UTAH JAZZ

Jazz Make No Excuses After Tough Loss To Pelicans

Nov 26, 2021, 10:57 PM | Updated: 10:58 pm
Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell against the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Ima...
Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell against the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz suffered their worst loss of the season falling to the New Orleans Pelicans 98-97.

The Jazz erased a six point deficit with under five minutes to play, building a four point lead with 37 seconds remaining, but allowed the Pelicans to score the final five points of the game to emerge with the win.

Bojan Bogdanovic scored 23 points, but no other Jazz player scored more than 16 points as the team fell to just 5-6 in its last 11 games.

Tough Words From Jazz After Pelicans Loss

Quin Snyder, Rudy Gobert, and Donovan Mitchell had tough words for the team after the loss to the Pelicans, calling out the lack of ball movement, hustle, and focus on the team’s identity.

The Jazz had just 17 assists to go along with 17 turnovers as seemingly every player on the roster took turns dribbling the air out of the ball before taking tough shots late in the shot clock.

“After the last game, I think our whole team felt good about the way the ball moved and your anticipation is that that continues to happen,” Snyder said. “It didn’t, and it impacts our whole team.”

The Jazz scorers have begun taking turns looking for their own shot, and when the shots don’t fall, or the isolation play leads to a turnover, the team is failing to get back on defense.

“When we don’t just make an easy pass, whether it be to change sides or to get off it and trust each other — it’s harder for us,” Snyder continued, “it’s hard and a lot of levels.”

Mitchell meanwhile looked inward at his own inconsistent over the Jazz recent stretch before discussing where the team is coming up short.

“Let’s be honest teams are coming at me defensively, it’s no secret, I’m not sneaking up on people,” Mitchell said. “We’re getting everybody but shot and so am I, we are built for this. This is not a reflection of what I do and how hard I work — this is a test of character.”

Over the last three games, Mitchell is shooting just 17-57 from the field for 29 percent and 6-24 from the three-point line for 24 percent.

“I’m not going to let this deter me from what I’ve been doing but in the same token, I’ve just got to be better.”

Mitchell also discussed what went wrong with the team specifically against New Orleans.

“When teams get physical we’ve got to be able to still continue to make plays and make the easy play, I fell into that, a bunch of us did,” Mitchell said. “So that was tonight, other games it’s other reasons.”

Gobert has the most concerning big picture view of the Jazz struggles, opening thinking about his own career and how long it will take before the team becomes a more serious championship contender.

“I don’t know how many times we’re going to have to lose in the playoffs — I’m going to be 30 or probably 40 by then — I don’t know how many years we’re going to be losing in the playoffs without learning,” Gobert said. “We’re doing the same stuff over and over and over.”

Gobert had nine points and 10 rebounds in the loss but attempted just three shots as the Jazz failed to dissect the Pelicans youthful defense.

“We’re playing like a young team right now and we lose into young teams, too,” Gobert said. “Even the young teams play better than us in the clutch. We’ve got to look at ourselves in the mirror and realize what’s going on.”

The Jazz are 12-7 on the season and own the third-best record in the West, and tied for the fifth-best record in the NBA, but the level of concern after the loss to New Orleans feels like a more accurate gauge of the season so far than where they sit in the standings.

Finding Rudy Gay’s Role

Rudy Gay is still working to figure out his role with the Jazz as it will likely change most nights, at least early on.

That process will continue to evolve as the season goes on as the Jazz get more familiar with Gay, and Gay himself gets more familiar with what he can do to best help the roster.

Before the game, Snyder discussed the learning process that comes with learning how to use a player with Gay’s versatility.

“I think it’ll evolve […] as you find out more and more about a player,” Snyder said.

Gay’s first game with the Jazz saw him operate almost solely as a floor-spacing shooter, then as he struggled to find his shot in ensuing games before finding a more complete offensive role against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Wednesday night’s win.

Against New Orleans, the forward used his size in the first half to abuse smaller Pelicans defenders, and in the second half operated as a floor-spacing big.

he’s talented offensively and a lot of that stuff will kind of just evolve as the season progresses.

He finished the game with nine points on 4-5 shooting while grabbing three rebounds, and gave the Jazz solid minutes, despite mostly filling the cracks of the needs of the second unit.

Unlike Jordan Clarkson or Joe Ingles who have more defined roles as scorers and initiators, Gay’s impact on the game will change night to night, and where he’s at his best has yet to be determined.

That might be difficult after knowing what to expect from Georges Niang every night, even if Gay is the better player, but when it does click in, the Jazz will be better for it.

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