1. The Jazz had two big stretches in which they just couldn’t score that cost them the game.
The first was a 19-2 Lakers run at the end of the first half in just 3:40 of game time. Their offensive performance in those minutes, in sequence:
Miss, miss, miss, miss, turnover, make, turnover, miss, turnover, miss, turnover, miss, miss.
This gave the Lakers a 6 point lead going into half, but the Jazz somewhat valiantly fought back in the 3rd quarter to fight back to tie the game. Then, in the opening 7 minutes of the fourth quarter, the Jazz’s offensive sequence went like this:
Miss, turnover, miss, miss, turnover, miss, turnover, miss, FT make, FT miss, miss, miss, miss, miss.
That’s very bad offensive performance in stretches against a terrible defensive team, and it’s absolutely worrying. The first half slide might be the most troublesome, as it happened for the most part against the core group of young players that Jazz fans are so excited about: Burke/Burks/Hayward/Favors/Kanter. 1 It was as if those players had never played together, and while they haven’t played much as a unit this season, they’ve played together in at least large 4-man groups: those are 5 of the 6 players with the most minutes as a team.
Interestingly, beside those stretches, the Jazz shot really well: 65% from the field is really quite good. The difference might be indicative of the Jazz’s biggest offensive problem: they have no one who they can trust with the ball who can get points semi-reliably.
Yes, this game was largely about tank race, and Ty Corbin thought it affected the players on the floor, saying “We gave into the talk tonight, but we can’t concede to what others say.” It was a worrying game for the state of the team as currently constructed, pre-draft pick.
2. But! The loss sure does help the Jazz with lottery odds.
The loss assures them of, at worst, a tie for 4th going into the NBA’s draft lottery on May 20th. If the Jazz had won tonight, they could have fallen to as low as the 6th spot. This is a big deal: most observers think that this draft contains a very excellent group of 5 players.2
While the odds of getting the top pick in the NBA draft are not incredibly different between the 4th and 6th slots (11.9% to 6.3%) the odds of getting a top 5 pick are extremely different: the chances of getting a top 5 pick are 82.8% for the 4th slot, and just 21.5% for the 6th slot. 3
It’s a real quandary, though: the current players looked really terrible at times tonight. They looked to have even regressed from game 1 of the season, in which they lost by only 3 in a fight with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Was the pick worth it? We’ll probably find out on May 20th.
3. Ty Corbin was introspective tonight.
This was probably the most deflated I’ve ever seen Ty Corbin this season: he, quite frankly, looked like a man out of answers. He’s tried the new starting lineup, using the youth all together as a unit, and it hasn’t really worked. A loss against the Lakers, as they’re currently constructed, is embarrassing. The most telling exchange was probably this one, at the end of the post-game press conference:
Tony Parks: “As a coach, what do you want to take from this year, specifically, as you go forward?”
Corbin: “I don’t know if that’s a good question right now. It’s a question to be asked, it’s a question I have to ask myself, it’s a question I have to accept, figure out where I go from here, for me. It’s been an interesting year. I have a lot of evaluating to do that I want to do for myself, and figure out what’s my next step.”
Corbin has always been strong in his press conferences, staying strong to the “We gotta work hard to get better” mantra. Honestly, it’s a good mantra, and it certainly helps a team to see strength and resilience in its leader. But tonight was the first time Corbin’s been open about his uncertain future, and he didn’t seem particularly optimistic.