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SALT LAKE CITY — Three thoughts on the Jazz's huge 118-81 loss to the San Antonio Spurs by KSL.com's Utah Jazz beat writer, Andy Larsen.
1. Jazz get embarrassed by the Spurs in San Antonio
Look, it wasn't a good situation for the Jazz. In terms of scheduling, this is approximately the hardest game context imaginable, the true definition of a "schedule loss". They were playing the San Antonio Spurs on the road as the fifth game in seven nights, and the second game of a back-to-back in which they even looked tired playing in overtime the night before in Oklahoma City.
The previously undefeated Warriors got their first loss of the season in a similar situation against the Milwaukee Bucks Saturday night. Believe it or not, after tonight, the Spurs actually have a higher point differential on the season than the Warriors do. San Antonio, like Golden State, is also undefeated at home. It's an open question which team is better.
But, as my friend Jeff said on Twitter tonight, this was a schedule loss, not a scheduled embarrassment. The Jazz lost by 37, and quite frankly, the scoreline probably flatters them a little bit. The starters were clearly gassed on both ends. Hayward finished with just four points and a team low -42 in only 22 minutes of play, frankly, that's an impressive accomplishment. Only Derrick Favors really showed up to play, ending with 16 points in 24 minutes.
Everyone on the team was easily beaten by the Spurs' offensive attack, regardless if it was Kawhi Leonard or Matt Bonner doing the scoring. Over and over again, the Spurs made work of the Jazz's defense, finding open shots for their entire roster. The Jazz's starting rookies have generally done an okay job on the defensive end, but tonight, Raul Neto couldn't stay with Tony Parker, and Trey Lyles couldn't hold a candle to LaMarcus Aldridge.
On offense, the team settled for some iffy looks, not having the energy to get all the way to the rim to get layups or kick out for threes. Instead, they took mid-range looks, which their tired legs forced short. The Spurs have the best defense in the NBA, and for that matter, one of the best defenses in the 3-point era, but the Jazz couldn't get anything going at all.
In the end, it's a disappointing performance from the team, which fought against long odds against OKC, but didn't do that at all Monday night. The good news: the Jazz go from second-best to second-worst in the Western Conference, as they play the Pelicans Wednesday.
2. Starting lineup back to before
Saturday night, the Jazz started Alec Burks in place of Raul Neto. In the Jazz's first matchup against the Thunder, Neto had significant troubles with the athleticism of Russell Westbrook, and so it made sense to move Burks in the starting role there. The returns were mixed: while the Jazz's start was better, their 3rd-quarter performance was worse.
Tonight, with Neto fresh, and Parker a better matchup, it made some sense to return back to Neto starting, in theory anyway. In practice, it didn't work at all, as the Jazz's start immediately took the team out of the game. It's worth noting that the bench didn't perform any better, though.
Especially on a team like the Jazz, where the system largely doesn't change based on the personnel on the floor, it makes sense to change the starting lineup based on matchups and fatigue levels. It happens in European basketball quite frequently. I asked Quin Snyder about his philosophy on the practice about a month ago, and he said it was something they might be comfortable with, but at that time, he liked the starting lineup as it was.
Along those same lines, it would have also been interesting to see Jeff Withey in the starting lineup Monday night, as his length would have had a better chance against Tim Duncan or Aldridge than Lyles did.
3. Taking your trade ideas
Naturally, fans were upset during and after the loss, and want to see a trade to improve the team's roster. Frequently, on our radio show, we take suggestions for a segment we call the "Crazy Trade Idea of the Week", I figured it might be a fun diversion to do the same in the Triple Team tonight. Here are three crazy trade ideas:
@andyblarsen Booker+Warriors (or Thuder) 1st for McRoberts and Beno Udrih. Heat (Currently 6th in East) get cap relief and future asset. — casey greer (@caseygreer2) December 15, 2015
My question: does this actually improve the Jazz? Right now, Josh McRoberts has a 9.9 PER, and Beno Udrih has a 7.7 PER. Should the Jazz give up a future 1st round draft pick to get players of that caliber? This is especially true because neither of those players have great defensive reputations, though McRoberts' stats are surprisingly decent. I doubt the Jazz would do it.
@andyblarsen Alec Burks and Trey Lyles to LAL for Clarkson and Kelly and a pick. — Jordan Hansen (@JordanHansen16) December 15, 2015
Did you know Alec Burks is less than a year older than Jordan Clarkson? I didn't, I thought it was a bigger gap. But I think Burks is better than Clarkson now, and the age and contractual difference isn't enough to give up on Trey Lyles so soon. Although, it depends what kind of pick the Lakers would include: if it's a Lakers first rounder, then you'd do it immediately because the Lakers are terrible. Also, this trade doesn't work under the CBA, as the Lakers are over the salary cap.
@andyblarsen Trey Lyles, Booker, and 1st rounder to ATL for Schroeder, Scott, and Hardaway Jr. — Toli Vlamakis (@TVlamakis) December 15, 2015
This trade does work salary-wise, which is good! This move would really be a referendum on how you feel about Dennis Schroder. Schroder's really struggled with his shot this season, shooting under 40% from the field and 28 percent from three. He's also yet to be a positive defensive player, though he's just 22 years old. Mike Scott is a nice piece, though was arrested on drug charges this summer. Tim Hardaway Jr. is struggling. You'd probably need to find something to do with Trey Burke after the season, as having Exum, Burke, Neto, and Schroder is probably going to be too many PGs for not enough minutes. I also suspect that the Hawks would be looking for more to move Schroder.
Feel free to post more trade ideas in the comments below.