If Tuesday was the last time the Jazz play a game as currently constituted, Executive Vice President Kevin O’Connor’s creation went out on a high note.
And if O’Connor and general manager Dennis Lindsey were looking for encouragement that these Jazz — who won’t play again until Saturday, two days after Thursday’s 1 p.m. trade deadline — are worth a look in the postseason, they might have just found it in the 115-101 win over Golden State that catapulted the Jazz (31-24) into sixth place in the Western Conference.
At least some players hope so.
“From the moment I got traded to this team,” Jazz forward Marvin Williams said, “I was really excited about what we had here. I feel like we’re showing the league what we’re capable of doing. Me personally, I really do hope everybody is here on Friday.”
Al Jefferson led the Jazz with 24 points, while Paul Millsap added 14 points and nine rebounds. The frontcourt pair have been most commonly brought up in trade rumors.
“They haven’t missed a beat, man,” Williams said. “You can tell out there on the court.”
The Jazz got one more regular back into the fold Tuesday when guard Gordon Hayward returned after missing 10 games with a sprained right shoulder. On one of his first possessions, Hayward was fouled hard going to the rim. He got up, moved his shoulder in a circular motion to check for pain and proceeded to score 17 points in 24 minutes.
“I was watching to see how he responded,” coach Tyrone Corbin said. “I thought he did a great job.”
The Jazz have won three games in a row, including two before the All-Star Break. They had just one practice to get ready for the Warriors (30-23). Golden State started the season hot but has lost six straight to fall into a sixth-place tie with the Jazz in the Western Conference race.
Jefferson said that he imagined the Jazz, after losing Hayward and Mo Williams for extended periods of time, would have struggled more, perhaps fighting for any playoff spot rather than jockeying in the middle of the conference.
“We’re in higher position than we were before those guys went out,” he said. “This just show how deep this team is.”
Against the Warriors, the Jazz built a 10-point lead in the first half and withstood 14 second quarter points from Stephen Curry, who finished with a game-high 29 points.Next Page »