Sarah Todd covers the NBA and Utah Jazz for the Deseret News.
The Utah Jazz didn’t really play that bad on Monday night.
Yes, the Phoenix Suns, the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference, left Vivint Arena with a 117-103 win, but there wasn’t anything for Jazz head coach Will Hardy to be super mad about.
His team moved the ball and generated open looks, they defended the paint pretty well, they rebounded the ball well and for the most part they took pretty good shots.
Were there a few bad shots? Sure, but not that many. Did they miss some free throws and have a couple unfortunate turnovers? Yes, but nothing that is going to make anyone lose sleep. If anything, the biggest reason the Jazz lost is because for long stretches on Monday night, they just couldn’t hit a shot.
“Tonight was a tough game. I’m very proud of the way that our team tried to play on both ends,” Hardy said. “We could not throw the ball in the ocean for long stretches of time, we missed some chippies around the rim we normally make, we missed some wide open 3s and that can wear on you as a team … I feel for our guys tonight because they’ve put in a lot of work.”
The Jazz are on a four-game losing streak. Twice this season they’ve had five-game losing streaks but nothing more than that, and there have always been games within those streaks that felt like Monday’s game — just slightly outmatched because of some bad shooting.
The Jazz now head out on a three-game road trip. Hopefully, for the sake of morale, they can pick up a win at some point on the trip to reward their efforts
How to make the best of a bad scoring night … and how not to.
Lauri Markkanen was one of a few Jazz players who couldn’t get his shots to fall on Monday. He went 6-of-22 from the field and 2-of-10 from 3-point range. But, he finished the night with 25 points because he got himself to the free-throw line by making smart decisions and making 11 of his 12 free-throw attempts.
Conversely, Talen Horton-Tucker also struggled a bit, going 7-of-18 overall, 2-of-7 from 3-point range, and finished with just 16 points because he took four free throws and missed all of them.
I know that it’s probably unfair to compare Markkanen and Horton-Tucker, but I feel like these are the things that separate good and great players.
Horton-Tucker is good at some things but he doesn’t seem like a player who will be able to change tactics during a game and recognize that his way of scoring would be at the free-throw line. It seems that Horton-Tucker would more likely try to shoot his way out and he doesn’t have the best efficiency so that’s not the best way of dealing with a bad shooting night.
I don’t have anything grand to say when it comes to this, I just noticed that both players struggled to make shots and that there was one guy who clearly knew how to make the most out of the situation. The end.
Jarrell Brantley plays final game with Jazz
The Jazz brought Jarrell Brantley in on a 10-day deal, which expires on Tuesday. Brantley told the Deseret News on Monday night that the Jazz would allow that deal to expire and that the Jazz would not be bringing him back on a second 10-day deal.
In very limited minutes during his 10-day contract, Brantley showed some pretty significant growth compared to his last stint with the Jazz.
He spent last season with the New Zealand Breakers and went to the NBL Finals with them as one of their best players.
He’s lost some weight, gained some strength, and has a better feel for the game. He moves well on defense, is smart with his hands, he’s improved his outside shot and is a really smart decision maker and tough rebounder.
Brantley believes that he is ready for an NBA team to give him a chance but he didn’t seem bitter about the Jazz not taking that chance on him. The Breakers are going to want Brantley back, so if an NBA team doesn’t come calling, he’ll still be playing basketball.