We were more connected, and I think that’s something that we’ve got to continue to work on in practice. —Quin Snyder
As part of their practice sessions, the Utah Jazz play something head coach Quin Snyder simply calls “Defensive Games.” The concept is simple: If the defense gets a stop on a possession, it gets a point.
After the Jazz beat the Brooklyn Nets 114-106 on Saturday night at Vivint Arena to snap a four-game losing streak, Snyder astutely observed that’s not how the games that count are actually scored. As such, for as good as his team can be defensively it needs to also have success on offense like it did Saturday against the Nets.
Utah’s next opportunity to do that is Monday night at home against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
“We obviously understand as well as you can that the ball’s got to go in the basket, and oftentimes shooting is a great equalizer,” Snyder said. “What we’ve said is we have to be solid defensively regardless of how we’re shooting, but the reality is that that’s hard. When you find yourself having a hard time scoring, it puts even more pressure on your defense.”
The Jazz have certainly experienced that the hard way through the first 13 games of the season, as 16 of the 48 quarters they had played prior to Saturday ended with them scoring less than 21 points. They scored 24 in each frame against Brooklyn.
It certainly helped that the Nets entered the game 29th out of 30 teams in the NBA in points allowed per game, but nonetheless, Utah knows it needs more offensive outings like that moving forward.
“We were more connected, and I think that’s something that we’ve got to continue to work on in practice,” Snyder said. “We do it every day. The guys are aware of it. That’s part of us becoming a better team and a better offensive team.”
Of course the Jazz will now have the challenge for at least the next month of becoming better offensively without the injured Rudy Gobert after it was announced Sunday that he’ll miss at least four weeks with a knee injury. Although he is more well-known for his defensive presence, Gobert averaged 13.9 points per game through Utah’s first 12 contests and is excellent as both a screener and roller.
A plus for the Jazz is that Derrick Favors was the Jazz’s primary roller in the pick-and-roll game prior to Gobert’s emergence in that department, and he and point guard Ricky Rubio had a nice connection on Saturday.
“I thought Ricky really found a rhythm with Fav,” Snyder said postgame. “I thought Ricky made great decisions in pick-and-roll and really led our team the way he’s capable of.”
Added Favors: “He’s a good pick-and roll player and I’m a good pick-and-roll player, so it just kind of naturally happened. We both can make plays out of the pick-and-roll, whether I’m rolling or popping or (shooting) mid-range jumpers.”
Regardless of what specific schemes Utah tries to use in a given point of a game though, Snyder said after the game Saturday that it’s crucial players give maximum effort in working to execute their roles.
That’ll be all the more crucial without Gobert.
“It can’t be, ‘Hey, I have to start to play well,’ it can’t be, ‘Hey, I have to play with him to play well,’ because those things aren’t always there,” Snyder said. “You have to just do your job. Do your job and throw yourself into the game and compete, eventually good things are going to happen.”
The Timberwolves enter Monday with a 7-5 record but have lost two consecutive games after a five-game win streak. Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins lead the way with scoring averages of 20.9 and 20.3 points per game. Minnesota beat Utah 100-97 on Oct. 20.
Tip time on Monday is scheduled for 7 p.m.