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SALT LAKE CITY — Before the 2013-14 season began Utah Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey said coach Tyrone Corbin and the Jazz wouldn't be judged on wins and losses, but rather on development, defense and discipline.
In Monday's game against the Atlanta Hawks, the Jazz saw all three points falter at different points, which led to a narrow 112-110 loss.
The lack of defense was the first missing step. The Jazz gave up open shot after open shot in the first half. Credit goes to the Hawks for hitting shots, but the Jazz were giving up those shots.
Over the past seven games, where the Jazz were on the road for six and went 1-6, Utah had given up 49.5 percent shooting to the opposing team. On top of that it have allowed 25.4 assists per game.
In the first half Monday the Hawks shot 51 percent with 15 assists and led, 59-44.
For the game, a trio of former Jazz players — Kyle Korver, DeMarre Carroll and Paul Millsap — combined to score 60 points on for 9-of-13 shooting from the three-point line.
In the first half the group combined for 32 points, just 12 shy of what all the current Jazz players scored. The Jazz were looking at a 15-point deficit coming out of halftime. It was a lead they would extinguish, but the Jazz couldn't overcome after some mistakes and unfortunate breaks.
The Jazz couldn't find their discipline early in the game, or late in the game either. Trey Burke talked about his struggles early on.
“I think my first half I took a couple of shots I had no business taking,” Burke said. “I think it was just out of nothing was happening, I had the ball in my hand, I was holding it too long and I just shot it.”
Burke ended the first half going 1of 5 from the field for two points. In the meantime, he only had one assist, while the Jazz as a whole only had five assists in the first half.
It wasn't just Burke who was undisciplined with his shot selection and discipline. Derrick Favors had two quick fouls and ended the first half with three. The big man had foul troubles in the past, but has been good over the past few months.
Favors has averaged about 2.5 fouls since February, but ended the night with five. He hasn't had five fouls for nearly two months — since Jan. 13 to be exact.
Gordon Hayward also had an especially undisciplined first half. He had as many turnovers as rebounds and assists, while scoring only two points.
However, the second half showed what Jazz fans have clamored for: development. The Jazz found energy, desire, defense or whatever else it was to turn the game around.
“I wanted to just make a change the second half, take good shots, get other guys going,” Burke said. “You see the percentages going up. I just got to continually make the right play for the team."
Burke made a huge step in the second half. In the previous seven games he had averaged 7.4 points per game. In the second half, when the Jazz were down a lot, he scored 21. Ultimately, he got the Jazz back into the game. Hayward had nine points, with six rebounds and assists. The Jazz steamed back into the game in the third quarter where they outscored the Hawks 36-19.
“Hustle, energy, execution,” Corbin said. “Being determined to get to your spots early. Being aggressive on the defensive end. We changed our pick-and-roll coverage a little bit, we were able to get some hands on some balls and get some turnovers to get some transition baskets. I thought we learned our lesson from the first half and got a lot more aggressive.”
However, like so many games this season, the Jazz fell on the wrong side of the scoreboard. The Jazz fought and scrapped to get back into the game, but weren't able to close the deal.
If the game was decided by Lindsey's 3 D's, then there would be mixed results. The defense wasn't there to start, but adjustments held the Hawks to 19 points in a quarter. However, the Jazz gave up more than 30 points in two quarters.
The Jazz were missing discipline on shot selection and with foul trouble. In the third the discipline was there. The Jazz have also shown development to play with each other. Seven players scored in double-figures and the young core played together.
Burke knows what he did right and wrong and fixed mistakes in the middle of the game.
Exactly how Lindsey and the front office judges this game could be another story. As the season comes into its final 20 games the Jazz will have to prove that the 3 D's are working.
It's very hard to judge these three keys in a one-game vacuum. Even when the season is sliced into sections the 3 D's are more prevalent at certain times more than others. Lindsey and Corbin could be together for a long time, or just one season.
Games like this could shape and mold the Jazz for this season and seasons to come.