Everything was going well for the Utah Jazz on Monday night, which it usually does when they’re playing at home, and then, just like that, it was as if the Washington Wizards cast an evil spell against them.
In a very uneven game, the Jazz jumped out to a nine-point first-quarter lead and then found themselves trailing by 19 in the fourth. Utah posted a furious rally to get within two of the Wizards, but it was too little, too late. Their 24-game home winning streak over with a 125-121 loss.
Twenty four hours after losing at Vivint Arena for the first time in 2021, the Jazz will get a chance to begin a new streak Tuesday night when they host the Oklahoma City Thunder in Salt Lake City.
If the Jazz play defense — or don’t play defense, more like it — like they didn’t on Monday night, they could see themselves in the early stages of a losing skid instead of a new winning streak.
“We didn’t have the right focus defensively,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “In the first half, we gave up so much in a couple of quarters that it made it difficult for us even when we started playing better defense later in the game.”
Utah got its usual big night from Donovan Mitchell with 42 points, Bojan Bogdanovic added 33, Joe Ingles contributed 18 and Rudy Gobert had a 12-point, 12-rebound double-double. But without All-Star Mike Conley (injury load management) and Sixth Man of the Year candidate Jordan Clarkson (ankle sprain), the Jazz just didn’t quite have enough offensive firepower to compensate for a poor defensive effort.
“They were just too comfortable in the beginning,” Gobert said. “When you have that kind of game, everyone is having fun. Everyone on the court for them had a little moment.”
The NBA schedule-maker might have done the Jazz a favor. The Thunder come into this one having lost nine of 10 games, including six consecutive setbacks.
Oklahoma City hasn’t played since Saturday, however. This will be the third game in four nights for the Jazz.
The Thunder did get power forward Darius Bazley back for the 117-93 loss to Philadelphia on Saturday after he’d missed 16 games with a bruised shoulder.
“We’re happy he’s back,” Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said after the Sixers game. “We’re happy he looks like he’s in pretty good shape, body looks good. Just keep building from here. This is an important 20 games for him.”
Utah beat Oklahoma City 110-109 on a late Mitchell layup early in the season.
“We tightened it up down the stretch,” Snyder said at the time. “You have to get stops to win. They played hard. I don’t feel like we played our best, but that’s the challenge, to figure out how to win when you don’t have your best game. We hope we can take this and build on it and keep getting better.”
Months later, they’re in a similar situation.
–Field Level Media