Utah Jazz Sum Up Season in Maddening Loss to the Rockets


I’m back from my 10 day trip to Spring training and finally had a chance to watch the Jazz tonight. After what I saw I’m wishing I would have stayed away for at least 1 more day.

The Utah Jazz 110-108 loss to the Houston Rockets was essentially a 48 minute version of the roller coaster ride that has been their 2010-2011 season. They started slow again, fell behind by double digits in the first quarter due to turnovers and 2nd chance points allowed, again, yet battled back only to come up just short, again.

Houston’s backcourt of Kyle Lowry and Kevin Martin combined to score 62 points, with Lowry compiling a triple double, to lead the Rockets, despite Paul Millsap’s return to the lineup with 35 points and 10 rebounds. The Jazz allowed 63 points in the 1st and 4th quarters, another season long trend. Houston clinched the season series vs the Jazz, as well as the all important head to head playoff tiebreaker.

The Jazz actually out rebounded the Rockets, something they haven’t done much this season, but Houston led the game throughout due in large part to making 36 of 41 free throws, compared to just 16 for 25 for Utah.  Al Jefferson and Devin Harris combined to shoot only 11 for 38 from the floor, and new Jazz Coach Tyrone Corbin continued to struggle to find the right lineup combinations.

While Rockets rookie Patrick Patterson, the 14th pick in the draft, impressed with 14 points and 13 rebounds in 28 minutes, Utah’s two rookies Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward, were only given 32 minutes of playing time combined, finishing with 13 points and 6 rebounds.

For some reason, Raja Bell played 29 minutes, including the final 16 minutes of the game, and had another typical less than impresive outing. He scored his only points on a last second uncontested layup,while adding 5 fouls and 2 turnovers and was consistently abused by Kevin Martin on the defensive end of the court.  Bell even saw more floor time than Andre Kirilenko.

The Jazz fell to 10th place in the Western Conference playoff race, and face the difficult task of having to play 3 games in the next 4 days, all against teams currently in the playoffs. Don’t get me wrong, I realize the difficult situation Coach Corbin has been placed in, but his decisions on who gets minutes and the combinations he puts on the court continue to be head scratchers.

For example Andre Kirilenko and CJ Miles, rarely if ever are on the court at the same time; and the potentially big and athletic frount court of Jefferson, Favors and Millsap have yet to play together. Meanwhile Raja Bell eats up minutes that should be given to younger players. Bell literally had to pull himself from the starting lineup last week in order for CJ Miles to start.

The good news for Jazz fans is Toronto ended a 14 game road losing streak in Oklahoma City while New Jersey lost at Washington. The Nets now lead Toronto by 2 games, and will be without Deron Williams for at least the next 3 games, and possibly the rest of the season. The Jazz could wind up with the 5th pick in the draft if Toronto finishes ahead of New Jersey, the 2 teams have 1 game remaining against each other.

If the Jazz continue to struggle they will not have to ship their own draft pick to Minnesota, instead possibly having the 5th or 6th pick as well as the 13th pick in the June NBA Draft. The Jazz have 12 games left, 10 of them against teams currently in the top 8 in the Western Conference, and if they play like they did tonight their chances of making the playoffs seem remote at best.