The Utah Jazz lost to the Toronto Raptors 104-94. Toronto is not just the 2nd best team in the Eastern Conference, but since we went into 2016 from 2015, they are the 3rd best team in the NBA behind the Golden State Warriors and the San Antonio Spurs. (Oh, by the way, the Spurs clinched a playoff spot with this Jazz loss.) This game was as we expected: close, within our grasp for most of the game, manageable in the fourth, but no push came in crunch time as the better team staved Utah off. We've seen this game all season long, it seems. And hats off to the Toronto Raptors starting guards Kyle Lowry who combined for 63 points (.6857 / .3333 / .8571), 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, and 1 block. They got whatever they wanted, either on drives, pick and rolls, spot ups, and especially in the case of DeRozan, free throws. He got to the line 11 times and was devastatingly effective all night long. They were true small, agile, attack first dinosaurs on this night. (Raptors, even...)
Not to take anything away from them, but this is an easier feat to achieve when the starting point guard (Dante Exum) is out, the starting shooting guard has to leave the game and not return after playing just 12:51 because of a head injury (Rodney Hood), and the 6th man (who happens to be a combo guard) is also out (Alec Burks).
Utah had the lead early, and thanks in part to Gordon Hayward, were right there with the Raps in the first half. Gordon had a big first quarter that finished with the Jazz taking the 26-24 lead after one on this buzzer beater.
Hayward at the Horn https://t.co/oqKux3pOfB— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) March 3, 2016
The second quarter saw a tale of two difference bench units. Cory Joseph was having a good battle against Raul Neto, but it's clear which team had more depth. Quin Snyder elected to go with Trey Lyles and Jeff Withey as the first bigmen to spell Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert (saddled with foul trouble), but they weren't amazing. Toronto won the second quarter 28-23, which was an uneventful quarter in all respects EXCEPT THAT Bismack Biyombo hit Rodney Hood in the head, and he wouldn't return to play in this game.
Toronto, up at half by three, went for the knockout in the third and won that quarter 33-25. It got so bad at times that Snyder was FORCED into playing Trey Burke the final 1:59 of the quarter. Trey was working on his second straight DNP-CD until he got an opportunity. He made the most of it by scoring 11 fourth quarter points (11 of 20, by the way, for the team), which book ends nicely how Hayward had something like 17 of the first 30 for the Jazz. (Exaggerating slightly.)
Trey shot 50%, and played shooting guard along side Raul Neto as Shelvin Mack was benched for poor play (2 points on 0/6 shooting, with three turnovers in 23:51). He scored well, but wasn't really helping the team down the stretch on defense. That said, if it wasn't for his offense this game doesn't get to a 6 point margin with 2 minutes to go. Snyder said that Burke who have his opportunity. And he is a man of his word as he got him in there for nearly 14 mins of action.
If anything, this was a good example of how this team can't do it all with just a few people showing up. It has to be a team effort.
Derrick Favors had a solid, but unspectacular game. He is getting more respect because he was doubled early and often by the Raptors. Rudy Gobert did not have a good game, and foul trouble plus going 2/7 from the line ruined a lot of his mojo. Trey Lyles hit a few threes (Treys hit three treys in this game) but didn't have a double double two games in a row. Depth is a problem for this squad. And will appear to be a problem for this squad until moves are made, or players come back from injury.
Utah got worked on the glass, didn't take care of the ball, and couldn't guard any of their guards. You're going to lose every time you play the Raptors if that happens.
The Jazz have a night off, and then will play the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday, then the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday. Just don't come back to Utah with an 0-4 trip. It's not 1981 anymore. This isn't good enough. Injuries suck. If Hood sustained a concussion he will likely be out against Memphis. That's what we need more of, right? Sheesh.