A bad pass from Mike Conley. An offensive foul by Bojan Bogdanovic. Bogey losing control of the ball on the dribble. Rudy Gobert traveling. A shot clock violation. A pass from Bogdanovic that was picked off.
The Utah Jazz committed six turnovers in the first 5 minutes, 29 seconds of action Tuesday night in Boston.
Asked how his team ultimately resolved its problem of coughing the ball up, coach Quin Snyder shook his head.
“They had to get cut down, because we were on pace to have about 50,” he said.
Well, 55, actually, but who’s counting?
Obviously, committing more than one turnover per minute is an unsustainable rate of ineptitude for any NBA team, let alone the one with the league’s best record.
And, indeed, after racking up eight miscues in the first quarter and 13 by halftime, the Jazz limited themselves to just four total after the break.
Nevertheless, all those early errors proved a valuable lesson on the importance of sweating the small stuff — something the Jazz say they will renew their efforts on.
“Just being solid and being precise with the ball. It was good to see us find our focus there,” Snyder added. “That’s something, obviously, we’ve talked about, and we’ll continue to try to do better in our execution with that.”
Gobert pointed out that the correlation between the Jazz finally taking care of the ball and their defense tightening up was not exactly rocket science.
“As soon as we started to play better offensively, it was harder for them to score,” he said. “We say it all the time — when we’re set on defense and we make the other team play in halfcourt, it’s a different game.”
Several Utah players noted that beyond the obvious turnovers early, there were plenty of other areas where they could stand to improve their decision-making, their execution, or both.
Donovan Mitchell was still able to rattle off a list of plays postgame where he could have done better — getting trapped and double-teamed in a corner, then trying to throw a cross-court pass that was easily intercepted and returned for a score; a missed floater that could have been a pass to a teammate instead; driving into the lane, jumping in the air, realizing he had nowhere to go, and trying to kick it back to Royce O’Neale, only to throw it right to Boston’s Jaylen Brown.
“Just little things that I can fix — it’s all fixable, it’s all things that I can look at and build off of,” Mitchell said. “But when it’s time, it’s time, and you just can’t afford to have mistakes in those moments. I’ve had moments where I’ve made those mistakes under four minutes, but for me, it’s all about the next play. If I’m out here worrying about the turnovers and the missed shots, then I’m not going to be able to do my job.”
Gobert, meanwhile, praised the Jazz for cutting down on “those little moments when you lose your focus,” whether it’s jawing with an opponent, complaining to a ref about a no-call rather than running back on defense, whatever.
When discussing a key fourth-quarter block he had against Brown, it was suggested to Gobert that, in the past, he might have stopped to showboat by flexing his muscles, rather than running downcourt and winding up with a dunk off an alley-oop lob, as actually happened.
“I still flex sometimes,” Gobert conceded with a smirk, before acknowledging there has been a maturation process with such incidents over the years.
“It comes with experience,” he added. “… Those little moments, at the end of the day, make the difference. I get the block, get the dunk, and it’s a four-point swing. Those are the details that make the difference between a good and great player.”
And those were the details that made the difference down the stretch Tuesday.
Given the number of double-digit victories the Jazz racked up during their stretch of 20 wins in 21 games, they’ve honestly not had a ton of tight games, of taut back-and-forth action in the waning minutes.
Getting some experience in such situations, as they did against Boston, where they racked up a nine-point lead in the first few minutes of the fourth, saw it reduced to a one-point advantage just three minutes later, then ultimately recovered to go up by 10 in the final minute, will serve them well down the road, when more precision is called for.
“Tonight we did a good job of it — a few mistakes, but overall, we did a solid job just executing, getting the looks we wanted, running the plays we wanted,” said Mitchell. “And it may not always result in a win, but as long as we execute the right way, I think that’s all we can ask.”