OKLAHOMA CITY — Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder talked about how there were “little things all over” the court on Monday night that led to the Jazz’s 122-113 loss to Oklahoma City.
They were easy to spot.
Utah was thoroughly outplayed by the Thunder for much of the game, but there was a brief spell in the 3rd quarter that the Jazz threatened to make things interesting. They didn’t, but they did show why they've been so inconsistent this season.
Not finishing defensive possessions
With 8:58 remaining in the 3rd quarter, Joe Ingles drove to the basket for a layup that cut the Thunder lead to 12 points. On the ensuing Thunder possession, Russell Westbrook 3-point attempt popped off the rim, but the Jazz didn't get the rebound. Instead, Steven Adams collected the board and the play eventually ended in a Paul George 3-pointer.
On the next Thunder possession, after yet another Ingles’ layup, Westbrook missed a pull-up jumper. Once again, Adams was there to collect the rebound and this time he finished the play himself with a soft hook shot.
George got another triple off yet another offensive rebound just a minute later. Westbrook had a layup blocked. Adams got the rebound. George drilled the 3. That triple started the big run that saw the Thunder push the lead to 24 by the end of the quarter.
“Defensive rebounds we have to work on,” Donovan Mitchell said.
The Jazz actually outrebounded the Thunder 45-43 in the game, but it was those missed ones that loomed large. The Jazz had a chance to make it a game, but couldn't finish off those defensive possessions.
Snyder proved to be prophetic on Monday
Before the game, the Jazz coach said if the Jazz can’t take care of the ball, they’ll be in for “a long night.”
They didn’t. And they were.
Utah actually averages about the same number of turnovers (right around 16) in wins and losses. But why it was so important on Monday was because that’s what the Thunder thrive on. OKC leads the league in points off turnovers at 21.6. They got 23 against the Jazz off 20 Utah turnovers. And if OKC had kept the intensity throughout the fourth quarter, it likely would have been more.
The concerning part is the Jazz knew what the Thunder were going to try and do and didn't have an answer for it. That's been a trend in the blowouts this year.
“You have to be stronger with the ball and you got to execute,” Mitchell said.
The Jazz failed to execute and they paid the price.
“We have to be more forceful,” Snyder said. “You have to respond to that. That can’t force you into your mistakes. You have to play through that.”
Or just have a long night.
Shots weren't falling
Sometimes, basketball is a simple game. If the shots are falling, you win. If they aren’t, you don’t.
In the 13 Utah wins this year, the Jazz have shot 36.9 percent from the 3-point line. That number drops to 29.9 in losses. Against OKC, the Jazz shot 27.6 percent from deep (8-for-29) — so no surprise, the Jazz lost.
Kyle Korver was 1-for-7, Ingles was 0-for-2, Mitchell was 3-for-8 (with one being a half-court heave) and Ricky Rubio was 0-for-3.
The Jazz roster is full of inconsistent shooters. It’s why Snyder has stressed the defensive side of the ball so much this season. Even when Utah has a great shooting night, he turns the focus to how Utah played on the defensive end. He knows that’s how Utah will be able to consistently win games.
But as of now, the Jazz are still waiting for that to happen.