Why Do The Jazz Lose Games?
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz own the NBA’s best record at 24-6. With so few losses over the last two months, it can be difficult to remember a common trend that indicates why the Jazz lose games.
While the team has found a variety of ways to win games, their losses have been remarkably similar to one another.
With only six losses on the season, including Friday’s folly against the Los Angeles Clippers, we look back at when the Jazz have lost games, and what the losses have in common.
Jazz 111-116 Timberwolves
Culprit: Jazz outshot, bad Mitchell/Bogdanovic
The Jazz first loss of the season came against the Minnesota Timberwolves on the day after Christmas in their home opener. The Jazz had beaten the Portland Trailblazers by 20 points on the road in their season opener but turned in a poor performance at home to suffer their first loss.
The main culprit in the Jazz loss was poor shooting, in which the team shot just 38 percent from the floor and 29 percent from three. Minnesota connected on 44 percent of their shots from both the floor and the three-point line to leave Utah with the victory.
Donovan Mitchell and Bojan Bogdanovic combined to shoot just 9-39 from the floor, and the Jazz lost despite grabbing 17 more rebounds and shooting 19 more free-throws.
Jazz 106-95 Suns
Culprit: Jazz outshot, Bad Bogdanovic
The Jazz fell to 0-2 in home games to open the season with a disheartening loss to the Phoenix Suns.
After winning an ugly game on the road in Oklahoma City, the Jazz returned home and were badly outshot by a more cohesive Phoenix roster. The Suns shot 48 percent from the floor and 51 percent from the three-point line while holding the Jazz to just 41 percent shooting from the floor and 35 percent from the three-point line.
Bogdanovic was the Jazz main offender scoring just three points on 0-5 shooting while recording just one rebound and one assist in 28 minutes.
Jazz 96-130 Nets
Culprit: Jazz outshot, bad Bogdanovic/Conley/Gobert
In the Jazz worst performance of the season, they found themselves down 35-14 at the end of the first quarter, and couldn’t shoot themselves back into the game.
Kyrie Irving had 29 points, while the Nets as a team shot 56 percent from the floor and 39 percent from the three-point line.
The Jazz had poor shooting nights from nearly everyone on the roster not named Mitchell or Royce O’Neale. The team shot just 38 percent from the floor and 32 percent from the three-point one, including Bogdanovic, Mike Conley, and Rudy Gobert who combined to connect on just 8-27 shots.
Jazz 112-100 Knicks
Culprit: Jazz Outshot, Bad Mitchell/Bogdanovic/Conley, Setup
In one of the Jazz more unique losses this season, they blew an 18 point first-half lead before falling to the Knicks.
The Jazz were outshot by New York who connected on 51 percent of their shots from the floor and 36 percent from the three, while the Jazz shot just 44 percent from the floor and 31 percent from three.
Mitchell, Bogdanovic, and Conley combined to shoot just 13-47 including 3-23 from the three-point line.
Additionally, the Jazz found themselves in a tough situation playing on the second night of back-to-back road games after getting blowout by the Nets.
Jazz 117-128 Nuggets
Culprit: Jazz outshot, bad Mitchell/Conley, setup
Another game in which the Jazz were badly outshot, this time in historic fashion.
The Nuggets connected on 15-17 three-pointers in the first half and finished the game shooting 54 percent from the floor and 64 percent from the three-point line to hand the Jazz the loss.
The Jazz made a respectable 42 percent of their shots from the floor and the three-point line, though Mitchell and Conley combined to shoot just 5-22 from the floor and 4-14 from three.
The team also faced a tough setup traveling to face Denver in a Sunday matinee, riding an 11 game win streak, having beaten Denver two weeks earlier on the road, with Mitchell returning from a two-game absence after suffering a concussion.
Jazz 116-112 Clippers
Culprit: Slow start, setup
In the Jazz latest loss, the team got off to a slow start, trailing 31-23 after the first quarter, while connecting on just 5-19 first-half threes.
The Jazz battled back from a 15 point deficit to briefly take the lead in the third quarter but didn’t have enough gas in the tank to finish the fourth quarter.
While most Jazz players played well, the team faced a tough setup, facing the Clippers for the second time in back-to-back outings, on the road, after playing a depleted LA roster two nights earlier.
While the Clippers welcomed Paul George and Kawhi Leonard back to the roster, the Jazz worked Conley back in after a six-game absence, while riding a nine-game winning streak.
It was the only loss of the season where the Jazz outshot their opponent.
Why Do The Jazz Lose Games?
Reflecting on these losses, the most common theme in Jazz losses comes when they are outshot by their opponent.
In only one of the five losses this season have the Jazz had a better shooting percentage from either the floor or the three-point, which came against the Clippers when the Jazz shot 35 percent from the three-point line to the Clippers 33 percent.
In the Jazz 24 wins, they’ve been outshot from the floor just twice, and from the three-point line seven times.
Correlating with the team’s shot-making, the Jazz are just 1-4 in games when they’ve had 17 assists or fewer, and 5-5 in games when they shoot below 45 percent from the floor.
While Mitchell’s poor shooting appears to be a culprit in the Jazz losses, there’s less of a pattern when looking at the season as a whole.
Though four of the Jazz six losses have come in games when Mitchell shot below 40 percent from the floor, the team is 8-4 overall in those games, and have two more wins Mitchell doesn’t play at all.
There does however seem to be a strong correlation in games when Bogdanovic has shot the ball poorly. The Jazz are just 1-3 in games when Bogdanovic shoots 20 percent or worse from the floor and 5-4 when he shoots below 30 percent.
Bogdanovic has bucked that trend recently combining to shoot 16-24 from the floor and 9-15 from the three-point line in the Jazz lastest losses.
Conley meanwhile sees a much stronger trend in his shooting performances and Jazz losses. The team is just 1-4 in games when Conley shoots below 40 percent from the floor and just 6-6 in his 12 worst shooting performances of the season.
That leads us to the final indicator of Jazz losses, and perhaps the most promising. While the Jazz rocky start to the season can be attributed to a lack of team identity, and Bogdanovic recovering from offseason wrist surgery, their last three losses have all come with unique and difficult scheduling quirks.
The Jazz lost to the Knicks on the second night of a back-to-back on the road despite building an 18 point first-half lead. (Note: The Jazz have since won games on back-to-back road nights).
They then lost to the Nuggets in a tough matinee game, against a recently defeated opponent, and welcoming Mitchell back to the roster after a two-game absence. (Note: The Jazz have since won a Sunday matinee road game).
Finally, the Jazz lost to the Clippers on the second game of a two-game series, having revealed most of their cards in the first game, while facing a healthier LA roster in game two, and welcoming Mike Conley back after a six-game absence.
Ultimately, the Jazz success this season has been largely dependent on shooting, with recent trends indicating the set up of the team’s schedule may play some role in the losses.
Furthermore, while Bogdanovic’s worst shooting nights of the season have hurt the Jazz, Conley’s shooting seems to be a better indicator of the team’s success or failure on any given night.
The Jazz subscribe to the theory that it is a make or miss league and through 30 games, the cliche holds true. When the Jazz make shots, they’re hard to beat. When they miss, though it happens rarely, they lose.