Jazz Need All Hands On Deck
By Patrick Kinahan
All season long, after almost every practice and game, Ty Corbin uttered the same line with regard to the Jazz having success.
To paraphrase, he would say: We need everybody to play well.
For most of their 36 wins in the regular season, the Jazz got the necessary contributions across the board. For all of the Jazz’s three playoff games, they have yet to get it.
And as a result, the Jazz are all but done this season. The latest inconsistent effort came Saturday, when the San Antonio Spurs beat the Jazz 102-90 to take a commanding 3-0 lead in this best-of-seven series that will probably last only four games.
At times, the Jazz looked great during Game 3.
Devin Harris has never played better in a Jazz uniform than he did in the first quarter. Derrick Favors continued to look like the budding superstar that he will undoubtedly become. Alec Burks didn’t appear to a wide-eyed rookie playing in his third playoff game. Al Jefferson was solid as usual.
For a good while, the energy vibrating through EnergySolutions Arena was reminiscent of the time John Stockton and Jerry Sloan controlled the games on the court instead of watching harmlessly from the green seats as they were Saturday.
But as much as the desire might be there, the talent isn’t. This much is true: the Jazz aren’t as good as the Spurs, and several players are not ready to play well most every game.
“I thought we played better, but we just couldn’t put it together to get enough to get over the hump against these guys,” said Corbin.
In both games in San Antonio, Harris was missing in action. Playing with much better resolve, the point guard responded with 21 points and five assists in Salt Lake City.
The problem was, his backcourt mate took over where Harris left off. Gordon Hayward was nothing short of awful in Game 3, missing 9-of-10 shots from the field and all five three-point attempts. Hayward’s defensive effort was admirable against the unguardable Tony Parker, but the Jazz also need his scoring.
Jefferson rebounded from subpar performances in San Antonio to post 21 points and 11 rebounds. But this time Paul Millsap was lacking, making only 4-of-12 shots and missing 3-of-4 free throws.
“It’s going to take more than one or two us to have a good game,” Harris said.
Even as every fan in Jazz-land drools in anticipation of Favors’ future greatness, there’s still much work to be done. The 20-year-old incredible athlete did miss nine shots and made only half of his 10 free throws.
In any series, the less-talented team has got to do all the little things correct. So far in this series the Jazz have fallen far short in several of these areas.
In Game 3, the obvious shortcoming began 15 feet from the basket. In a potentially winnable game, the Jazz were a miserable 14-of-26 at the free throw line.
As Corbin pointed out, there’s simply no excuse for such a pathetic result.
“Those are free points that we need, especially in this type of game,” Harris said.
In terms of progress, the Jazz can take small consolation knowing that improvement was made from the two debacles in San Antonio. It’s just that individually, some players took a step back.
Harken back to Corbin’s message. As presently constituted, the Jazz can’t win consistently unless everybody plays well.