Following an impressive 8-game win streak, the Utah Jazz took their 2nd loss in a row tonight falling 109-103 to the Washington Wizards. The game started off well for Utah, with a 9 point lead less than 3 minutes into the game. From that point on they really struggled however, with the defense unable to stop Bradley Beal (who finished with 37 points and 7 assists) and the offense resorting to isolation ball too often. You could definitely tell that they missed Mike Conley tonight, who often rests on the 2nd night of a back-to-back, but that’s still no excuse for how the team performed.
KCP called GAME— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) December 19, 2021
That's too tough pic.twitter.com/t4NLETfnyN
The toughest part of this loss for Utah was the inability to make free throws in the 4th quarter, where they went just 7/14 from the line. In a game that was neck and neck the entire second half, they made it way too difficult on themselves by not capitalizing on free points. It’s not as if free throw shooting is normally an issue for the Jazz, as they were shooting an excellent 78% as a team going into this game, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating to watch them miss one after another in crucial situations down the stretch.
One concerning problem that was exposed yet again was the lack of perimeter defense, which has plagued the team for a while now. Royce O’Neale struggled to guard Beal tonight, and there’s really no one else they can give assignments like that to when he’s unable to stop someone. As great as they are at just about every other aspect of basketball, they badly need to figure out a way to fix the defense on the perimeter if they want to maximize their potential as a team this year.
Royce really struggling against Beal tonight. That's a straight line drive layup allowed with no screen— Andy Larsen (@andyblarsen) December 19, 2021
One of the only bright spots for the Jazz tonight was Donovan Mitchell, who has continued to be amazing in the month of December. This easily could have been a blowout loss without him playing well, as he consistently was scoring and creating open shots for teammates throughout the game. Even in a loss, it’s nice knowing Utah has a player like him who can keep them in games where the rest of the team just doesn’t have it.
The Jazz will be back at home Monday in a matchup against the Hornets, so hopefully they can get back on track then. As nice as the 8-game win streak was, several of their problems have came to light in the last couple of games and they need to figure things out one way or another.