ORLANDO (ABC4 Sports) – Playing a game in the strangest of environments, the Utah Jazz experimented with a variety of different lineups in a 101-88 scrimmage loss to the Phoenix Suns Thursday night in Orlando.
Donovan Mitchell led the Jazz with 17 points in just 21 minutes, while Jordan Clarkson added 14 points in Utah’s first competitive action since the NBA season was halted in March because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Head coach Quin Snyder utilized a variety of lineups in the first of three scrimmages as the Jazz try to figure out the best ways to replace Bojan Bogdanovic, who is out for the season with a wrist injury. The Jazz went small with Mitchell, Clarkson, Mike Conley, Royce O’Neale and Rudy Gobert. Then Snyder went big in the second half with Gobert and Tony Bradley on the floor at the same time.
“We can focus on some of those things now that you don’t have a chance to do in practice,” Snyder said. “You can talk about them, you can work on them, but until you get in a game competing, it doesn’t resonate as much.”
“At times, it felt like Bojan was right there, and he’s not,” Mitchell said. “I think that’s the biggest thing you have to adjust to. In the pick and roll, they took away Rudy’s roll. So then it’s on us to find the guy in the corner. The biggest thing for us is to be able to dictate what the offense does, because if you’re playing on your heals, it’s tough to do anything.”
Conley had 12 points, while Gobert had 5 points and 6 rebounds. Joe Ingles had 6 points to go along with a team-high 5 assists, while Georges Niang added 9 points off the bench.
While the outcome of the game may have been inconsequential, Snyder was disappointed in the defensive effort.
“We gave up too much in the paint, especially early,” he said. “We’ve got to do a better job of dictating the paint.”
“The early portion of the game, you could tell we were feeling our way through it,” Conley said. “But as the game went on, I think the competitive nature of the game took over. The rust was shaken off and I think guys got in good rhythms.”
As for playing a game without fans, Gobert said one of the positives was the ability to communicate better on the floor.
“If there’s one thing that I like about not having fans, it’s that I can hear my teammates clearly and they can hear me,” Gobert said. “The sound system is very good, the big screens fill up the space. At the same time, once I’m on the court, I just focus on what’s going on out on the floor and zone out on the other stuff.”
15 different players saw action on the court Thursday.
The Jazz will play its second scrimmage Saturday against Miami.