The Utah Jazz flopped completely last week, dropping all four games against teams without their best players.
Things have been tough for Utah Jazz lately. After winning 19 of 21 and marking their territory on the second seed in the Western Conference, Utah has been devoured by its rivals this week.
They lost to the Houston Rockets without James harden and Russell westbrook, and authorized Eric Gordon lose 50 points in the process. They lost to the San Antonio Spurs who were without Marcus Aldridge.
They lost to the Denver Nuggets the same night as Rudy Gobert and Donovan mitchell were named All-Stars. And to top it off, they fell victim to Damien lillardthe incredible 50-point performance tear, losing to Portland.
This all came at a crucial time when the Jazz needed to set a record against teams over .500 and teams from their own North West division.
We already know they can dominate smaller teams, but that unstoppable attack wore off after the thrilling victory over the Dallas Mavericks.
However, the Jazz did very well offensively. It was their defense – especially the perimeter defense – that allowed all of these opponents to score like behemoths.
If the Jazz played hard-nosed defense we all know they can play, then Eric Gordon would never have lost 50 points on them. DeMar DeRozan should have done more work to get his 38 points.
The Denver Nuggets wouldn’t have made a huge push in the third quarter on Thursday night, and the Portland Trail-Blazers wouldn’t have done such runs at the end of each quarter on Saturday night.
To be fair, the other teams threw curved balls that the Jazz didn’t see coming.
The Houston Rockets took Gobert out of the paint with very small lineups, opening up space for Gordon to get his points. The Jazz forced the Spurs to take a lot of punches in the midrange, which is good for the modern NBA. Spurs just made those shots at a strange pace.
And Damien Lillard? No one is stopping him yet.
The Jazz were away from home most of last week, and haven’t had enough workouts to correct their bad habits. But if we are to be fair, it has to go both ways.
The Jazz didn’t have to make so many mistakes against the Spurs and the Rockets. DeRozan got his 38 points with a little help from the charity strip – 19 free trials to be exact. In turn, they gave Gobert 18 attempts on the free throw line which he did not take advantage of.
Donovan Mitchell is too precious for Jazz to have an evening off like he did against Denver. His defense of the perimeter was also suspect.
After finally stepping up and gaining proper recognition among the national media, the Utah Jazz took the biggest plunge in the league’s power standings.
Power rankings per week (second half of regular season)
ESPN: 5th, 3rd, 8th
CBS Sports: 4th, 4th, 10th
NBA.com: 3rd, 3rd, 7th
Launderer report: 3rd, 3rd, 8th
Sports Illustrated: 6th, 5th, 8th
Habit of the hoops: 7th, 6th, 8th
via Grant Hughes from Launderer report:
In addition to a four-game losing draw that came out of nowhere, Utah must now contend with Mike Conleyreintegration into the starting lineup. He joined the first unit on Saturday.
Did the Jazz make the veteran a promise before the trade on his role, or do they still believe his play is the key to hitting their playoff cap? There’s not much to say that Conley’s presence in the starting five (or on the floor at all) made the Jazz better at this point. Utah’s net score is 5.0 points per 100 possessions best with him off the ground.
via John Schumann from NBA.com
The Jazz went from a 19-2 streak to a four-game losing streak, allowing the Rockets, Spurs, Nuggets and Blazers to score over 120 points for 100 possessions in the four games …
As we have seen over the past two months, the cap is higher. But this team has yet to defend like the Jazz teams of the past. Three of the teams that torched them last week are back, and the Rockets won’t miss their two former MVPs this time around.
The keys to a rebound week
There will be a much-needed gap between Saturday night’s game in Portland and Utah’s next game on Wednesday. Players need to focus on playing more together on both sides of the ball, making cuts and helping their teammates in defense.
The coaching staff must find a way to combat the small lineups like the ones Houston threw at Jazz. Whether it’s a blessing or a curse, Utah will soon have a rematch with the four teams they faced last week.
They host the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday, the Trail-Blazers on Saturday, and return to Houston for the Rockets’ second round. It will be a good opportunity to see how they play differently after being spanked last week.
The Jazz can’t afford another winless week which would put them in danger of having a nine-game losing streak before the All-Star break.
Mike Conley looked really good in the game against Portland, and they’ll need more as they take on teams that are not complete.
Winning just one of those three games would be welcome, but I expect more from this team which was a juggernaut not long ago. A 2-1 week would be a true bounce back and declare to the rest of the league that the Jazz haven’t given up.