Early in the second half, the lights went out in Memphis. It happened just as John Collins was taking an incredibly ill-advised mid-range jumper.
It was that moment that really served as a metaphor for the Utah Jazz’s performance. While the lights had been on at one point, they certainly didn’t stay on all night.
It seemed, early on, that the Jazz had the right approach against the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night.
They were moving the ball and trying to put the Grizzlies defense in tough rotations and the Jazz were taking what the game was giving them. They weren’t settling for bad shots, instead continuing to use the clock to their advantage to find the open man or a matchup that they liked.
But then things changed.
The Jazz went through a bit of a dry spell, missing some easy and well-executed open looks and shots at the basket that just rimmed out, and they allowed that dry spell to change the way they were playing. Instead of staying the course, they went back to the stuff that never works in their favor — bad shots and shoddy isolation basketball.
“The ball was moving around very crisply, and we were getting open looks and then we sort of reverted back to some old habits,” Jazz head coach Will Hardy said.
Of course, this doesn’t get to the Jazz’s defensive problems. On a scale of one-to-soft and invisible, they’d slide off the scale.
But, let’s take a look at some of those early moments — the ones that Hardy described as “beautiful.”
There’s not a coach in the world that is going to be mad about a missed shot that is generated through this kind of ball movement.
“The first four or five minutes was beautiful, like that’s how we want to play,” Hardy said. “And then I think as the game went on, especially in the first half, we just got away from it.”
The Jazz had been using the shot clock and making sure that they weren’t settling for low-percentage looks. But then, after some misses and as the Grizzlies started to pull ahead, they started taking shots like this:
It’s easy to live with a miss from 3-point range that comes from players who are shooting better than 40% from deep on the season after the defense is in scrambled rotations. But it’s not as easy to live with 16-foot jumpers from guys who aren’t known for a mid-range game (that’s me being nice).
The Jazz aren’t going to win games if they keep falling back into a selfish way of playing and making decisions that put the team in a tough spot.
The good news is that if they look at some of the early film from this 105-91 loss to the Grizzlies, they’ll have perfect examples of how they should be playing.