by Daniel Olsen
The 111-103 final score was closer than the game was for most of the way in the second half. On a rare occasion, the Jazz lost for the first time in April. Why did the Jazz lose to the Mavericks? They had won eight straight. It’s time to start with some things they did well and then discuss the frustrating mistakes in this game.
What went well
Mike Conley and Rudy Gobert were perhaps the only players that showed up in this game. While Mitchell has led the team in scoring for the majority of this last stretch of games, it was Conley who led the Jazz with 28 points. He made 6-10 from long range and 61.5% from the field overall.
Gobert was also another player who did well. He finished the night with a double-double. He had 14 points and 15 rebounds on the night. He also had two blocks and seemed to erase the competition in the paint. There were several possessions in the first half when he severely altered Jalen Brunson’s shots.
What did not go well
Some of the reasoning for the lost isn’t what the Jazz didn’t do. It’s also what the Mavericks did do. The Mavs shot really well while the Jazz had a poor shooting night. It’s hard to win on a night when Luka Doncic has 31 points and Donovan Mitchell is 0-8 from three. It is amazing that the Jazz were within single digits with how poorly they shot.
The problem in this game was the bench. While the starters all had a more narrow plus/minus than usual, they were still all on the positive side. The bench, however, was outscored 40-27 despite having a nine man rotation compared to just eight by the Mavs. Tim Hardaway Jr. and Jalen Brunson both had over 15 points while only Clarkson finished in double figures off the bench with 16 points for the Jazz.
While the Jazz had only nine turnovers, they once again happened at the worst times. They had two giveaways in the first quarter that let to consecutive transition lay-ups on the other end. That set the tone for the game. The Jazz have to either clean those up or hustle back on defense. It’s great to crash the boards but they need at least one “hustle back” guy to get a head start and slow down the fast break attempt on the other end. This is something they teach in Jr. Jazz.
It’s tough to be so hard on the team. However, they are so good that it’s important to nitpick sometimes in the quest for greatness. It’s ok to overreact sometimes and want the Jazz to get even better.
The Jazz have an important game ahead against the Suns. The last time they lost at home was to this Phoenix team on the last night of 2020. Now they are on the road. It’s a battle between the top two teams in the West. The Jazz have this and one more matchup in Phoenix at the end of the month. Now that they have already lost the one at home, they need to win both in the desert to get the nod in any tiebreaker scenarios.
The Jazz are only 2.5 games ahead of the Suns so it’s not like their lead is insurmountable. They should be the top seed in the best case scenario. They would have to have a considerable drop off to fall to three or worse as they are five games ahead of the Clippers. If the Jazz can shoot a little better and treat every possession with care, this could be a great opportunity for a bounce back win. The Jazz could show the Suns that they are the top dog in the Western Conference in that case.
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