SALT LAKE CITY - The Jazz are having issues all over the court, sometimes it is the front court, the shooting or the defense, but there are two places where the Jazz are always having problems: early and on the road.
The road woes for the Jazz are well documented at this point and piling up with a loss to the Kings over the weekend. The more disconcerting area is the slow starts. These aren't simply relegated to the big lineup, but they are very prevalent over the past two weeks.
The Jazz haven't been starting necessarily strong all season, but the last two weeks starting with their road trip have compounded the issue.
Here are the facts for the first three minutes of the games. In the first seven games of the season, three home and four road, the Jazz were down 40-35. They were down outscored 18-15 at home and 22-20 on the road. That would be perfectly fine, there were some good early performances and bad ones, but ultimately they were pretty even.
The last seven games is where the slow start happened, beginning with Toronto on the road. After three minutes they were down 8-4 (11-4 after 3:03) and that was actually a pretty good start, compared to the rest of the road trip.
In Boston they fell 4-0, Philly 10-4 and that is when coach Tyrone Corbin made the starting line switch to the big line with Mo Williams, Randy Foye, Paul Millsap, Derrick Favors and Al Jefferson. Hoping to overpower teams early on, but it wasn't working.
CBSsports.com wrote a recap of the Washington game, the first with the new line, and one player was already unsure about the starts, "It's uncertain if Corbin will stick with the same starting lineup as Utah tries to improve to 4-0 at home, but forward Paul Millsap doesn't seem to be a big fan of the new starting five.
'I didn't feel too comfortable with it,' Millsap said after scoring a season-low six points."
They started the game 4-0 in the first three, but it extended to 0-11 after 5:30. The Jazz didn't score their first points until 7:01 left in the quarter. Against the Rockets at home the slump continued by being outscored 9-2 three minutes in.
The big lineup didn't really get a chance after that, actually it went defunct after a minute, but still there was no consistency.
But the Jazz were supposed to get a reprieve in the form of a home game with the Kings. Lindysports.com wrote about Corbin's new look that was supposed to get things going faster.
"Even after Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin adjusted his starting lineup in hopes of reversing a trend of slow starts, Utah found itself trailing 9-4 out of the gates."
This game also marked the loss of Mo Williams, so Jamaal Tinsley had to step in to start as the Jazz traveled to Sacramento. Things still didn't go so well as the Jazz down 8-0, this time it carried into the second half as well, as David Locke points on in his blog.
"The bench that was so good last night didn't do the same in the 3rd quarter but the slow starts were an issue again as well, Jazz fell behind 8-0 to start and then the Kings opened the 3rd quarter on a 9-3 run. The last two nights the opening of the 1st and 3rd quarters were really tough."
The start of the second half was bad against the Kings that night. However it hasn't been that bad over the six previous where they were really bad to open the game, the Jazz were even coming out of the break for the first three minutes.
Ultimately over the past seven games the Jazz have been outscored 52-14 in the first three minutes of their games. It could be stretched to 62-14 with the 76ers and Raptors game. The home game against the Suns on Nov. 10 was the last time they had a lead after three minutes.
Another player that needs to bear some blame is Foye, the 3-point specialist for the Jazz has been down 37-6 with the Jazz in his four starts.
The road is a problem, but like ESPN's Power Ranking talks about, "As previously stated, I'd really rather not keep coming back to Utah's well-documented issues with taking its show on the road. But what choice does a committee have when the Jazz are 5-0 on their floor, winning by an average of 10.8 points, and 2-7 away after getting dumped in Sacramento?"
Road woes and bad early starts probably go hand in hand. And it could come down to consistency. When the Jazz use a new lineup than the previous night they are down 24-11. On the comforts of their home crowd and floor they can regain composure, and they struggle otherwise.
If it is about playing with some continuity tonight will be a good test. Mo Williams will be out at least for tonight's home game against the Nuggets, so the squad of Tinsley, Foye, Marvin Williams, Millsap and Jefferson will be starting their second in a row together.
If it doesn't work, then Jazz fans might just have to tune in a little late for each game until Corbin finds the right mixture or ride out some tough times until the starting line can gel together.