It was easy to give the Utah Jazz’s loss to the Warriors on Monday night a certain amount of doom-and-gloom treatment.
A second loss to the play-in tournament-bound Warriors since the All-Star break … continuing struggles with turnovers, transition, and switching defenses … Jordan Clarkson’s 33-shot, zero-assist performance …
And yet, the Jazz were not exactly distraught afterward.
Feeling like they could have played better and won the game? Sure.
Feeling as though there are massive issues to address over the final three regular-season games, beginning with Wednesday night’s home finale against the Blazers? Not really.
A cynic would suggest they are, of course, simply trying to control the narrative following a defeat that shouldn’t have been. And maybe they are. It doesn’t necessarily mean they’re wrong.
After going all glass-half-empty Monday night, a glass-half-full perspective in the aftermath might not be the worst idea.
JAZZ VS. TRAIL BLAZERS
At Vivint Smart Home Arena
When • Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.
TV • ATTSN
So then, for starters, they were pretty thrilled that, after going down by 18 with 7:39 left to play, they rallied to actually take the lead with 1:47 remaining.
“We started making shots, start getting out in transition, we got stops, we kept playing and scoring,” noted Clarkson.
“Overall, it was a good game from our side,” added Bojan Bogdanovic. “I mean, we were right where we wanted to be — we got the lead and the ball with 40 seconds to go. So [we showed] great fight.”
While the Jazz acknowledge there were many issues that led to the deficit in the first place, they also saw promise in both their ability to get things turned around in a hurry, as well as the mental fortitude required to simply not pack it up for the night once the game seemed to get out of control.
“I was really proud of the way we competed,” said coach Quin Snyder. “To me, that’s the overarching thing to take from this game.”
Of course, an offshoot component of the comeback is Clarkson’s play.
It goes without saying that he fueled the team’s rally, scoring 24 of their 41 fourth-quarter points. It also goes without saying that he, in part, fueled the need for the rally, owing to a 6-for-17 overall, 0-for-7 from 3 first half. Meanwhile he finished with a by-far team-worst minus-17 plus/minus rating, and took almost a shot per minute, while contributing none of the team’s already-paltry 14 assists.
While fans and media took a lukewarm view of the sixth man’s performance, the team was seemingly straightforward about it — he did what he always does, and his very-down-then-very-up play was nothing more than a manifestation of his instant-memory-loss approach.
“That’s who he is. We know how hot he can get. No matter if he is 0 for 10, he will keep keep shooting, and that’s what we want from him, especially right now when we have [Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley] out,” explained Bogdanovic. “We were down 18, and he was really on fire in the fourth quarter. He got us back in the game, and that’s what we really want from him.”
Snyder added that Clarkson is pretty unique in his ability to be remorseless about firing away again and again even after a slow start, but that he doesn’t view the trait as a negative in general, and didn’t Monday night specifically.
“He did a great job of adjusting to the way he was being guarded, where he took some of those clean 3s off the dribble in transition, and then he got to the rim,” Snyder explained. “… Jordan is mentally tough. And when you have a guy that believes in himself like that, who has the confidence he has, he’s able to really get to the next play when he misses those shots. He gives himself a chance to do that with his frame of mind, and he competes. So, no, I haven’t been around a lot of guys like him, and I love that I get to be around him.”
Clarkson, naturally, didn’t see what the big deal was about taking 33 shots off the bench. He was simply, as he put it, adhering to “the flow of the game.
“I just kept attacking in the second half, I just tried to will us to a win and to a comeback,” Clarkson added. “I just kept continuing to play, and we had a chance to win the game. So, you know, I think it worked out.”