Other than perhaps the Jazz's 20-point Nov. 9 blowout loss against Denver, Utah's dabbling Saturday night in Washington, D.C. may have been its worst road showing of this young season.
Here's to irony.
The Jazz clicked on all cylinders about as well as Congress has been doing a few blocks from the Verizon Center, committing 19 turnovers and shooting a terrible 38 percent from the field. However, in a game that saw coach Tyrone Corbin insert two new starters into the lineup, the Jazz did just enough to win an NBA game that was painful to watch.
GUARDS: After four straight awful shooting nights (combined 18 of 55), Mo Williams (12 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds) returned to the form of his season's first half-dozen games. But in his starting Jazz debut, Randy Foye (2 points, 1-of-5 shooting, 3 turnovers) turned in his second-worst shooting night of the season. In fact, he's 9 of 32 in the past five contests. What's worse: his counterpart, Jordan Crawford (20 points, 8 assists), played much better. Crawford averaged just 11.3 points per game entering the contest. So what happened? Naturally, Gordon Hayward (15 points, 5 assists) played starter's minutes and helped make up for it. Hayward hadn't scored that much since the Nuggets game. GRADE: C-.
FORWARDS: Derrick Favors struggled (9 points, 3-of-10 shooting) in his starting debut, but as he usually does, he made up for it — at least partially — with 10 rebounds. As impressive as Paul Millsap has played of late — he had scored 18 or more points and grabbed seven-plus rebounds in four straight contests — his streak ended Saturday with a six-point night on 2-of-13 shooting. Small forward Trevor Ariza (16 points, 9 rebounds, 7-of-15 shooting) threatened as much as any Wizard. GRADE: D.
CENTER: Al Jefferson (21 points, 13 rebounds, 2 blocks, 10-of-19 shooting) notched his seventh double-double of the season — the most he's registered in his career through a season's first 11 games. His opponent, Emeka Okafor did dominate on the glass with 14 rebounds, which is not good, considering he's averaged just six this season and 7.9 last year. (Then again, with Washington and Utah shooting just 37 and 38 percent, respectively, he had more chances than normal.) GRADE: B.
BENCH: The Jazz bench dominated the Wizards' 33-19, with Hayward leading the way. With 27 minutes, Marvin Williams hardly saw less time than he had as a starter (27.9). His eight rebounds were helpful. But he was a benefactor in the same vein as Okafor. A night removed from perhaps his finest night as a Jazzman, DeMarre Carroll (7 points, 7 rebounds, 23 minutes) was highly effective. One can assume his prominent role in the lineup will continue. GRADE: B-.
OVERALL: Perhaps the change in lineup contributed to the Jazz's struggles? Perhaps coach Corbin believed he could afford to tinker in a contest against a winless team. A 60-44 domination on the glass proved to be the difference when Utah essentially shot as poorly as Washington while committing more turnovers. The Jazz just have to figure out how to play well on the road. It's getting funny. Maybe the lineup change will prove to be the answer going forward. GRADE: C-.
Rhett Wilkinson studies interesting stuff at Utah State University and is the co-founder of Aggie BluePrint, USU's first student magazine. Previously a Deseret News intern, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter: @wilklogan
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