Exactly three weeks ago, after being blown out by the New Jersey Nets minus KD and Kyrie the night before, the Utah Jazz blew an 18-point first half lead in New York against the Nets. The loss dropped the Jazz to .500, and with four games left on a long east coast road trip, the outlook was bleak.
A loss to the Durant-less Nets followed by giving up an 18 point lead to the Knicks pic.twitter.com/kdL0bNziGf— James Hansen (@hansenjames) January 7, 2021
While fans were sulking, the Jazz found their mojo, morphed into the team they should have already been, and have run off with eight straight wins. Tonight, they look to avenge their last loss in a grudge match against the Knicks.
According to Rudy Gobert, the Jazz recent offensive surge is due re-emphasizing defense after the Knicks game. “When we defend and we try to be the best defensive team every single night, for some reason, the shots fall easier.”
| At today's practice, Rudy talked about how the last loss to the Knicks was a hidden blessing.— utahjazz (@utahjazz) January 25, 2021
"That's when we really understood what we needed to do as a team to be great."#PracticeInterviews | @ZionsBank pic.twitter.com/HfYuQQAnxg
Looking back, it’s understandable that the Jazz struggled to keep their focus and composure over an entire 48 minute game. The United States Capital was stormed just 200 miles down the coast earlier that day. While it doesn’t explain the loss to the Nets the night before, we can empathize with Jazz players who may have been distracted against the Knicks.
When: Tuesday, January 25th, 2021 • 7:00 PM MT
Where: Vivinit Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah
TV: AT&T SportsNet - Rocky Mountain
Radio: 97.5 FM | 1280 AM The Zone
What to watch for
Austin Rivers and Julius Randle both put in work against the Jazz three weeks ago. Rivers had 23 points, including 14 unanswered down the stretch. Rivers absolutely obliterated Royce O'Neal and Donovan Mitchell, especially in the 4th quarter.
Austin Rivers has a game every so often where he goes off and overperforms. He’s done it a few times against the Jazz. And, while it’s true that the Jazz couldn’t stay in front of him, Rivers also got lucky a few times. I’m expecting him to regress significantly tonight. He’s only averaging eight points on the season, shooting 41 percent from the field.
Randle, on the other hand, had a fantastic all-around game, with 30 points, 16 rebounds, and seven assists. The Jazz don’t really have anyone that matches up well with Randle. At 6’8”, 254 lbs., and the ability to stretch the floor with both his shooting and passing, he’s too big for guys like Bogdanovic or O’Neal, and too mobile for Rudy Gobert. It will be interesting to see what defensive adjustments the Jazz make tonight.
If the Jazz play defense with purpose and integrity, I imagine the Jazz will win by a good margin. If the defense is rolling, like Gobert said above, the shots will fall.
Casual Jazz Fans?
During a time-out break on Saturday, versus the Dubs, two diehard Jazz fans duked it out in a contest to see who could name the most former Jazz players. These guys really went at it, with #45 edging out a win 6-2. Dude in the blue couldn’t even identify the statues outside.
In order to get one of the 1500 tickets you need to be able to name more than 6 former Jazz players. Good garbage. pic.twitter.com/qWXSRV5OiM— ZachG (@Zach_Goulding) January 24, 2021
There was a guy in a Donovan Mitchell jersey during a timeout asked to name former Jazz players and he named 6.— Ben Anderson (@BensHoops) January 24, 2021
The other guy only named two and forgot John Stockton and Karl Malone.
I feel bad for these guys at halftime.. naming former Jazz players and the 2nd guy forgot Stockton and Malone?!!— Garret Pierce (@TheGM11) January 24, 2021
The 2 dudes in the game break had to name former Jazz players. One guy literally got 2... and they weren’t Stockton or Malone..— The Sports Bros (@SportsBros) January 24, 2021
Here’s your chance to definitively prove that you are a better Jazz fan. Check out the Sporcle quiz below and let us know how you did in the comments. Don’t be a chump and look up the answers first.
Please Don’t Cool Down the Pace
If there’s anything that the Jazz have absolutely done differently, and better, this season, it’s picking up the pace. The Jazz have been getting to their sets much earlier than in the past. We have all cringed at the TV more times than we can count after the Jazz had to rush to get a shot off at the end of the shot clock. I still have nightmares of Gordon Hayward backing out of a jump shot in mid air and throwing the ball out of bounds as the shot clock ran out.
The Jazz have obviously emphasized pace this season and it is paying off. The Jazz are, according to ESPN, “the most prolific 3-point shooting team in NBA history at this point, averaging 16.8 made 3’s per game.” ESPN also has the Jazz ranked 3rd in their weekly power ranking. Let’s hope the Jazz keep grooving and refuse to cool down the pace.
Which former Knick do you hate the most?
This poll is closed
Larry Johnson "Grandma Ma"
Derek "You go play in Utah" Harper