The Utah Jazz are 11 games into an 82-game season. So, even with a 5-6 record, it’s too early to truly panic.
At the same time, Tuesday’s 104-97 home loss to the Philadelphia 76ers is the latest example of a trend that should give the Jazz cause for angst. With a home game against the Miami Heat on the horizon Friday, the Jazz are riding a three-game losing streak, with each defeat producing worse results than the last.
And now, the Jazz are reeling. They’ve lost their past two home games. They are the only team in the NBA without a road win. And they’ve been largely non-competitive during their losing skid.
“Right now, we’re too much in our own heads,” Jazz forward Thabo Sefolosha said. “We’re too worried about not making shots and it’s affecting our defense.”
Last Friday’s loss to the Toronto Raptors could be explained as a team getting hot against the Jazz. But on Sunday, Houston’s James Harden dropped 56 points and 13 assists on Utah. In the moments after what ended up a 137-110 drubbing against the Rockets, Jazz players and coaches spoke of resolve and energy and resilience.
Heat at Jazz
When • Friday, 7 p.m.
TV • ATTSN
It seemed like a watershed moment. Except that it wasn’t.
On Tuesday, the Jazz displayed more of the same bad habits: Against the Sixers, there was little life on either end of the floor until a furious rally in the waning moments of the fourth quarter. The Jazz shot the ball poorly, defended poorly and never led after the opening moments. The game ended with scattered boos from the Vivint Smart Home Arena crowd, and those in attendance started filing out well before the final buzzer.
“All of us, we have to look at ourselves in the mirror and play a little harder,” Sefolosha said. “We haven’t had the focus we’ve needed, and I think especially after the game we played in Houston, we need to play better.”
As was the case Sunday, the Jazz locker room carried an air of frustration after the loss to Philadelphia. Almost an hour after the 104-97 loss, Jazz power forward Derrick Favors was still fully dressed in his uniform, leaning back in his chair, staring aimlessly at the ceiling.
The usual playful banter between Jazz players didn’t exist. The only chatter came from the media in sporadic interviews. Many of the players had already dressed and left by the time coach Quin Snyder finished his postgame talk with the media, atypical for home games.
The players who stuck around were succinct. Shooting guard Rodney Hood said he and the team needed to “show some pride.” Favors spoke about playing better on both ends of the floor. The overall mood? Fix whatever is wrong — and fast.
Said Hood: “X’s and O’s only get you so far in this league. We have to play with better pride and better intensity, especially starting out the game. I think times within the game, teams go on runs. Sometimes when you aren’t hitting shots, it affects the defensive end and vice-versa. We’ll figure it out. But obviously, what we want to happen isn’t happening right now.”
Tuesday revealed how ugly the Jazz can look if they aren’t playing well at both ends of the floor. They shot 30 percent from the field and made 9-of-39 of their 3-point attempts against the Sixers. In part because of all the missed shots, they surrendered a 23-10 run to start the game and a 21-7 run to start the third quarter.
Time and again, the Jazz missed wide open looks from 3-point range. Rookie Donovan Mitchell went 3-of-21 from the field. Hood went 4-of-14 and Ricky Rubio went 4-of-16 and turned the ball over four times. Rudy Gobert was the only Jazz starter who played well, with 16 points and 15 rebounds.
The alarming thing about the loss to the Sixers: Star center Joel Embiid didn’t play, and Philadelphia is typically a different team for the worse when he’s not on the floor. Defensively, the Jazz did a good job against star rookie Ben Simmons, who shot 7-of-22 from the field. On paper, those two factors should’ve been enough to get the Jazz a home win. But Utah couldn’t control Dario Saric, who scored a game-high 25 points, or onetime Clippers nemesis JJ Redick, who chipped in with 20.
“We need to play with more focus,” Favors said. “We have to figure things out and see what we’re doing wrong. We’re just not making shots right now. We have to get better.”
Down in the dumps
• Utah is riding a season-high three game losing streak. The Jazz have lost two of those three games at Vivint Smart Home Arena
• On Tuesday, the Jazz lost to the Sixers on their home floor for thefirst time since 2005, when Allen Iverson still played for Philadelphia.
• Utah is currently the only team in the NBA without a road win. The Jazzare 0-4 away from Vivint Smart Home Arena. They’ve lost those four roadgames by an average of 14 points
• The Jazz have three games remaining in their homestand, starting with the Miami Heat on Friday.