Utah Jazz at Phoenix Suns reactions: What went right/wrong?

PHOENIX, AZ - OCTOBER 25: TJ Warren (Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)
PHOENIX, AZ - OCTOBER 25: TJ Warren (Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Utah Jazz suffered an embarrassing loss on the road to the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night to drop to 2-3 on the season.

If you were discouraged after the Utah Jazz’s loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday, you were likely at least somewhat comforted by the knowledge that the Jazz would have an excellent opportunity to bounce back the next day in a contest against the struggling Phoenix Suns. Unfortunately, if those were your thoughts, you were far from correct.

In what was a shockingly disappointing game, the Utah Jazz dropped their second straight contest to fall to 0-3 on the road as they were thoroughly outmatched by the Phoenix Suns by a score of 97-88. And quite frankly, the game wasn’t even as close as the final score indicated as, despite a couple of pushes from the Jazz, this game was largely decided well before halftime.

Thus, with such an embarrassing loss on their plate to end the two-game road trip, the Jazz will have a lot to sort out before they hit the court again in two days to host the Los Angeles Lakers. And given the fact that they were so handily defeated by a team that I projected to be among the worst in the league, it should come as no surprise that there were several more negative takeaways than there were positive from last night.

What Went Right?

The simple answer to this question? Not much. Not much at all. In fact, I’m struggling to find much of anything to say here. A wire-to-wire defeat which started out with a pathetic 23-13 deficit after one period will do that to you.

However, I guess I’ll point out a couple of things here. Derrick Favors actually had a relatively solid night as he went 7-of-9 from the floor for 15 points. However, he didn’t really get going like the Jazz needed him to until the game was practically out of reach. Not only that, but his two misses were both ill-advised threes. I know that Favors claimed to have stretched his range during the offseason, but I’m not going to lie, I wish he’d stop firing from behind the arc.


I suppose I could also point out that Utah’s leading scorer Rodney Hood had a decent game as he finished with 22 points, but his 7-of-16 shooting from the field and especially his 2-of-7 outing from deep were highly disappointing, not to mention his questionable decision making and lackluster defense throughout the night.

Perhaps the only true positive from this game is the fact that it was just one game out of a long 82-game season. And while the Jazz have now fallen below .500, if they can win on Saturday against the Lakers, they’ll rise to 3-3, which is exactly the start they got off to last season. So perhaps that is somewhat reassuring in and of itself.

I realize this section was supposed to be about what went right, but even in describing a few positives, the negatives were just overwhelmingly more noticeable, so I figure that’s as good of a sign as any that we should go ahead and transition over to the bad.

What Went Wrong?

Completely contrary to the previous section, the question here is, where do I begin? The Jazz came out flat-footed, lifeless and unprepared. In my keys to the game piece from yesterday morning, I pointed out that Utah absolutely could not take the Suns for granted, but it appears that’s exactly what they did. Phoenix had more passion and energy on both ends of the floor and quite frankly they made the Jazz look silly all night long.

As a whole, the team was awful as they shot just 41.6 percent from the field and a horrific 24 percent (6-of-25) from behind the arc. They also turned the ball over an astounding 24 times (which was probably the main contributing factor in the loss) and were also disgustingly outworked on the boards by a count of 55-44. In short, Utah’s team effort was absolutely atrocious.

And of course, several individuals were to blame for that. Ricky Rubio contributed a disheartening seven turnovers to Utah’s giveaway total, while Rudy Gobert added four. Speaking of that duo, while both have been considered by many to be Utah’s two most important players, each one looked completely out of sync.

Rubio actually shot a better percentage than he has of late at 40 percent, but 6-of-15 shooting is nothing to write home about. Neither was his 1-of-4 outing from deep which only further solidified Rubio’s ineffectiveness from behind the arc. He did have 11 assists and four steals, but those were largely countered by his seven turnovers and poor shooting.

Meanwhile, Rudy Gobert continues to have a forgettable start to his 2017-18 season. Just one year removed from being the Defensive Player of the Year runner-up, the Stifle Tower has looked a step slow and his impact has appeared not nearly as terrifying. He did finish with 16 points, thanks to multiple trips to the free throw line, while adding 14 rebounds and an impressive five blocks, so thankfully it wasn’t all bad news for Rudy.

Nevertheless, a quick look at his lessened impact on the court and one glance at his fifth straight game with a negative net rating speaks volumes to the relative ineffectiveness of Rudy Gobert so far this season, especially compared to last year. It’s still extremely early in the season, but I believe I speak for Jazz fans everywhere when I say that I expected Rudy to come in from the offseason looking significantly sharper than this.

There’s several other individual performances I could harp on, but I suppose I’ll conclude with this – last of all, Utah’s bench was abysmal. The depth of Utah’s second unit was a major strength for them in their first three games, but it simply couldn’t find its way last night. The Jazz bench scored just nine points on 3-of-18 (.167) shooting in a combined 70 minutes of action.

I know it was the second night of a back-to-back, but especially considering that this contest came against a subpar Phoenix team, that’s just absolutely inexcusable. The typically steady Joe Johnson had a rare off night as he went just 1-of-7 and Donovan Mitchell continues to struggle to find any sort of rhythm as he also went 1-of-7, dropping his season shooting percentage to just 25 percent and his three-point shooting percentage to 16.7.

For someone who’s putting up 10.4 field goal attempts and 3.6 three-point attempts per game, that’s undoubtedly too low of a percentage. Coming into the season, it was crystal clear that the biggest issue facing the Jazz this season would be their offense and these past two games have made it crystal clear that such was an extremely valid concern. Even so, if this becomes the norm, I don’t think any of us could have predicted just how bad the Jazz offense would be.

But alas, it’s still very early in the season as the Jazz have just five games under their belt, so they still have plenty of time to turn things around. Hopefully with a pair of days between games and the opportunity to get in a good practice, Utah can make some necessary adjustments and be ready to come out strong against the Lakers on Saturday.

Next: Utah Jazz: Poor shooting and ball security lead to disappointing night in Phoenix

Nevertheless, there’s no questioning that Utah’s margin for error this year is extremely slim if they hope to have any chance of qualifying for the playoffs come season’s end. Therefore, losses like the one last night to the Suns are extremely frustrating and could very well prove fatal.

The Jazz have plenty to improve and they’ll need to right the ship quickly if they hope to put up any semblance of resistance in an extremely crowded Western Conference.