Tonight’s game was a tale of two halves. Portland led 72-58 going into halftime after Damian Lillard’s explosive 27 point, 4 assist first half. The Jazz looked dead in the water, but an incredible 3rd quarter push and some solid play in the 4th quarter put the Jazz in a position to win the game late.
That’s exactly what they did. (Although, the missed goaltending call on Rudy Gobert on Portland’s penultimate possession was an unfortunate way to end things. The NBA really needs to adjust their replay rules. That’s something that can be easily reviewed and changed to the correct call.)
Utah needed to respond after halftime, and they made a hell of a statement in the 3rd quarter, outscoring Portland 30-17 in the frame. After Carmelo Anthony scored the first bucket of the half to put the Trailblazers up 74-58, Utah went on a 17-5 tear over a 5:30 span.
Dame, whether because of fatigue or improved defense by the Jazz, started missing shots after lighting the nets on fire in the first half.
Rejoice, Jazz fans. The losing streak has ended!
Rational Reaction #1: This team still has issues to sort out
Portland was on the 2nd night of a back-to-back, with just 9 available players - and only 7 by halftime (Anfernee Simons injury, Trevor Ariza ejection). These are the sorts of games Utah has struggled with, especially recently. Under-manned and under-sized teams have been giving Utah fits the past couple weeks.
While Utah did secure the victory (helped by a missed call on what should have been a goal tend, mind you), there’s no ignoring how abysmal that 1st half was. The Jazz are too good a defensive team to allow 72 points in a half, or to regularly allow opposing players to go off for 40 or 50 a night.
Hopefully tonight’s 2nd half surge and eventual win has exorcised whatever demons this team has been wrestling during this losing streak.
Rational Reaction #2: Bogey is pretty good at basketball
Bojan Bogdanovic might be Utah’s most consistent player. He seems to score 20 a game with ease, and he’s one of the most lethal catch-and-shoot 3-point threats in the league. He’s been crucial to the team’s success.
He came up big tonight, putting up 27 points (10/16 shooting), 4 rebounds, 1 assist, and 2 steals. He was aggressive in transition, driving to the rim for layups in traffic. He was quick on the trigger after the catch, bending the defense his way wherever he went.
It’s remarkable that Justin Zanick and Dennis Lindsey were able to sign him to such a team-friendly deal last summer. An absolute steal of a deal.
Overreaction #1: The NBA’s replay system is complete garbage
No-calls can swing a game just as much as a blown whistle, so why not do everything possible to make sure the call is correct?
The ultimate goal should be to get every call correct. And in order for that to happen, the NBA needs to figure out better, quicker, and more efficient ways to review plays (or maybe officials watching from Secaucus, NJ need to be allowed to initiate reviews on egregious missed calls or no-calls).
It’s broken. Fix it.
Overreaction #2: Donovan Mitchell needs to earn a better whistle
He’s drawing contact right now, yes. But more often than not he tries to twist and contort his way around that contact rather than going right through it. Incidental or minimal contact on a wrist or forearm is harder to notice than blatant contact to the body.
Donovan is already a star player. In order to make the leap to that next tier of superstar, he needs to be getting to the free throw line 7-10 times a game.
He’s been diligent in expanding his game each offseason. Don’t be surprised if that’s the focus this summer, because he’s definitely been frustrated with the lack of calls lately.
Under-reaction: The Jazz played 30 seconds of small ball, so that was nice while it lasted
It wasn’t Jarrell Brantley at the five (*fingers crossed*), but we did get to see a short stint with Juwan Morgan at center tonight. It’s an adjustment the Quin has been hesitant to explore. Hopefully that’s something that he’s willing to try again in the future, because Utah’s bench bigs aren’t offensively skilled or talented enough to take advantage of a 4-6” height advantage.