Frustration reigns as Jazz teamwork stalls to a halt in Game 6 loss

Utah Jazz's Rudy Gobert, right, grabs the jersey of Denver Nuggets' Jamal Murray as he shoots during the second half of an NBA basketball first round playoff game Sunday, Aug. 30, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Rudy Gobert kicked a chair during one timeout. At the end of the contest, Donovan Mitchell pushed down an exercise bike as he walked off the court.

And you can understand their frustration: The Jazz’s offense was beautiful in the first four games of the series. It was equally ugly in the second half of Game 5, and nearly all of Game 6.

Time and time again, the offense slowed to a halt as either Mitchell or Jordan Clarkson or Mike Conley dribbled the ball up top. They abandoned their typical Gobert screening offense, instead focusing on trying to attack Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. one-on-one.

Other than some Mitchell magic — he had 44 points on 14-of-25 shooting from the field on some pretty difficult looks — it clearly wasn’t effective. Some of that was the level of hesitance displayed by Royce O’Neale and Joe Ingles, who took only four shots each all night, with a combined 10 points. When the star guards did pass to them, they stalled, then passed it right back rather than taking the open shots.

“I think it’s that as the game progressed, our decisions weren’t as quick. You’ve got a short window to shoot the ball, you need to shoot it, pass it or drive it,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said.

Mitchell also lamented his team’s lack of point-of-attack aggression in Game 6.

“The more aggressive team, the more locked-in team on the details is going to be the one that wins the series,” Mitchell said.

But as much as anything, the Jazz seemed to stall because they were in their own heads, as there was obvious frustration everywhere. On a rare instance late when Gobert came up to set a screen, Mitchell waved him off. On an early fourth-quarter opportunity, the Jazz blew a defensive switch, allowing Nikola Jokic to take and make a wide open three. Communication certainly occurred, but it was the emotional type, not the effective type.

Oh, and there were the off-court incidents — the chair kick, the bike toss — too.

“I’m a competitor. Sometimes you get frustrated. It’s probably not the first chair that I’ve kicked,” Gobert explained. “Hopefully the last, but I guess that it probably won’t be the last. So I have to keep my emotions, but sometimes I’ve got to let it out. It happens.”

After the game, Mitchell was asked about the team’s “down” demeanor during the game. He didn’t think that adjective fit.

“If we’re down now, then we’ve already lost Game 7. I don’t think anybody’s down,” he said. “I think pissed is the right word.”