Jazz road implosion does not bode well for remainder of season

Posted at 5:07 PM, Mar 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-30 19:07:05-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Just a few months in and 2022 has certainly been a difficult year. Upheaval wherever you look. From Russia’s Ukraine invasion to skyrocketing prices of just about everything wreaking havoc on your wallets.

But to Jazz fans, putting an effective product on the court minimizes the tumultuous effects of the world; or at least provides an escape. If only that were happening.

No matter how you spin it, the Jazz’ recent road trip was a train wreck. Put aside for a moment the fact they dropped five of six games, but to sit up by 25 points at one point on Monday against a Clippers team that had lost eight of their previous 10 games and still lose, you have to take a long, hard look in the reflection pool and ask, “What in Hades is going on?”

The Clippers have been without stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George for most of the season, and though George did return just in time to face the Jazz, Utah’s defense got outright exposed by a guy who hadn’t seen the floor since December.

Down a dozen to start the final quarter, George didn’t skip a beat, rallying the Clippers to finish victorious up six by game’s end. Demoralizing? Yeah, I think so.

Bojan Bogdanovic continues to remain out of the rotation, for now; but how long can they keep using the injury plague as an excuse? Management did what they could over the offseason to stockpile depth to prepare for such an emergency, but the veteran adds have hardly worked out.

Ironically, it was the Clippers who did the Jazz in last summer. Utah winning the first two games of their second-round playoff set was followed by an epic implosion. Like it or not, Monday brought back the bitter taste of that memory.

To their credit, the Jazz’ resume at home has been good. But for some reason, once the plane leaves Salt Lake International Airport, a switch flips and doesn’t turn back on.

Since Jan. 7, Quin Snyder’s group has gone 5-16 on the road; and considering that they’ll likely be denied home-court advantage throughout their upcoming playoff run, it’s hard to fathom there will be much to celebrate through April and May.

Then again, perhaps all they need is a fresh bulb to replace the one that’s been burnt out the past few months.

Can the Jazz really pull it together and save face? It’s a matter of finding that groove again. I mean, it really wasn’t that long ago when the Jazz won nine of 10 and looked like a champion contender.

Of course, Donovan Mitchell will have to lead. Rudy Gobert will too — and the rest of the cast must absolutely be the best version of themselves to get it done. But with six games left in the regular season, there’s not a lot of time to man up and figure it out.

And if it doesn’t, the rebuilding effort here in Salt Lake could very well be underway.