Utah Jazz: Home, sweet home? Winless Jazz sure hope so

Published: Sunday, Nov. 10 2013 1:20 p.m. MST

Utah Jazz center Enes Kanter, center, battles Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas, left, for the ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Toronto on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013.

Frank Gunn, AP

SALT LAKE CITY — For decades, Utah Jazz fans have been lauded — and loathed — for being among the loudest, rowdiest and most supportive spectators in the NBA.

Ear-piercing crowds, creative signs, flying rubber chickens and high-volume supporters gave the Jazz an extra edge, intimidating and annoying visitors. Before joining the Jazz, forward Mike Harris even admitted he hated playing in EnergySolutions Arena.

As it returns from a 0-4 road trip Monday night, the home team desperately could use a boost from its fans.

The Jazz certainly need something to spark them.

“It’s big for anybody, but it’s bigger for a young team,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said about getting a lift from the home crowd. “I don’t think it’s going to be the fix-all for us. We have to come out and play, and play with energy.”

In this season, more gut-wrenching than rebuilding in nature so far, the Jazz have only gotten energetic efforts in spurts. Rare emotional charges haven’t been sustained long enough to push Utah to a win.

Right now, the Jazz are the worst scoring team in the NBA (87.7 ppg), the worst shooting team in the NBA (40.1 FG percent, 23.6 3 PT percent), and are off to the worst start (0-7) since the franchise stumbled out of the New Orleans gates with 11 consecutive losses.

Worst of all? As this season has progressed — certainly not in all aspects of that word’s meaning — the Jazz’s spirited play has regressed.

A three-point loss to Kevin Durant and Oklahoma City in the season-opener seemed like a moral victory after a gutsy showing by the Jazz kids. Utah then nearly pulled off a road win in Phoenix.

The demoralizing turning point of this season’s historically bad start came at home a week ago Saturday when a 19-point first-half lead over the Rockets devolved into a soul-zapping 11-point loss.

Players obviously didn’t pack any confidence in their bags for the trip to Brooklyn, Boston, Chicago and Toronto. The Jazz trailed by at least 20 points in all four blowouts. Utah shot 29 percent in one loss, scored eight points in an entire quarter in a different defeat, trailed by 38 in another. The shorthanded squad — in bodies, experience and offensive firepower — only took a lead in one game.

The trip’s highlight?

That it’s over.

Well, there was that impressive Jamaal Tinsley no-look pass when he threw the ball backwards over his head to Gordon Hayward for a fast-break bucket at Air Canada Centre.

And Hayward’s offensive game picked up a notch all week.

And rookie center Rudy Gobert continues to improve on the glass.

And, well, this might be a good time to mention that another struggling team, 1-4 Denver, is the Jazz’s opponent in what could be Utah’s best chance to get one of those wins the other 29 NBA teams have all picked up this season.

“Playing in front of our fans is always good. They give us a lot of energy. We’re going to need them for sure,” Hayward said. “We struggled on this road trip and kind of struggled on the season. Hopefully, we can turn it around.”

The Jazz are really hoping Monday’s medical news is good. Rookie Trey Burke, the ninth overall pick who’s yet to see his first NBA action, will be re-evaluated to determine how much more he can do as he continues to rehab his broken right index finger.

Point guard play has been among the Jazz’s glaring weaknesses — of many — so far this season.

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