The Jazz had a chance in this game, but a poor fourth quarter on both ends of the court doomed the team. As a team, Utah shot just 27.7 percent overall and 16.7 percent from deep in the final frame. In contrast, the Nuggets shot 52.2 percent in the fourth, 60.0 percent from three.
Not helping matters was Donovan Mitchell getting hurt midway through the fourth quarter while the game was still close with the Nuggets up 82-77.
Prayers for Donovan Mitchell, who left tonight’s game with a serious leg injury pic.twitter.com/fr4Me1I7KL— FootBasket.com (@FootBasketcom) November 4, 2018
Mitchell did return after about two minutes had run down off the clock. But in the short period of time, Denver had gone on a 9-1 run to build a 13 point lead the Jazz would never even whittle down.
The Nuggets didn’t just take advantage of a Spida-less Utah team. The Jazz went into the fourth quarter with a five point lead and when Mitchell left, Denver was up by five. For some reason, the defense, which were on pace to hold the Nuggets to a season low in points, didn’t bring it late in the game, allowing 35
After holding Denver to 25 points or less in each of the first three quarters, Utah’s defense got lit up for 35 points in the fourth. It wasn’t any one player, the whole team just got hot and didn’t miss many shots.
Jae Crowder was perhaps the best part of this game. He was the game leader in points with 21 and had the best +/- (-4) of the rotation players (i.e. the guys that played more than 5 minutes) outside of Dante Exum. He had a solid shooting night, going 4 of 9 from deep. He also filled up the stat sheet a little with five rebounds and three blocks.
This game leaves the Jazz and its fans with a lot to think about. Is it time to panic? Maybe. The season is still very young and a lot can happen. And if any team knows that, it’s the Utah Jazz.
Still, there haven’t been many good signs, nor have there been as many excuses. No one has been injured significantly, and while the schedule has been hard, many of the tougher teams Utah has faced have been missing star players. The best things the Jazz have done this season are losing to Golden State by one point and beating Houston sans Chris Paul.
Donovan has been banged up and simply struggled at times so far this season. He shot 7 of 22 Saturday and had just 16 points — his worst since the first Memphis game. Perhaps more telling is that he was 2 of 15 on shots outside the restricted area, including 0 for 7 from three.
Losing three straight in November isn’t the end of the world. The Rockets have a worse record right now and the Pelicans have the same record as Utah. But things need to change. Losing streaks don’t happen by accident nor to they end by accident. The strength of this team, as they say, is the team. Which means each member of it will have to play better if the preseason hype is going to have any chance of becoming reality.