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Analysis: Jazz undone by Kevin Durant and another 30-point outing

On the second game of a back-to-back the Jazz’s three-game win streak came to an end

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Brooklyn Nets’ Kevin Durant runs away from Utah Jazz’s Hassan Whiteside as he celebrates after making a 3-point basket during game Monday, March 21, 2022, in New York.

Frank Franklin II, Associated Press

BROOKLYN — The Utah Jazz lost, 114-106, to the Brooklyn Nets on Monday night at Barclays Center as Kevin Durant put up 37 points, his fourth 30-plus point performance this month.

High Notes

  • How is anyone supposed to guard Kevin Durant? It’s not actually a question that needs answering because there isn’t really a great answer. Especially when Durant gets into a rhythm (and even when I say that, it feels like there is never really a time in which he can’t find his rhythm). Before Monday’s game, Jazz coach Quin Snyder said that Durant is the best scorer in the game and that’s a pretty widely agreed upon take. He’s incredible. Last week he dropped 53 points on the New York Knicks just three games after a 37-point performance against the Boston Celtics, the league’s best defensive team this season. I guess if you look at it with that lens, that the best defense in the league could only hold Durant to 37, then the Jazz did a pretty good job not letting him get more than that.

“Some of the shots he hit, it’s just, he’s 7-feet shooting over our bigs, shooting over double teams. At some point in time you’ve got to tip your hat — there’s no game plan for shooting over double teams or whatever.” — Donovan Mitchell

  • Slowly but surely Rudy Gay has been getting himself back into playing at a high level and through the last few games he’s had some really impressive moments, specifically on the defensive end, which is exactly where you want Gay being as effective as possible. The hope is that he can continue to incrementally improve and be playing at his peak as the Jazz head into the postseason and his recent success points to that being an attainable goal.
  • I really appreciate that whenJared Butler was subbed in for a few short minutes, that he didn’t hesitate and didn’t have any fear despite the fact that Durant was the player in front of him. He very quickly hit a step-back jumper over Durant and then pulled up for a 3 on the next trip down the court. Every time that we see Butler get some run he seems to show another flash of ways that he’s improving and ways that he can be useful in the future. He’s growing at a pretty good rate considering how limited his opportunities have been, which is a good sign for things to come.
  • This wasn’t really that bad of a game for the Jazz. Yes, they lost and that’s not great, but they were pretty even with the Nets, who are on a roll right now and have won six of the last seven games with Durant totally in his bag. And the Jazz were able to cut things and make the Nets sweat for a bit down the stretch of the fourth quarter despite not having Bojan Bogdanovic or Danuel House Jr. available and being on the second game of a back-to-back set. No moral victories here, just saying that the Jazz didn’t play a horrible game.

Low Notes

  • Royce O’Neale had a pretty tough job and his hands absolutely full on defense on Monday night. Whether it was his defensive load or if it was just an off night, O’Neale went 0-of-4 from the field including three missed 3-pointers, which is incredibly uncharacteristic. The math says that normally O’Neale would have made at least one of those shots, which could have made a huge difference in this game.
  • I hate criticizing officials. I don’t like doing it and I think that even poor officiating rarely makes a huge difference in a game. I know that’s not a popular opinion, but it’s mine. That said, Marc Davis made some really confusing calls on Monday including twice just straight up pointing in the wrong direction before correcting himself on out of bounds calls. That’s kind of a really important part of his job is getting the direction a team is playing correct. And some of the calls he made (for both teams) just seemed incredibly confusing, like a delay of game on both teams while the Nets were holding the ball and the game wasn’t being delayed. I just don’t like walking away from a game and not knowing why calls were made. I’m fine if I don’t agree with calls and the reasoning for them, but not knowing any reason makes it much more difficult. 

Flat Notes

  • While I still contend that the Jazz played a pretty good game for the most part, if there’s one thing that is hard to swallow from this one it was that in the second half, they allowed themselves to kind of spiral into a familiar bad habit of letting the offense stick. They just kind of stopped moving the ball the same way they were earlier in the game and that means less open shot opportunities and more late clock isos that are not nearly as efficient as other offensive options. The Jazz can play better than that and they know it, which is the most frustrating part of it.

“Our offense kind of died a little bit there and that affects what we do on the opposite end. So, they’re tied together and we’re not getting great ball movement and shots don’t go in and we turn it over. They’re a team that gets out and takes advantage of that and they were able to get a good cushion there.” — Mike Conley