NEW ORLEANS — The Jazz better hope whoever had their voodoo doll in the Big Easy stops poking them by tipoff time Tuesday night in Oklahoma City.
If the Hornets can beat an apathetic-at-times Jazz team by six, just imagine what the NBA's best squad might do to them on their home court.
"They're a tough team in Oklahoma City," Jazz guard Raja Bell said Monday following Utah's shocking 86-80 loss at New Orleans. "That game got kind of chippy in Utah, so I would expect them to be kind of licking their chops right now.
"If we come out and do what we did tonight," Bell added, "we will get smashed."
Need we print a reminder that the Thunder crushed the Jazz 101-87 in Salt Lake City only four days ago?
Oh yeah, and OKC hasn't played since then, either. While the 21-6 club has enjoyed some R&R, the Jazz have bounced around the country from Utah to Memphis to Louisiana to Kevin Durant's stomping-opponents ground.
"It's on their home floor. They've had some rest," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said following what he described as his most disappointing loss this season.
"They've been sitting home waiting for us and they're not going to feel sorry for us, so we've got to make sure we come out tomorrow night ready to play."
Corbin liked how the group including Gordon Hayward, Earl Watson, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter and Alec Burks trimmed a 17-point deficit down to just three in the final moments. Other than that, well, there wasn't a whole lot of positive that came out of New Orleans. Maybe that his starters are well-rested?
At times, Corbin didn't think his team ran hard, set good screens, executed or played well in transition.
"We're a team trying to develop an attitude and a reputation," the second-year coach said of his playoff-bubble 14-13 team. "We have to play a certain way to get that done and…if we don't do that, this kind of thing happens."
The starters, in particular, struggled as a unit and especially in the third quarter. Corbin benched all of them but Gordon Hayward in the fourth.
Al Jefferson had 14 points and 12 rebounds, and Bell hit three 3-pointers en route to 11 points (all in the first half). But Paul Millsap was 2-for-9 and just had four points and five rebounds. And starting point guard Devin Harris struggled again, compiling all of two points and four assists with three turnovers.
Hayward had a good fourth quarter, but he only scored eight points a night after dropping in 23. He also had three turnovers (as did Earl Watson and Derrick Favors).
"We've just got to put it behind us," Harris said. "Obviously there's not much we can do about it now. We've just got to come out with a better effort (tonight)."
HAD IT COMING?: Watson sat slumped in his locker for at least 20 minutes after this loss. His assessment: "Simply beyond disappointing."
It wasn't just because the loss came to a team that now only has five wins, either.
The Jazz, a night after looking like they might've righted their ship, reverted back to the team that has now lost six of eight games.
"Games like this don't just happen overnight. You don't just come into a game and lose like this," a somber Watson said. "It builds up. … You try to avoid it, but eventually it catches up with you."
Continued Watson: "This is a game you can't cheat … with a lack of energy, lack of effort. You can talk a good game, but your play defines how you really feel and what you really think and what your heart really says. It's easy to say a lot of things, but how you play defines a lot. Talking is just words."
"It's not my job to figure that out," Watson said. "My job is to continue to go out there and play hard and do the best I can."
MISC.:Raja Bell had three treys for the second game in a row and increased his 3-point streak to 15 consecutive contests. … The Hornets used a 27-3 run that spanned the second and third quarters. … Jazz rookie Enes Kanter hauled in a career-best 12 rebounds, his first double-digit night on the glass since grabbing 11 in the season-opener.
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