Three thoughts on the Jazz’s 123-101 win over the Sacramento Kings from Salt Lake Tribune Jazz beat writer Andy Larsen.
1. Jazz destroy Kings’ awful defense
The Jazz scored on their first 10 possessions, so they started the game up 24-10. The game was pretty much won at that point.
There are so many examples of Kings incompetence to show you, both from that stretch and from this game, so choosing was hard. But here’s one Gobert alley-oop:
The Kings somehow mess up so that both Nemanja Bjelica and Marvin Bagley are at the free throw line for a Joe Ingles/Rudy Gobert pick and roll. Like, Ingles could have taken the shot and it would have been wide open, but since dunks are better than threes, you might as well pass it to Gobert for the easy two.
Or this. What is this?
Where is Bagley going? What is anyone doing? Why is it all so easy?
I mean, credit the Jazz for taking advantage. This is certainly a staple of Jazz teams in recent years, taking advantage of bad defenses with surgical precision. Tonight was an example of that.
My favorite aspect of tonight’s game was this shot chart. Look, ma, no mid-range shots!
That’s one of the benefits of playing a bad defense: you don’t have to take low-percentage shots. The Kings tried both a switching defense and a heavy-help-from-the-corners defense, but the Jazz will pick both apart for easy threes and layups.
As a side note, I’m also very unconvinced that Luke Walton is a good coach.
2. Mike Conley’s return
Mike Conley made his triumphant return on Saturday, playing 15 minutes, scoring three points on 1-3 3-point shooting and adding three assists and two steals.
That 3 in the points column might seem disappointing, but I really liked what Conley did in his return. Essentially, because he was just on a minutes restriction, he took Emmanuel Mudiay’s role, relegating the latter to DNP-except-in-garbage-time.
Conley’s much more adept at moving the ball than Mudiay — even with Mudiay’s improvement at that — and he’s also much more of a weapon as a shooter. Whereas teams aren’t too afraid to help off of Mudiay at the 3-point line, losing Conley out there will likely cost you.
And so you get possessions like this. This play at the end of the first quarter was basketball nirvana. There’s nothing better than selfless ball movement and passing like this.
That’s six passes in eight seconds? And four floor reversals? Like, it’s just impossible for a defense to keep track of that much ball movement, and those are long passes too.
Conley’s minutes will continue to increase, and I expect him to find his spot back in the starting lineup, likely in place of Royce O’Neale. He’ll be another cog that speeds up the blender, which can only help.
"That was Jazz basketball to the ‘T’ right there. For me, it was like I am not going to be the one to come in here and mess up all this stuff that we have going, so make sure and move that ball and that is what we did and that’s just what we do. We find guys open and we make an unselfish play.”
By the way, I thought it was notable that after Conley hit his three, at the next timeout, he got a lineup of teammates, waiting to hug him. Not just high-fives, but huge hugs. The reigning Teammate of the Year is beloved in Utah.
3. TV issues
Comcast users never got to watch tonight’s game. We’ll let an AT&T SportsNet statement explain why.
“During tonight’s Utah Jazz game there was a transmission failure that affected cable homes. The redundant system that manages how game telecasts are distributed to cable systems failed. Despite immediate and continuous efforts by broadcast engineers to fix the problem, it was not resolved before the conclusion of the game. We sincerely apologize to those Jazz fans who were not able to watch tonight’s game.”
Things break, stuff happens. But it sure feels like this happens more with AT&T SportsNet broadcasts than any other broadcast. Less than two weeks ago, the audio cut out for all of pregame and a majority of the first half. Think about your other favorite shows — sports or otherwise. How many times have they failed in the last two weeks? The answer is probably zero.
From what I understand, the problems have essentially zero to do with anyone within the arena. AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain is headquartered in Colorado. I only heard a snippet of a conversation, but it sounded like tonight’s problem might have had something to do with cable distributors in Atlanta. The Jazz’s local TV producers, directors, and talent all are doing their jobs, and the broadcast technicians are sending the signal correctly, but then something screws up further up the line.
But the pattern of failure isn’t exactly surprising given how low-budget the AT&T SportsNet broadcasts have been in other ways. We’ve written plenty about their lack of streaming options, where they remain one of the only teams in the league without an over-the-top streaming service. (One of the other holdouts, Houston, also uses AT&T SportsNet.) But the broadcasts themselves feel a little bit cheap, too: I like Alema Harrington, Thurl Bailey, and Mike Smith, but the pre/half/post games look low-resolution.
Another thing that bugs me: there’s no supporting content other than pre/half/post. Other teams have a post-post-game show, where they’ll take viewer calls and texts and talk about the game. Some have weekly wrapup shows, talking about and showing what’s going on with the team. The Jazz have a ton of interest — second in the league in ratings last year! — and they should have stuff like that.
But AT&T SportsNet doesn’t really care. AT&T allegedly wants to sell off their RSNs, so they’re not going to invest in something they’re just going to sell. Nor are they excited to invest in new content, or new infrastructure, when their contract with the Jazz ends in 2021: there’s just not enough long-term upside for the short-term cost spent.
Past Jazz management deserves some blame for this. Randy Rigby and Greg Miller were in charge when this contract was signed in 2009, and they didn’t look forward to secure streaming rights, nor specify an adequate minimum level of coverage. They just took the money, and signed a 12-year deal that looks antiquated now.
The Jazz are about to negotiate a new TV deal, and my understanding is that these issues are top priorities for the current leadership as they do so. It will be interesting to see who wins the bidding. To be honest, there aren’t a bundle of competitors for the deal like there might be in a bigger market: there aren’t multiple Utah-based RSNs that could bid against one another for a deal. And there’s not a lot of evidence that streaming competitors like YouTube TV or FuboTV are spending big money on TV contracts for just one team. They might need AT&T SportsNet — or whatever it ends up getting renamed after it is sold — to be in the bidding.
Right now, though, they’re losing fans. People who have understandably moved on from cable and satellite TV providers in the age of the internet are becoming less attached to their team without a way to watch it. And even the people who have stayed subscribed couldn’t watch tonight’s game. It could be worse: Denver fans aren’t able to watch any games at all. But it’s certainly not good.