The Utah Jazz have played a league high 11 games on the road this season and are 6-5 to show for it. Not bad, not good, just average. Unfortunately for Utah, the game they played tonight was far below average. The Utah Jazz rarely led in a game that they lost 121-94. This marks the 3rd game this season Utah has lost by 15 or more points; last year, Utah only lost 10 games by 15 or more.
What’s worse is Utah didn’t have to worry about Indiana’s best player Victor Oladipo as he was ruled out before the game. In Oladipo’s stead, Indiana’s #TeamIsEverything of the East roster showed out. Most importantly Indiana’s bench. Indiana’s bench had a game many Utah fans felt that their own bench would have been capable of leading up to the regular season.
Domantas Sabonis had 19 points, 9 rebounds, 9 assists, and two steals.
Aaron Holiday had 19 points and 7 rebounds.
The European Joe Ingles, Bojan Bogdanovic, had 21 points.
Utah’s defense just looked blitzed. Indiana is a team like Utah that relies on the strength of its team instead of individual stars, so it would seem Utah may be more apt than most to scheme against it. After all, Utah practices against this sort of thing EVERY. DAY. IN. PRACTICE. That’s what Utah is. This matchup is like playing the Bizarro Jazz of the East. But they didn’t. The Jazz led briefly for four points in the first then the game was just out of reach for much of the game.
Donovan Mitchell who was a big factor against the Celtics was a non factor tonight. He had 7 points on 3 of 8 shooting with 1 rebound and 1 assist. He had 3 turnovers. Indiana threw everything at him, but tonight felt like Donovan taking himself out of the game. Donovan only had a usage rate of 17.6% which is the type of usage a catch and shoot type player like Joe Ingles has.
In a night of so many negatives, it was good to see one Jazz player who usually was among the struggling succeeding. Ricky Rubio was the one Jazz player who seemed to have made the flight to Indianapolis. Rubio posted 28 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists, and 3 steals. In a game that was just not fun at all, Rubio try-harded and kept this game from becoming the second disaster of a 30+ blowout on the same road trip. It makes the second straight game that Rubio has looked exceptional.
Hustle stats from @nbastats vs. Indiana:— Andy Larsen (@andyblarsen) November 20, 2018
Ricky Rubio: 5 loose balls recovered
Rest of Jazz: 1 loose ball recovered (Derrick Favors)
This might be an evergreen game recap saying, but if Utah can just have a couple of their players have good games on the same night, this team goes from being an average team to a team capable of 50 wins. Seventeen games in, that just didn’t happen.
This next statement is also going to be evergreen: Utah has to fix their starting lineup. This is not a call to say, “Insert so and so into it and it’s fixed.” It’s fixing it by scheme, addition, subtraction, or something. Right now Utah’s Net Rating in the 1st quarter is the 8th worst in the league at a +/- of -2.7. The only teams who are worse are the T-Wolves, Wizards, Knicks, Cavs, Hawks, Suns, and Bulls. Adding further insult to injury, Utah’s turnover percentage in the 1st quarter is the 7th worst at 15.8%.
There are going to be many excuses to tonight’s game—just like all the other losses—but Utah just doesn’t look right. There are some nights they just aren’t competing. It’s one thing to lose, it’s another to look like you’ve given up midway through the 2nd quarter. For a team that is all about #TeamIsEverything and it’s brand is about overcoming the talent deficit night in and night out, it feels like something is just not right with Utah right now.
Utah’s schedule isn’t doing them any favors either. They have one game at home before going on the road after Thanksgiving. Utah is going to be required to figure themselves out in the crucible on the road rather than in the luxuries of their home. Here’s to hoping they figure it out.
The Utah Jazz return home to play the Sacramento Kings at 7:00PM on Wednesday.