Never has a win over the a tied for the 2nd worst record in the NBA tasted so sweet. Not since 1982 had the Jazz lost so many games in a row at home, and when Marcus Thornton nailed a 3 pointer with 14.1 seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 95 and the Jazz couldn’t convert on the other end, Jazz fans had to be thinking here we go again.
However, behind Al Jefferson, who finished the game with 27 points, and 2 key Raja Bell jumpers, the Jazz outscored the Kings 14-7 in OT and in the process halted the franchises longest home losing streak since the Ronald Regan Administration. More importantly, the Jazz moved back into the hunt in the Western Conference playoff race.
“Oh man, to get a win, in any kind of way, is a sense of relief for us,” said coach Ty Corbin, who won his first home game as head coach. “The guys have been busting their butts, and it’s good to finally get a reward at the end.” Corbin moved to 2-7 since taking over for Jerry Sloan, and the Jazz now set their sites on a key 4 game road trip beginning Monday vs the Knicks.
The Jazz keep a dry-erase board in their locker room that shows the Western Conference playoff standings, the top 8 teams and close contenders are listed in black, Utah was listed in red. But, last night’s win moved the Jazz to within 1/2 game of Phoenix for the 9th spot and 1 game behind Memphis for the 8th and final playoff spot. The Suns and Grizzlies both have tough road games today at the Thunder and Mavericks, 2 of the Western Conference elite, loses today by both move the Jazz right back in the hunt.
The Jazz may be shorthanded as they embark on their key 4 game road trip. Paul Millsap left last night’s game with a knee injury, Andre Kirilenko finished the game but is listed as day to day after tweaking his back, and reserve center Kyrylo Fesenko left the game with back spasms and may not make the trip. That could means more minutes for newly acquired Derrick Favors and veteran reserve Francisco Elson, who had perhaps his best game in a Jazz uniform in last nights win grabbing 9 rebounds, including a key offensive rebound and steal late in overtime. The Jazz are now 4-0 in overtime this season.
Jazz Nation can only hope that last nights win will provide the team a much needed confidence boost as they enter a run of seven road games in nine contests that will define the team’s roller coaster season and go a long way to determining the teams playoff hopes. Many teams would fold under the pressure the Jazz are about to face but according to Jazz guard C.J. Miles coach Corbin and his staff are sending a different message “Bring it.”
Jazz fans do you think your team will do just that and “Bring it’ or will they crumble under the pressure of playing 7 of their next 9 on the road? Good news is we won’t have to wait long to find out as the Jazz square off tomorrow vs the new look Knicks. However, based on what I’ve been reading on various Jazz message boards many fans want the team to miss the playoffs giving them 2 lottery picks in this yeas draft. You will not find that same sentiment shared by this reporter.