Joe Ingles clearly didn’t want to speak to the media after the Jazz were boatraced by the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday night. But he did. He eschewed the new practice of coming over to stand in front of a Jazz-themed backdrop set up in the locker room postgame and instead instructed the few remaining media members lingering at that point to come talk to him at his locker.
And, as usual, once he got past his schtick of aggrieved annoyance at having to do a postmortem on what had just occurred, he had plenty of telling insights. Key among them this time: In his opinion, it’s not one big, immediately recognizable problem area hurting the Jazz, but a bunch of smaller issues that collectively add up.
“Just little things on both ends of the floor. I mean, Quin’s challenged me personally — [during free throw attempts], usually I’m maybe arguing with the referee or something when I could get our team into where we want to be. And that’s on me,” he said. “Little things like that can help us. I can make sure everyone knows what we’re in and we can execute like we want to execute. There’s a million situations, obviously, that we could break down.”
Asked to look back on the past few seasons when the Jazz started poorly and to assess what the team did to turn things around, Ingles quipped (albeit in semi-seriousness), “I don’t remember what we did last week.”
He then elaborated by drawing on a familiar theme — with this many new players around, chemistry isn’t instantaneous, no matter how much they’re yearning for it right now.
“I guess it’s hard, ’cause we are a completely different team than we were. Everyone’s kinda talked a little bit about we’ve got 10 new guys, or whatever it’s been, and incorporating them into the system. A little bit of that has been our struggle,” Ingles added. “The more we play together and the more we’re around it together and the more practices and games — obviously, I have no doubt that we’ll put it all together. We are a really good team. We’ll continue to get better and better. As boring as it sounds, the more we’re out there together, the more we’re making mistakes together, and making good plays together, we’re gonna continue to get better. That’s just the continuity of being out there together, as boring as that is.”
In case you missed it
You may have noticed that the Jazz’s bench has not been consistently productive this season. Andy Larsen breaks down Utah’s limited options for doing something about it.
Meanwhile, Andy’s postgame Triple Teams are always a popular read, but his philosophical manifesto about the present state of sports in the state following the Jazz’s loss to OKC really seemed to resonate with people. Meanwhile, I don’t typically post game stories here, but Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert had so many interesting things to say about where the Jazz are right now, I think it’s worth your while if you didn’t catch it before.
Beyond that, I wrote a feature looking at Utah’s supposed ease of schedule in December and whether the team can take advantage of it. I also caught up with former Jazz players Grayson Allen and Jae Crowder before and after the Grizzlies game last Saturday, to see how they’re doing in Memphis. I also profiled reserve center Ed Davis, who is making an impact for the Jazz with both words and deeds.
Other people’s stuff …
Naturally, after the disappointing nature of the loss to the Thunder, there were plenty of soul-searching-type stories written about the Jazz. Here’s some of it:
• Tony Jones of The Athletic, who’s been loudly beating the drum of patience for Jazz fans, acknowledges this team has already had a lot of so-called season-defining losses. That said, he again reminds us all, there are a lot of games yet to be played, and time still to turn things around.
• Jasen Lee (who has done a great job filling in on the beat for the Deseret News, and who is just one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet) riffed on the old Vin Scully line, “Good is not good enough when better is expected,” noting that the Jazz themselves are frustrated with how they’re playing.
• I have never before read anything from CCN (which touts itself as “a news site reporting on Markets, Tech, Gaming & Sports”), but they published an NBA op-ed from “veteran NBA writer” Jack Winter which declares “The Rebuilt, Slumping Utah Jazz Aren’t NBA Title Contenders After All,” for what it’s worth.
• Along those lines, Ryan Miller of KSL asks — among other questions — if it’s time to start to start adjusting expectations for this team.
• Forbes contributor Ben Dowsett is typically employs a behind-the-numbers analysis-type approach, but this team, he takes a detour into the existential and more undefinable world of how such issues as connectivity and physicality are plaguing the Jazz.
Tonight, the Jazz are in Minneapolis, taking on Karl-Anthony Towns and the Timberwolves (and just so you know, The Tribune’s Andy Larsen is the only Jazz beat writer who made the trip, so be sure to read his insights after the game). Afterward, they return home Friday to take on the Warriors, then will have a whopping three days off before facing the Magic at The Viv. Beyond that, the team’s final pre-Christmas slate entails a three-game road trip to Atlanta, Charlotte, and Miami, where your’s truly will covering all the action.