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Jeffrey D. Allred, KSL

'The season's not over': Jazz looking to start long climb to get back in series

By Ryan Miller, KSL.com | Posted - Apr 21st, 2019 @ 8:02pm



SALT LAKE CITY — It was a long night for Kyle Korver.

Following the Utah Jazz’s Game 3 loss to the Houston Rockets on Saturday, the veteran wing player found it difficult to get to sleep. Not even 16 years of experience with plenty of losses on the game’s biggest stages has made playoff defeats any easier to deal with.

His mind and body were restless. And he wasn’t the only one Jazz player experiencing that.

The Jazz know the stat: no team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series. A win on Saturday would have put Utah back in the series. But with the loss … well, it made for a lot of thinking.

“You know you’re down 3-0, but what does that bring out of you? That is the question,” Korver said. “Does it bring out something good? Does it bring out urgency? Or, does it bring in something else? I would like to think that we will bring in something good. But we’ll find out.”

The Jazz will find out on Monday in Game 4 against the Rockets (8:30 p.m., TNT). A game that could mark the end of Utah's season.

That realization has come quickly for the Jazz.

Two weeks ago, the same fans, who on Saturday made their way slowly out of Vivint Arena, were discussing potential paths to the Western Conference Finals — with some even allowing themselves to dream further than that.

But a nightmare matchup and even worse shooting have put the Jazz in their current position: one loss away from calling it a year.

Monday's game, though, could also be the first step toward history. Or at the very least a chance to show a little bit of pride.

“I don’t think anyone is just going to lay over Monday, I don’t think that’s going to be the case,” Donovan Mitchell said. “I don’t think, the organization, that’s what we’re based on. You can say no team’s come back from 3-0, but no team had come back from 3-1 and that happened, so that’s where our mindset’s at.”

The Jazz played their best game of the series in Game 3. They were assertive on offense, aggressive on defense and outplayed the Rockets — they still lost. But instead of being discouraged by that result, they’ve chosen to look at all the good things that came out of Saturday’s loss.

“We got to find the positives, right?” Korver said. “The season's not over.”

Sure, James Harden probably won’t start 0-for-15 again, but the defense that forced him into difficult looks can still be there. And maybe they can take advantage of an offense that generated 24 wide open 3-pointers by making more than four of them.

The Jazz have shot awfully in the entire series. They are 12-of-64 on wide open 3-pointers (defenders 6 or more feet away). Joe Ingles is 2-for-12 on those shots, Royce O’Neale is 3-for-11 and Donovan Mitchell is 1-for-8.

The Jazz shot 38.6 percent on those shots during the regular season. That’s dropped to 19 percent in the playoffs. That isn’t Houston’s defense, the Jazz are just missing.

It's a team-wide epidemic, and it's the main reason Utah lost Game 3 and failed to be competitive in the first two games of the series.

“I think shooting is contagious,” Korver said. “When there have been some misses in a row, each one feels a little bit bigger. That's the natural thing that happens. … We need to step into those and shoot them with confidence.”

If a few of those go down on Monday, Game 4 could be the start of a climb to get back into the series.

But, if not, a long night could turn into a long offseason.

“It’s an uphill battle, but we are not just going to roll over and give them a game,” Mitchell said. “That’s not who we are, it’s not who any of us are. … We are not afraid, you saw that (Saturday) and we are going to keep playing.”

Ryan Miller

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