Jazz Never Slow Raptor Offense in 100 – 109 Home Loss

November 3rd, 2017 | by Clint Johnson

Joe Ingles bites on a pump fake by DeMar DeRozan, a common error for Jazz defenders in the 100 to 109 loss. (AP Photo/Kim Raff)

Story of the Game

With Ricky Rubio and Donovan Mitchell providing unexpected offensive punch, Utah has become something of a sexy watch recently. But this loss to the Toronto Raptors, Utah’s first at home this season against a team on the end of a six-game road sojourn, is a reminder of something that should be obvious: Utah will go as far this season as their defense can carry them.

Tonight it dragged them down.

Toronto outscored Utah in three of the four quarters on the night, including a 36-point third quarter that turned out to be decisive. The Raptor offense never allowed Utah’s defense to lock it down and enable a Jazz run, instead controlling the night with its efficiency: 54 percent shooting from the field, 37 percent from three, and 79 percent from the line, and those numbers were harmed by garbage minutes at the end of the game.

The Raptor perimeter starters dominated their Jazz defenders. DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, and Norman Powell combined for 67 points on only 38 shots. Part of this has to be attributed to Toronto simply shooting the ball with uncanny accuracy, particularly these three starters. Coming into the season they averaged 32 percent (Lowry), 22 percent (DeRozan), and 26 percent (Powell) from three. Tonight they inexplicably upped that to 50 percent (3 of 6),  43 percent (3 of 7), and 50 percent (2 of 4).

Add that to 22 Raptor points from the free throw line and Utah’s vaunted defense, sometimes likened to an unmovable objective, never really stood its ground.

Stars of the Game

Superstar: Donovan Mitchell

This will be the last time Mitchell gets the benefit of the doubt in being placed into this slot of honor. He’s proven himself good enough not to need any allowance for youth. But once again his moxie as the only Jazz offensive player to really create offense, scoring 25 points off 20 shots including 3 of 7 from long range, counterbalances his middling efficiency. He also contributed in other areas, gathering in 3 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 blocks. Perhaps most tellingly, he was the only Jazz player to notch a positive plus-minus for the night at plus-6.

Secondary Stars: Joe Ingles and Rudy Gobert

Ingles provided Utah’s best all-around performance, scoring 11 points on 7 shots (3 of 5 from three) while adding a team leading 6 assists, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals. With Ricky Rubio variating wildly in his contributions – shifting from three double digit assist games in his first five contests to now having a combined 4 in back to back games – Ingles has provided the most stable cog in the wheel of Utah’s motion offense.

Gobert produced respectable numbers – 15 points, 7 rebounds (4 offensive), and 2 blocks – but was never able to make his typical impact in this game. The Raptor’s hot shooting minimized his defensive rebounding, and perimeter defenders inability to keep from fouling those they defended prevented Gobert from much impact as a help defender. When Utah’s offense is bad it’s same to assume Gobert’s game-changing ability will not be in play, and tonight it wasn’t.

Secret Star: Derrick Favors

Favors numbers are respectable – 8 points on 7 shots, 7 rebounds, 2 steals, and a block in 27 minutes – but for the second straight night he made little impact on the game. He continues to be offensively efficient (despite taking another three, this one from the right corner and a bit short) but in a much smaller role than might have been expected.

Stats of the Game

11 – Jazz assists on 35 made baskets. Toronto pressured perimeter players and cut off swing passes, seducing Utah into lots of isolation offense. After having 20 or more assists in six of their first seven games, the Jazz have set a season low mark in the category in back to back games.

95 percent – Free throw shooting by Toronto’s starters, who went 19 of 20 from the line, including a devastating 14 of 14 by DeRozan.

19 – Field goal attempts by Rodney Hood. The good of this is that Hood was determined not to be cautious after his atrocious 0-point effort Wednesday. The bad of it is that he turned those 19 shots into only 17 points. Hood’s inability to get points from the line or by bullying his way to layups is really noticeable.

10 -Lowry’s assists in the game, one fewer than the entire Jazz team.

13 – Utah turnovers, which is actually a season low. The outcome could have been even worse had the Jazz been looser with the ball.

Sundries

  • Rubio’s confidence offensively has been a major theme of the early season, but recent games should elicit alarm on that front. Rubio wasn’t brought to Utah to lead the team in scoring but to orchestrate an offense with no single dominant scorer. His three assists tonight after a single assist against Portland show he has been enticed out of that role into one he’s not as well suited for. Consider that Rubio had three assists (never fewer) only two times all of last season. He’s now mustered worse than that in nine games this year.
  • Donovan Mitchel is special. No Jazz rookie has scored like this – 118 points through nine games – since Darrell Griffith (169 points!). Deron Williams was in the area (110) but had yet to post a 20-point outing entering his tenth game. Mitchel already has three, all in his last four games.
  • Toronto’s defense on Rubio was brilliant. Like other teams, they went under screens and retreated from him, inviting jump shots. However, when he pulled up into his deliberate, nearly-set shot they closed out much harder than teams in the past. It’s no coincidence that Rubio ended up shooting three of 12 on the night, including missing all four three point attempts. Some of that is simply regression to the mean, but part of it was smart defense by the the Raptors.
  • Utah lost this game in the third quarter, where they were outscored by eight despite scoring 28 points. DeRozan was the primary reason for this as he supplied 17 of Toronto’s final 20 points in the quarter, largely through a parade to the free throw line. Utah’s perimeter defenders kept biting on ball fakes or reaching at the ball off of screens, which is exactly what they should never do against DeRozan. A defense that is usually smart wasn’t tonight and got burned for it.
  • Utah allowed 89 points through the first three quarters. Entering the game, they had allowed opponents an average of only 91 points the entire game at home.

Quin Snyder will not be happy with either the defensive effort or focus tonight, especially as things look to get no easier with Utah heading for its one road game this stretch on Sunday against the prolific Houston Rockets.

Clint Johnson

Clint Johnson

Clint Johnson is a professional author, writing educator, and editor. He teaches writing at Salt Lake Community College. A frequent presenter at both writing and educational conferences, he writes about the Jazz as a break from his other writing work.

2 Comments

  1. Paul Johnson says:

    A Portland fan on the game thread on Moni’s blog had a clever derogatory nickname for Utah’s starting point guard: “Bricky Rubio.” Tonight he lived up to that moniker (although, ironically, he did not in the Portland game wherein he was given that nickname).

  2. Clint Johnson says:

    He’s actually a good shooter. He just has a very particular shot. It’s why he’s so good from the free throw line. But when he’s moving, or has to shoot quickly, or is contested, he’s far less accurate. I also believe this is one reason he’s been more effective recently until this loss. Teams largely left him wide open, allowing him to shoot using his deliberate, low-jump motion. It’ll be interesting to see how Snyder gets back to Rubio as a distributor.

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