When a novice jazz musician is trying to improvise, it doesn’t usually sound good. When he finds something that does sound good, such as a particular note or scale, he tends to latch onto it and stick to it. And it works. For a few measures, anyway. But then the rhythm section moves on to a different chord progression and the notes the soloist is playing no longer fit. Sometimes he panics and starts playing something different and completely wrong, but sometimes he sticks with what was working before, which also sounds terrible.
That’s what’s happening with the Jazz. Remember that continuity we were all raving about? Other teams have figured out what we were doing to succeed, while our team is still stuck doing what worked in the 2017-18 season. It’s not completely the same, to be sure. There is far more “hero ball” going on, with players taking low-percentage three-pointers with 9 seconds left on the clock instead of making the extra pass, for example.
Or take the lineups in general: sometimes going big when they go small works. Sometimes it doesn’t. When it doesn’t, it’s better to adapt and change your own lineup rather than hope the other team starts missing shots.
One lineup change happened right before halftime, and it wasn’t a welcome one:
.@kristenkenney reports that Donovan Mitchell will not return vs. Lakers after the rib contusion.— Andy Larsen (@andyblarsen) November 24, 2018
It’s not like Donovan was having a great game—or even a good game—before his injury. In 12 minutes of play, his made shot to turnover ratio was 1:1.
Ricky Rubio, Jae Crowder, and Donovan Mitchell combined for 16 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists, and 6 turnovers on 7-33 shooting. The trio accounted for 13 of the teams 23 three-point attempts and made zero. Ouch.
Rudy Gobert got wrecked in the paint for the most part, but that was because the Jazz perimeter defense, which was solid last season, kept getting beaten, putting him in defensive situations ranging from difficult to impossible.
On the whole, this particular game was bad for both teams. The Jazz shot just 39% from the floor, and the Lakers hit 45%. Neither team must have eaten many turnovers at their respective Thanksgiving feasts, because they brought them all to this game as leftovers: 24 for the Lakers and 19 for the Jazz.
Lakers have 23 turn overs and the Jazz can’t score more than 83. That spells TROUBLE my friends, TROUBLE with a capital T and that rhymes with P and that stands for PUTRID— Ryan Bevan (@ryan_bevan) November 24, 2018
The unfortunate part about all this is that the Jazz were within a few points for most of the game—even taking the lead near the end of the third quarter—but it never felt like they really had a chance.
Alec “Government Name” Burks had a decent game, and led to this quality tweet by Lakers commentator Bill Oram.
Lakers win 90-83 against the jazz aficionados from Utah. Brandon Ingram scores 24 points for the Lakers. LeBron 22 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists. Alex Bork leads Utah with 17 points.— Bill Oram (@billoram) November 24, 2018
Will the Jazz be fine? Maybe. Maybe not. We’ve played through roughly 25% of the season, and they’re three games underwater. Definitely doable. For those wondering how doable, check out this thread on Twitter:
Here we go--as requested--a list of teams over the past 10 seasons that were 3 games under .500 19 games in and their final finishes.— SLC Dunk (@slcdunk) November 24, 2018
Utah Jazz - 48-34
LA Lakers - 35-47
Orlando Magic - 25-57
Charlotte Hornets - 36-46
The good news is that the Jazz theoretically have more firepower than the 2017 Lakers, Magic, or Hornets. Certainly more than the 2015 Suns. The question is whether or not they have the leadership and intestinal fortitude to overcome their struggles. Is the strength of the team really the team? We’ll find out.