After enjoying a favorable January schedule and a relatively healthy line-up, the Utah Jazz are encountering a tougher February on both fronts. It certainly showed Monday evening. With a depleted rotation, Utah fell to the surging Toronto Raptors 94-79.
The Jazz simply looked a step slow the entire evening and could never get much going outside a brief fourth-quarter spurt. The offense was lacking, and while there was defensive effort, Toronto was just too much to handle. On a bright note, Marvin Williams had one of his best games in a Jazz uniform, tallying 23 points and eight rebounds. Alec Burks slashed his way to 20 points.
Once thought to be a team looking to tank, their trade of Rudy Gay has infused Toronto will new-found energy and success. They are now looking at home-court advantage in the Eastern Conference. Recently named All-Star DeMar DeRozan showed that he deserved to be in the midseason event, hitting some big baskets down the stretch. He paced the Raptors with 23 points. Up-and-coming big man Jonas Valanciunas also impressed with a strong 18-point, nine-rebound performance.
Offensive woes: The Jazz were once again without the services of frontcourt stalwarts Derrick Favors and Jeremy Evans. Their absences were felt on both ends of the court, but due to the absence of their inside presences, Toronto was able to stick to Utah’s guard defensively. As a result, the Jazz connected on just 32 of 78 shots from the field, but the woes were more pronounced from beyond the arc. Utah made just 3 of 17 3-pointers—a paltry 17.6 percent.
The backcourt of Gordon Hayward and Trey Burke combined to go 7 of 25 from the floor and missed all nine of their 3-point attempts. Moreover, the Jazz only registered 10 assists (assisting on a mere 31.3 percent of Utah’s makes).
This and that:
• Outside a sharp 27-point first quarter, Utah had three quarters of 17, 18 and 17 points.
• All four Toronto reserves — Chuck Hayes, John Salmons, Grevis Vasquez and Patrick Patterson — were acquired from Sacramento.
• Rookie center Rudy Gobert played a career-high 31 minutes. He grabbed eight rebounds and blocked three shots.
David Smith provides instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also writes for Salt City Hoops (ESPN's Jazz affiliate). He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.