Sometimes things don’t go your way.

Playing with heavy hearts on Thursday night, that was the exact situation the Jazz found themselves in.

Despite a fourth quarter comeback, Utah couldn’t get over the hump and fell 111-100 to visiting Indiana, dropping their record to 8-4.

“I think defensively there were a number of breakdowns in a lot of different areas,” head coach Quin Snyder said postgame. “It’s hard to identify any one thing. I thought at times, particularly when we turn the ball over, it’s really difficult for us to defend against turnovers.”

The game was intense from the start, seeming like a playoff atmosphere with the physicality and the refs allowing both teams to play through it.

It all came to a head late in the fourth quarter when a mini scuffle resulted in four ejections: Donovan Mitchell (Utah), Joe Ingles (Utah), Rudy Gobert (Utah), and Myles Turner (Indiana).

When speaking after the game, Snyder alluded to high all-around emotions, especially when considering what the Jazz players have been through the past 24 hours.

Speaking with media before the game tonight, Mitchell, Ingles, and Snyder all gave heartfelt and genuine responses regarding the tragic death of Izzy Tichenor, a 10-year-old girl who died by suicide after being bullied at school.

“As an organization, there’s no doubt that everyone’s behind them (Tichenor family). Whatever we can do, we had a really good chat about some things that we can do obviously now, to try and help as best we can,” Ingles said this morning. “But also in the future to make sure this doesn’t happen again. And not just to a kid with special needs, just any kid every kid, every adult, everyone deserves to go to work or school or whatever we are doing and go and be free and enjoy it.”

When asked whether it’s hard to compartmentalize such a severe and tragic social issue by going out and doing your job on the court, Mitchell was honest in his response. 

“I can only speak for myself when I say, I don’t think it’s that difficult for me to do that,” Mitchell said. “Tonight you play for Izzy, you have that emotion. You put your heart and soul into that. … Especially for situations like that, it makes you go even harder because, at the end of the day, you realize the impact that you have playing this game.”

Before the scuffle late in the fourth quarter, Utah struggled to break through against a highly-energetic Pacers squad.

The Jazz came out hot to start the game, knocking down seven of their first eight shots to take a 22-18 lead. But as they went cold, Indiana responded with a 10-0 run to lead by two at the end of the first quarter.

Utah was able to hang around in the second quarter despite the cold shooting thanks to good effort and hustle on the defensive end. But a late 11-3 Pacers run put the Jazz behind 60-51 at the break.

Trailing by as many as 12 midway through the third quarter, Utah reeled off seven straight points to cut the deficit to 74-71. But Indiana always had a response, knocking down three three-pointers on consecutive possessions to regain control.

Utah made one last run, cutting the deficit to five early in the fourth quarter following an Eric Paschall layup. Once again, Indiana responded with its own 8-2 run, effectively putting the game out of reach before the issues at the end.

Mitchell was adamant that the emotions of the day, and the scuffle in the end, were not a direct result of the team losing. He noted the primary reasons were the rebounding deficit, turnovers, and miscommunications on the defensive end.

“All of us as a group, we just didn’t guard,” Mitchell said. “Even when we did, we gave up another rebound, and then they would score. It’s hard to play great defense, then they get a rebound and then do it again. … And then on top of that not make shots, it’s a lot of compounding things that we didn’t execute well in.

He scored a team-high 26 points, adding in five assists, four rebounds, and three steals while shooting 11-for-20 from the field and 3-for-7 from beyond the arc. Gobert added another double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds, while Jordan Clarkson was the only other Utah player in double figures with 11 points.

The Jazz will have just less than 48 hours to regroup before hosting the Eastern Conference’s top team, the Miami Heat, on Saturday. Tipoff is set for 3 p.m.

“We made some runs, but we couldn’t get the stops we needed,” Gobert said. “We got to bounce back on Saturday and just keep getting better. It’s a long season, keep trusting one another and keep playing as a team.”


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