The Utah Jazz lost to the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday night.

The reasons? Well, Anfernee Simons scored a career-best 45 points, Jerami Grant had 33, the Jazz didn’t think about playing defense very much in the first quarter, forced themselves into an uphill climb through the second half and then had some really poorly-timed mistakes in the closing minutes.

That’s the whole thing in a nutshell. But let’s crack that nutshell and look at a couple things under more of a microscope.

This is a foul

Tony Brothers, the official on the sideline, with absolutely nothing and no one obstructing his view, is tracking Jordan Clarkson through the entirety of the play, watches Clarkson get fouled by two different players and end up on his back, with a player on top of him, despite having gone up for a dunk.

There are many who would say that the baseline official, Intae Hwang, also should have called something. It is totally possible that he doesn’t see the foul by Jabari Walker and then Jusuf Nurkic’s body position blocks his view. I think there’s some arguing that can be done for both sides where Hwang is concerned.

Brothers on the other hand, absolutely should have been able to call something, anything on this play and he did not.

This resulted in Jazz head coach Will Hardy being issued the first technical foul of his career. He clearly had reason to be upset. He said he was surprised he didn’t get thrown out of the game for his reaction.

All that being said, that’s a foul. Clear as day.

Anfernee Simons

The Jazz did not lose this game just because of what happened on a couple foul calls and even Clarkson who was rightfully frustrated with the situation, and Hardy, who was definitely frustrated by the situation, said as much.

“At the end of the day, we left it in the ref’s hands to make those decisions,” Clarkson said.

The Jazz shouldn’t have been in a position where the game was going to be decided by one or two calls.

“The game was lost in the first half,” Hardy said. “When you go into halftime with three forced turnovers and only seven fouls, that is clearly an indication of a lack of physicality, a lack of aggressiveness. Simons obviously got into a very good rhythm early. He’s a terrific player. He’s hard enough to guard and I just don’t think, from the beginning of the game, we did a good enough job picking him up and getting into the ball.”

Great point, Will.

Simons’ first made basket was a clear lane to a layup with no resistance. His second was a 3-pointer with plenty of room because Collin Sexton went under on a screen. His third was another 3 when Talen Horton-Tucker just gave him too much room to operate and didn’t respect him on the perimeter. The next was an absolute wide open 3-pointer.

By that point, he was in a rhythm.

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“Four of his first 3s, the guy guarding him was either at the 3-point line or under it,” Hardy said. “He’s a very, very elite scorer and he can really score in bunches. So our pickup points getting into the ball, to start, were not good. And if you let a great scorer like that see three or four go in, you can be at his mercy.”

Throughout the rest of the first half especially, Simons went on a tear, scoring 33 of his 45 points through the first two quarters and hit tough shot after tough shot. He’d been allowed too much early on and then he was unstoppable.

Here’s the thing, if you let a guy score 33 points in the first half and you don’t show him the kind of defense you need to, you might end up not only at his mercy, but at the mercy of the officials.