For the most part, the outing wasn’t as competitive as the final score shows. After about the midway point of the first quarter, Minnesota controlled the fate of the game. The Jazz just seemed to lack focus and intensity all night and its really difficult to get a win when you are not engaged.
But give credit where credit is due: Minnesota did a great job of making Utah’s scorers lives really difficult. Their wing defenders moved their feet, were active with their hands, and created 18 turnovers on the Jazz’s end (although A LOT of them were completely unforced). They got into the Jazz ball-handlers’ shorts and forced them into some questionable plays. On top of that, it also doesn't help when the Jazz’s two best scorers have some really ugly shooting performances. Take a look:
-Donovan Mitchell: 6-23 (26.1%)
-Bojan Bogdanović: 3-16 (18.8%)
While a lot of players underperformed, the performances from Bojan and Donovan stand out the most. Bojan wasn’t able to hit the broad side of the barn tonight and it was tough to watch. Donovan was able to kick into gear in the fourth quarter and force the ball to the basket, but the 3 TO’s and multiple bad shots in the first half were part of the reason why the Jazz dug themselves a hole.
Minnesota was also able to take the Jazz out of their 3-point shooting streak. In his game preview, Calvin wondered if the Jazz would be blistering from three again. The answer was a no. Minnesota kept Utah’s attempts to only 34 (compared to 50 last game) and limited the Jazz to only 10 makes (29.4%).
That’s...not good. But poor shooting nights happen to everyone! The problem was, the Jazz weren’t very disciplined on defense either. For most of the game, the Timberwolves guards didn’t have to deal with too much pressure. And then, when the Jazz bigs got themselves into foul trouble early, it encouraged the Minnesota guards to take it to the rack, leading to 56 points in the paint. D’Angelo Russell led the T-Wolves with 25 points, while getting 18 from number one pick Anthony Edwards (who diced up Jazz defenders, shooting 8-12 on the night), and 18 from Malik Beasley.
These games are tough to watch. The Jazz had ample opportunities to get back into the game. But to put it simply, sloppy turnovers, poor shooting, and a lack of effort is really hard to overcome. They made a run at the end of the game, but it was too little too late. It’s okay though. It’s the second game of the season and there is no reason to overreact. Yes, the turnaround for games are much quicker this year, meaning they will have to make their adjustments on the fly. But they will figure it out. On the plus side, the #DarkMode jerseys are really cool.
Also, RICKY RICKY RICKY. In another visit back to Utah, Rubio posted 9 points, 4 rebounds, and 6 assists. Always good to see the Spanish Samurai come back to Utah.
Jordan Clarkson was able to produce some needed offense throughout the game, posting a stat line of 21 points and 3 rebounds. Rudy Gobert posted a pretty monster looking stat line of 18 points and 17 rebounds, although he had four turnovers and got into foul trouble early. So in the end, Mike Conley takes the game MVP for the Jazz.
He was the most steady hand Utah had all night, putting up 20 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists. He kept the Jazz afloat during the 3rd quarter and was able to produce some resemblance of an offense when the Jazz needed it. He also had the highest plus-minus out of all Jazzmen, ending the night with a plus-9. I think that moving forward, the Jazz should allow Conley to take more ball handling control earlier in the game when things start moving south.
But for now, the Jazz have some things to look at. They will get an opportunity to redeem themselves against the OKC Thunder next week.