BOSTON — In the Utah Jazz’s 77th game of the season, on the last day of March, with hopes of the postseason dwindling away, emotions were high in their 122-114 loss to the Boston Celtics Friday.
There were four technical fouls called — two on each team, one Flagrant 1 foul called on the Celtics and Jazz guard Kris Dunn was ejected from the game.
Dunn got ejected after getting into it with Blake Griffin and not letting it go. He got one technical foul, and then after a timeout was called he kept chirping and got ejected. This came after multiple other chippy altercations.
Griffin and Talen Horton-Tucker were in each other’s faces a couple times, Simone Fontecchio and Jayson Tatum were pushing each other, and it all got to a point where the officials made a declaration to both teams that any more shenanigans would result in technical fouls without warning.
Why were things so heated?
The Jazz players talked about the environment at TD Garden and said that contributed, but I don’t think I’m buying that as the main reason.
It feels like the reality of the season nearly being over is finally starting to wear on the Jazz players. April 9 is fast approaching, and the Jazz will likely be one of the teams that will be at home watching the playoffs go on without them, and that’s a tough pill to swallow.
It doesn’t matter if the Jazz tried their best to ignore outside noise all season or how short-handed the roster has been lately.
There are players on this team who really, truly wanted to be in the postseason, or at least the play-in to have a shot. Seeing that slip away is difficult.
All of those feelings are not at all helped when you are playing sloppy basketball. That probably fueled the Jazz’s anger a little bit.
They finished the night with 18 turnovers that led to 19 points for the Celtics. I went back and watched all of the turnovers (except for a double-dribble call on Dunn, which the NBA did not have replay video of), and of the Jazz’s turnovers there were at least 10 that really made me scratch my head.
I present all 10 of them to you here:
The first three in that video in particular are pretty inexplicable. Then there are bad passes, and bad catches, and guys just watching the ball go out of bounds, and just nonsense turnovers.
“Obviously 18 turnovers is too many,” Jazz head coach Will Hardy said. “I felt like half of them the ball just flew out of our hands. … Eighteen turnovers is hard to overcome on the road, but you know, we’ll go back and try to figure out which turnovers we can learn from.”
And making matters worse, almost every time, it led to a Celtics transition bucket. AND every turnover felt doubly bad because it usually came right after the Jazz did something really impressive — a nice steal, a tough rebound, a good ball swing from one side to the other, a perfectly executed play, etc.
The Jazz went into halftime with zero free-throw attempts. They went into the fourth quarter with just two free-throw attempts to the Celtics’ 16.
The Jazz don’t want to get fined, so after the game the players said they needed to be stronger getting to the rim and needed to be more physical and aggressive.
I think that can account for a certain amount, but a 16-2 difference on free-throw attempts is a lot, and one team having twice as many fouls called on them feels like an experienced team of NBA veterans that are getting the calls over the ragtag group of rookies and players that aren’t well known.
Felt a little lopsided.