On a day where a Senator from Utah showed the strongest backbone in the country, the Utah Jazz showed that they had no spines.
I’ve got no words, but I have to find some for a game in which the Utah Jazz lost to a Denver Nuggets team that was on the second half of a back to back which was fielding only seven players due to a trade yesterday, two of which were not even the main rotation before tonight, at home after three days of rest. This Utah Jazz team that had been losers of four straight after being boat raced four prior times to teams either on short rest, shorthanded, OR BOTH, should have destroyed a team like the Denver Nuggets. But as we’ve seen time and time again, this team is able to be a bully to the horrendous lottery dwellers, but when they have to play playoff teams—even if they are disadvantaged by the schedule or injuries—this Jazz team is found to be frauds.
This Utah Jazz team led for most of the game, but couldn’t keep a lead. Every time the Jazz got 10 or 15 ahead, they’d lose focus and watch this Denver team chip at it until it was gone. In Mike Conley’s second game back in the starting lineup, he had a great line, 21 points on 6 of 13 shooting with 8 rebounds and 5 assists. But since his insertion into the starting gig, Donovan Mitchell has lost his mojo. Whether it’s the pressure of being an All-Star or settling back into his role alongside Conley, Mitchell hasn’t been the same guy. He had 18 points, but on 24 shots. Joe Ingles played 30 minutes but only came away with 2 points. Ingles and Bojan both combined for as many rebounds as Mike Conley (8). That’s Gobert’s help in the frontcourt when rebounding the ball.
Denver came into this game with only 7 players on the second half of a back to back and played like their playoff lives depended on it. Jokic had 30 points, 21 rebounds, 10 assists, and 2 steals. Jamal Murray had 30 points. Two players—Vlatko Cancar and PJ Dozier—who had been stuck behind a plate of glass that read “BREAK IN CASE OF ABSOLUTE EMERGENCY”—played a combined 40 minutes and, somehow, the Jazz could only outscore the Nuggets by a combined 5 points when those guys where on the floor.
Ultimately, unforced errors, terrible execution, and uninspired play lost Utah a very winnable game.
Rational Reaction #1: What the hell?
Seriously. What the hell? What are any of us supposed to take away from this? This Jazz team just had two players named to be All-Stars and they are out here getting whipped by the James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and Clint Capela-less Rockets one night, the road weary Portland Trail Blazers another, and now horse-whipped by the leftovers of the Denver Nuggets who had played last night. Tonight’s debacle is just the cherry on top the of this losing streak’s crap sundae.
Mike Conley said after the game, “They wanted it more, it looked like.”
UH YUP. You’d think that a potential playoff team on a four game game losing streak after 3 days of rest while playing another potential playoff team that was shorthanded would be ready to attack like a pack of wolves on a three legged cat. Instead, not a semblance of fight in them.
Rational Reaction #2: I mean, what the hell?
This is the first time the Jazz have lost five straight games since the 2015-2016 season when Shelvin Mack was the Utah Jazz’s starting point guard. The last time they lost six or more games in a row was the 2013-2014 season in which they lost 9 in a row when Trey Burke was running the show. Even worse the Jazz still face a gauntlet of very good playoff teams. They face Portland on Friday, Houston on the road on Sunday, then Dallas on the road on Monday, then return home to play the souped up Miami Heat.
If this is how Utah is going to continue to play, there’s an outside chance they match that 9 game losing streak. Before this losing streak the Utah Jazz were in 2nd in the West and only 3.5 games behind the Lakers for first. Now? They are tied for the Rockets in 4th, 6.5 games behind the Lakers, and only 1.5 games ahead of the Thunder and Mavericks who are tied for sixth. If this carries on, Utah could have gone from second to seventh from the time the All-Star voting closed to the actual All-Star game. When was the last time a 7th place team had two All-Stars?
Overreaction #1: Mike Conley was good ... again
Mike Conley looked every bit like the guy Utah traded for. He was rebounding from the point guard position, setting guys up, getting to the line, and was just cool under pressure. He looked every bit like the dude you give up a lot of assets for. This is his second game in a row that he has looked great which is a shame because it comes in the middle of the team as a whole looking lost. If Donovan Mitchell is his normal efficient self and Joe Ingles hits threes like he’s known to do, this game is an easy layup. But it just wasn’t.
Overreaction #2: Everyone should be pissed about this loss
The players, the front office, the coaching staff, the players, the concession staff, the Jazz Bear, EVERYONE should feel bad about it. It appears that they do.
Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert are only players in the locker room right now, side-by-side, talking quietly about the loss.— Andy Larsen (@andyblarsen) February 6, 2020
Quin Snyder, on the message going forward: “We haven’t played well. We’ve played sporadically. We’re not as good. We have to find that again, and there’s no easy answers. ... No one has any illusions we’ve been playing well.” pic.twitter.com/7jfF69K7Zk— Eric Walden (@tribjazz) February 6, 2020
Under-reaction: The Utah Jazz are not a championship contender
This may seem like the biggest duh of the whole group. At some point the Utah Jazz will eventually turn it around, end this losing streak and start winning games again. They may even get home court. But that’s where our expectations should end. Our expectations of this team should be well adjusted now. This is a playoff team. A good team. BUT not a contender. As such they most likely won’t convince a buyout candidate to sign with them and they won’t make a high impact trade because you don’t put more money on a horse that doesn’t have a chance of placing. This team is what it is, a disappointment.