I was struck by something that Will Hardy said after his team lost 117-103 to the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night.

“I think in tonight’s game there was way more good than bad,” the Jazz head coach said. “Our team’s approach today was fantastic. I’m proud of the way the team played…I’m honest with the team, I will say when I think that things need to be done differently. I will say when I think that their approach or our approach is not appropriate for what we’re trying to do and where we’re trying to go and I thought that tonight I saw a team that was connected and played really hard and struggled to make shots and critical moments.”

That’s definitely an improvement on what he said following the Jazz’s 50-point loss to the Dallas Mavericks (we’ll all have a hard time forgetting the canine fecal reference heard ‘round the world). But, it seems a bit discouraging to think that this Jazz team can play the right way, play hard, make its coach proud and still lose.

After getting blown out by 50 points, it’s easy to say that the only way for the team to go is up — looking at things glass-half-full. But if even one of their better efforts results in a loss, can they still trend upward?

“The margin of error is small as far as winning in this league,” Keyonte George said. “You can do everything the right way and still lose. …You’ve always got to take the good out of things and like he said, there was more good than bad. I feel like we communicated, feel like we competed, but I think we’ve got another level that we can take it to.”

The Jazz were still without their top scorer, Lauri Markkanen, who is sidelined with a hamstring strain but should be returning very soon, and in theory, that should make the Jazz a better team.

But they’re 4-11 in games with Markkanen this season, so there’s not really much evidence to say that they would have a better record if he were on the floor.

When the Jazz line up for the opening tip, they are often facing a team in which it would be really hard for the Jazz’s starting five to crack the rotation across from them. The Jazz are a team lacking in talent and skill…for now.

While Markkanen could easily start on any team, there are many teams that probably wouldn’t start John Collins, Simone Fontecchio and even Walker Kessler and George. But in a year or two, we might not be able to say the same thing.

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The hope is that the players on this Jazz team, especially the young players (and that includes Markkanen), will only continue to improve, and with the roster continuing to change and mold they will not always be a team that is outmatched from the jump.

Unfortunately though, right now, that is who the Jazz are. They are a team that can come away from games feeling like they are trending in the right direction, that they are making progress. They are a team that will be able to enjoy moral victories, because actual victories are likely harder to come by.

This is a team that was blown up 15 months ago and is still in the early stages of a rebuild. They are not a team that scares anyone in the league and they probably aren’t going to shock anyone as the season moves along. They just aren’t good right now.

But they won’t be forever.

“If our team can maintain their approach that they had tonight,” Hardy said. “I do believe that the results can turn in our favor.”