Utah Jazz at NY Knicks 11/15: Late-game collapse and some bad luck

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 13: Enes Kanter (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 13: Enes Kanter (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

The Utah Jazz remain winless on the road this season. After a late-game rally, the New York Knicks stole the win from Utah, 106-101.

Donovan Mitchell, who grew up in the NYC metro area, had a homecoming against the New York Knicks on Wednesday. The Utah Jazz rookie didn’t disappoint in his return; at least during the first half. I expected that Mitchell would either do really well or really poorly with the pressure of playing in front of TWO HUNDRED of his friends and family who came to see him play.

To start the game, we saw a play that Jazz coach Quin Snyder had designed specifically for Ricky Rubio and Mitchell (scarily similar to the old Joe Ingles to Gordon Hayward alley-oop and the same play that broke Hayward’s leg). It was a beautifully designed play and I really hope to see a little more of this —

From there, Mitchell broke the game open early with 17 first-half points to give Utah a 10-point lead at the break.

Unfortunately, Mitchell couldn’t get it going in the second half, scoring only two points. He also had a couple of late-game rookie mistakes and turnovers that may have sealed the fate of the game.

Nevertheless, Mitchell looked explosive, decisive and in control. Compared to fellow rookie Frank Ntilikina, he looked mature and like a leader. We will continue to see good things from Mitchell, and close games like this are only good for his development.

The turning point of the game came with less than five minutes to go. The Jazz couldn’t get a shot to fall. Then, finally, after a possession that looked like it would end in a Knicks 24-second shot clock violation, Tim Hardaway, Jr picked up a loose ball (more on this next) with less than a second on the clock and heaved a 3-point shot.

Loose balls: Luck, lack of effort and athleticism

Andy Larsen, of KSL.com, gives a great summary about some of the key loose balls in the fourth. Basically, if the Jazz had a little more luck, effort and athleticism this game could have ended very differently.

Still some other positives!

Rodney Hood was huge. He shot well, but he also looked to get to the free throw line five times. With 30 points, this was Hood’s best game of the season and he’s actually looked consistent since being relegated to the “Sixth Man” role. For whatever reason, he’s thriving under these conditions, even when he isn’t shooting well.

Tonight though, 6-of-12 from the 3-point line and 10-of-20 shooting overall. Even with Mitchell’s lack of scoring in the second half, Hood kept us in the lead most of the way. Also not known for his defense, Hood was moving his feet well and even had two blocks!

Jazz Offense and Defense without Rudy

Including the Knicks game, Utah’s offense has looked really good since last week’s bout with the Brooklyn Nets; the first game without Rudy Gobert.

While I can’t speak conclusively, I’d have to say that has to do more with the spacing provided with the altered starting lineup than the absence of Gobert.

More important, is the effect that Gobert’s absence has on our defense.

Look at the last three games. The Jazz offense has been above average (league average O-rating is ~104) in all of them — even against Minnesota — but the defense has been really not great.

Regular Season Table
AdvancedOffensive Four FactorsDefensive Four Factors

Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/16/2017.

While this doesn’t bode well for the team’s current road trip and upcoming difficult stretch in December, there are some positives. If Coach Snyder uses Thabo Sefalosha or Jonas Jerebko at the power forward to start with Gobert, the offense should look just as good and while the defense reverts to the norm.

More from The J-Notes

Overall, this was one of the better Jazz games of the season. Utah led most of the way, but sorely missed Rudy Gobert and Joe Johnson. It looks like we’re figuring some things out and I don’t think the future is as bleak as we had first thought.