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SALT LAKE CITY — With there being a lot of superstitious people in sports, don’t be too surprised if Utah’s yellow statement jerseys magically disappear before the next time the Jazz are scheduled to wear them.
Entering Friday’s game against San Antonio, the Jazz were 1-6 when wearing yellow. In their other four? 35-12. It probably isn’t a coincidence the Jazz haven’t worn it since Dec. 2.
So with those threads back on, maybe there was no stopping what happened at Vivint Arena in Utah’s first game back from the All-Star break. There might just be actually a curse on those things.
The Jazz (36-19) were run off the court on Friday. San Antonio went on a 17-0 tear near the end of the second half and Utah never recovered in a 113-104 loss.
But no fabric could have helped the Jazz on Friday.
Maybe the Jazz wouldn’t have committed nine turnovers in the first half, many of which were live-ball ones that led to 12 San Antonio points, if they had been in their purple throwbacks.
Or maybe they wouldn’t have struggled to stay connected to shooters, allowing the Spurs to shoot 50% from 3, if they were in the City Edition reds.
Or maybe, just maybe, they wouldn’t have had so much tunnel vision on drives, missing shooters in the corner, if they were wearing their usual white or blues.
But the problem wasn’t the jerseys, it was the players in them.
“We got what we earned tonight,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “Give San Antonio credit. They came and played with force. They were not just the more aggressive team, but the most aggressive team by a long way in the first half and even throughout the course of the game.”
The Jazz allowed 65 points in the first half, coming out of the All-Star break with an absolute thud. On Thursday, the Jazz talked about the need for urgency as the season shifted into the final run. They showed little against the Spurs. They got hit in the mouth out of the gate and kept getting punched throughout the game.
“There are games where we've won off playing bad defense and good offense and we can't rely on that come this half of the season and playoffs,” Donovan Mitchell said. “When the offense is struggling, we got to pick it up to a higher level and we just didn't. We weren't there at all.”
The Spurs got comfortable early and that set the tone for the rest of the game. Even when the Jazz had moments of good basketball, it wasn’t long before San Antonio answered.
Utah had a 12-2 run in the second quarter where things seemed to click — but that was almost immediately followed by San Antonio’s 17-0 run. There was a quick 5-0 spurt to start the second half that made it look like the Jazz had woken up — but that was quickly forgotten as San Antonio soon built up a 25-point advantage. There was Emmanuel Mudiay’s 18-point second half where his quick pace helped Utah cut a 25-point deficit to 12 with 10 minutes remaining — but the Jazz never really made the Spurs sweat a comeback.
Rudy Gobert had 18 points and 14 rebounds, but even he wasn’t blameless on the defensive end, not being forceful enough to challenge midrange shots.
Mitchell had just 12 points on 5-of-14 shooting, Bojan Bogdanovic was 3 of 13 from the field for 15 points and Joe Ingles finished with just 8 points. It was a sorry night all across the board.
If it weren’t for Mudiay’s attempt to drag the Jazz back in the second half, things would have looked much worse. And they looked pretty bad as is.
“I just didn’t think that we were focused defensively,” Snyder said. “We lacked urgency. Everything. We just capitulated too easily in lots of situations.”
The good news, if there was any, is the Jazz get a chance to forget about this one pretty quickly with a game against Houston on Saturday.
Oh, and they won’t be wearing their yellow statement jerseys.