Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — While slumped in his locker Thursday night, Paul Millsap softly said the Utah Jazz's latest loss was a hard pill to swallow.
The hardest part, no doubt, is that an overtime loss to New Orleans — made possible by Emeka Okafor's crazy playground shot at the regulation buzzer — hasn't been the only nasty tasting pill the Jazz have had to send down their hatch lately.
If it hasn't been one thing to go haywire for the Jazz lately, it's been a dozen others.
"It seems," Millsap lamented, "like there's nothing that's going right for us."
But plenty that's gone — and continues to go — wrong for this shell-shocked squad.
Unexpected coach resignations by Jerry Sloan and Phil Johnson.
A shocking trade that left the team without its clear — even if occasionally flawed — leader in Deron Williams.
Major defensive struggles.
Did we mention injuries — from Mehmet Okur's struggles with his back and Achilles heel, to multiple ailments, aches and pains for the rest of the squad in devastating numbers.
Lots and lots of losses for a proud franchise that is on the verge of its first losing season since the 26-56 2004-05 campaign and faces a Mount Everest-like hike to get back into the playoff race.
The success enjoyed by recent Jazz players — from Wesley Matthews in Portland to the Bulls' three ex-Utah amigos — is considered another bitter pill for many fans who've seen Utah lose four in a row and win just nine of its last 33 games.
The combination of all of the above — and other things that have gone awry — has left a loyal fanbase frustrated with its players, team management or at least the predicament that the team is in.
The future is in question, too.
Jazz CEO Greg Miller felt the negative heat from peeved fans so much that he tweeted out this message after Thursday's heartbreaking setback:
"Your frustration is understandable. I share it," wrote @GreginUtah. "But your negativity does nothing to improve things. Would you say those things face to face?"
Miller, who usually shares personal experiences or positive thoughts from his Twitter account, didn't specify what complaints or comments compelled him to write that.
But upset members of Jazz Nation are venting in all forums possible: sports radio, newspaper websites, message boards, Twitter, Facebook, emails, at water coolers, by not buying tickets, you name it.
Fans who've cheered on their playoff teams in 24 of the past 27 postseasons are simply struggling to come to grips with the team's sudden lack of success.
Who knows if the tension will mount more now that Jimmermania has left the Beehive State without a success story in hoops to root on.
Don't forget, the Jazz still have two games against the Lakers, one at San Antonio and a fifth-game-in-seven-nights showdown with Dallas tonight.
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