What do you do when a team racks up 137 points on you? Wipe the slate clean? Just move on?
If only, Joe Ingles said. In the Utah Jazz’s Monday practice, less than 24 hours removed from loss in which James Harden scored 56 points against them, the sting was still fresh.
“It’s pretty hard to forget,” Joe Ingles said. “That [expletive] was embarrassing, really.”
Known for their vaunted defense, the Jazz (5-5) hadn’t allowed an opponent to shoot over 53.5 percent in any game since last February. In back-to-back games, the Toronto Raptors and the Rockets were able to surpass that mark, led by extraordinary individual scoring performances. Only two nights after DeMar DeRozan notched 37, Harden surpassed his career high while shooting a jaw-dropping 19 for 25 from the floor.
Coach Quin Snyder said that some allowances can be made for a player who gets as hot as Harden, an MVP finalist last year, can get. But other areas the Jazz could’ve controlled in a 137-110 loss were overlooked.
Snyder pointed to the end of the first quarter, when Harden was allowed to run the length of the court and hit a 3-pointer. In other instances, the Jazz didn’t switch on defense when they were supposed to, he said.
“You just have to refocus and be solid,” Snyder said. “We weren’t disciplined. There’s always slippage throughout the season. We had some slippage last night and got our tails kicked by one of the best offensive teams in the league. You learn from it. We don’t ignore or forget about it.”
Monday’s practice focused on some of those mistakes and paying attention to defensive details, Ekpe Udoh said. Going into Tuesday’s game against Philadelphia, the Jazz want to be sharper in assignments and return to winning at home.
The Jazz remain the No. 8 team in the league in defensive rating. On Tuesday night, they want to look like it.
“It was a letdown,” Udoh said. “Next time we’ll be ready.”
Mitchell is on a run
He looked like the rookie he is in the Jazz’s first five game, but in the five games since, Donovan Mitchell has been a sparkplug for Utah’s offense.
In the drubbing by Houston, Mitchell again led the Jazz in scoring with 17 points, the third time he’s managed that this season. Over that stretch, he has averaging 20 points per game while shooting 46.2 percent (as opposed to 7 ppg with 23.1 percent shooting in his first five). According to NBA Stats, Jazz lineups with Mitchell have a 106.8 offensive rating versus a 94.5 rating when he’s off — the second-largest differential only to Jonas Jerebko (who has played only 45 minutes).
Snyder joked that the Jazz can’t play him for the full 48 minutes, but that Mitchell’s role so far has been comparable to many of the top rookies in the league. Mitchell plays 25 minutes per game, which is more than any other bench player on the Jazz.
“We’re just trying to get better, we’re trying to help him get better,” Snyder said. “That stuff takes time.”
Sixers’ Embid won’t play Tuesday
The Process won’t be on full display on Tuesday night: Philadelphia announced Monday that Joel Embiid, the 76ers’ 7-foot center, would rest against the Jazz as the team tries to regulate his playing time.
Embiid has been haunted by injury, only playing 39 games since being drafted in 2014. He’s played one career game against Utah, out-scoring and out-rebounding Rudy Gobert but losing the game to the Jazz. This season, he’s one of four players averaging more than 20 points and 10 rebounds.
While the suspended Gobert-Embiid match-up may be downer for fans, Snyder said he’s not taking the Sixers any less seriously.
“I don’t think it changes the way teams play, how they compete — one of the things they have is depth,” Snyder said. “Obviously he’s a heck of a player, but it’s not uncommon that teams respond to those situations. We gotta be ready to go”