In the timeout between the third and fourth quarters during Sunday’s game between the Utah Jazz and Detroit Pistons, Jazz head coach Quin Snyder took his clipboard over to the player’s huddle, tossed it down on the chair in the middle of the huddle that was intended for him, had a few choice words for his team, and then walked away.
“Sometimes they don’t need to hear me say too much other than ‘you guys take care of it,’” Snyder said after the game before admitting that his tone might have been a little different in the moment. “I said it maybe a little more forcefully than that, but that’s what I said.”
The Jazz had been leading by as many as 20 points in the first half on Sunday, but they watched that lead dwindle and were outscored 28-17 third quarter, making what was once a blowout game, a single-digit affair.
“His message was that there’s nothing on the clipboard X’s and O’s-wise that is going to change the game,” Mike Conley said. “It’s got to be within our team and our mindset defensively and our mindset to run up and down the court. So he put it on us.”
There wasn’t a play that Snyder could draw up that would have forced the players to regain their focus. There wasn’t a scheme that was going to make them the aggressors on the court. Snyder was frustrated and he knew that the players were, too.
It’s actually a pretty sneaky coaching move. Snyder cares deeply about his players and the success of the team and he’s really smart. There are probably hundreds of plays in his arsenal ready to be fired at any moment. It’s not like he was truly at a loss for something to say. But, in order to ignite a bit of a fire, he showed the players how much he cared through anger and frustration.
The Jazz held the Pistons to an inefficient 5-of-22 in the final period of the game. Their own offense, which had been beautiful in the early going of the day, wasn’t much better than the Pistons, but their defense, physicality, and aggression was enough to withstand the final punches that the Pistons threw at the Jazz.
The Jazz beat the Pistons, 96-86, improving to 6-4 on the season.
“The biggest thing was we just had to find it within ourselves,” Donovan Mitchell said. “We’ve been here so many times, we have a lead and then next thing you know they come back with some pressure and you know, two weeks ago we lose that game. So I think right now you for us to win this game the way we did is a step in the right direction.”
The next step is twofold. First, the Jazz shouldn’t have to have Snyder feign disgust to the point of barking at the players and not taking part in a timeout huddle. The Jazz need to be able to muster their own fire. Secondly, the Jazz have to maintain their composure when they have a large lead.
They have the defensive tools to be able to keep the opposition at bay, they just can’t let up the way they have been once they see the score margin widen.