MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Marvin Williams had a concise way of summing up the Utah Jazz’s defensive problems that have plagued them during their elongated losing stretch.
“Just a lot of breakdowns,” the Jazz forward said.
Utah wasn’t as bad defensively in Wednesday’s road-trip-ending 96-86 defeat at Memphis, but this was just the third time in 10 games the Jazz didn’t give up 104 or more points.
Williams called the Jazz’s defensive showings in the first two games of this road trip “disappointing.” Utah gave up an average of 123.0 points on 60.5 percent shooting in blowouts at San Antonio and Houston.
“You feel like we’re making good strides and it almost felt like we took a step backwards. That’s a little disappointing, especially on the defensive end,” Williams said. “We’ve got to be in the right spots early and then we’ve got to make the proper rotations late.”
Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said his players have to do a better job at fighting through screens on pick-and-rolls. Guards have to work through with “intent,” while bigs must work harder to stick with the bigger opponents to avoid mismatches.
“Guys have to take responsibility at some point to fight their way through it,” he said.
The Jazz's help defense has been slower to respond when the ball gets passed out of pick-and-rolls, too. Corbin also said guards have to be aware of when to go over or under screens and bigs need to be more cognizant of when to drop down or attack high.
Added Corbin: “It’s a combination of things that we have to get better at.”
FOUNDATION FAN: Memphis coach Dave Joerger gave an interesting response when asked to comment on the young Jazz core.
Although the first-year Grizzlies coach previously spoken highly of them, the first name Joerger mentioned wasn’t any of the guys who get regular minutes.
“They’ve got a kid sitting over there that I really like, Rudy Gobert, who is really, really long. I think he’s very athletic. He’s got a good motor.”
Joerger believes the 7-1 rookie center will “learn the NBA game” from the likes of Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter, whom he said it appears “work hard.”
Joerger also spoke highly of Gordon Hayward and Trey Burke.
“They’ve got good players that are going to be good,” he said.
MEMPHIS RETURN: Jazz rookie Ian Clark didn’t get to play in either of his games in his hometown of Memphis this season. The former Belmont star was on the inactive list when the Jazz visited in December and didn’t get off the bench after being allowed to dress for Wednesday’s game.
In a fun coincidence, Clark’s uncle, John Gary Williams, sang the national anthem before tipoff. Williams is a local artist who used to record at the famous Stax studio in Memphis.
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