Playing these guys is like a 2 hour, 16 minutes and 59 second dental appointment; it's a grind. You try to speed the game up, but it's just very difficult because they're so disciplined and they're good. —Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle
SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz are getting a reputation.
Although it’s making them kind of unpopular around the league, it’s a good one to have.
Because of their physicality on defense and their grind-it-out method of offense, they’re not very fun to play against.
Rick Carlisle’s team came out on top against the Jazz in Thursday’s 112-105 overtime decision, but the Dallas coach made quite the comparison when describing what it’s like going against Utah.
“It was a very difficult game,” Carlisle said in his postgame comments. “NBA games, on average, are 2 hours, 16 minutes and 59 seconds. Playing these guys is like a 2 hour, 16 minutes and 59 second dental appointment; it’s a grind. You try to speed the game up, but it’s just very difficult because they’re so disciplined and they’re good.”
They didn’t use the fun dentist analogy, but that’s a similar sentiment that both New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry and Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer gave during the Jazz’s 2-1 Southern trip.
“The offensive execution, the ball movement, everything that Utah did was very good,” Budenholzer said. “A lot of credit to them.”
“They just beat us in every phase of the game,” said Gentry two nights later after Utah beat the Pelicans and Hawks by a combined 58 points. “Their execution was flawless.
“Defensively, they made it tough for us to get into any kind of offensive set and they shot the ball well. Everything they do, they just execute, get the ball where they want to. They’re a very good basketball team.”
Gentry pointed out how much better the Jazz are with point guard George Hill in the lineup, something Utah didn’t have on Thursday in Dallas. Hill rested his sore left big toe and sat out, denying the Jazz a chance to improve on their 19-4 record when he and Hayward are teamed together.
Hill is expected to play Saturday night when the Jazz host the Boston Celtics.
“He’s kind of the engine that makes them go. He does a good job of running things and setting it up,” Gentry said of Hill. “They’re a very good basketball team. I think they’ve got everything. They’ve got size, they’ve got depth and they can shoot the ball. They’ve got guys that can dribble-penetrate, create shots, so I think they’re very solid.”
Jazz coach Quin Snyder was disappointed his team lost after leading by so much — and that his team lost, period — but he thought the team had a good overall road trip.
“I felt like we played well up to a point tonight,” he said, “and then we just didn’t. We just weren’t smart and we didn’t maintain our focus.”
Getting two of three on the road, though, has been the average for Utah this season. The Jazz are now 15-11 on the road compared to 19-9 at home. They have three home games — Saturday vs. Boston, Monday against the Clippers and Wednesday vs. Portland — before taking a week off for the All-Star break.
Jazz center Rudy Gobert was mostly positive about the team’s road swing, but he thought they learned a valuable lesson (again) after Thursday’s collapse.
“It was a great road trip. I think we played great tonight except for the end,” Gobert said. “We got to be able to play 48 minutes because we know they’re going to do anything they can to help themselves. We’ve just got to do our thing, keep playing our game and play defense for 48 minutes.”
And the more the Jazz can make teams feel like they’re at the dentist, the better.