT