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Quin Snyder was never one of those people who thought bringing back 13 players from a season ago would equate to the Jazz getting off to a good start.
After the Celtics nearly rallied back from a 20-point deficit last Friday, Snyder was asked if it was concerning that a team with this much experience together was still struggling after a dozen games this year. His answer was revealing.
“There’s an assumption that we started the year with things figured out. And that enthusiasm and those assumptions, that doesn’t help you play,” he said. “Who you are, and our identity as a team, we have to hold on tight to that, we have to stay focused on it. Sometimes it takes competition to give you a good look in the mirror, and then there’s a reality and you respond to it and get better.”
In effect, players, teams, and the league as a whole are all different enough that last year doesn’t mean much this year, even if that was the hope going in.
One thing that is a concern, however, is that aforementioned blown lead in the Celtics game.
It’s happened on several occasions already this season that the Jazz will race out to a double-digit lead in the first half, only to fritter most or all of it away post-halftime.
“We kinda just got relaxed. I think it’s lack of focus — that’s the biggest thing,” Donovan Mitchell said at practice on Sunday.
Week in review
• The Mavs gave the Jazz their second worst loss in franchise history. Here’s how Andy Larsen started his story: “Fifty.” [TRIB]
• Andy, who is covering the Jazz’s present road trip, noted that while the team is leading the NBA in free-throw rate, they are just 22nd overall in free-throw percentage. [TRIB] And here’s his Triple Team from that epic beatdown. [TRIB]
• Andy also wrote about where on the court the team is taking its shots. The positive news is that mid-rangers have been de-emphasized in favor of more at the rim and more corner 3s. [TRIB]
• I previewed the five-game road trip. Rather than complaining about the unfairness of a stretch that will see them play 10 out of 12 games away from The Viv, the Jazz say they’re treating it all as “an opportunity.” [TRIB]
• Thabo Sefolosha was eligible to come back after his five-game suspension, but he hasn’t seen much court time since. Many fans have asked why. Andy went ahead and answered the question. [TRIB]
• Andy and I take turns writing a weekend column about an NBA-centric issue. This past weekend, I wrote about the renewed round of discussion taking place about “unwritten rules” in the wake of last week’s Nuggets-Celtics game. The NBA only has one. [TRIB]
• You may have heard some discussion last week about the return of “He Who Shall Not Be Named.” [Hint: It wasn’t Voldemort.]
• Joe Ingles took an appendage to the face against the Grizzlies on Monday, causing some bleeding, which led to him playing the final minutes of the game with his noggin bandaged. This, of course, has sparked the Twitter hashtag #HeadbandJoe, generated plenty of reactions, and even brought some devotees out out of the woodwork:
• When Derrick Favors told me during the preseason that he was “dead-ass serious” about his 3-point shooting, I took to calling every deep ball he hits “a dead-ass serious 3-pointer” on Twitter. SLC Dunk takes a look at whether Fav is actually a legit long-ball threat these days. [SLC Dunk]
• Most NBA teams have a corporate logo patch on their jerseys these days, including the Jazz, who sold their space to Provo-based software company Qualtrics. Rather than simply display their brand, though, they came up with a “5 for the Fight” patch to encourage donations to cancer research. When Qualtrics was sold to German company SAP this week for a reported $8 billion, CNBC reported that one of the many people who reached out to Qualtrics CEO Ryan Smith was Jazz point guard Ricky Rubio — who wanted to know what would become of 5 for the Fight. [CNBC]
Quote of the week
Jae Crowder was clearly emotional after playing such a central role in beating the Celtics last week. He hadn’t forgotten Boston fans cheering for a visiting Gordon Hayward two years ago, chanting his name, essentially begging him to come take Crowder’s spot in the lineup. Following Crowder’s 20-point effort that included, in effect, a clinching 3-pointer, Snyder gave the forward a big embrace. Postgame, he explained why:
“Jae deserves emotion from other people because he gives so much of it. He’s got a heartbeat, and you can feel it, and I think he gives that to our team. We didn’t have him all year last year, but his role has grown and grown. … Hearing his voice is important for our team, because he plays so hard you have to respect it.”
— Quin Snyder
Three of the five games on this road trip remain. The Jazz are off Thursday. Friday and Saturday will see them play back-to-back games in Philadelphia and Boston, respectively. Then, after taking Sunday off, they’ll be in Indiana next Monday. The team’s next home game comes a week from today when they host the Sacramento Kings.