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NBA Power Rankings: Losing streak drops Utah Jazz

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An 0-4 week was not kind to the Jazz

NBA: Utah Jazz at Portland Trail Blazers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Well, that escalated quickly.

After a 19-2 stretch that spanned almost two months, the Utah Jazz fell off a cliff over the last week, going 0-4 with losses to the Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers. After a brief perch at the No. 2 seed in the West, they’ve fallen back down to No. 4.

The defense has been atrocious, allowing 50-point outings from Eric Gordon and Damian Lillard. The offense has been inconsistent, at one point sustaining only a 27-1 run in the 3rd/4th quarter in Denver.

A lot is broken with this team right now, but the good news is it’s all fixable. Mike Conley has re-entered the starting lineup and Royce O’Neale has moved to a bench role, leaving Joe Ingles as a starter. We’ll see how that move acclimates for a few more games, but I think it’s the right choice. We’re also just over a week away from the All-Star break, which should be good because I think this team might need a break.

NBA Power Rankings

Publication Preseason Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12 Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16 Week 17 Week 18 Week 19 Week 20 Week 21
Publication Preseason Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12 Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16 Week 17 Week 18 Week 19 Week 20 Week 21
ESPN.com 7 7 7 6 5 6 7 12 12 13 12 11 9 6 5 3 8 9 7 9 12 7
CBS Sports 6 6 9 13 7 8 8 12 13 12 12 8 6 3 4 4 10 8 6 10 13 6
SI.com 6 6 9 13 8 8 11 11 12 12 12 11 9 7 6 6 8 7 7 8 8 8
NBA.com 5 7 7 11 7 8 10 12 13 12 13 8 6 3 3 3 7 7 6 9 9 6
Rotoworld 7 7 7 9 7 5 6 12 12 12 12 7 7 3 4 3 9 8 7 9 12 7
USA Today 4 4 4 6 5 7 9 12 12 12 11 9 4 3 3 3 9 6 6 12 12 9
FiveThirtyEight 5 6 8 7 5 6 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 5 4 4 5 6 5 11 11 10
SLC Dunk 4 4 6 7 4 6 8 11 13 12 11 8 6 3 3 3 8 6 6 10 10 8

ESPN.com

The Jazz might be in the midst of the most surprising four-game losing streak of the NBA season, considering that Utah had won 19 of its previous 21 games. The Jazz have given up 50-point games to Houston’s Eric Gordon and Portland’s Damian Lillard during the skid, allowing 120.4 points per 100 possessions.

”We have to have a good practice, come in, lock in and fix that,” Donovan Mitchell told reporters after Saturday’s loss in Portland. “Otherwise, it’s going to be a s---ty All-Star break.” — MacMahon

CBS Sports

Mike Conley returned to a Jazz team that was absolutely rolling, and there were some expected speed bumps. Utah dropped all four games this week, to the Rockets, Spurs, Nuggets and Trail Blazers, and it’s clear that Conley disrupted the flow they had developed over the past month. This doesn’t mean the Jazz are a better team without Conley, but it’s going to take some time to integrate him. He started against the Blazers and looked much better, putting up 22 points and four assists in 30 minutes.

SI.com

Utah acquired a backcourt piece in its trade for Jordan Clarkson. Will it add a frontcourt player before Feb. 6? Either Morris brother would be a welcome addition, or perhaps Suns forward Dario Saric. A stretchy backup big could be a big boost to the Jazz.

NBA.com

The Jazz have gone from a 19-2 stretch to a four-game losing streak, allowing the Rockets, Spurs, Nuggets and Blazers to score more than 120 points per 100 possessions over the four games.

The Jazz have seen both the league’s biggest increase in points scored per 100 possessions (+1.3) and its sixth biggest increase in points allowed per 100 possessions (+2.0) from last season. For the second straight year, they lead the league in the (lowest) percentage of opponent shots that have come from the restricted area and 3-point range. But they’ve gone from third to 17th in opponent field goal percentage in the restricted area, having traded one of the league’s best rim protectors (Derrick Favors). They’ve also seen the league’s third biggest drop in opponent turnover percentage, having lost the guy (Ricky Rubio) who led the team in deflections per game last season.

As we’ve seen over the last couple of months, the ceiling is higher. But this team has yet to defend like Jazz teams of the past. Three of the teams that torched them last week are back for more, and the Rockets won’t be missing their two former MVPs this time.

Rotoworld

Utah was red hot last Monday, but then lost all four games they played last week. On Saturday, Mike Conley replaced Royce O’Neal in the starting lineup. It’s worth noting that the Jazz have outscored their opponents by 10.1 points per 100 possessions this season when Royce O’Neal is on the floor. In contrast, the Jazz have been outscored by their opponents by 5.0 points per 100 possessions this season when Mike Conley is on the floor.

SLC Dunk

There’s just no excuse for a lot of what happened last week. Twitter was aflame with mentions of a tougher schedule, but how tough did the schedule really get? The Rockets were missing their three best players. The Spurs, under .500 on the season, were also missing LaMarcus Aldridge. The Nuggets were missing a handful of rotation players. Sure, Dame has been on fire lately, but you’ve got to make him work harder than Utah did Saturday.

It starts on defense. Until the perimeter players stop letting everyone blow past and expecting Rudy Gobert to play defense 1-on-5 we’re going to get more of the same.