HOW ‘BOUT THIS JAZZ? UTAH FALLS TO MAVERICKS JV SQUAD
HOW ‘BOUT THIS JAZZ? (GAME 55)
UTAH FALLS TO MAVERICKS JV SQUAD, 124-111
As a Jazz fan you may have had some questions going into Monday nights tilt VS the Dallas Mavericks. You may have asked yourself if the Jazz had the ability to potentially push for homecourt advantage in the playoffs being only a handful of games behind, despite being 10th in the standings. Maybe you asked yourself if players hearing their names in every trade rumor under the sun took a toll on them. If either of those questions tumbled around in your noggin, Monday’s loss to Dallas should give you an answer. D-Wade picked the wrong game to show up too as the Jazz looked atrocious for one of the first times all season. Now with two straight losses on their home floor, they seem to be much more in line with the tanking team Jazz fans expected than the one who laid claim to one of the NBA’s best starts. Now with Dallas crossing the point of no return and trading for Kyrie Irving to pair next to Luka Doncic, the loss was understandable. Afterall, the Dallas superstars combined for 58 points in the win. But one glaring issue here…. Doncic and Irving didn’t play. Neither did Maxi Kleber or Davis Bertans or even Markieff Morris. The two guys who combined for 58 points were Josh Green and Jaden Hardy. Jaden Hardy was a 2nd round selection this last draft and had only seen 26 games of NBA action. He has scored more than 10 points in 7 of those 26 games. He had on game of those 26 with more than 20 points. Hardy stepped up in extended minutes and throttled the Jazz to his current career high of 29. Good for Hardy, good for the Mavs, bad for Utah. Seemingly even more disappointing was Josh Green and his dominance on the hardwood in the Jazz loss. Green is a former 18th overall pick and finds himself in his third season. Josh Green has appeared 141 times. He has scored more than 20 points only once in his career, earlier this season against Denver. After last night, you can say he’s done it twice. Two new Career highs for Dallas players at 29 apiece. The Jazz didn’t just get diced up defensively, they got diced up by guys who rarely ever cook.
If you feel that is embarrassing, imagine how Coach Will Hardy felt after being a 9-point favorite at home. Talking to the mdi after the game he busted out his best dad impression by saying that this was the first game this season he has felt disappointed. He said they didn’t deserve to win, so they didn’t. Players admitted to it being a “weird night” according to Mike Conley. Jordan Clarkson would mention that “outside noise” is starting to possibly seep in affecting focus. Newly minted All-Star, Lauri Markkanen, mentioned a lack of focus as well, noting that rotations and schemes were off. Nothing was more apparent of this than Udoka Azubuike, in his third year, getting rare minutes and having to be told where to stand offensively as pointed out by Andy Larsen. He, like the rest of the Jazz looked lost, as the home team blew an early 15-point lead and then were routinely bested by Dallas role players and bench sitters. It was not Christian Wood going supernova as he only had six points, or Tim Hardaway Jr carrying the load with his 17, it was simply the Mavericks looking like the better all around ball club on a night where they were missing half of their roster. Jarred Vanderbilt is likely thankful he was held out due to back spasms, and for Jazz fans who want to see more wins and more success, they might need to wait until these trade rumors become fact or become null and void altogether this Thursday.
Jordan Clarkson was the only Jazz man with more than 20 at 26 points but failed to hit from downtown and had a team high 4 turnovers. Lauri Markkanen failed to score more than 20 for the first time since December 17th. Markkanen would have 19 points on 17 attempts going 1 0f 7 from beyond the arc. Other Jazz players in double figures included Olynyk, Kessler, Conley, Sexton and Gay. Despite those 7 players scoring what they did, the team shot 6 of 31 from deep for 19.4 percent qualifying for worst shooting performance of the year. Also, credit, must be given to the Dallas defense as they removed any rhythm Utah was hoping to establish. They took charges, dove on lose balls, did everything it takes to put the opposition away. The Jazz offense has failed to eclipse 111 points in three of their last 4 games. They average 117 a game usually.
You would be hard pressed to find a player who played well in all aspects of the game. Mike Conley was stellar with 50 percent shooting and 11 assists. Kessler was fine with 13 and 9 and 3 blocks but really no one had a great overall or memorable game. Ochai Agbaji who has shown flashes of brilliance was almost invisible in his 13 and a half minutes. He is rumored to be untouchable in trade talks, and the Jazz are hopeful for his future, but along with the resto f the team he didn’t offer much in the loss. He took 3 shots, hit one three in the corner and then did some cardio. No rebounds, no assist, no steals, blocks, not even a turnover. He did however pick up a foul. The real culprit for Tank commander though is Trader Danny. Ainge is wheeling and dealing behind the scenes. According to the Athletics’ Tony Jones he has discussed deals with every other team in the association. They are sellers one minute and potential buyers the next. The Jazz are arguably the biggest wildcard as we near the trade deadline and that uncertainty that fans feel of what may or may not happen is affecting the players who wear the J-note on their chest. Hard to focus and play when it may be your last game in Highlighter Yellow.
THREE KEY NUMBERS:
With the 124-111 win in Salt Lake City, the Mavericks accomplished with their skeleton crew something they haven’t done all year. They won a game without Luka Doncic. Dallas is now 1-7 without Doncic suiting up and 1-0 without Kyrie Irving.
No, we are not done ripping on the Jazz effort, cleverly disguised as praise for Dallas. The Mavericks had 17 offensive rebounds against Kelly Olynyk and Walker Kessler’s crew, per StatMuse. This is the most they have had in a single game this season. They outrebounded the Jazz as a whole to the tune of 49-37 with 7 more offensive boards. Combining Walker Kessler’s 9 rebounds and Lauri Markkanen’s 7 would give you the same number of boards that Dwight Powell had all by himself.
If you thought and Jazz Mavericks rivalry disappeared with Mitchell, Gobert and Bogdanovic getting traded, Jaden Hardy would like to tell you your wrong. According to Dallasbasketball.com, Hardy would mention postgame how disrespected the team felt before tip off even went down. “We felt like once they came out with 12 minutes on the clock to warm up, they were not taking us seriously. Once we saw that, everybody locked in.” I don’t know how accurate it is since the Mavericks did fall behind by 15 to start, but they certainly locked in at one point during the game. They played with an edge, and any team that does so in a league where it can be easy to get complacent is always dangerous.
OPPOSING FAN COMMENT OF THE NIGHT:
“Jazz coach about to cry? Or is that his face?” -AzkarZ