Jazz Outhustled By Heat In Second Loss Of Season
SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz fell to the Miami Heat 118-115 in South Florida as the team dropped just its second game of the season.
The Jazz allowed Miami to build a 19 point fourth quarter lead, but a dramatic run spearheaded by Donovan Mitchell trimmed the deficit to just one point in the final minute of the game but ultimately the comeback fell short.
Mitchell finished with 37 points on an efficient 14-28 shooting, but Heat got 20 point performances from Tyler Herro, Jimmy Butler, and Kyle Lowry in the win.
Jazz Need More From Third Group
The Jazz have three basic units they play with under Quin Snyder.
The Jazz first unit open games with a starting lineup of Mitchell, Mike Conley, Bojan Bogdanovic, Royce O’Neale, and Rudy Gobert.
The second group subs into the game at roughly the seven-minute mark and features Mitchell, Joe Ingles, Bogdanovic, O’Neale, and Hassan Whiteside.
Finally, the third unit enters the game in the final three minutes of the first quarter and features Conley, Jordan Clarkson, Joe Ingles, Eric Paschall, and Gobert. That group finishes the first quarter and is responsible for opening the second quarter before Mitchell returns to the court.
This is the same rotation the Jazz stick with in the second half, and simply put, the team isn’t getting enough from their third rotation.
After being one of the best units in the NBA last season, the group has become one of the least consistent for the Jazz this year, and it’s putting added stress on the first and second groups.
Against Miami, Mitchell and the Jazz second group pulled the team to within two with 2:35 left in the third quarter. But, after Mitchell, Whiteside, and O’Neale subbed out for the third group, the Heat rebuilt their lead to nine heading into the final period.
Then, with the third group opening the fourth quarter, the Heat ballooned their lead to 19 points before the Jazz got the majority of their starting lineup back on the floor.
Last season, Gobert and Conley led the NBA in raw plus-minus in part due to the minutes they’d get on the floor to end the first and third quarters and to begin the second and fourth quarters against opposing teams’ second units.
This season, the script has flipped.
While Mitchell has found himself as the Jazz plus-minus leader averaging an impressive +12.3 per game, Conley and Gobert have dropped to fifth and eighth among the team’s leaders.
After averaging +10.7 last season, Conley has dropped to +6.5 while Gobert has slipped from +10.3 last year to just+3.1 this season.
There are two main reasons for these struggles so far, and they don’t fall entirely on either Jazz All-Stars.
First, the team is missing Georges Niang who was a stellar floor spacer last season knocking down 42 percent of his 4.1 three-point attempts. With Rudy Gay still recovering from off-season heel surgery, the Jazz have turned to Eric Paschall who brings added athleticism and on-ball defense but was shooting just 29 percent from the three-point entering Saturday night.
Second, Jordan Clarkson’s struggles have continued despite his breakout performance in Atlanta as the sixth man is still shooting just 22 percent from the three-point line. Clarkson followed up his brilliant performance with a rough seven point performance on 3-9 shooting while failing to grab a rebound or hand out an assist.
Without either Paschall or Clarkson adding any shot creation for the Jazz third unit, the team simply doesn’t have enough offense to extend the advantage gained when Mitchell is on the floor.
To make matters worse against Miami, Joe Ingles also managed just three points on 1-4 shooting as he struggled to find shots against the Heat defense, resulting in just 21 points off the bench on 8-20 shooting.
At the end of the game, Conley had the best plus-minus of the third group at a -3, but Ingles -10,Paschall’s -17, Gobert’s -20, and Clarson’s -27 in a three point game dug the Jazz too deep of a hole to climb out of.
The Jazz will need more from the existing rotation or will need Gay to return and add an offensive spark to see the Gobert and Conley minutes rebound to last year’s production. If they don’t, the Jazz will have to learn to win without one of last season’s best lineups.
Heat Outhustle Jazz
Despite nearly erasing the Heat’s large fourth quarter lead, the Jazz allowed Miami to build the nearly 20 point advantage with some flatfooted mistakes on the defensive glass.
The Heat were a mega efficient 9-10 on second-chance buckets leading to 21 points while the Jazz managed just nine second-chance points on 3-7 shooting.
Unlike some games where a few unlucky bounces can result in extra opportunities, the Jazz were far too often left ball watching as the Heat rebounded and scored on the offensive glass.
With the Jazz struggling to shoot to open the season, including Saturday’s 15-45 performance from the three-point line in Miami, they’ll have to make up the difference with hustle plays on loose balls and bounds.
Against the Heat, the Jazz found themselves playing with less energy in Miami, and it proved too difficult to overcome.
The Jazz have a chance to finish their three-game road trip with a winning record when they face the 2-8 Magic tomorrow in Orlando.
Utah Jazz Scoreboard
Utah Jazz Team Leaders
Utah Jazz Standings