Let’s be very clear about a few things.
This one stings.
It stings because, although no one expected this game to be the cakewalk that the first matchup between Utah and Sacramento was, but I think we all still expected that the Jazz could pull this win out. And the team gave themselves a chance to win it. They fought their way back into this game repeatedly throughout the night, but each time the Jazz got back into the game the Kings got right back on top due mostly to a lack of effort and a lapse of focus.
There will likely be a lot of attention given to the go-ahead basket in the game tonight. It is the easiest to criticize because it is the most obvious and most painful ‘what if’ moment in the game. Moreover, as coach Quin Snyder said in his postgame interview, the final defensive possession for the Jazz was somewhat of a microcosm of how the rest of the game played out.
However, it was not solely the go-ahead basket that cost Utah this game. There were three areas that cost the Jazz tonight: Free throws, turnovers, and offensive rebounds.
I’m mentioning free throws with a bit of an asterisk. They didn’t necessarily cost the Jazz the game, but it’s also difficult to overlook them in such a close game. Plus you’ll hear me drone on about how free throws win games until the day I die.
Utah shot 74% from the free-throw line tonight, knocking down 20 of 27 attempts. That’s actually not a bad percentage, though my dad’s complaining about it all game might lead you to believe otherwise. The league average hovers around 76-77%.
With that said, the free-throw shooting in the fourth quarter left something to be desired. The Jazz made just five out of ten attempts in the fourth quarter, and well, as we said at the outset here, that stings in a game that was lost by just one point.
It’s probably not realistic to expect Rudy Gobert to make 8 clutch free throws in a row to close out a game. It’s far more likely he’s going to make one of two, like he did tonight. But there were two uncharacteristic misses from Emm