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CHARLOTTE — The Utah Jazz are now 1-3 on their road trip after falling 107-101 to the Charlotte Hornets at Spectrum Center on Friday night. 

High notes

  • Despite the mistakes and the loss there was a level of frustration and aggression from Donovan Mitchell that I really liked in this game. He finished with 26 points, seven assists and three rebounds, and he made some really incredible passes and saves and seemed to be really giving himself to this game. Of course, it would be nice if it seemed like the Jazz played with that edge through the full 48 and that it was every player doing it. That being said, I think that kind of attitude can be contagious so if Mitchell just continues with that it can rub off onto the rest of the roster.
  • Jordan Clarkson has been pretty quietly having a really good month of playing a more well-rounded game, but there been something that’s missing (this is based purely on the eye test). It seems like games where Clarkson is playing free and with joy have been fewer and farther between. But, at the end of the third quarter on Friday, Clarkson attempted a put-back shot and missed but got a second straight rebound and hit a shot to take the lead at the buzzer, and he celebrated with a huge double air punch and was smiling and laughing. I think that when Clarkson feels like that during a game he is at his absolute best. He’s really hard on himself and he gets frustrated sometimes and lets it impact how he plays but it seems like he’s allowing himself to enjoy the game a little bit more lately and that’s a great thing for the Jazz.
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  • The Jazz might have kind of stumbled upon something really good when Juancho Hernangomez was thrown into the deal they made at the trade deadline. He’s long and he really puts in the effort on the defensive end, and he can knock down a shot and is confident in doing so. The first six points of the game could easily have been attributed to his activity and effort and just not giving up on plays. The Jazz could use every bit of that approach that they can get.
    “It’s a lot to be traded here and then thrown into our system and then expected to start. It’s a lot and I got to give him credit. There are mistakes that are made — spacing and stuff like that defensively, but he’s learning on the fly. He’s been receptive and he’s actually done things in the game we can retool and we can add that into our package. He’s hitting shots, he’s crashing, he’s defending, he’s making those those winning plays.” — Mitchell
  • The Jazz’s ball movement was a lot better against the Hornets than it was in their blowout loss to the Celtics a couple nights ago.

Low notes

  • The Jazz had a really good chance to turn the tide with a win in Charlotte and they just made the wrong mistakes at the perfectly wrong time. With Golden State losing and the Mavericks being down to the Timberwolves, the Jazz had a chance to gain some traction in the standings but losing the Hornets really hurts them.
  • In contrast to Hernangomez and the kind of production the Jazz are getting out of him, the same cannot be said in any kind of consistent or reliable way for Rudy Gay and Eric Paschall. Seems like every time I end up praising these guys for having a good game they turn around and their next few performances are so lackluster or even negative that it seems like my praise was misplaced and their success was an anomaly. While choosing who to play in the postseason will definitely take some consideration from Quin Snyder and the coaching staff, I think this will lead to more difficult offseason decisions more than anything else.

Flat notes

  • There are times when I am guilty of criticizing the Jazz’s role players more than the stars. Nobody is going to play a perfect basketball game, but if there are guys on a team that are supposed to be closer to perfection than others, it’s Mitchell and Gobert. When Mitchell is driving and it’s clear that there is too much traffic and that he’s bound to dribble the ball off his foot or someone else’s, he needs to have the awareness of those situations and move the ball sooner. And when Gobert is fighting for a rebound, he needs to do it like it’s going to be the game-deciding play. Sometimes these guys just make mistakes in the same fashion over and over and those turnovers and offensive rebounds turn into points for the other team.  
  • The Jazz have had a few games lately with bad transition defense and defensive rebounding, and getting worse as the season goes on is a horrible trend. They need to turn that around. Period.
    “We’ve got to rebound, got to gang rebound. You’ve got to find bodies.” — Jazz head coach Quin Snyder
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