The Los Angeles Lakers continued falling further behind the Utah Jazz in the Western Conference standings after a 114-89 loss on Wednesday, their fourth consecutive defeat.
Meanwhile, the Jazz are the midst of an impressive 22-2 run that vaulted them up to the top of the standings. Recently, two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo called Utah “the best team” in the West after his Milwaukee Bucks fell to the Jazz for the second time this year.
And after the Lakers were humbled by the new powerhouse, head coach Frank Vogel said that no one in the NBA currently plays better basketball than Utah. “They’re the hottest team in the league,” he said.
“The way they’re shooting the ball, the way they’re connected defensively, the continuity bump they’re getting by having the same team come back. All those things are playing out well. Coach Quinn Snyder is doing a phenomenal job with them and they’re playing like the best team in the league right now.”
The Jazz went through the offseason with no major changes to their roster, instead bringing free agent Derrick Favors back one year after they traded him to the New Orleans Pelicans.
Speaking from experience from his time with the Indiana Pacers, Vogel said the continuity must definitely benefit Utah — particularly in the regular season. “We had some situations in Indiana where we really got off to some strong starts when we didn’t change the roster much,” he said.
“It doesn’t necessarily mean that’s going to pay the biggest dividends down the stretch and in the playoffs, but they’ve got a great team.”
Vogel also said he had expected Utah to take a significant leap ahead of the 2019-20 season following the arrivals of Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic. He thinks, however, that injuries then prevented the Jazz from surging just like they are during the current campaign.
Jared Dudley compares Jazz to 2014-15 Atlanta Hawks
Lakers veteran Jared Dudley sees similarities in Utah’s rise this year to the dominant 2014-15 Atlanta Hawks, who entered that seasons Playoffs as the top seed in the Eastern Conference with a 60-22 record.
LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers then swept Atlanta in the conference finals. But Dudley thinks that unlike the Hawks, Utah has two NBA stars that makes them “a force to be reckoned with.”
“I would say the difference is they have a little more star power with Donovan Mitchell being able to break down a defense; Atlanta didn’t have that. Rudy Gobert, how he protects the paint, Atlanta didn’t have that,” he said.
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