The Utah Jazz must find a way to snap out of what is becoming a legit funk.
A franchise-record 28 rebounds from Rudy Gobert to go along with his four blocks and 24 points despite only 10 shot attempts. Another 24 and 23 points, respectively, from the other two Utah Jazz 2021 All-Stars in Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley. Throw in 21 points from NBA Sixth Man of the Year contender Jordan Clarkson.
Welp, it was all for naught on Sunday.
On the home floor of a Golden State Warriors squad that was coming off four straight losses, the league-leading Jazz fell, 131-119, marking the third defeat in their past four outings, also the fourth across their past six.
Once again, the loss looked to be far from a fluky occurrence.
After leading for all of 17 seconds midway through the first quarter, Utah (28-10 and now 12-8 away from home) routinely struggled to execute its quick-trigger “smart shot” offense.
Instead, time and again, Golden State (20-19) opted to freely switch its defenders on most screens at the top of the key, thereby making life uncomfortable for the Jazz, who are in relatively short supply when it comes to guys who can consistently create off the dribble in these ensuing iso situations without constantly turning the ball over.
Yet so often they tried anyway to do more than their individual toolboxes offer — particularly in the first half as Utah faced a 67-54 hole at the break — when they probably should’ve instead reset the offense.
Utah Jazz letting the same recent issues arise
As has been the case way too often as of late, the Utah Jazz perimeter weapons unsuccessfully tried to forcefully break the paint to carve out a kick out for an open three; rather, even against the Golden State Warriors’ second unit, they rarely even sniffed the paint off the bounce before handing the ball to a defender.
Other times, Utah’s inability to pull off its bread and butter, largely due to the aforementioned clever defensive tactic by several recent opponents, led to forced 3-point attempts. Those then resulted in long rebounds and easy finishes at the other end by the Warriors as the Jazzmen failed to come up with 50/50 balls while also failing to get back on defense.
So both by 12 steals for Golden State and by bricked heaves from deep for Utah — to the tune of a 15-for-44 clip from downtown and way too many difficult attempts of the stepback and sidestep variety — the Jazz dug themselves in too deep of a hole when considering their unwillingness to turn the energy level up a notch to prevent the subsequent Warrior fastbreaks.
The frequency of said fastbreaks showed up in Golden State’s 56.2 field goal percentage, including a 51.6 percent from beyond the arc that was made easier by open looks in transition.
Too many loosey-goosey handles by Utah. Not enough crisp passing and moving without the ball. Too many 3-ball prayers. Not enough urgency on D.
That’s the Jazz’s formula for losing right now. And that’s quite opposite to the poetry in motion during a 20-1 stretch from early January to the middle of February.
Having the NBA’s best record put a bullseye on their chest. With that came revised efforts to expose their weaknesses.
Your move, Utah.
The Utah Jazz will now get ready for what will be the second outing in their five-game road trip when they play the Boston Celtics (19-18) at 5:30 p.m. MT Tuesday.