Jazz searching for ways to keep games close

Blowouts, such as Monday’s 121-88 loss to Indiana, becoming all too common

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Jazz forward Joe Ingles (2) drives on Indiana Pacers forward Bojan Bogdanovic (44). Utah Jazz v Indiana Pacers, NBA basketball at Vivint SmartHome Arena in Salt Lake City on Monday Nov. 26, 2018.

The Utah Jazz fell by another big margin Monday in their 121-88 loss to the Indiana Pacers. Last week, against the same team, the Jazz lost by another sizable number.

The bad losses are beginning to become a trend for the 9-12 Jazz, who lost by a whopping 50 points earlier this month to the Dallas Mavericks. Joe Ingles spoke of the big losses Utah has incurred.

“When we’ve lost this year, we’ve lost,” Ingles said. “We haven’t kind of been in the game by the end of it. It’s been pretty big margins.”

Ingles said the disappointing part of those losses has been that the team hasn’t been able to chip away at a normally manageable 10-point deficit. What’s been happening instead is a 10-point lead quickly goes to 15 and 20 for the opponent, effectively ending the game early for the Jazz.

“That’s hurting us because we can’t figure out a way obviously right now to get it from 10 and go on a little run and get some stops,” Ingles said. “It’s going to keep hurting us until we figure it out.”

What Ingles described is exactly what happened Monday. The Jazz trailed by eight after the first quarter and defended a bit better in the second, although they had an 11-point deficit by halftime. But late in the third, things went from bad to worse as Utah found itself down 21 with 3:30 to play in that quarter.

“We can’t keep losing by 20, 30 points like that,” Thabo Sefolosha said. “We have to find a way.”

Jae Crowder thinks the way the Jazz must find is to string together some defensive stops — specifically three stops in a row. He said he could not think of a time the team had three stops in a row.

“When you get stops in a row, it helps you — instead of guys making shots,” Crowder said. “I feel like the first five possessions of the game, [the Pacers] scored — not jump shots; free-throw line. I think that gives the opposing team confidence, especially when they’re on the road.”

Crowder said when the deficit has ballooned in some games, players on the team starting hanging their heads and “not believing it.”

“I feel like in the NBA, 10 points is nothing, especially with the way the pace of the game is today,” Crowder said. “I just feel like once we get that one come-from-behind win, I think guys will start to believe it.”

Although the big margins seem to be an increasingly painful thorn in the Jazz’s side, Rudy Gobert believes the team isn’t giving up.

“When we’re down 10, we talk to each other, we try hard to make a run [and] come back in the game,” Gobert said. “At the same time, the other team knows when they’re up 10, they know that every bucket is a big bucket because it can put us out the game.”