It’s frustrating because we played hard and no one’s out there not trying, but it’s frustrating because we can’t get over that hump right now. We just need to stick together. —Utah Jazz wing Joe Ingles
BROOKLYN — No, there isn’t any locker room tension.
Beef among teammates is nonexistent.
And honestly, members of the Utah Jazz and the coaching staff are trying to stay upbeat.
But no matter how hard you try, losing never becomes easy.
Especially not when playing professional basketball is your day job.
After suffering yet another road loss Friday night in Brooklyn, 118-107, players were visibly disappointed in the visitor’s locker room at Barclays Arena with the latest effort.
The decision to rule out Ricky Rubio (Achilles soreness) and Thabo Sefolosha (knee soreness) on game day left a big hole in a roster that’s already dealing with the absence of Rudy Gobert, Joe Johnson and Dante Exum.
Competing with that many guys out was too much to handle and it showed.
“It’s tough right now,” said Jazz forward Joe Ingles. “We’re missing some big pieces of our team. It’s frustrating because we played hard and no one’s out there not trying, but it’s frustrating because we can’t get over that hump right now. We just need to stick together.”
Jazz coach Quin Snyder is doing all he can to keep the guys on the right path. And he’s not just pumping their heads up with fluff, either. He’s really trying to break the losing cycle with stronger game plans and more attention to detail, but injuries are robbing the team of its talent.
Utah (6-10) has dropped back-to-back road games against the New York Knicks and Nets.
On Saturday the Jazz play the Magic in Orlando then against the Sixers in Philly on Monday. The road doesn’t get any easier, either, as they play the league’s hardest schedule in the month of December. Hopefully the injured players can return sooner than later.
“I can’t get caught up in it first of all because I’m the one that sets the tone for them,” Snyder said. “I think, it’s easy to talk about staying positive and those things.
“It’s not enough, we have to give them opportunities in which to do that and that requires adjustments and players have to feel there’s a path and that’s what we’re trying to do and it requires other guys not just to pick up their games but sometimes change their game and to tweak what they’re doing, sometimes to do a little more or a little less.”
The Jazz need a spark. A jolt. Something to boost the morale of the team.
Rookie Donovan Mitchell has been the lone bright spot with his stellar play, but even he has things to work on such as better decision-making.
Utah just can’t seem to shake that injury bug. It’s not an excuse, but reality.
“We’ve got important guys that are out for a long time and that kind of changes our way to play,” said Raul Neto. “We’re supposed to be a defensive team but Rudy’s out so we’ve got to figure out another way to be a good defensive team and I think it takes time.”
The system is proven and so is Snyder — based off his 51-win team last season — but now it’s all about patience. You can never predict injuries. Confidence isn’t tangible either.
Rodney Hood says the Jazz badly need a win but as much as losing seven of the last eight games hurts, he still sees light at the end of the tunnel.
“I know people are probably going crazy right now, but we’ll be fine,” Hood said. “We’ll get back on track and we’ll start winning games. Obviously, we’ve got some guys out, but we’re going to keep fighting.”