If the Utah Jazz play like they did in the first half of Saturday night’s game, center Enes Kanter says, “nobody can beat us.”
And if they play like they did in the second half?
Well, it could be a very long season.
The Jazz built up a 19-point lead over the Houston Rockets only to let the visitors affect a 30-point swing to close out the game, sending the crowd at EnergySolutions Arena headed out the doors early, and handing the Jazz a 104-93 loss.
After the game, Jazz coach Ty Corbin said Houston showed its experience in the comeback, while the Jazz showed their lack thereof in the collapse.
“We’ve got to get better,” he said. “We’re a young group. We should be in it. We should have more energy. We’ll go back to work. It’s frustrating learning the same lessons over and over and over again, but that’s where we are. We’ll keep working and hopefully we’ll get better.”
The Jazz have opened the season 0-3 for the first time since 1979 — the franchise’s first year in Utah — and they’ve done it in heartbreaking fashion.
The team pushed Oklahoma City to the brink and watched as swingman Gordon Hayward’s game-tying buzzer-beater bounced off the rim on opening night. Then on Friday night, Phoenix’s Eric Bledsoe hit a game-winning three in the game’s dying seconds.
It wasn’t the same script against Houston, but it still read like a tragedy for the Jazz.
“We’ve got to close out games,” point guard John Lucas III said. “That’s the biggest thing. We’ve got to close games out. All these games, we’ve had right there in our hands to win them and we let them slip right through our hands.”
Both the Rockets and the Jazz traveled to Salt Lake City late Friday for the second half of a back-to-back. After Kanter, Hayward and Derrick Favors all logged at least 37 minutes in Phoenix, fatigue was a possibility. But the Jazz showed no signs of it in the first half.
Utah jumped out to a 24-16 first quarter lead behind 10 points and six rebounds from Kanter. The Jazz center showed off his pump fake against bigger defenders underneath the glass. Then later, in the pick and roll, he showed off his jumper.Next Page »