How ‘Bout This Jazz?
SOMEONE FINALLY BEATS THE JAZZ
The NBA schedule release is always accompanied by a quick win loss estimate by every receiving fan. If you’re a Jazz fan who was fully embracing the Wembanyama sweepstakes, you mostly likely envisioned the team starting off with an 0-3 record. The Nuggets, T-Wolves, and Pelicans are all likely bare minimum playoff teams. The Rockets during game four of the season may have been the first team you stopped and zoned in on as a potential win. Until you realized it was on the road and the second night of a back-to-back. If you were like me, you moved on and circled Wednesday’s home game VS Houston as win number one of the season. The exact opposite has been the case, with the Jazz beating those 3 “playoff caliber” teams to start the year. Despite the spunky Jazz being a ton of fun, we knew a loss was coming eventually, and it happened on a night where the team was clearly fatigued and out of sorts. They still put up a great fight, but exhaustion, and a desperate Rockets team seeking their first win on fresh legs was a bad combination. The home team took the tight win at Toyota Center besting Utah, 114-108.
Simone Fontecchio was one of the few benefactors wearing a Jazz uniform that benefited from the team playing in a back-to-back. With fatigue and lack of lift a severe factor, Coach Hardy went deeper into the bench. Fontecchio had not seen the floor for barely more than a minute this season when he took off his warmup in the third quarter. Simone would play the last three minutes of the third and the entirety of the 4th. This was not a blowout or an injury situation. Fontecchio gave Will Hardy no choice but to keep him in as the game got increasingly tighter. The 26-year-old Italian rookie would shoot 5-9 from the field, play some physical body up type defense, and even cut to the rim a couple times with a finish inside and a two-handed slam. Fontechhio was known as a shooter however and he lived up to that moniker by burying 3 triples in 5 attempts. He did not log an assist and he picked up 3 fouls in this time frame, but his play warrants the Jazz to consider working him into the rotation. 13 points in 15 minutes cannot be ignored. As of now, expect Veteran Rudy Gay to be the one thing in between Simone and playing time. Gay would only record 5 minutes in the second half.
Speaking of Rudy Gay, he finds himself in a tough spot. He and Quin Snyder seemed to have differences last season when Gay was benched down the stretch. This year brought a new hope when Will Hardy put him in the rotation early on against Denver and he posted 16 points on 75 percent shooting. Since then, however, Gay hasn’t had the same pop despite some pretty consistent play. Last night could have been a 36-year-old vet dealing with the strain of two games in two nights, or it could be a sign of round two of the Rudy Gay experiment not working in Salt Lake. Gay was scoreless on 5 attempts against Houston, all inside the arc. In his 13 minutes he had three boards and two blocks including a big leadership moment in helping Walker Kessler get out of the key to avoid a three second call. As noted above he was seemingly replaced by Fontecchio down the stretch and with many speculating his time in Utah was already nearing a close, it will be interesting to see the next steps pertaining to Rudy Gay.
THREE KEY NUMBERS:
- Paced by Jordan Clarkson’s 17 points, Utah had seven players in double figures scoring. Vanderbilt, Markkanen, Olynk, Beasley, Fontecchio and Sexton were the other names to get 10 or more points.
- The loss was credited by many as a scheduled loss. Regardless of the talent in Utah, this would have been a tough game to overcome for any of the other 29 teams. If you’re a Jazz fan, get used to these type of nights. Utah is tied for the most back to backs in the NBA at 15. This is just the beginning.
- The Rockets attempted double the amount of free throws Utah did. 32-16 was the differential for some home town cooking. Kevin Porter Jr did a particularly great job getting their 9 times and sinking all attempts. Porter Jr would finish with 26 points to lead all scorers.
AUDIO OF THE NIGHT:
OPPOSING FAN COMMENT OF THE NIGHT:
“Fantecchio looks like an AI generated 2k player” -crushcitymango