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Jazz notebook: Defense key to winning games

Utah center Rudy Gobert (27) tries to block a shot by Atlanta forward Thabo Sefolosha (25) during an NBA basketball game at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Friday, Nov. 25, 2016. Utah shut down Atlanta en route to a 95-68 win.
Utah center Rudy Gobert (27) tries to block a shot by Atlanta forward Thabo Sefolosha (25) during an NBA basketball game at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Friday, Nov. 25, 2016. Utah shut down Atlanta en route to a 95-68 win.
Nick Wagner, Nick Wagner

During a four-game losing streak from Nov. 14-20, the Utah Jazz’s defense was lacking. In three of the four games during the drought, the Jazz gave up more than 100 points. Back home last week against Denver and Atlanta, Utah excelled defensively, holding the Nuggets to 83 and the Hawks to just 68. The Jazz also forced 14 turnovers against Atlanta — tied for the third most turnovers by an opponent this season.

“I think we’ve spent a lot of time on our defensive habits, and that said, some things take longer to become habitual than others,” Snyder said of the defensive turnaround. “I think we just played with more focus and more purpose. George Hill makes a difference, having him back on the ball, and his presence defensively is also a good thing.”

Utah guard Rodney Hood said one of the reasons for the defensive turnaround was being more disciplined.

“I think we were helping each other a lot more. We were a little more disciplined on the defensive end, doing the small things, and I think it helped us out a lot,” Hood said.

Hood commented that good defense is key to how the Jazz win games.

“We just know [defense] is our calling card, that’s how we win games, and that’s what everybody knows us for, so we’ve just got to continue to hang our hat on the defensive end,” Hood said.

Back-to-back prep: Up next, the Jazz jet off to Minnesota for a Monday matchup against the Timberwolves, and then will fly back to Salt Lake City to play the Houston Rockets on Tuesday. Snyder says with the back-to-back, Utah’s preparation has to change slightly.

“Anytime you have a back-to-back, your preparation changes. Generally, you don’t shoot around on a back-to-back,” Snyder said. “It’s quicker, and sometimes it’s simpler.”

Snyder pointed out an important thing to watch on back-to-backs is players’ fatigue.

“Fatigue is always an issue too, that we’re conscious of,” Snyder said.

Injury update: Boris Diaw, who was sidelined with a leg bone contusion, has played in five of the last six Jazz contests. The Frenchman’s best game of the season came on Nov. 23 against Denver, when he scored 11 points, hauled in three rebounds, and dished out three assists.

“Boris obviously played last game, and I think he’s getting better,” Snyder said. “Derrick [Favors] is still out right now.”