Jazz Offense Stalls In Ugly Loss To Lakers

Jan 18, 2022, 12:06 AM | Updated: 12:07 am
Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert dunks (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)...
Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert dunks (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)
(Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – Any momentum the Utah Jazz had after their win Sunday night over the Denver Nuggets was quickly dashed with an ugly 101-95 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Jazz lacked offensive rhythm throughout the night against the smaller Lakers lineups, shooting just 36 percent from the floor and 26 percent from the three-point line, and couldn’t get stops in the fourth quarter allowing crucial offensive rebounds to fall into the Lakers hands.

Mike Conley scored 20 points for the Jazz but was outdueled by LeBron James who scored 25 points in the Lakers win.

Jazz Offensive Offense

The Jazz defense played well despite shooting so poorly, allowing just 101 points in the loss.

“We competed defensively,” Donovan Mitchell said after the game. “I think the biggest thing is missing shots, the offense got a little stagnant.”

That’s a promising sign for a team that has often allowed its scoring to dictate how well it plays defensively. But against the Lakers, the offense was so bad it proved to be too much to overcome.

The Jazz opened the game by turning the ball over seven times in the first 12 minutes, robbing them of any momentum to begin the game, but shot 5-8 from downtown to take a 25-24 lead into the second quarter.

However, when they shot just 6-23 overall in the second quarter including 2-13 from the three-point line, their lack of execution became more glaring.

The third quarter was by far the team’s best, scoring 32 points on 12-24 shooting thanks in large part to their willingness to run, but it burned up what little energy they had on the second night of a back-to-back.

The Lakers opened the fourth quarter on a 15-5 run to take a four-point lead with six minutes left to play and the Jazz never recovered.

“I don’t know the last time me, Bojan [Bogdanovic], and [Jordan Clarkson] missed all of our threes,” Mitchell said. “We make a few of them and it changes the game.”

The Jazz’s lousy offense was fueled by a few particularly egregious performances from the team’s go-to scorers as Mitchell, Clarkson, and Bogdanovic combined to score just 24 points on 9-41 shooting, including 0-18 from the three-point line.

“We made it harder on ourselves than it needed to be as far as making better reads and moving the ball quicker, and generating some better shots,” Quin Snyder said after the game.

All of the Jazz offensive issues were tied to the same problems as they struggled to attack the Lakers’ smaller lineups in the half court. The Jazz couldn’t get into the paint off the dribble which never allowed the team to kick the ball out to the perimeter, leaving the team in too many late clock situations.

After breaking the 100-point park in 22 consecutive games, the Jazz have failed to reach the mark in two of their last three outings.

Clarkson Has First Bad Game This Month

Jordan Clarkson had his first truly bad game of the new year after a recent string of strong play.

Entering the game against the Lakers Clarkson had been averaging 18.1 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 2.2 assists since Christmas. That’s a climb from the 14.4 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 2.3 assists Clarkson averaged over his first 32 games of the season.

More importantly, his shooting percentages had skyrocketed, climbing from 38 percent from the floor and 30 percent from the three-point line to 47 percent from the floor and 38 percent from the three-point line.

“That catch and shoot three sets up the rest of his game where he’s got a chance to make a read and get by somebody quickly,” Snyder said of Clarkson.

Additionally, the guard had scored at least 20 points in four of his last 10 outings, or forty percent, as opposed to the eight times he did it in the first 32 games of the season, or 25 percent of his outings. He’s also had no games where he’s scored fewer than 10 points, something he did roughly once every five games to open the year.

However, Clarkson snapped that streak with a tough four point outing on just 1-12 shooting against the Lakers, one of his worst nights of the season.

He also added just two rebounds, one assists, and was a game-worst -17 in 24 minutes on the court.

Clarkson is one of the NBA’s streakier players, but his Sixth Man of the Year award was well deserved last season, largely due to how he performed early in the season.

If the Jazz want to reach their potential, they can’t have many more games like this from Clarkson and will have to hope this performance against the Lakers doesn’t snap his momentum.

Royce O’Neale Continues To Shoot Well

On the other hand, Royce O’Neale has quietly had the best season of his career posting career-highs in points, steals, assists, three-point shooting percentage, and effective field goal percentage.

O’Neale had a pair of breakout games to open December when he averaged 12 points while shooting a combined 8-11 from the floor and hasn’t looked back since.

Entering the Lakers games the often overlooked forward is shooting a staggering 53 percent from the floor, 47 percent from the three-point line while averaging 7.3 points per game.

O’Neale continued his solid play offensively against the Lakers scoring 13 points on 3-5 shooting while grabbing five rebounds and handing out two assists.

The forward may not be the lockdown defender he gets labeled as, but he’s still tasked with defending the opposing team’s best wing defender each night he steps on the floor.

To handle that task while also offering such efficiency on the offensive end is a huge value to the Jazz and shouldn’t be overlooked.

Playing On MLK Jr. Day

There were 12 NBA games in total on Monday to honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day, including the Jazz playing the Lakers in the league’s nightcap on NBATV.

Before the game, Snyder paid his respects to Dr. King and discussed what it meant to play on the holiday.

“It’s an honor to play today and I think one of the things that we as a team, as an organization, and really a society at large can do to honor him is to continue to fight for the equality that he gave his life for,” Snyder started.

It’s the second time this season Jazz have played in a premier holiday timeslot on national television following their Christmas Night game on ESPN.

“For us that you that means self-reflection,” Sny added. “It means continuing to hold ourselves to a standard individually and with our families that can help us continue to make progress on that front. So as I said, it’s an honor to be playing today.”

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