In a classic do-or-die game, the Utah Jazz did not do enough of the former to prevent the latter from happening. With their postseason lives hanging in the balance, the Jazz simply did not come out with urgency and as a result, fell to the Memphis Grizzlies 86-70.
A win by the Jazz would have put the pressure on the Los Angeles Lakers to win their season finale, but instead, Utah was the team that appeared to be feeling the heat. The Jazz seemed unfocused and tense. While Memphis did not fare much better in the first half, the Grizzlies turned it on the second and ran away with the victory and a franchise-best 56-26 season.
The Utah Jazz finish an up-and-down season with a 43-39 record and miss the playoffs for the second time in three years.
Offensive Woes: In a game of incredible magnitude, Utah simply could not put points on the board. It is hard to win a game when scoring is a struggle, especially on the road against an elite team.
The Jazz’s offense was off from the tipoff and it carried through the entire game. Utah missed a bevy of layups and tip-ins and its outside shots were errant. The numbers help illustrate the woes:
• Utah connected on just 25 of 78 shots — a lowly 32.1 percent. Gordon Hayward (4-8) and Alec Burks (3-6) were the only Jazz players to personally shoot 50 percent. Take those two away and Utah was 18 of 64 — a staggering 28.1 percent.
• A big factor was the Jazz’s inability to hit free throws. They missed nine of their 26 attempts. Mo Williams was a 91.3-percent shooter entering the contest, but missed three himself.
• Utah hit just 3 of 11 3-pointers.
• The Jazz had just five fast-break points for the night, as Memphis’ tough defense helped dictate the pace of the game.
• No individual finished with more than three assists.
What’s Next?: The Utah Jazz now enter what could be one of the most important and intriguing offseasons in franchise history. With as many as 10 free agents, the front office has to make some critical decisions as to who returns and who becomes former Jazzmen. With the NBA draft, free agency and potential trades, Utah could sport a dramatically different roster next season. The future may be uncertain, but with young players, multiple draft picks and incredible financial flexibility, the future could also be very bright.
David Smith provides instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also blogs for the Utah Jazz 360 website. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.
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