Utah Jazz Can’t Dwell On Tough Loss, Instead Learn and Move On

Feb 9, 2017; Dallas, TX, USA; Utah Jazz center Boris Diaw (33) and Dallas Mavericks guard Wesley Matthews (23) battle for the ball during the game at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 9, 2017; Dallas, TX, USA; Utah Jazz center Boris Diaw (33) and Dallas Mavericks guard Wesley Matthews (23) battle for the ball during the game at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports /

The Utah Jazz suffered a disappointing loss to the Dallas Mavericks last night, but what matters now is how they learn and improve from it.

After putting up 120 points in two straight games leading to blowout victories against the Atlanta Hawks and New Orleans Pelicans, the Utah Jazz were seemingly flying sky high. In last night’s contest against the Dallas Mavericks, it looked to be more of the same as the Jazz were firing on all cylinders early.

Midway through the third quarter, Utah had a commanding 21-point lead and it looked as if the Jazz would roll to their fifth straight win and their third consecutive blowout. In fact, this article was supposed to be about how the Jazz were finally beating mediocre teams the way we’ve expected them to all year.

But as anyone who watched last night’s 112-105 overtime loss can tell you, that clearly still isn’t quite the case.

The Jazz built that 21-point lead in part off of a sequence in which the Jazz logged three easy alley-oop buckets in a row. As the Dallas Mavericks and an angry Rick Carlisle called timeout, it was all smiles for the Jazz. Gordon Hayward was laughing. Rudy Gobert was laughing. Joe Ingles was laughing.

But by the end of the game, the only ones laughing were the Dallas Mavericks.

Dallas pulled within 10 points by the end of the third quarter then used a 32-22 fourth quarter to force overtime then were dominant in the extra period, outscoring the Jazz 12-5.

Of course there were an onslaught of mistakes that led to turnaround. Rudy Gobert fouling Seth Curry for an and-one late in the game, Dante Exum‘s horrific and lazy turnover after receiving the inbound pass, Gobert fouling out near the end of regulation and of course Alec Burks‘ late turnover trying to bring the ball up the floor are among the most pressing that come to mind.

Yet, specifics aside, the fact of the matter was that the Utah Jazz got complacent. A team that last year was known for fighting hard and falling short, then this year has become known for fighting hard and grinding out wins, finally let success get the best of them.

The Jazz were in control and took their foot off the gas.

It’s great to see them have success, but they have to learn to deal with everything that comes along with it, such as staying engaged with big leads and fighting until the very end. Given the two previous closely contested bouts against Dallas, the Jazz should have been fully aware of how capable the Mavs were of coming back, but instead, Utah faltered in what could have very well been an easy win.

Looking at the big picture, this is just one loss. The Utah Jazz are still in fourth place in the West with an impressive record of 34-20. But if they want to have a shot at that third seed which will put them in a much better situation in the playoff seeding, these are the kind of games they have to win. Earning that spot will be a challenge, but it’s within reach and absolutely has to be their goal.

Yet, from here, the Jazz can’t afford to hang their heads and sulk after the ugly loss. Instead, they have to be ready to take on an elite Boston Celtics team that is looking more and more like the toughest competition the Cleveland Cavaliers will have to face in the East.

Last night aside, the Jazz have played extremely well against teams with losing records, but have struggled to step up when it matters most. They’ll have a chance to prove they can beat one of the league’s best in tomorrow’s contest against Boston.

For the last ten and a half quarters, they have played phenomenal basketball. Thus rather then dwell on the most recent loss, it’s critical that they remember what they’ve done right of late, play with that kind of energy and flow against Boston and, most importantly, learn from their errors against Dallas.

No lead is ever safe. No team is ever out of it. And the Utah Jazz have to learn to play with that fire and determination that won’t allow them to give up such winnable games.

More from The J-Notes

Having George Hill back against Boston will certainly provide a critical lift, particularly considering Utah’s ongoing backup point guard woes. Still, tomorrow’s contest against the Celtics will without a doubt be the toughest of the week, but if they step it up and come away with a win, it could very well make up for what was one of the most disheartening losses of the season last night.

And that’s a boost the Jazz could certainly use to help get them back on the right track before next week’s tough pair of games against the Clippers and Blazers leading into the All-Star break.