The Utah Jazz started off their East Road Trip with a loss tonight, falling to the Boston Celtics 100-95. This was a difficult game for the short-handed visitor, but they had a few chances to pull away for the win. After a while "close by no cigar" isn't a consolation anymore. This feels like one of those nights. Utah was up after one, at halftime, after three, and were up a few times in the last five minutes. Boston never gave up and during the stretch run they were getting buckets, while Utah was getting second chances and occasional free throws. The Celtics are the #3 team in their conference, while the Jazz are #9 in theirs. And honestly? One team knows how to finish. And it wasn't our team.
It's almost a blur now, mainly because I think we've all seen this finish before. Instead of Jrue Holiday or some other guard, this time it was Isaiah Thomas doing things on offense in crunch time, with little to no resistance. He was getting LAYUPS with seconds to play while the Jazz ran ineffectual pick and rolls that resulted in un-steady shots, one great Shelvin three and a Shelvin runner, and countless bobbled catches. Utah just didn't look like they were fighting to win it. It really look that way when Gordon couldn't back down PG/SG Avery Bradley, and then got his shot blocked by him with the game on the line. The Jae Crowder three pointer was just expected at this point.
You really can't run an offense where your success rate relies on your 3rd year center to hit 100% of his free throws down the stretch. (He did go 2-2 then on the next trip went 0-2 for who cares. He was iced with a time out on the second one. For the record, those two misses were his only FT misses tonight.) I don't want to be too negative on this team, but there are some problems.
Derrick, Rudy, and Trey all had double doubles -- Trey had extended minutes because Trevor Booker wasn't with the team because his grandmother passed away. Trey was a basket away from passing his career high of 19. The Jazz were not just short handed by missing Booker, Tibor Pleiss still in the NBADL, and also having Dante Exum and Alec Burks still out. Quin Snyder decided to give DNP-CDs to Trey Burke and Jeff Withey.
It was a close game. But it was another loss. The team has no time to dwell on this. They play on Wednesday against the Toronto Raptors. If Thomas was trouble, I can only imagine that Kyle Lowry will give us lots and lots of problems.