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Analysis: How the Jazz’s 8-game win streak came to an end against the Spurs

SHARE Analysis: How the Jazz’s 8-game win streak came to an end against the Spurs
Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell reacts at Vivint Arena

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) reacts at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Friday, Dec. 17, 2021. The Spurs won 128-126.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

The Utah Jazz’s eight-game win streak came to an end on Friday night with a 128-126 loss to the San Antonio Spurs at Vivint Arena.

High notes

  • This is a little bit of a weird one to analyze, because if you just look at the first, second and fourth quarters, there are a lot of things to be happy about if you’re analyzing the Jazz. But you bring the third quarter into the mix, and we’re kind of talking about a different game. That’s where the Jazz lost this one, so here we’re going to look at the good things the Jazz produced outside of that third quarter.
  • They call him Captain Clutch for a reason. Mike Conley spent most of the game on Friday night struggling to find ways to score and working mostly as a playmaker, but his aggressiveness in the fourth quarter and his ability to play under pressure and make the right decision proved to be critical for the Jazz in the fourth. There’s still a lot of miles left for a guy like Conley who is 34 but at times plays like he’s in his prime, and those times are often the right ones.
  • Rudy Gobert runs incredibly hard and he does it throughout the game. It’s honestly a small thing that he does that really means a lot to both the Jazz’s defense and offense. When he’s sprinting to get back on defense, he helps to keep the other team honest by not allowing quick buckets in transition, and when he’s sprinting on offense and running hard to a deep spot in the paint, the defense collapses around him and the Jazz get a ton of open looks that way.

  • Donovan Mitchell has gotten to a point where even if he’s having a somewhat inefficient night, it doesn’t mean that he’s not playing well. On the contrary, he can play inefficiently as far as shots and makes go and still look like a bona fide All-Star. He’s added so many little pieces to his game over the last few years and they are all starting to come together in a really special way. His defense has improved, his court vision is better than it’s ever been, his ability to finish and switch hands at the rim is ridiculously impressive and his understanding of the opponent and anticipation is on par with some of the best in the league. It’s a really special place that Mitchell is in right now.
  • Dejounte Murray is so good. So is Derrick White. And Lonnie Walker is no slouch. These guys are pretty pure scorers who know how to completely punish teams from the midrange. When they get into a rhythm it really doesn’t matter if you get a hand in their face, they’re probably making it anyway.
    “They were getting anything they wanted, to be honest. If they wanted to shoot 20 or 30 (3s in the first quarter) they probably could have. They were getting anywhere they wanted to, they were finishing in the paint and I’m the No. 1 cause for that.” —Rudy Gobert

Low notes

  • The last shot of the game by Mitchell, with a chance to win, came on a side out of bounds play with 2.1 seconds left, and once the ball was in Mitchell’s hands, it ended up being defended by Jakob Poeltl and White and it was blocked. It was a difficult shot, and since Poeltl gave up on defending Joe Ingles, it put Mitchell in a horrible position. That being said, the Jazz put themselves in that last-second situation by letting go of the game earlier on.
    “I didn’t see much. I just knew I had two seconds and the ball in my hands and I was praying that they would foul me. I really didn’t honestly get a clean look. They did a great job of keeping a five on the ball.” —Donovan Mitchell
  • While it was the third quarter that is the easiest to point to for the Jazz’s downfall on Friday, they let the Spurs get too many wide open looks early on in the game. If they don’t let the Spurs get their confidence early, who knows how much tougher they could have made things for San Antonio later on.

Flat notes

  • The Jazz were outscored 41-23 in the third. They led by as many as 17 points before that, but they let the Spurs waltz right into a four-point lead heading into the final period. Yes, the Spurs were making some tough shots and yes some of those were contested midrange shots, but there were just so many lazy defensive possessions in the third where the Jazz got caught doing nothing. It was a lot of yuck from a team that is clearly better than what they showed through that 12-minute stretch.
    “It’s tough to take pride in being a defensive-minded team and allow anyone to score 41 points in a quarter.” —Rudy Gobert