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Denver Nuggets 105 - Utah Jazz 91 Game Recap: Under .500

Four losses in a row aren’t all flukes you can easily excuse away

NBA: Utah Jazz at Denver Nuggets Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

The Utah Jazz (7-8) were throttled tonight by the Denver Nuggets (5-8), and lost 105-91 to a team that had previously won only .333 of their games. Sure, Denver had some good news as they got a number of rotation players back in the line-up: Will Barton, Wilson Chandler, and Alonzo Gee. A solid, near wire-to-wire win for Denver shows the silver lining that hopefully awaits Utah when / if they ever get healthy. Once again playing without two starters (George Hill and Derrick Favors) and their bench scoring crutch (Alec Burks) the Jazz managed only 14 points in the first quarter. They tallied their first assist of the game midway through the second. And a lethargic showing right out of halftime - no urgency - made the final quarter (a 29-28 victory for Denver) just academic.

Yes, this team has a number of new parts.

Yes, this team has played on the road a lot.

Yes, this team has played a lot of games in a compressed schedule.

And yes, this team has injuries.

But I really did not want to be writing about these same excuses for like five seasons in a row. After a point in time your team either gets better, or you have to do something about it. And right now, after losing four games in a row, many fans aren’t happy with the on-court results.

Do those excuses have a factor to play in the on-court results? Absolutely. But the one thing we cannot excuse is a lack of intensity, urgency, and heart. I don’t mind if the team is running their sets and missing open shots. I do mind that they seem to walk the ball up the court each time, make sure the defense is set up, pussy foot around for about 8 more seconds trying to see if there’s a miss-match, and then do something.

There’s more to life than dribbles across the court from 18 feet, with your defender behind you, but not attacking the rim because you are trying to draw a defensive switch. The offense isn’t great at all. It’s been bad. It can’t get any worse. These are not things to feel good about.

Utah fans could at least feel good about the defense. That’s no longer the case either. Karl Malone would score 50 on this Jazz team. With no hesitation. And sit out most of the fourth quarter. If you are letting guys hit from the outside (Canadian rookie Jamal Murray led his team with 18 off the bench) at least protect the paint. Jusuf Nurkic, Nikola Jokic, and Juan Hernangomez combined for 30 points.

Yo. That’s not good. If you are going to play slow and be bad at defense then fans have a right to complain.

And losing to Denver by almost 20, when they miss 17 free throws, is something worth being upset about.

Yes, there are excuses. But good teams find a way to win. And now that the Jazz are under .500, I think we can agree that RIGHT NOW the team isn’t playing like they are a good team.

Gordon Hayward scored 25 points on 21 shots, which is Al Jefferson -esque. Trey Lyles hit some threes. Rudy Gobert was in foul trouble but had some dunks. Dante Exum and Rodney hood combined to shoot 8-24, and 0-10 from deep. (Maybe Burks should be starting if he ever returns?) Joe Johnson scored 10 off the bench. So there’s that. Shelvin Mack shot 1-8, but that was good enough to keep him in until 2:30 something left in the game where Snyder finally put in Raul Neto. (Who hit a three and finished an And-1 to score double as many points as Shelvin, in 14 fewer minutes.)

Utah has a few days off, and a lot to review. So do we. 15 Games are in the books. That’s a data set we can draw observations from.