The Utah Jazz were rolling. Having won 14 of 16, everyone was hoping that the game agains the Houston Rockets was just a fluke. Sometime you have games like that. You shrug it off and move on. But then you have another night of ugly turnovers and poor defense and you start to get a little uncomfortable. Well watching tonight’s game was certainly uncomfortable.
The first quarter was the Rud and Bojan show. The two were the only ones that had anything going, and it would have been even better if Rudy didn't go 1⁄2 from the line every trip. The Jazz did hit a few threes in the middle of the quarter, which was great to see. The Spurs, however, were hitting everything. They hardly missed and were just killing the Jazz in the mid range. A late quarter run gave them the lead at the end of one.
Do I have to talk about the second quarter? Woof. The Spurs still weren't missing any shots. Some of them were pretty tough looks but they just couldn’t miss. The Jazz were getting killed on isolation plays, so much so that Quin had the guy run zone a time or two just to throw them off. One of the best defensive teams looked nothing like that in the first half. Thankfully Jordan Clarkson had a little burst in the middle and the starters escaped the half down just 8, which felt like it should have been word.
The third quarter was much of the same. The Jazz defense just gave up way too many open shots and the Spurs feasted. Every time Utah would go on a mini run and make a threat the Spurs would respond with a run of their own.
This was also the worst officiated game I’ve watched this season. It absolutely destroyed the flow of the game with a whistle every 7 seconds. Such a frustrating experience as a fan when the refs decide they want to be the entertainment for the night.
By some miracle, the Spurs lead was just 4 heading into the 4th quarter.
But the Jazz never really got closer than that. They stayed within striking distance all night, but just couldn't get over the hump. Wide open 3? Brick. Spurs contested mid range? Swish. DeRozan made some really difficult shots down the stretch and was the star of the game.
That was a horrible game. Onto the next one.
Rational Reaction: Joe Ingles needs the ball in his hands
While Mike Conley was out, Joe Ingles stepped up in a big way. He was hitting his 3’s and making great reads in the pick and roll. Ever since Conley came back Ingles is back to the start-of-the-season-Joe. Which isn’t good, if you remember. He’s passing up open looks again and his scoring is way down. I miss King Joe. MVP Joe. GOAT Joe. He’s got to be utilized how he was during the Jazz hot streak.
Under-Reaction: Jazz need a small ball lineup
The Rockets may have exposed a significant weakness that the Spurs exploited tonight. When Rudy is out, teams that go small will kill the Jazz. Tony Bradley can be a solid backup center, but not against a small ball lineup. The Jazz need to find someone that can fill that small ball 5 role. I think Brantley should get more burn to see if he’s up to the challenge.
Over-Reaction: Did everyone buy into the hype too much?
The Jazz were playing like one of the best teams in the league for over a month. The offense was humming, the defense was back, and the Jazz climbed to 2nd in the West. But there were always those comments that their schedule was weak and it didn’t mean much. I didn’t buy that and still don’t entirely. It’s ridiculously difficult to win 14 of 16 games in the NBA regardless of what your schedule is like. But here we are at the end of January and the Jazz are 9-11 against teams above .500. No one else in the West’s top 5 has a losing record against other winning teams. It’s definitely a concern and something that the front office might decide is enough to make a big tweak before the trade deadline next week.