SALT LAKE CITY — It wasn't what ESPN had in mind when they put the Nets-Jazz on the national television lineup. But a win's a win, right?
The Jazz made easy work of the Brooklyn JV squad, winning 118-88 Wednesday in their return home from a long road trip. The Nets sat just about everyone and the Jazz improved their NBA-best record (32-11) — let's go to the comments.
"What's with (the Nets) keeping all of their stars out? Are they just "resting" them until the playoffs? There should be a fine for something like this, and yes, I know the Jazz have done the same thing. I just don't think it is fair to the fans, that's all." — water rockets
Fun fact: There is a fine — and a substantial one for teams that choose to rest players for a nationally televised game, like Wednesday's one. Teams can be penalized up to $100,000 if it's discovered a healthy player sat out one of the ESPN/TNT broadcasts for nothing but "load management." So is the hammer gonna fall on the Nets? Not likely.
Kyrie Irving isn't on Brooklyn's current road trip due to personal reasons.
Kevin Durant is also back in Brooklyn rehabbing from a hamstring strain.
Blake Griffin isn't playing both games of back-to-backs because of injury management.
James Harden had been listed as questionable in games leading up to Wednesday's game. Nets coach Steve Nash said, "I'm sure James would've wanted to play. … I think sometimes you have to protect him from himself."
Landry Shamet injured his ankle Sunday and hasn't yet returned.
So legit reasons across the board. Now, Joe Harris only playing the first five minutes of the game and DeAndre Jordan only being in for 12 minutes was a pretty blatant show that the Nets had little to no interest in playing rotation players. But it's Harris and Jordan — the league isn't gonna hand out fines for resting them.
In the end, the Nets sat out practically their entire regular rotation — exactly what a fine threat is supposed to stop from happening. For the most part, though, the injuries were real, and this week's lineup of nationally televised games shows that the league may need to adapt a bit in trying to find the best games of the night.
On Tuesday, TNT hosted a doubleheader that featured the Lakers sans LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and the Steph Curry-less Warriors team. Broadcasting teams are calling games from the comfort of their homes — why not use that unique setup to flex games in and out of the national spotlight?
For example, on Tuesday, the league could have pivoted away from a starless Lakers squad to show the Suns and Heat. And instead of watching Draymond Green lead the Warriors, they could have pivoted to showing Damian Lillard and Harden go at it.
There wasn't a natural replacement for Nets-Jazz on Wednesday (Clippers-Spurs, maybe? But that one turned out to be a snoozer as well), and there's obviously logistics that would have to be worked out to make it possible, but it's a weird season — the NBA should take the chance to do some more broadcast experimenting.
Now, that does nothing for local audiences (and the Jazz have had some interesting luck of not facing top teams at full strength this season), but at least it would help things out at a national level.
"That turned out the way it should have. I'm pretty sick of playing all the good teams with their stars out. It does nothing for us. On to the next, I guess!" — TheHollows
There's no denying Wednesday's Nets-Jazz game had the air taken out of it due to the Nets' injury woes. The fans felt it — and so did the players.
"You want to play against the likes of KD, James Harden — that's the competitor in me; the competitor in everybody," Donovan Mitchell said.
But the Jazz still feel like they got something out of the game. No, it wasn't a matchup against a Finals favorite, but in a way, it was a matchup against themselves. Mitchell thought back to the first game after the All-Star break when the Jazz played a similarly injured-ravaged Houston Rockets squad. Things got a lot closer than they should have in that one.
"The biggest thing was start strong, continue to play strong, continue to play the right way, continue to do what we do and keep it that way for the full 48 minutes," Mitchell said. "And I think we did a good job of that tonight."
The Jazz were up by 21 at the end of the first half and led by as many as 38. The Nets offered little resistance — showed by how they pulled Harris after the first five minutes of the game, realizing that it'd probably be more beneficial to get him some rest, too.
So in the end, it was Jazz vs. Jazz. Could they keep up the intensity on the defensive glass and in transition when they had such a talent advantage? They had let that effort and focus slip before — and recently, too — so while Wednesday's game was far from a measuring stick, at least the Jazz got something out of it.
"We're not gonna change how we play or our mindset because guys aren't in the game," Mitchell said. "I think that's what we showed tonight. We've had instances in my time here where we've played differently because guys have been out. I think tonight really showed the mental fortitude we had throughout the entire game to continue to keep our foot on the pedal."
"Clarkson will definitely come back! A player of his extraordinary talent won't be in a slump for long" — Waldo
Is that you, Quin Snyder?
Jordan Clarkson has quietly been in a slump for some time now, but it's really gotten louder over the last week or so. In the past six games, he's shooting 29% from the field and 26% from the 3-point line. Against Brooklyn, Clarkson sure looked like he was trying to shoot himself out of it.
He was 1-of-15 from the field and 1-of-11 from 3. He took shots that were deep, contested and didn't come up all that close. But that quick trigger helped make him the front runner for Sixth Man of the Year, so Snyder isn't about to tell him to stop playing like himself.
"I don't want to overreact to one or two games for any of our guys. We know who Jordan is — he's had far more games where he's made shots," Snyder said. "I think the thing we saw is there's other ways to impact the game. I thought you saw him really dig in defensively in the second half, he got in the lane and kicked it out a few times."