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Houston • Though two of the Jazz’s first three games were played in the friendly confines of Vivint Smart Home Arena, their schedule is actually pretty road-heavy to start the season.
In fact, their road schedule will be half-finished already by the middle of December.
While their season opener came a week ago in Sacramento, their first road trip gets under way tonight with a game in Houston at the Toyota Center. They follow with games in New Orleans, Dallas, and Minnesota.
Three of those four teams were in the playoffs a year ago, so this trip will be a good opportunity to see how the 1-2 Jazz begin to develop their team identity.
At Wednesday morning’s shootaround at the Tudor Fieldhouse on the Rice University campus in Houston, several players noted that the Jazz really have yet to put together a complete effort in a game. The odd-numbered quarters vs. the Kings were weak, but the even-numbered ones were good. And the defense was not great. Against the Warriors, the defense was improved overall, and the offense was scintillating in the first half, but it slowed to a crawl late. And against the Grizzlies, the defense took another step forward, but the offense regressed further still.
That’ll have to change, said point guard Ricky Rubio.
“We play good as a team for spurts but we didn’t do it a complete game and that’s what great teams do — they keep pounding and keep playing their game for 48 minutes,” he said.
Forward Joe Ingles noted that, at this early juncture, of course the team is still a work in progress.
“We’ve only played three games. We have a lot to work on. Obviously, we’re not gonna be anywhere near where we want to be at the end of the year. We want to build our way up,” he said. “Every day we’re learning, watching, adjusting to who we’re playing, things that work, things that didn’t work. And tonight will be more of the same.”
Week in review
• Donovan Mitchell’s shooting numbers (34 percent FGs, 27.6 percent on 3s) have been bad so far. My fellow Jazz beat writer, Andy Larsen, took a look at why that’s been and what it means. [TRIB]
• Columnist Gordon Monson wrote that while the loss to the Grizzlies was ugly, Rudy Gobert expressed confidence that everything is going to be alright. [TRIB]
• I covered the Grizzlies game, wherein Memphis packed the paint and dared Utah to beat it from the outside. They couldn’t, and lost 92-84. [TRIB]
• One bright spot from that game, as written about by the Tribune’s newest sports writer, Alex Vejar, was the debut of rookie guard Grayson Allen, who scored seven points. [TRIB]
• In his recurring “Triple Team” analysis, Andy gets into further detail about the Grizz’s defense vs. the Jazz. [TRIB]
• I wrote a weekend feature, in which Jazz players expressed that their on-court chemistry and their desire to see each other succeed could make a big difference. [TRIB]
• Andy goes into the NBA’s emphasis on “freedom of movement,” and how related calls have helped scoring around the league. [TRIB]
• After two games, the Jazz looked completely different from what everyone expected — the offense was explosive and the defense had been exposed a bit. [TRIB]
• After scoring 81 first-half points against the Warriors, the Jazz’s offense slowed late, and a familiar face made them pay. [TRIB]
• Jazz coach Quin Snyder and Warriors coach Steve Kerr both marveled at Rudy Gobert’s ever-growing game. [TRIB]
• Gordon’s column from the Warriors game pointed out that, positive as that game was, it showed that Utah still has a ways to go. [TRIB]
• Andy’s Triple Team from the Golden State game points out that sometimes, no matter what you do, it doesn’t matter when you face Kevin Durant and Steph Curry. [TRIB]
• And finally, the man who’d been the Jazz’s mascot for nearly a quarter of a century was fired last week. [TRIB]
Some other perspectives
• Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post wrote about how the Jazz aren’t going to be able to sneak up on anybody this season. [WaPo]
• Ryan McDonald of the Deseret News delved a bit into the Jazz saying the offense needs to improve. [DesNews]
• Perhaps you’ve noticed some more colorful footwear on the court this year? With most of the previous rules restrictions gone, the Jazz’s YouTube channel posted a short video about some of the players' new kicks. [YouTube]
• SFGate pointed out Steph Curry and Klay Thompson trolling the Jazz with their “They didn’t want ya, Jonas!” social media posts, following Jonas Jerebko’s game-winning tip-in. [SFGate]
• Rockets PG Chris Paul won’t play vs. the Jazz, due to his suspension for fighting the Lakers' Rajon Rondo. Here’s some Houston Chronicle coverage of the Paul aftermath. [HouChron]