If you wanted evidence of why Donovan Mitchell is so important to this Utah Jazz team, it would be this game.
The Utah Jazz gave up a 17-point lead and lost to the lowly Minnesota Timberwovles in one of their worst games of the year.
It wasn’t because they didn’t have any good performances, Bojan Bogdanovic had a nice shooting night from three going 7/13. That’s probably the most encouraging sign from this game. The Jazz desperately need Bogdanovic to become that lethal 3-point shooting threat again and if this game, and a string of good games before this, is a sign of Bogdanovic finding his shot, that’s a big deal.
But what was not encouraging from this game was the lack of focus and, if we’re being honest, soft defense that was played after the first quarter.
The Jazz scored 40 points in the first quarter and then scored 56 the rest of the game. A lot of that could be chalked up to terrible decision making. The Jazz had 20 turnovers in this game and they were bad turnovers. Lazy pass after lazy pass led to easy offense for the Timberwolves and the Jazz just didn’t have enough at the end to recover.
The other frustrating thing was the lack of rebounding. Utah gave up 11 offensive rebounds and just couldn’t close out enough defensive possessions. According to NBA.com, the Wolves scored 23 points off turnovers and 20 2nd chance points. How many 2nd chance points did the Jazz score? 5.
That was the story of this game. One team came in and when they got down by 17 they never gave up. The Jazz acted like the Wolves were going to gift them this game and instead the Wolves took it to them and were the more physical and focused team. When you give up 43 points in that fashion, you don’t deserve to win.
The other thing that has to be noted in this game is the importance of Donovan Mitchell.
At the end of this game, Utah seemed loss when looking for someone to score the ball. Bojan Bogdanovic nearly won them the game but when Mike Conley had the ball or Jordan Clarkson, bad things happened.
Donovan Mitchell is the epicenter of this offense. He’s the thing that stirs this pot and without him at the end of games it’s clear that the Jazz don’t quite know what to do. Utah needs to fix the effort issue with rebounding and turnovers (although with Bogdanovic at the 4 I don’t know how much better their rebounding can get) but there is some solace in knowing that when their best player gets back, they’ll have things locked in again like it should be.
Finally, another reason this game didn’t go well was the rough night from Joe Ingles. In almost all the games he’s started this season he’s been phenomenal. In this one? He was 1/9 from the field with 3 terrible turnovers. He did have 7 assists to his credit, but tonight showed that Joe Ingles is having an incredible season and when he has a bad night it’s hard for the Jazz to overcome.
It’s hard to give out an MVP in a bad loss like this one, so this is more of a silver lining but Bojan Bogdanovic took 13 3-pointers. That’s a big deal because he’s been very hesitant this season to shoo the 3. If Bogdanovic can shoot like this when Mitchell comes back, the Jazz offense has incredible potential for the playoffs (with whatever seed the Jazz end up with.)