SALT LAKE CITY — There’s no point in trying to dissect the carnage when one all needs to do is look at the play from Toronto’s point position.
There’s no way the Raptors can compete until more is being produced by their point guard.
Jose Calderon was justifiably knocked for his indifferent play in the pre-season, replaced by Jarrett Jack in the starting unit when the regular season tipped off last Wednesday.
Two games into Toronto’s road trip, which already has the makings of an 0-for-4 mark, and Jack has done little to justify his spot in the starting five.
It’s sort of like having a football team with no legitimate starting quarterback.
The Raptors’ glaring deficiency became even more pronounced Wednesday night here against the host Jazz.
In Deron Williams, Utah has the game’s premier point guard, a guy who doesn’t even have to take a shot to take over a game.
And when he’s nailing jumpers, he’s virtually unstoppable, getting people involved and completely exposing teams, which is precisely what Williams did in leading the Jazz to its 125-108 win.
This was a mismatch of epic proportions, the playing field so uneven that Williams, at times, toyed with the Raptors.
All the Jazz needed was the opening quarter to set the tone and impose its will.
That the Raptors put up a better fight the rest of way should not overshadow the damage that was done in the opening quarter.
Extra passes were being made, back-door cuts executed, turnovers created that led to easy points in transition, you name it and the Jazz was able to score.
The ultimate indictment on a team’s ability to make stops is when it is forced to resort to a zone, which became the logical option when nothing else would work in trying to contain the Jazz.
For the first time in the early season, the Raptors went with a zone, a 2-3 look that did force the occasional miss.
Jack should not be singled out entirely because there were other culprits on this evening, but a point guard has to set the tone and the way the Raptors began the game was simply deplorable.
Utah made 17 field goals, led by as many as 23 points and scored 10 points off five Toronto turnovers in taking a 41-22 lead after the opening period.
And to think the Raptors made the game’s first bucket.
Whether it was Jack or Calderon, open looks were hard to come by, players were doing too much on their own and very little extra passes were being contemplated, let alone completed.
Jack’s first assist in the half came on the final possession when he found DeMar DeRozan on the right baseline, where he buried a desperation three that barely beat the buzzer.
As bad as the Raptors looked going into the break trailing 66-47, credit must be given at the way they came out for the second half when they began to compete.
The catalyst, not surprisingly, was Jack, who was more aggressive, assertive and who didn’t have that deer in the headlight look when matched up against Williams.
The point play is so pivotal, especially on a team thin on creators, that the offence must be initiated by Jack and Calderon.
Jack, in part, helped the Raptors make 11 of their first 16 shots in the third quarter, a period that saw them come within one point following a Sonny Weems make.
Toronto couldn’t close out the quarter and yielded a banked-in three at the buzzer by C.J. Miles to trail 91-84 heading into the final period.
The writing was on the wall and all that was needed was for Utah to mount one fourth-quarter run and it would be game over.