Jazz Out Of Sync In Loss To Nets
SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz looked tired and out of sorts in their 114-106 loss to the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center.
Playing on the second night of back-to-back games after beating the New York Knicks on Sunday night, the Jazz struggled to find a groove against the Nets who hadn’t played since Friday.
Brooklyn was without Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons, while the Jazz were missing Bojan Bogdanovic and Danuel House Jr., but Kevin Durant’s 37 point performance proved to be the difference in the game.
Jazz Offense Out Of Sync
The Jazz offense looked out of sink from the opening minutes, and failed to find a groove until a furious run late in the fourth quarter made the final scorer look closer than the game felt.
Donovan Mitchell missed his first three shots of the game and committed a sloppy turnover before making his first basket, which proved to be an accurate foretelling of how the Jazz would struggle against the Nets.
Brooklyn’s length and energy forced the Jazz offense to stagnate, leading to a lack of ball movement and an abundance of turnovers.
“Our offense didn’t help our defense tonight,” Quin Snyder said after the game. “We didn’t seem to have the energy that we needed trying to get out and run.”
The Jazz had 13 turnovers and only 12 assists as the Nets scored 15 points off giveaways to manufacture easy offense.
Mitchell (30), Mike Conley (18), and Jordan Clarkson (19) combined to score 67 points, but the frontcourt added just 30 points between Royce O’Neale, Juancho Hernangomez, Rudy Gobert, Rudy Gay, and Hassan Whiteside.
Jazz Fourth Guard
With 10 games left to play in the regular season, the Jazz need to figure out who the fourth guard is going to be in the rotation.
After Joe Ingles injury and subsequent trade to the Portland Trail Blazers, the Jazz have needed to find a new body worthy of a spot in the rotation for 10-15 minutes per night.
Trent Forrest had assumed that role, but missed the last five games with a wrist sprain before returning against the Nets.
While Forrest was out, both Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Jared Butler had opportunities to show how they’d fit with the second unit, and both made solid arguments.
Alexander-Walker is an inconsistent shooter, as evidenced by his last three outings with the Jazz, but when he’s making shots, he’s very effective.
In games against the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Clippers, Alexander-Walker averaged 14.5 points and shot 45 percent from the floor and the three-point line.
But in his last game, he went 0-6 from the floor, all of which were three-point attempts, before recording a DNP against Brookyln.
Butler had one real opportunity to get extended run in the Jazz blowout against the Clippers, but recorded career-highs with 21 points, and seven assists in the win.
The rookie added five points and two rebounds in six minutes against the Nets.
Forrest returned against Brookyln and had four points, two rebounds, two blocks, two steals, and three assists, but shot just 1-6 from the floor in 14 minutes on the floor.
Who ends up getting the biggest opportunity to close the season won’t be an easy decision for the Jazz coaching staff.
Forrest has the most experience in the Jazz system, and is a solid defender, but is the most offensively limited.
Alexander-Walker has the most NBA experience of the three and brings strong length on the defensive end, but his offense is feast or famine.
Butler is the most offensively gifted both as a scorer and playmaker, and isn’t a bad defender, but has the least experience of the three, and it shows with some out of rhythm plays when he’s on the court.
When the playoffs begin, Snyder will likely rely heavily on a three-guard rotation of Mitchell, Conley, and Clarkson, but they’ll need an additional ball-handler to fill a handful of minutes a game, and have only 10 games left to figure out who that should be.
Mavericks Creep Closer To Jazz
The Jazz were in a bit of a win-lose situation entering the night outside of their performance against the Nets.
Both the Denver Nuggets and the Golden State Warriors had the night off, meaning the Jazz weren’t going to have to monitor their performances and how it affects the standings.
Entering the night, the Jazz led the Nuggets by 3.5 games in the standings and trailed the Warriors by two games for the third seed.
With their loss, the Nuggets gained a half-game on the Jazz, while the Warriors hold on the third seed climbed to 2.5 games.
There was one game that inevitably was going to both help and hurt the Jazz in standings between the Dallas Mavericks and the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Tied with Denver entering the night, the Jazz led the Timberwolves for the sixth and seventh seeds by 3.5 games. They led the Mavericks by two games who will likely be their first-round matchup if they stay in the fourth or fifth seed.
The Mavericks beat the Timberwolves which teamed with a Jazz loss, allowed Dallas to close their gap to just one game ahead of Sunday’s critical matchup on the road.
While the Jazz have tomorrow off, they’ll be closely monitoring games between the Warriors and the Orlando Magic, and the Nuggets and the Los Angeles Clippers.
Utah Jazz Scoreboard
Utah Jazz Team Leaders
Utah Jazz Standings