The Utah Jazz lose unceremoniously to the Toronto Raptors at home to extend their winless streak at home to four games. The last the time the Utah Jazz started the season 0-4 at home was their expansion year in 1974-1975 in New Orleans. The Utah Jazz were without their best offensive player in Donovan Mitchell, and the Toronto Raptors were without Kawhi Leonard. One of those teams looked like it was down a man, the other looked like they were down an entire lineup. The Utah Jazz lost 124-111 and it wasn’t even as close as the score suggests.
The Utah Jazz trailed by 8 at halftime and looked as though they were putting in a valiant effort to stay in this game. Give credit where credit is due, Alec Burks came into this game and put on a show. He finished with 22 points and 3 assists. He seemed to be the only Jazz player that could get buckets.
In any other loss, we’d talk about how the Jazz fought in the first quarter, but without their best player, they just fell apart in the third quarter, but then you’d have to talk about how the Toronto Raptors were without theirs as well. In what is continuing to be a trend, the Utah Jazz got flamed by another point guard. This time it was Kyle Lowry who finished with 17 points, 11 assists, and 7 rebounds with a +/- +29.
Ricky Rubio and Joe Ingles continue to struggle. Joe was 3 of 13 from the field and a +/- -20 on the court. Ricky Rubio was 1 of 10 with 3 rebounds, 9 assists, and a +/- -20. There were times when Rubio looked just flat out lost on the court. Dante Exum ended up playing 16 minutes of this game, but most of those in garbage time. Joe Ingles is going to get the benefit of the doubt because he has shot 40% or above three of the last seasons. Ricky Rubio is getting a long leash from the saved up goodwill earned from his second half of the season and postseason. One of those savings accounts is going to clear checks for longer.
This team was also being touted as having great chemistry. They had to keep them together. Not a good look when two of your players leave before media availability.
Jae Crowder left before locker room opened to media as well. https://t.co/sTm2dLy7Gf— Andy Larsen (@andyblarsen) November 6, 2018
The Utah Jazz are not a good team at home right now. They rank as 27th in Net Rating at home with a +/- of -8.2. The only teams that are worse are the Cleveland Cavaliers, Orlando Magic, and Houston Rockets. The Utah Jazz have already started their full offensive to make sure fans stay calm—after all, the Jazz sold more season tickets this year than any year in recent memory. Fans have to stay calm. It should be noted that out of those teams, the Houston Rockets didn’t panic, but have made major adjustments, including coaxing their defensive minded assistant coach out of retirement.
It’s not that the Jazz are losing—well, partly it is—but it’s how they’re losing. These games they’re losing—aside from the Golden State game—they’ve looked disconnected. When the Jazz were on a roll last year, it was like they had bonded with the Jazz crowd, the city, and the ethos of Utah like a Voltron paladin with their lion. This year, the Jazz seem to be playing games like they’re White Snake banging out “Here I Go Again” for the millionth time on the last leg of a never ending State Fair concert tour.
Saying that the Utah Jazz can get this fixed and beat some bad teams to improve their record is not necessarily a lie, but it unfairly glosses over the mess that is before us right now. Ricky Rubio is continuing the worst start to a season of his career. Donovan Mitchell has almost hurt himself twice to start the season. Joe Ingles is struggling from the field. Rudy Gobert’s defensive powers have seem to have found a powerful enemy in the league’s new Freedom of Movement emphasis. And the Jazz’s depth hasn’t been all it was built up to be. Last year’s beloved assemble of castaways and misfits seems to in the throws of being exposed for what they are.
What we are left with is a paradox. Many touted Quin Snyder’s coaching resume last year because many in the media—and us at this site—lifted up that ragtag group of misfit toys and said, “Look! Look at how Quin Snyder has taken this team that should only be a lottery team and made them into an almost contender.” They were a basketball Moneyball complete with their own basketball Billy Beane, Dennis Lindsey.
Yet, at the same time when this group struggles this year seemingly because of all the things many said they succeeded in spite of last year—that’s being negative. Many knew this team had the potential for the bottom to fall, but because we wrote our names on their foot in Sharpie—because they’re this fanbase’s GOOD TOYS—many—including myself—are scared to admit that there’s a chance that the Jazz may have outgrown a few of their misfits.
In order for Utah to win last year with their band of misfits, they had to out execute, play harder and tougher than most of their competition. That talent gap they faced night in and night out when they were on a roll? They took that as a slight toward themselves. They took it personally and played with a vendetta. That same vendetta—along with the superstar rise of Donovan Mitchell—fueled their upset of the more star-laden Oklahoma City Thunder. This year, it seems as though they assumed they were the star-laden team because of accomplishment rather than actual god given talent. They STILL have to work for their wins, but they’re not working. They’re expecting them ... and the results are in the 0-4 at home pudding.
It’s okay if many fans out there go to bed with the underlying belief that this team can turn it around. They can. They should. They have good top end talent. They have good coaching. They have a good front office. No one at any level of the Jazz’s organization is going to sit idly by as this Jazz experiment with Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert goes sideways. The Utah Jazz lost tonight to a really good team, possibly an NBA Finals team.
It’s just ... the Jazz were supposed to be a good team, too. And right now, they’re not.
The Utah Jazz will have one game at home against the Dallas Mavericks to tune up before the much anticipated return of Gordon Hayward when the Boston Celtics come into town on Friday. If there’s anything to look forward to, the Jazz’s season turned around about the same time as those jerseys were introduced.