SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — When the Utah Jazz find a rhythm around the basket, few teams can do anything to stop them from dominating on both ends of the court.
That certainly was the case during a 118-88 victory Monday night over the Indiana Pacers. For the bulk of 48 minutes, Utah attacked the rim with relentless energy. The Jazz crashed the boards, didn’t trail at all and were never seriously threatened.
Utah shot 54% from the field, scored 60 points in the paint and finished with a 53-30 advantage in rebounds.
The Jazz also limited Indiana to seven free throw attempts, and the Pacers made just three. Both were season lows for a Utah opponent.
“That was really what we wanted to do,” center Rudy Gobert said. “Don’t give them any free throws. Don’t give them anything at the rim and don’t give them any rebounds. I think we did a great job doing those three.”
Donovan Mitchell scored 25 points and Gobert had 20 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Jazz. Bojan Bogdanovic added 16 points and Mike Conley had 14 off the bench.
Myles Turner and Aaron Holiday scored 12 points apiece to lead Indiana. Turner added a career-high six steals, but the Pacers lost despite forcing 21 turnovers and nabbing a season-best 15 steals.
“We didn’t convert,” Turner said. “You force a team to have 20 turnovers, you’ve got to find some way to convert somehow, some way, and that definitely hurt us.”
Utah went to the basket throughout the first quarter and it paid off. The Jazz scored 20 points in the paint out of 29 total points in the quarter.
“They were the aggressors on both sides of the ball,” Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. “When they did shoot the ball and miss, they got the rebounds.”
That allowed Utah to take control early. Joe Ingles drained a 3-pointer and then set up baskets for Gobert on back-to-back possessions to spark a 12-4 run that gave the Jazz an 18-10 lead midway through the first period.
Indiana closed to 31-27 on a hook shot from Domantas Sabonis early in the second, but Utah did not let the Pacers get any closer before halftime. Conley fed Gobert for a dunk and followed with consecutive baskets to cap an 18-5 run that gave the Jazz a 49-32 lead midway through the quarter.
“When you are consistent defensively, you give yourself a chance for good things to happen,” Utah coach Quin Snyder said.
Utah maintained a double-digit cushion throughout the third and went up 78-55 on a jumper from Conley. The Jazz never slacked off once they took control, something that didn’t always happen earlier in the season.
“We’re just enjoying it,” Mitchell said. “A lot of it is we’re playing off instinct. At beginning of the year, when you have new guys, we tended to overthink trying to figure each other out. We know what plays to run each other. We know where everybody is going to be.”
After missing 19 games with a hamstring injury, Conley appears to be back to his old self. The Jazz guard scored 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting in 18 minutes off the bench. The veteran gave a sign of things to come when he dunked the ball in pregame warmups.
“I’ve never seen a 60-year-old dunk before. It’s crazy,” Mitchell joked.
For his part, Conley is quickly finding a groove on the floor again after being absent for so long. It is a satisfying development after he struggled to get comfortable in the offense early this season.
“I’ve been feeling really good for a while, so I just missed being on the court,” Conley said. “The coaching staff and players are making it easy on me and it is easy basketball with those guys.”
The Pacers endured their most lopsided loss of the season, eclipsing a 28-point defeat at Milwaukee on Dec. 22.
“In a game like this, you just learn from it and then you flush it and move on to the next game whether you played good or not,” guard Jeremy Lamb said.
Pacers: Justin Holiday had a career-high five blocks. … T.J. McConnell led the Pacers with 10 assists. … Indiana scored exactly 121 points in each of its previous three games against Utah.
Jazz: Bogdanovic shot and made the first free throw of the game with 6:54 left in the second quarter. … Ingles finished with a team-high seven assists. … Utah scored 25 points off 14 Indiana turnovers. … The Jazz outscored the Pacers 22-4 in second-chance points.
Pacers: Visit the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday.
Jazz: At the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday.
More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports