Utah Jazz: Lots of bricks, little offense in latest Jazz blowout loss
OKLAHOMA CITY — The area of this Oklahoma metropolis next to the Thunder’s home, Chesapeake Energy Arena, is called Bricktown.
The Utah Jazz left town Sunday night before they could get masonry job offers.
Before leaving OKC, however, the Jazz threw up enough bricks in their 95-73 blowout loss to create a new Utah monument.
On second thought, it might be unfair to compare bricklayers with the Jazz, especially the starters, after what happened Sunday as Utah fell to 1-14 with a sixth-consecutive loss.
The final score doesn’t give proper justice to Utah’s offensive ineptitude for most of this night.
“We couldn’t score,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said.
And they didn’t score at a very alarming rate.
Corbin went with a new starting lineup, giving rookie point guard Trey Burke his first NBA start and re-inserting forward Marvin Williams into the first five.
He did so in hopes of getting more offensive punch from the get-go, and the Jazz did take a 3-0 lead on a Richard Jefferson 3-pointer.
But for the rest of the meaningful portion of this game, a smooth-running Jazz offense was harder to find than a vegetarian on an Oklahoma cattle ranch.
Utah scored 13 points total in the first quarter. The Jazz then had a comparative scoring explosion — a whopping 17 points — in the second quarter.
The Jazz went to halftime behind 47-30 after their worst offensive half of a season full of really bad offensive halves.
“Very frustrating,” Corbin said. “I thought we would have had more energy at the very beginning of the game. I thought they were aggressive.”
It didn’t get better until the final few minutes of the game when the Jazz subs prevented this historically bad-starting team from hitting a new franchise low for fewest points scored.
That low point was avoided when Diante Garrett scored on a fast-break layup with 3:05 remaining, making it 90-58 for the Thunder. In 1999, the Jazz lost 71-56 to Seattle in the lowest-scoring regular-season game in franchise history.
Utah only had 43 points on 31.5 percent shooting from the field through three quarters. OKC (9-3) led by as many as 37 points and shot 50.7 percent for the game.
“When you’re not scoring, it puts a lot of pressure on your defense to stop a team to keep the game close,” Williams said. “Unfortunately for us, the team we had to stop was OKC. That’s how a game can kind of get away from you pretty quickly.”
And Oklahoma City did that without All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook, who got the night off to rest after recently returning from knee surgery. The way the Jazz shot, just 25 percent in the first quarter, the Thunder might’ve been able to beat Utah without Kevin Durant (19 points) and Serge Ibaka (17 points, 11 rebounds), too.
My how things have changed since this same Utah team battled to the end of the season opener before falling to the Thunder 101-98 on Oct. 30.
Not that you need a reminder about how bad things have gotten for the Jazz, but here are a few anyway.
This was the eighth time in just 15 games this season in which the Jazz have trailed by 20 points or more.
Utah has fallen behind by at least 28 points to three different opponents since last Monday.
This is the second six-game losing streak in less than a month for this rebuilding squad, which might be on track to be the worst team in D-League history, let alone the NBA.
“We all hate to lose, man. Everybody. It’s killing us all,” Burke said. “We’re just going to continue to move forward, continue to grow from our mistakes and try to get a win tomorrow at home.”
The Jazz return from their latest oh-fer road trip to take on the Chicago Bulls Monday night at EnergySolutions Arena. The Bulls will also be without their star point guard as Derrick Rose tore the meniscus in the knee that didn’t keep him sidelined for the past year.
Burke, who missed his first four shots and finished with four points and four assists Sunday, puts some of the responsibility on him to get the Jazz offense flowing.
“I don’t think I did a good enough job of getting guys organized early on,” he said, “and it kind of got sloppy a little bit out there.”
Very sloppy for the starters.
Not one Jazz starter scored in double figures. Burke and Gordon Hayward (five points) each missed 7 of 9 shots; Derrick Favors and Jefferson both had eight points; and Marvin Williams scored four points.
That’s a total of 29 points for the Jazz starters.
Utah’s reserves, led by 10 apiece from Enes Kanter and Rudy Gobert, combined for 44 points, including a 30-point fourth quarter.
The offensive highlight of the game came in that final stanza.
With 1:53 remaining, Gobert blocked Ryan Gomes’ shot by the 3-point line, grabbed the ball, dribbled the length of the court and finished off the highlight-reel sequence with a left-handed slam while being fouled.
Oh la la!
“Jeremy taught me that,” he said.
That was a reference to an oft-replayed Jeremy Evans preseason highlight from 2012 when the Jazz forward blocked a Ronny Turiaf shot and then slammed the ball over Gobert’s French compatriot.
Gobert, who had a career-high 10 points, asked if he considered passing the ball. “I thought about it, and then I said, ‘Go!’ I got one occasion to do it.”
NOTES: Kanter sprained his ankle in the second half on defense and left the game. X-rays were negative but he will be re-evaluated before Monday’s game. Kanter on coming off the bench after starting the first 14 games: "It don’t matter. Coming from the bench or starting five, you just play for the Jazz." Evans hit his first shot, which put him at 12 for 12 for the season, before his 13th attempt rattled out. That was the first time an NBA player has hit 12 straight field goals to start the season since Vancouver’s Tony Massenburg made his first 13 shots of the 1998-99 season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
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