Utah Jazz lose fifth in a row, desperately seek answers as playoffs approach

SALT LAKE CITY — Nightmares from last year’s playoff series against the Los Angeles Clippers came to the forefront of Jazz fans minds last night as their beloved NBA team blew yet another sizable lead to the same team who prematurely ended their potential title run in the same fashion a year ago. With the loss, not only does the team look completely dismantled and in disarray, but with the playoffs closing in, Utah could be in some serious short-term and long-term trouble.

It seems the Jazz struggle to learn from their mistakes, as last night accounts for the 14th game they’ve lost when leading by double-digits. Not only is that a difficult pill to swallow, but against the Clippers last night, Utah looked in full control with a 25-point lead. So what went wrong?

The threes dried up and the Clippers used their defense to suffocate Utah and create easy points. After shooting 52% (10-19) from deep in the first half, the Jazz wrote their obituary on a 16.7% (2-12) from beyond the arc in the second half where they were outscored 73-54.

“I don’t know, Sarah. I don’t know,” Mitchell told Sarah Todd of the Deseret News after the game. “It’s the same (expletive). I mean, it feels the same way. It’s the same thing. This is literally the same thing.”

After falling to the Clippers, Utah has now dropped their last five games in a row and find themselves in 5th place on the cusp of a potential play-in game to even make the playoffs. With a record of 45-31, the Jazz are only two games ahead of the 7th seeded Minnesota Timberwolves who sit at 43-33.

With only six games remaining, the Jazz have got to do some serious soul searching as they’ll face some of the best the Western Conference has to offer in Golden State, Memphis and Phoenix. They simply cannot afford to lose more than a game or two as the Timberwolves are quickly gaining momentum and would love nothing more than leapfrog Utah into a secured spot.

Utah’s first opportunity will come Thursday night on TNT at 8 p.m. MT as they welcome a Los Angeles Lakers team who, despite an incredible amount of talent, currently finds themselves in the 11th spot. While Lebron James remains day-to-day and could potentially miss Thursday’s contest, Utah has significantly struggled against Los Angeles all season long. Regardless, Thursday’s contest will be a battle as these two teams will look to get back on track and avoid fully drowning.

If unable to truly find themselves down the stretch, the Jazz could be entering some very dangerous waters as rumors surrounding Mitchell’s desire to stay in Salt Lake City run wild and very well could come to fruition if the team experiences another early playoff exit.

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