Utah Jazz: Are Jazz marching toward history?
By Aaron Falk | The Salt Lake TribuneFirst published Nov 12 2013 04:38PM
The Jazz got 30 points out of "Pistol" Pete Maravich on the night of Nov. 10, 1974, in front of a home crowd of about 5,400 people. Small forward Aaron James, a New Orleans native, scored 22. And Isaac "Bud" Stallworth, the shooting guard from Kansas, hit for 17, as the Jazz beat the Portland Trail Blazers 102-101 for the franchise’s first ever victory.
The win snapped a streak of 11 straight losses to open the season — a mark no Jazz team, whether in Louisiana or Utah, has come close to since.
That is, until now.
The 2013-14 Utah Jazz have struggled mightily out of the gate. They have yet to top 100 points in a game. They have yet to record a single win.
But with the New Orleans Pelicans coming to town Wednesday, Jazz coach Ty Corbin didn’t want to delve too deep into that particular piece of history.
"I don’t want to think about that right now," Corbin said. "We’re 0-8 and we don’t want to be 0-9."
If the Jazz have circled Wednesday’s game against the Pelicans as a must-win, they’re not saying as much.
"One game at a time," Corbin said. "We can’t look ahead. We can’t look back. We have to make sure we know where we are now and what we need to work on to get better against this opponent."
But if you wanted to peek ahead — after a New Orleans team playing its third game in four nights — you’d see the Jazz’s schedule doesn’t get easier anytime soon.
Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs come to EnergySolutions on Friday. After that there are two games against the Golden State Warriors, one home and one away, and a road trip to New Orleans, Dallas and Oklahoma City.
The Jazz finish out the month at home against a Chicago Bulls team that blew them out last week in the United Center, followed by a back-to-back with an upstart Phoenix Suns squad that squeaked out a victory over the Jazz on Nov. 1.
Utah is the league’s worst offensive team through seven games and is bottom five defensively. With the Jazz already at the bottom of just about every power ranking, Utah is headed toward making the wrong kind of history if it can’t turn things around.
There’s the Jazz franchise mark of 11 straight, the 2009-10 New Jersey Nets team that got head coach Lawrence Frank fired after 16 straight losses and then dropped two more before finally beating the Charlotte Bobcats, and the 1988 expansion Miami Heat or the 1999 Clippers, both of which dropped 17 straight to open a season.
The losses have piled up for the Jazz — eight of them to start the season, and seven straight in the preseason leading up to opening night.
After the Jazz let a fourth-quarter lead turn into a 19-point loss to Denver on Monday, point guard John Lucas III was despondent in the locker room.
"I hate losing," he said Tuesday. "I hate it with a passion. … It wasn’t just that game. It’s been all the games. Every game we lose, I go into, like, a shell — where I’m not even in the room, I’m somewhere else."
The Jazz "have the pieces," Lucas said, and a win could change everything.
"I look at Boston. Boston got their first win against us and now they’re on a roll," he said. "Once we get that win and we get that feeling, I think it will be the same way for us."
Power forward Derrick Favors said morale among the players remains high in spite of the mounting defeats. The Jazz will keep fighting, searching for their reward.
"We need a win," he said. "We’re going through a slump right now, so we definitely need one."
Corbin knows how much a win could help his team — even if more losses followed.
"It helps a lot," he said. "You can talk about moral victories and getting better, but a win makes you feel a lot better about everything that’s going on, and we need a win right now."
Otherwise, the Jazz will take another step toward history.