The Triple Team: Three Thoughts on Utah Jazz at Denver Nuggets 3/27/2015

March 28th, 2015 | by David J Smith
While not related to Utah's loss to Denver, most thoughts were focused on the passing of the legendary Hot Rod Hundley.

While not related to Utah’s loss to Denver, most thoughts were focused on the passing of the legendary Hot Rod Hundley.

1. Things can change quickly in the NBA.

Let us take a trip back in time, but we won’t go back too far. 11 days to be exact. When things were roses, giggles, puppies and cotton candy. The Utah Jazz had dusted yet another Playoff team, demolishing the Charlotte Hornets to the tune of 94-66. That impressive victory signified the team’s eleventh win in 13 outings. The Jazz were the talk of the NBA, and rightfully so. They were defeating everyone that got in their way…well, at least those that were postseason-bound. Utah’s defense was the best in the league. Rudy Gobert was getting some nice national publicity, as was Quin Snyder, Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward and company. Those were good times.

Fast forward to present time. The Denver Nuggets just made easy work of the Jazz, coasting to an easy 107-91 victory. All of a sudden, Utah has dropped four consecutive games and five of six. The offense is not as crisp, the defense not as dominant. There are some struggles individually and yes, collectively.

It just goes to shine light on the funny thing that is the NBA. Fortunes can change in the blink of an eye. That certainly happens within the course of a game almost every time out. You have to appreciate the ups, for the downs can come without much warning.

All this said, this change in fortunes could prove to be a positive for the Jazz in the long run1. The young Utah squad got a taste for what can happen when it is firing on all cylinders. It saw how very much potential it has and what playing as a cohesive unit can do on the court. Now, it has also seen how some slippage can alter trajectory.

This spell has also served as a reminder to the fan base that the Utah Jazz are very much still a work-in-progress. There is so much growth yet to occur, but the overall progress cannot be denied. This has been an exciting spell for the team and the future is very, very bright. Have no doubts… Snyder will use this recent road bump to help teach some valuable, lasting lessons.

2. So, why did the Jazz lose so badly to Denver?

The Jazz were thrilled to welcome back Hayward to the fold. While he was not 100 percent sharp, the swingman tallied 24 points, seven rebounds and three assists in his return. So, what happened to cause this loss?

  • Denver controlled the pace and feel of this game, essentially from the get-go. They ran, got early offense opportunities and jumped on Utah. The Nuggets had 22 fast break points to the Jazz’s 13. In the past two outings, Utah has been outscored 43-19 on fast break points. Teams are learning that they can run–a smart way to get points without having to go in against the formidable Gobert/Favors interior.
  • The Nuggets were torrid from the perimeter (13-24) and the Jazz were the exact opposite (5-27). Utah shot three more 3-pointers, but Denver made eight more. That’s not good.
  • Of the 12 Utah players who saw time, only two of them shot 50 percent or better from the floor. Conversely, eight of the 12 Nuggets who played achieved this mark.
  • All of Denver’s starters sported a positive plus-minus mark
  • Denver won three of the four quarters, losing that one by just one point. It was a quietly dominant night for the home team: the Nuggets were consistently good and they nipped every Utah run in the bud.

It was a rough go, with a lot of credit going to Denver. They were disruptive on defense and consistent on offense.

3. Rest in peace, Hot Rod Hundley.

While this does not relate directly to the game, the sobering news was very much on the minds of the Utah franchise and its loyal fans. Hot Rod Hundley, the distinct, colorful and memorable voice of the Jazz, passed away at the age of 80. Sadness. Sincere sadness.

Hundley was and always will be a part of the fabric that makes the Utah Jazz what it is. He was there when the team was awful and he was an essential part of its glory years. There was Larry H. Miller and there was Jerry Sloan. There was John Stockton and Karl Malone. And then, there was Hot Rod.

The legendary broadcaster was there for all the major moments in Jazz history. He called John Stockton’s record-setting assists, the Mailman’s 61-point night and, of course, “the Shot.” He spanned three different eras2, doing so seamlessly. He was the constant throughout all the transitions, someone who could always be counted out to entertain and inform.

Through his energy, his unique and unforgettable phrases — ones that will always be quoted — and his absolute passion for the game, Hot Rod was, in many ways, Utah Jazz basketball. His radio calls made fans feel like they were actually watching the game. He and Ron Boone teamed up to make the television broadcasts so fun.

Hundley’s persona was larger than life, but at the same time, it felt like he was everyone’s friend. He was absolutely one in a million. You gotta love him, baby.

David J Smith

David J Smith

Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News and has written for the Utah Jazz website and Hoopsworld.com (now Basketball Insiders). He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. He and his incredibly patient wife have five amazing children--four girls and a boy named Stockton (yes, really).
David J Smith
David J Smith

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One Comment

  1. jazzberries says:

    ” things were roses, giggles, puppies and cotton candy”

    also churros

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