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SALT LAKE CITY — There wasn't a late scuffle to overshadow the Jazz's performance on Saturday. Frankly, it would have taken an all-out brawl in order to distract fans this time.
A late surge wasn't enough to mask the fact that Utah is officially in a slump. And from the looks of Saturday's 111-105 loss to Miami, it might be a bad one.
The final score might not show it — Utah went on a 24-4 run to make it look a lot closer than it was — but Saturday was straight up a blowout. Miami was up by as many as 27 points and led by more than 20 for the first six minutes of the fourth quarter before Utah rallied late.
Did the Jazz show some fight or heart or pride or whatever cliche adjective you want to use? Sure, but what happened in the first 42 minutes was the much bigger element to Saturday's matinee at Vivint Arena.
Especially since it's becoming a new trend for Utah.
The Jazz have now lost four of their last five games, a stretch that was never this bad last season.
Saturday's defeat caps off what has been a rough seven days for the Jazz, starting with last weekend's loss in Miami. Since then, Utah has been surprisingly topped by the Orlando Magic and looked lethargic (at least until Rudy Gobert and Myles Turner got into a hugging match) in a loss to the Indiana Pacers Thursday.
There's been constants in each of those contests — woeful starts, lack of rebounding, bad transition defense, poor communication — but all those things and more were present Saturday against the Heat.
Every Miami basket during the first three-plus quarters can likely show some sort of defensive lapse.
Here are some examples:
Tyler Herro, who finished with 27 points to lead the Heat, got an easy-backdoor layup after Royce O'Neale completely dies on a screen. Either O'Neale has to fight through that or there has to be some communication with Jordan Clarkson to switch.
Clarkson completely lost Robinson on a cut to the basket as he tries to jump a passing lane. In most games, Clarkson would likely have been able to count on Gobert for some help, but he's occupied with Bam Adebayo. Clarkson has to know he can't stunt like that.
Was Bojan Bogdanovic going for a steal here instead of sticking with Herro? Was he and O'Neale supposed to switch? Whatever the case, it was bad.
"Miami gives you plenty of opportunities to have those breakdowns," Snyder said.
The Heat are no doubt a hard team to guard; they run multiple actions each possession and make you defend for the duration of the shot clock. What's likely the most annoying part for fans is the Jazz clearly showed they could hang. It wasn't like Utah's late run came when Miami emptied the bench; the Jazz's urgency picked up, the defensive lapses stopped and a comeback happened.
"As a team, (you can't) have the score dictate your urgency," Snyder said.
That right there may be Utah's biggest problem during this recent lull. The Jazz have either let teams back into games or waited until a monumental comeback was needed in order to fully engage.
As Donovan Mitchell, who finished with 22 points six rebounds and six steals, thought back to the late fourth-quarter surge, he had the same question many fans probably did: "Where the hell was that (for the first 42 minutes)?
"We can't be a team that gets down to lock in," he continued. "We can't do that. We've gotten to that point a few times. We got to come out ready, especially a team like this."
Miami jumped out to a 23-7 lead before Clarkson went supernova to close the first quarter, scoring 14 points in the final 3:19 of the quarter to pull the Jazz close.
There isn't any panic yet in the Jazz locker room; they haven't shot well (they were 41% from the field and 31% from 3 on Saturday) and that, as much as they hate to admit it, has had an impact on their defense. But that habit is something that'll need to change to reach their ambitious heights.
"I wouldn't say we're panicking or anything like that," Mitchell said. "It's upsetting because we know each other and it's just time for us to go out there and do it."