In a tough, playoff-style game the Utah Jazz came up short in overtime against the Philadelphia 76ers, 131 - 123.
There’s a lot to unpack here but let’s start with what will fill the headlines tomorrow and that’s Donovan Mitchell’s comments after the game. (nsfw fyi)
"It's really getting out of hand"— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 4, 2021
Spida talks frustrations after getting ejected in OT loss to 76ers pic.twitter.com/XQhgpitcl6
Mitchell is surely talking about multiple questionable calls, and no-calls, at the end of regulation that turned the tide in the Sixers favor.
For example, this play right here with the game on the line was called as an offensive foul against Donovan Mitchell.
So this was called an offensive foul on Donovan Mitchell and I give up, folks pic.twitter.com/byF2aT1kYc— BBALLBREAKDOWN (@bballbreakdown) March 4, 2021
Mitchell was more frustrated than I’ve ever seen him and was ejected near the end of the game.
Donovan Mitchell was ejected in overtime. pic.twitter.com/GfjGNqFPn8— ESPN (@espn) March 4, 2021
The play that most people will talk about is the save by Royce O’Neale that was called back. In realtime fans only saw O’Neale’s feet inbounds as he clearly made the play. Only 5 minutes later on the broadcast do we hear that the ball touched the referee.
Royce O'Neale out-of-bounds call pic.twitter.com/IhBDwAFMSh— Main Team (@MainTeamSports) March 4, 2021
So this clip doesn’t show, but the ball does appear to touch the referee right before this and so it was the right call. It’s a shame that fans missed the video showing that initial contact with the referee. Later that was explained but fans were already riled up.
However, I’ve taken count of plays where officials get in the way of a play and the Jazz lose possession and this is now the 3rd time this season the Jazz have lost possession of the ball to a referee not getting out of the way. Remember this from Jordan Clarkson earlier in the season? This was compounded by a technical foul.
Jordan Clarkson isn’t happy after receiving a technical foul for trying to get through the official that knocked the ball away from him. #PHXatUTA pic.twitter.com/SAeMdgObp8— Jake Edmonds (@JakeKUTV) January 1, 2021
Obviously it’s hard to expect officials to be in the perfect spot on every play but in tonight's game, that official being in the way of the play literally cost the Jazz the game. The refs HAVE to be better than that. Please, NBA Officials, get out of the way of the play!
The other frustrating play was how the refs call a technical foul on Donovan Mitchell after Joel Embiid asks them to. This is just unacceptable on so many levels.
Joel Embiid successfully lobbies a crucial technical foul on Donovan Mitchell pic.twitter.com/7z4U38q6du— Joel Wobiid (@WorldWideWob) March 4, 2021
Now, every game is going to have questionable calls. You can’t expect officials to be perfect every night, but tonight was really rough for the Utah Jazz. For example, here are the foul counts for this game: 24 personal fouls called on Jazz players, 17 on Sixers players. There were 19 free throws taken by the Jazz and 35 taken by the Sixers.
Some of that can be attested to Utah’s 3-point shooting (Utah took 44 threes) but some of that is probably what is attributing to the player’s frustration.
And the players all let out their frustrations after the game. A lot of charities are getting paid after this one.
....... https://t.co/RMjRPdATG0— Donovan Mitchell (@spidadmitchell) March 4, 2021
Rudy Gobert had a long answer about the officials after the game. Apparently Gobert wasn’t even scheduled to speak but made sure to get his thoughts out after the game.
Rudy Gobert's full comments after the game on the way the Jazz are officiated: pic.twitter.com/SRToSdu3TR— Andy Larsen (@andyblarsen) March 4, 2021
Jordan Clarkson had words as well.
damn see why u was hot bro, first ejection proud of u. keep fighting you know what it is https://t.co/IOUB0mJVW7— Jordan Clarkson (@JordanClarksons) March 4, 2021
refs got to take half them fines today, they tried to give don 3 techs after he was ejected lmaoo— Jordan Clarkson (@JordanClarksons) March 4, 2021
Now, to dissect the game, Utah actually played pretty well in this one. For the game Utah shot 47% from three, 21/44. If anything, you could argue that if Mitchell, who shot 41% from three on 5/12, should have taken more, because he shot 12/34 for overal. Some of that is because his mid-range shot wasn’t falling, and some of that was he wasn’t getting a lot of calls. Hence the frustration at the end of the game. (Mitchell had 6 free throw attempts the entire night.)
On the biggest shot of the night, Joel Embiid hit a contested three to tie the game that went into overtime. Although, did it even have to happen? Utah could have fouled in this situation and held them to two free throws. It’s probably something they should look at for future situations like this.
There were also some situations at the end of the game that Utah needs to figure out. Bojan Bogdanovic had a solid 3-point shooting night going 4/10 from three but in overtime the Sixers went right at him multiple times and got buckets each and every trip. Utah needs to figure this out. They either need to find some way to hide him on the defensive end, or they need to look at putting in another player. Joe Ingles maybe? Could they bring in Derrick Favors at the 4? Something different?
All in all it’s a very frustrating loss for Utah that really should have been a win if multiple frustrations don’t go against them. Now the Jazz get 9 days off as they go into all-star break and hopefully come back ready to go on another big run afterwards.