Jazz Show Good Fight In Close Loss To Warriors

Jan 23, 2022, 9:42 PM | Updated: 9:44 pm
Bojan Bogdanovic #44 of the Utah Jazz (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)...
Bojan Bogdanovic #44 of the Utah Jazz (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz got 21 points from Bojan Bogdanovic but he came up one bucket shy as they fell to the Golden State Warriors 94-92.

Bogdanovic’s game-winner rimmed out as the Jazz fought back from an 11 point deficit late in the third quarter to drop their first game of a short two-game road trip.

Both teams were shorthanded as the Jazz were once again playing without Donovan Mitchell and Hassan Whiteside while the Warriors were without Draymond Green and Klay Thompson.

With the loss, the Jazz have dropped seven of their last nine games and sit at 30-17 on the season.

Bogdanovic Gets A Good Look Late

Though Bogdanovic missed the potential game-winner against the Warriors, he once again showed why he should be the team’s go-to option in last-second situations.

Of course, the only reason Bogdanovic had the ball late in the game was that Mitchell missed the game due to a concussion.

During his Jazz career, Bogdanovic has two buzzer-beating game-winners, both of which game in his first year on the roster.  This season, on the other hand, Mitchell has gotten the majority of the late game opportunities and the team has struggled to get good looks.

Now, this is truly no fault of Mitchell’s. The guard is the Jazz’s best offensive player regardless of who he shares the floor with, but late in games when it’s obvious he’s going to take the final shot, his 6-foot-1 frame can be a hindrance.

Bogdanovic meanwhile has tremendous size for his position, and an ability to get shots off against any defender without having to alter his attack, as was clear against the Warriors.

“Bojan Bogdanovic is as clutch a player as there is in this league,” Quin Snyder said after the loss.

Rather than call a timeout when the Jazz secured the rebound with 10 seconds left to play, Snyder let Bogdanovic attack the Warriors in isolation and nearly scored the game-winner.

“I think our whole team is confident when Bojan has the ball in that situation. With his size, he’s able to get a clean look, even if it’s contested and that’s what he got.” Snyder concluded.

The Jazz don’t find themselves in so many close games that it has become a major storyline, but between Mitchell, Bogdanovic, and even Mike Conley all of whom have gotten the ball in late-game situations, Bogdanovic seems best suited to generate a good look.

Jazz Small Lineup Outplays Bigs

The Jazz have struggled this season trying to find the right players to put on the floor during the small lineups.

The team’s defense is so geared towards pushing players towards the middle of the court where Gobert or Hassan Whiteside is waiting to defend the rim.

When Snyder had gone to small lineups earlier in the season the team continued to push the opponent to the middle of the paint where no defender was waiting to clean up the player driving to the rim.

However, over the last few games, the small rotation has included both Rudy Gay and Eric Paschall in the lineup which gives the Jazz a reasonable amount of size and strength, while also enough speed to challenge shots on the perimeter and score off the dribble.

Furthermore, having Royce O’Neale and Trent Forrest on the floor at the same time gives the Jazz two capable perimeter defenders which helps limit the dribble penetration and lessens the pressure to have a rim protector in the paint.

Gay finished the game with 16 points off the bench and the Jazz outscored Golden State by 12 in his 18 minutes. Paschall added nine points and the Jazz were +3 in his 12 minutes on the floor.

Even late when Gobert left the game to have his calf looked at by the team’s trainers Snyder turned to Paschall in the final two minutes and the Jazz were able to keep the game within striking distance.

Unless Whiteside returns against Phoenix, Snyder may once again have to go to his small lineup as Gobert’s calf injury could have lasting effects.

“Sometimes you’ve got to be smart if it’s a strain,” Gobert said of his injury. “If you make it worse it can be a lot worse. So just [have to] be cautious with it.”

The difficulty of not having Whiteside or Mitchell in the lineup has cost the Jazz some wins over the last two weeks, but it has forced the coaching staff to toy with the rotation, and for now, the payoff may be finally finding the right combination of undersized bigs to play in a small lineup.

Donovan Mitchell Update

Mitchell missed his third straight game against the Warriors and won’t be with the team Monday night in Phoenix as he stayed in Utah during the brief two-game road trip.

The All-Star guard missed the last three games with a concussion he suffered when he took an accidental blow to the head from Russell Westbrook in the Jazz loss to the Los Angeles Lakers last Monday.

Before the game, Snyder offered an update on Mitchell’s condition.

“Concussions are so variable, I feel for him in that sense because I know he wants to be back,” Snyder said.

One of the difficult things about the concussion protocol in the NBA is how easily setbacks are experienced.

“You feel like you’re on track and suddenly you do something and you get a headache or you experience some dizziness,” Snyder said. “I think what we’ve all found over the last decade or more is how responsible and cautious everybody needs to be with these types of injuries.”

The seriousness is increased as Mitchell is in the concussion protocol for the second time in the last 12 months. Multiple concussions can increase the likelihood of long-term side effects from the injury.

Last season the guard missed a total of two games over a four-day period with his concussion that he suffered after taking an elbow from then New York Knicks guard Austin Rivers.

However, the Jazz are doing what they can to keep the All-Star involved in the team’s game planning.

“We’ve talked every day, a couple of times a day — I think the challenge anytime a player’s away from the team is to keep them connected to the team,” Snyder admitted. So we’ve sent him all of our preparation for today’s game, Keyon Dooling is with him with some of the protocols to the extent that he’s able to do things on the court.”

The Jazz will return to Salt Lake City on Monday night in preparation for Wednesday’s home-and-home finale against the Suns, ideally with Mitchell healed and ready to play.

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