This was always going to be a tough one for the Jazz. After an emotional loss to the Miami Heat, and resting Mike Conley, the Utah Jazz came into Orlando to face the Magic on a back-to-back. It was the last game of their road trip and it was the third game in four nights. Predictably, they ran out of gas losing 107-100.
The star of this game was Cole Anthony who is putting together a fantastic season for the Magic so far this year. In this one he torched the hapless Jazz for 33 points in 32 minutes of play. He was 13/20 from the field and 5/10 from three. The Jazz had no answer for the young guard. The Magic also got nice performances from their duo of big men, Wendell Carter Jr and Mo Bamba. Combined they shot 5/9 from three. Carter had a huge night with 22 points, 15 rebounds and 6 assists. It’ll be interesting to see how the Magic evolve this year. Can they keep their record bad enough to get a nice draft pick? Because the young talent on their team looks promising.
Probably the brightest spot for the Jazz tonight was Royce O’Neale. O’Neale had a monster game against the Heat and had another great one tonight. In this one he was 5/6 from the field and 2/3 from three. He had 7 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 steals. That means in the last two games he’s had 9 steals. That’s 14 points for O’Neale who has absolutely taken another step in his game. He has shown an ability to drive much more confidently to the rim this season and in transition. The more of that he does, the better. It’s also meant a few more free throws because of it. Today O’Neale shot 2/3 from the free throw line.
Rudy Gobert had a nice bounceback game also. He scored 21 points and grabbed 15 boards with 3 steals and 4 blocks. That’s a monster line from the current Western Conference player of the week. He also did something that he needs to do more of.
This free throw line jumper is something we know Gobert has. If he can pull up from the free throw line that can open up more possibilities for this offense. If Gobert can hold the ball at the free throw line, and his man has to guard him, that could open up all sorts of cutting lanes for the Jazz and make them even more dynamic. It’s absolutely something they should incorporate going forward.
Finally, the Jazz need to start being honest with themselves about a few things. Jordan Clarkson is still not shooting the ball effectively. Tonight he was 2/13 from the field and 2/11 from three. It’s hurting the team and, in these close games, it’s been the difference. There are games like the one against the Atlanta Hawks where Clarkson will explode but there have been far too many games like tonight where the shot isn’t falling. After the Atlanta game, Snyder mentioned he would never pull him for missing shots because he believes in him.
Quin Snyder on Jordan Clarkson: I would never pull him for missing shots.— Tony Jones (@Tjonesonthenba) November 5, 2021
Reporters: why not
Snyder: I believe in him
It is probably a good idea for Quin Snyder to think about pulling him for missing shots at some point. Or maybe change his belief system. Something.
There’s also the issue with Joe Ingles. Ingles has looked really slow the last 4 games but especially tonight. Whether it’s the Olympics or, and let’s just be honest here, coming into this season out of shape, something is off. Multiple times tonight Joe was beat off the dribble, multiple times he couldn’t guard off the ball and his man would back door him, multiple times he dished off a too-quick quick pocket pass to Rudy Gobert rather than driving to the rim. It’s an issue, and tonight his line shows it. Ingles was 2/9 from the field and 1/7 from three. Maybe this is the effect of having the third game in four nights? If that’s the case then why is he on the floor? Would a gassed Joe Ingles be that much more effective than Jared Butler who got his second straight DNP? Resting Ingles so he’s not spent for the playoffs should be something to consider. Or is he trying to play his way into shape? Either way, it’s not been good lately.
Whatever the case, the Jazz’s 3-game road trip culminated in a win against a Hawks team that isn’t playing well, a loss to the Heat and a loss to the 2-8 Orlando Magic. In a season where the Jazz need to figure out if they’re good enough to win it all with these pieces by trade deadline, there’s a lot of question marks right now.