After his team fell for the first time in five games, Utah Jazz coach Will Hardy cut to the chase of what he thought went awry during his team’s 121-112 road loss to the Washington Wizards.
“We lost the game with our (lack of) defensive intensity,” Hardy said. “The team defense tonight was not there.”
Even though they will wrap up a three-game Eastern trip against a short-handed Philadelphia 76ers squad on Sunday night, the visitors shouldn’t expect guest treatment if that’s the case again on the second night of a back-to-back set for both teams.
Even without injured James Harden — and using a mishmashed starting lineup — the Sixers beat the Atlanta Hawks 121-109 at home on Saturday night. Joel Embiid had a massive outing with 42 points, 10 rebounds and six assists for Philadelphia.
That helped make up for the 76ers being without Harden for a fourth straight game because of a tendon strain in his right foot. The Sixers also were without Harden’s backup, De’Anthony Melton (back stiffness), and end-of-the-bench emergency guard Furkan Korkmaz was sidelined after injuring his left knee against the Hawks.
Coach Doc Rivers told The Philadelphia Inquirer that the 76ers need to learn how to “play around” the injuries.
With Embiid stepping up like he did and Tyrese Maxey scoring 26 points on 10-for-18 shooting from the field and nine assists, Philadelphia found a temporary solution. It remains to be seen if that will work against the Jazz, if for no other reason than that Embiid also was at less-than-full strength as Saturday’s game progressed.
Embiid tweaked an ankle in the first half and also dinged his shoulder. He played through those setbacks, but it remains unclear whether he’ll suit up against Utah.
“I don’t know what happened, but some days, I can’t lift my arm up,” Embiid said. “When I go block shots, I really feel it. I don’t know what’s going on, but it’s whatever.”
Like Philadelphia, the Jazz also have a recent impressive win over Atlanta. But Utah wasn’t able to turn it back on in the fourth quarter against the Wizards like the team did against the Hawks in Wednesday’s win.
“We are capable of losing any night, we are capable of winning any night. We know who we are,” Jazz point guard Mike Conley told KSL.com. “We are a team that is going to keep competing regardless. We know we weren’t going to end the season 73 and whatever; it’s very tough to do. We have a great group of guys and a group that understands that tomorrow night is a new day.”
Talen Horton-Tucker was a bright spot at Washington on Saturday, getting a double-double of 12 points and 10 assists in just 17 minutes. Jordan Clarkson led the Jazz with 18 points, Lauri Markkanen and Collin Sexton each scored 17, and new father Malik Beasley added 16 in the loss.
Conley envisions Utah bouncing back nicely after only its fourth loss in 14 games this season.
“We got the right mentality,” he said. “The right guys to turn it around and not let one loss lead to two or three or four or five in a row — and hopefully nip it before it gets out of control.”
–Field Level Media