They put the brakes on one trend and reversed course. The season has become one, big chase-down block. The same Utah Jazz team that 10 days ago couldn’t stop losing, now can’t stop winning.
The countdown to a surprising playoff berth is now at seven games after the Jazz beat the Portland Trail Blazers 112-102 in front of 18,336 at EnergySolutions Arena.
It was their fifth straight win after a four-game losing streak, and it came against a team that shot 58 percent from the field and made 13 3-pointers. But the Jazz (39-36) rarely gave away the ball, and when Mo Williams did release it, it was almost always a good thing.
Something has changed for a Jazz team that fell out of the playoff picture like victims of an NBA trap door. Derrick Favors distilled it down to one word.
“Playoffs,” he said. “We understand that we want to stay in the eighth spot, move up, whatever. Just playoffs.”
The Jazz moved a half game ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers for eighth. The Lakers (38-36) play Tuesday against the Dallas Mavericks, who sit just a game back in the loss column.
“We struggled there for a little while but this team is just continuing to get better and better,” coach Tyrone Corbin said. “Now we believe.”
All five Jazz starters reached double figures, led by 24 points and 10 rebounds from Jefferson, who earlier in the day was named the Western Conference Player of the Week. The last time the Jazz (39-36) won as many games in a row was the end of 2012, when they scored victories in their final five games to sneak into the playoffs.
Déjà vu, much?
“Same type of theme this year,” Gordon Hayward said.
The Jazz have spiked before this season. A frustrating year was sprinkled with eyebrow-raising victories: a buzzer-beater to beat San Antonio, a floater by Hayward to beat Miami, a blowout over Oklahoma City.
The Jazz, however, don’t want their season to be defined by short bursts of excellence. Losses Wednesday against Denver, Friday versus New Orleans or Sunday in Golden State could undercut the importance of their current streak.Next Page »