The Weekly Run: Jazz are struggling big-time, but insist ‘we’re not gonna start fraying’

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

The Weekly Run is a weekly Salt Lake Tribune newletter on the Utah Jazz. Subscribe here.

Monday’s 33-point loss to the Pacers at Vivint Smart Home Arena was not only the Jazz’s second-worst home defeat ever, and their sixth loss in their past eight games — it also seemed to serve as a flashpoint for some oppositional defiance.

It manifested itself in different ways, of course.

Jae Crowder was not taking issue with anyone in particular, but with the idea that the 9-12 start is who the Jazz are.

“We’re in the thick of playing not like we want to play. I just feel like we can’t hang our heads. We gotta keep playing and keep grinding it out,” he said. “… This shows what each guy in the locker room brings, what we’re all made of. I’m sure as hell not gonna give up. I feel like the guys in the locker room are not gonna give up. It’s early — I’m upset about the loss, but I’m not down on the guys. We gotta keep pushing and find a way.”

Joe Ingles, meanwhile, started off by expressing general frustration about the team’s home struggles, small deficits becoming big ones, not doing the little things, and good practice habits not translating into good on-court results. A question about living up to expectations, though, saw him take things in the “everyone’s against us direction,” as he suggested the media was enjoying the Jazz’s struggles because it generates clicks, and he pushed a narrative that some external forces were trying to divide the team.

“We worry about the guys that are in here, and that’s it. That’s all we can do. We stick together — we’re not gonna start fraying and blame it on an individual or our coach. There’s none of that with this team. We’re gonna keep grinding and doing what we do,” he said. “… Everyone from 1 to 15 is doing the right things. We know that.”

The next chance to prove the critics — real or otherwise — wrong comes tonight in Brooklyn against the Nets.

Week in review

• With the season now a quarter over, Trib writer Andy Larsen checked in with Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey to get his thoughts on the early returns. His assessment? It’s still too early to make big assessments. He did acknowledge turnovers have been a problem, though. [TRIB]

• Trib columnist Gordon Monson, conversely, had no problem drawing some concrete conclusions following the loss to the Pacers. His assessment? This year’s poor start isn’t comparable to last year’s; 2-6 at home is a joke; the defense is subpar; and the outside shooting leaves a lot to be desired. [TRIB]

• As Jingles himself noted, these Jazz have a habit of letting a 10-point deficit quickly become 20, and 20 become 30. The Trib’s Alex Vejar wrote about that phenomenon in the wake of the Indiana blowout. [TRIB]

• Some fans have been calling for Jae Crowder to start staring ahead of Derrick Favors. I wrote about exactly that happening Sunday in Sacramento. [TRIB]

• Some fans have also wondered if last year’s finish and bringing back virtually the entire roster from that team made the Jazz a bit overconfident this season. So I asked. [TRIB]

• In today’s NBA, you want opponents taking midrange shots, because they’re not as high-percentage as shots at the rim, and they’re not worth as much as 3s. As Andy noted, the Jazz are forcing teams into those shots, but not guarding players sufficiently when they do. [TRIB]

Other voices

• Ingles' accusation of people trying to divide the team was weird at the time. But after the game, reporters stumbled on a tweet from Fox Sports radio host Doug Gottlieb. Maybe this is what Joe was talking about? [Twitter]

• Deseret News writer Eric Woodyard is quite the sneaker-head. So naturally he wrote about adidas pushing Mitchell as one of its next stars at an event today in Brooklyn. [DesNews]

• Ever wondered about all the gear that goes into a game? Aaron Falk, a feature writer for utahjazz.com profiles the team’s equipment manager, Adam Klauke, and all that he’s responsible for. [Utah Jazz]

• ESPN took a good-natured swipe at Jingles in a tweet. After Rockets star James Harden rocked a headband the other night and scored 54 points in the process, “NBA on ESPN” took a look at some of the season’s notable performances of players wearing the accoutrement, including a certain game in Memphis when a certain Jazz forward incurred a head wound. [Twitter]

• The SB Nation-based Brooklyn fan blog Nets Daily did a small preview of tonight’s game about the Jazz, which piled on to those “External expectations” by calling them “disappointing” in the headline. [Nets Daily]

Quote of the week

Ingles did say one extremely relevant thing in the Pacers postgame. People keep drawing parallels between last year’s 19-28 start, and last year’s 29-6 finish, and this year’s 9-12 start. He said it’s time for all that to end:

“We’re not the team we were last year. … We can’t keep going back to or relying on the team from last year — that’s gone, it’s over. … We can’t wait until we’re 19 and … whatever the hell we were last year to decide to wake up and start playing. We’ve got an opportunity to do it quickly and now, and the quicker we can do it, the better for our group.”

— Joe Ingles

Up next

Tonight, of course, is the start of a three-game road trip, with the game in Brooklyn slated for a 5:30 p.m.MT tipoff. On Friday, the Jazz are in Charlotte, and on Sunday, they’ll visit Miami. The team’s next home game comes next Tuesday against San Antonio.