As the NBA regular season winds down, Trey Lyles continues to show flashes of stardom for the Jazz.
Despite Utah having a strong frontcourt that's made it hard for Lyles to see significant minutes, he's beginning to come on and be a more focal point of his team's offense as he's shown he can be a dynamic weapon.
Lyles put all of his moves on display Sunday as he scored a career-high 22 points on 9-of-16 shooting with six rebounds and two assists in a win over the Nuggets. It was a nice surprise for Lyles, who didn’t know he was starting until right before the opening tipoff when Derrick Favors was a late scratch because of right knee soreness.
"He was outstanding for us," Jazz forward Gordon Hayward said. "He kept us in the game there early. He’s really stepped up to the challenge. I’m proud of him."
Lyles finished the game shooting 4-of-8 from deep as he helped spread Denver's defense out and helped offensively-challenged Utah (29th in scoring & just 0.5 ppg from being dead last) score 100 points for just the third time in 12 games.
Before Lyles hit his final three of the game in the third quarter, Utah was trailing 58-53 but outscored Denver 47-26 the rest of the way.
The Jazz are now 40-40 on the year and holding onto the final playoff spot in the West. Lyles has played a major part in Utah's late surge to make it this far as they've won five straight and eight of nine when Lyles scored in double figures.
In those eight wins, Lyles has been red-hot from deep, hitting 21-of-39 from deep. His performance Sunday wasn’t a surprise to Jazz head coach Quin Snyder, who has slowly brought along the former Wildcat to the point he's becoming a key player heading into the playoffs.
"That’s the thing about this team. It’s been happening all year," Snyder said. "Individually, we’ve got guys that have depth of character. And then when you put them together collectively, they’ve been pulling together all year. It was good to see."
Coming into the month of April, Lyles was averaging just over 5 ppg as he wasn't seeing a lot of action behind Favors. However, Lyles has come on this month during the Jazz's push for the postseason, averaging 12.6 ppg in five games this month.
If Lyles keeps this up, the Jazz should find themselves in the postseason for the first time since the 2011-12 season.