Utah Jazz can’t win if Bojan Bogdanovic and Joe Ingles don’t show up – Deseret News

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SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz lost their fourth consecutive game on Wednesday night, and while there were flashes of intensity and passion that had been missing during their recent skid, there are still two things that haven’t reappeared since the All Star break — Bojan Bogdanovic and Joe Ingles.

After three straight games of completely flat defensive play it was a sight for sore eyes to see some effort on that side of the ball in Wednesday’s 114-103 loss to the Boston Celtics. Donovan Mitchell scoring 37 points in the loss was also a hopeful sign of progress.

But, Mitchell can not win games by himself.

Bogdanovic went 1-of-8 from the field and 0-of-4 from deep while Ingles took just three shots in 26 minutes off the bench.

Wednesday marked the first game for Ingles with the reserve unit since Dec. 2. Head coach Quin Snyder elected to move Royce O’Neale from the bench, supplanting Ingles in the starting five, in order to inject some life into the Jazz’s waning defense.

Ingles’ woes from the bench have been an ongoing issue this season, which was rectified when Mike Conley was sidelined with a hamstring injury in early December and Ingles returned to the starting lineup.

In the early part of the season, Ingles averaged just 7.3 points on 30.9% shooting from 3-point range before Conley’s injury. After rejoining the starting unit on Dec. 4, Ingles averaged 11.8 points per game, shooting 44.1% from the 3-point line heading into the All-Star break.

“Joe’s a good player, he’s played well, he’s going to play well, and we need him to play well,” head coach Quin Snyder said before the loss to Boston. “Whether he’s starting or coming off the bench, wherever he’s playing.”

Yes, that’s what the Jazz need. But that is not what the Jazz got on Wednesday and it’s not what they’ve seen from Ingles since the All-Star break, a stretch in which Ingles is shooting just 28.6% from deep.

What’s more alarming than any percentages is that Ingles is passing up wide open looks and saying that he went 1-of-3 in 26 minutes is a bit of an overstatement. Ingles took each of three shot attempts on Wednesday in his nine minutes of play during the first quarter. He didn’t take a single field-goal attempt through the final three quarters of the game.

Bogdanovic’s struggles through the last four games are not so easily identifiable. He hasn’t had to switch lineups and he has arguably been the most well-adjusted new addition to the team this season, leading the team in 3-point percentage. That is, until the All-Star break.

Through the Jazz’s four-game skid since returning to action, Bogdanovic is shooting a team-worst 17.6% from distance, going 3-of-17 from three during that stretch.

While Snyder doesn’t like to point to any one thing and prefers to believe that his shooters will find a way out of their slumps, the timing of these two players seemingly disappearing from the offense is cause for concern.

“There’s no kind of sweeping generalizations, everybody has had tough stretches and tough nights,” Snyder said.

When asked what can be done to keep Ingles involved in the offense and finding open looks for both Ingles and Bogdanovic, Mitchell and Mike Conley pointed toward ball movement and pace.

“When we get stops, just pushing the ball and getting them easy opportunities in transition,” Conley said. “I think teams are trying to switch a lot more on the defensive end and it causes us to try to go one-on-one and the ball kind of sticks. When we do that it’s harder to get the ball around the horn.”

But even when the Jazz got out in transition on Wednesday and had wide open looks, as O’Neale and Ingles did midway through the first quarter, they passed up them up and the possession ended in a contested Conley layup that missed the mark.

With so much of the Jazz’s focus of the last week occupied by the defensive lapses of the team, there is still the other side of the ball to worry about.

If it’s small lineups, or zone defenses, or switching that forces isolation, the Jazz still need to be able to create space and movement in order to get touches for everybody, especially their two best 3-point shooters.

It doesn’t matter if Mitchell scores 37 points every night. Without shooters who are ready to let the ball fly and are able to knock down shots, wins against any team — much less the better teams in the league — are going to be hard to come by.

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