The performance that the Utah Jazz had against the New Orleans Hornets on Thursday night was exactly what I had in mind when I said that the Jazz should play hard and lose. Of course I didn’t expect Emeka Okafor to hit a crazy shot at the end of regulation to send the game to overtime, but hey, the goal was achieved. And the craziest part about the whole situation is that when Okafor hit the shot to send the game to overtime, I was actually relieved. I understood that the Jazz winning or losing this game wasn’t going to affect them that much one way or the other, but I just didn’t want it to be that one game that the Jazz ended up regretting for having won it when they didn’t really need to.
Even though the Jazz lost, and they were able to entertain the home crowd with an exciting game, there was one thing that still bothered me about this game. That one thing was the fact that Raja Bell played more minutes than anybody else on the Jazz roster. I mentioned in my last post how this was a great game for the Jazz to explore their future options, and that it was also the perfect time for Coach Corbin to cease his love affair with Raja Bell. Those things did not happen, and I feel like that was a wasted opportunity. Yes, Gordon Hayward did play over 36 minutes, but Jeremy Evans and Derrick Favors each played less than 17 minutes, and that was in an overtime game (53 minutes).
Moving forward I am still hopeful that the time distribution will change. Coach Corbin hasn’t given me any reason to believe he will change things up, but I figure hope is all I have left at this point. Maybe once the Jazz are mathematically eliminated, the mindset will change for Corbin, and he will start to evaluate the younger talent on this team by giving them a lot more minutes. Unfortunately, between now and the time the Jazz are mathematically eliminated, several games might go by, and the Jazz will regret not getting the chance to play the youngsters earlier. (Right now there are only 9 games left).
All I can say is that the writing is on the wall, and Coach Corbin better realize that his team is not a playoff contender sooner rather than later. And even if by some miracle the Jazz actually made the playoffs, they will be the victim of a first-round sweep anyway. So it’s time to stop playing players who will not have much impact on the future of this team, and it is time to see what the young talent is truly capable of. If not now, when?