Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder is a very diplomatic guy. He never singles out players and it’s rare that he criticizes his team without giving a silver lining or leaning too far into the realm of worry or concern.

But, on Wednesday night, after a loss to the Western Conference’s basement-dwelling Houston Rockets, Snyder did not pull any punches.

“We just had multiple breakdowns over the course of the game, in different capacities, defensively,” he said after the Jazz’s 116-111 loss. “We were helping when we shouldn’t have been helping, not recognizing personnel situations, not focused on the details of what we’re trying to do on the defensive end.”

The Rockets ended up shooting a season-best 48.9% from 3-point range against the Jazz. The Rockets did that while taking 45 3-pointers, a mark Houston has only reached eight times this season. 

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“We weren’t communicating and reacting collectively,” Snyder said. “We had breakdowns and you’ve got guys that we are not supposed to leave and you find them getting shots. We’re switching on to different guys… we weren’t as locked in or focused on our execution defensively in every capacity and when you don’t shoot that well, that’s going to be the difference.”

What made the difference, and allowed the Rockets to hit 22 of their 3-point attempts (one shy of their season-high) was the Jazz allowing them to do so without much resistance.

“They made the shots, but they were getting clean looks because we either didn’t communicate or made a mistake,” Snyder said. “There was a lot of them that they shouldn’t have been able to take if we’d have been locked in and communicating the way we needed to be.”

Comparatively, the Jazz shot just 26.3% from deep, their third least efficient shooting performance of the season (second worst was on Monday against the Lakers at 26.1%). But more than an off shooting night was the fact that the Jazz seemed more concerned with their offensive performance than with how things were deteriorating on the defensive side of things.

For the umpteenth time this season, lack of focus and consistency ruled the day.

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“When we’re thinking about the offensive end, and reacting to whether we’re missing a shot or getting fouled or we’re not connected on that end it’s something that makes it harder for us,” Snyder said. “Everybody from Rudy (Gobert) to Bojan (Bogdanovic) and Royce (O’Neale), Trent (Forrest), Joe (Ingles), all of us. Defense is played collectively, and that’s the situation we found ourselves in tonight with those breakdowns and  we paid for them…Everybody’s got a job to do and if you’re not focused on doing your job on nights like tonight, teams can make you pay for that.”

As the Jazz players followed Snyder, speaking with reporters after the game, they didn’t disagree with their coach’s sentiments and they didn’t fight the idea that they lacked the right kind of focus against the Rockets.

But the Jazz players have owned up to their personal shortcomings more than once this season. They’ve lamented how their defensive focus needs to be at a higher level to start games and that they need to sustain that mentality through the course of a game, not just when the going gets tough.

This time, it was Snyder’s turn to set the record straight. The Jazz had every opportunity to turn things around on Wednesday and they let themselves down on the defensive end. Period.

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