In the minutes after Monday night’s road-trip-closing blowout loss in Indiana, Jazz center Rudy Gobert expressed disappointment about the team’s lack of toughness in the defeat. As for the bigger picture, in terms of the team going 2-3 on the trip and falling to 8-9 overall this season, the Frenchman was typically stoic.
“It’s about us. I feel like there’s no game that we couldn’t have won on this trip,” he said. “We can beat everyone, and we can also lose to anyone. We have to put it in our head that we have to come out ready every night.”
That last part resonated with the more fiery and demonstrative Jae Crowder.
The 27-point manhandling by the short-handed Pacers to wrap a five-game stretch that had already featured a 50-point annihilation at the hands of the Mavericks set a bad precedent in the eyes of the forward.
“I don’t wanna overreact, it’s still early. But at the same time … you can’t keep getting your ass kicked like that. That’s an ass-whuppin’ — it sends a message to the whole league,” Crowder said. “… At least we’re aware of it now, and hopefully we get better.”
They need to. Because it doesn’t get a whole lot easier.
Yes, the team just wrapped a five-road-games-in-eight-days stretch. But they’re about to play five of their next seven away from the friendly confines of Vivint Smart Home Arena, too.
A home tilt with the Sacramento Kings is up next on Wednesday, but then the Jazz get right back on a plane for Friday and Sunday games at the Lakers and Kings, respectively. The next home contest — a rematch with the Pacers next Monday — comes on the tail end of a back-to-back. After that, Utah gets another three in a row on the road, against the Nets, Hornets, and Heat.
“We’re basically on a 12-game road trip. We stop off — I don’t think you have a chance to do your laundry — and we’re gone again,” said coach Quin Snyder. “… We’re basically staying in the Mountain time zone for a day. So anything we can do to catch our breath … I’m not lamenting the schedule — it is what it is; we just got a lot of it early.”
Forward Joe Ingles lamented the schedule a bit, saying, “This is crazy,” of the 10 out of 12 on the road stretch, before conceding that having "a great group of guys … makes it a bit easier on the road. We spend time together, we hang out together, it makes it go a little bit quicker.”
A bit easier and a bit quicker — OK, now how do they go about making things a bit better?
Guard Donovan Mitchell said that, for starters, the step-slow effort the team had in Indiana won’t cut it. The Jazz can’t afford a lack of energy on certain occasions.
“That shouldn’t be a problem, shouldn’t be a thought. We should bring it every night,” he said. “There shouldn’t be times when we’re up and down, but that was pretty much the theme of this whole road trip — we were up, then we were down, up and then down. We’ll get back on track.”
In order to do so, though, Utah’s players need to get back to doing the things that have made them successful.
“Make things hard from the beginning. Be more physical from the beginning. That’s our identity. … It’s toughness,” said Gobert. “The good thing is, we have a lot of guys who are tough. We’re a tough-minded team, but we gotta show it. We can’t stop when we’re tired, or we know it’s the last game of a road trip. Every night we should come in with motivation. We should be fired up every night.”
After all, after finally exorcising their Grizzly-shaped demons in Memphis to begin the trip, and earning another big win against the Celtics, only to get destroyed in Dallas, derailed in Philly, and decimated in Indy, these Jazz simply can’t afford to let their effort wane and waver.
“We gotta be consistent. We can’t take anybody for granted. This isn’t last year where we could sneak up on people — they know what we do and how we do it, and they’re trying to take us out of how we do it. We gotta be ready for that challenge,” said Mitchell. “… We’re 16, 17 games in — there shouldn’t be any more shock; we gotta be ready for it.”
Tribune reporter Andy Larsen contributed to this story
JAZZ VS. KINGS
At Vivint Smart Home Arena
Tipoff • Wednesday, 7 p.m.
TV • AT&T SportsNet
Radio • 1280 AM, 97.5 FM
Records • Jazz 8-9; Kings 9-8
Last meeting • Jazz, 123-117 (Oct. 17)
About the Jazz • Utah went 2-3 on its five-game road trip, getting blown out on Monday night by the Pacers. … Ricky Rubio scored a game-high 28 points on 10-of-13 shooting, but backcourt mate Donovan Mitchell failed to reach double-figures in scoring for the first time all season, totaling seven points on 3-for-8 shooting. … The Jazz played the Kings in the regular season opener, and will face them again in Sacramento this Sunday.
About the Kings • Sacramento is coming off a 117-113 victory over Oklahoma City on Monday night that snapped a two-game skid. … Buddy Hield scored 25 points in the win, and No. 2 draft pick Marvin Bailey added 15 points and 13 rebounds. … Hield leads the team with 19.2 ppg, while second-year guard De’Aaron Fox is averaging 18.2 points and 7.4 assists per game.