SPORTS

Jazz Defense Bouncing Back At Right Time

Dec 31, 2019, 2:53 PM
Rudy Gobert blocks...
JaMychal Green #4 of the LA Clippers shoots over Rudy Gobert #27 of the Utah Jazz during a game at Vivint Smart Home Arena on October 30, 2019 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz are in the midst of a defensive resurgence, after watching their once league-best defensive rating plummet at the end of November through the beginning of December. 

Over a six-game stretch that saw the Jazz win just one game, the team’s once steady defense came to a crashing halt. Over the rough sequence, the Jazz had an average defensive rating of 113.4. For the season, that would rank as fifth worst across the league, ahead of only the Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Washington Wizards. 

The defensive rating over the stretch was saved because of two above-average outings against the Memphis Grizzlies (94.9) and Philadelphia 76ers (100). Otherwise, each of the Jazz other four outings held DRtg’s of 119.6 or worse. The Wizards league-worst average is 117.7 for the season. 

Since then, the Jazz defense has taken advantage of inferior opponents, and have averaged a healthy 106.1 rating over the last 11 games. During the run, the Jazz have allowed a defensive below the league-worst average just once against the Portland Trailblazers, when the team gave up a 118.9 rating but won the game 121-115. 

For the season, the Jazz have a DRtg of 106.4, currently 10th best in the NBA. The 106.1 rating over the last 11 games would register as 8th best over the full season. 

“I think our defense can improve a lot,” Rudy Gobert said of the team’s defensive effort in Monday night’s victory over the Detroit Pistons, “Obviously tonight we did a great job but I feel like we’ve got to be able to do that every night.”

Over the last eight games, the Jazz have allowed 107 points or fewer to all but one team. 

Even new Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson has found his defensive rhythm with the roster. 

“As a basketball player he knows defense is important to us,” Jazz coach Quin Synder said of Clarkson, “It’s not like he’s questioning any of that. He’s trying to guard, guys respect that.” 

The Jazz should be able to continue their defensive intensity over their next nine games. The average offensive ranking of the nine opponents is 21.2, and only the Washington Wizards (4) have a top 10 offensive rating. 

“We’re trying to be active, but at the same time we want to be disciplined,” Gobert said of the Jazz defensive philosophy, “Our defense is not based on getting the most steals. It’s based on lowering the [shooting] percentage, being physical and making sure guys don’t get a shot that they want to get.”

The Jazz will get to test out their defense once again Thursday night against the Chicago Bulls, who have the third-worst offense in the NBA. 

  • Utah Jazz Scoreboard

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