The Utah Jazz were flying high before the All-Star Break and comfortably sitting in that final Playoff spot. They had dreams of winning and moving up the standings to get better Playoff positioning.
Then the Lakers got hot and the Jazz started to plummet.
Utah decided to stand pat at the trade deadline even with the pending free agencies of Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap. Even then, Utah had a team that snuck into the Playoffs and the belief that it could do it again. The Jazz have a good Playoff formula with a team of big post players and decent shooters in Mo Williams, Gordon Hayward and Marvin Williams.
They are not world beater by any stretch. No one will confuse the Jazz with a championship contender. However, a Playoff team they certainly seemed to be.
However, since the All-Star Break, the Jazz have completely fallen apart.
Utah is 4-11 since the All-Star Break and is posting a 43.6 percent field goal percentage (down from 45.2 percent before the All-Star Break), has seen the team's offensive rating drop from 103.5 before the break to 100.4 after and the team's turnover rate jump to 16.3 percent from 15.6 percent.
It is quite clear that the field goal percentage is the biggest issue for Utah as all the team's defensive numbers have largely remained the same.
Some of that certainly was caused by Mo Williams' absence, but he was out for much of December and January. It cannot be all attributed to the missing shooting guard.
Things have clearly turned south in the last 15 games for the Jazz.
Taking a closer look at the shooting numbers in those last 15 games since the All-Star Break, Utah is shooting worse than 40 percent from 5-24 feet. Indeed, according to NBA.com's stats database, 220 of the team's 1,239 field goal attempts have come from that nether world right in front of the 3-point line -- 15-19 feet.
Anyone will tell you, this is the least efficient shot in basketball and a certain way to lower field goal percentages and decrease point production. Nearly 20 percent of the Jazz's shots come from this inefficient range during this stretch. For the season, Utah is shooting slightly lower percentage from this range.
Still, Utah is taking a lot of jumpers. And those are notoriously hit or miss. The Jazz are going through an extended missing period.
What is going wrong with Utah? That is hard to tell.
The pressure of the Playoff race and the oncoming storm that has been the Lakers of late certainly might have some to do with it. The Jazz though continue to fall further and further behind. If that continues, Utah could be seeing a big problem this summer if many of the team's top players opt to play elsewhere.
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