Utah Jazz: Winless and frustrated, Jazz hope to get first victory Wednesday vs. New Orleans
Tom Smart, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Could it be? Yes, it could/ Something's coming, something good/ If I can wait/ Something's coming/ I don't know what it is, but it is/ Gonna be great! — Lyrics for "Something's coming" from the musical "West Side Story"
Eight games into the 2013-14 NBA regular season, it sure seems like something's definitely coming for the Utah Jazz.
Could it finally be their first victory, after eight straight losses, when they take the floor Wednesday against the New Orleans Pelicans?
Could it be a sudden and dramatic turnaround in their frustrating fortunes that have seen them thus far fall far short of what were already essentially rock-bottom expectations?
Or could it be that they continue on their disastrous and demoralizing path and wind up with the No. 1 pick in next year's NBA draft?
It's still far too soon to tell what will become of this year's Jazz team, or where they'll land when the 2014 draft lottery rolls around.
But one thing seems certain: If they don't learn how to finish games stronger, take better care of the ball, play much better defensively, or start making some shots — they currently rank dead last in the league in field goal percentage (40.1) and points per game with 86.9 — things aren't going to get any better for them the rest of the way.
Monday night's latest loss was another exercise in futility. The Jazz trailed the Denver Nuggets by just two points, 70-68, entering the fourth quarter, and that elusive first victory of the season seemed to be well within Utah's grasp.
But, despite being on their home court, the Jazz got thrashed 30-13 in the final period on their way to a disappointing 100-81 defeat.
"I've been through some tough stretches in this league," said Utah coach Tyrone Corbin, who played on an expansion team in Minnesota and also for a rebuilding Phoenix franchise during his playing days. "This one feels different because it's now and it's new. And it's with a group of young guys that we're trying to figure out who we are and how we can get better right now.
"We can't feel sorry for ourselves. We can't not work our way through it; we just have to keep focusing on what we need to get better at and work at those things."
So just how much would it mean to end all that building frustration and finally break into the win column for the first time?
"It helps; it helps a lot, man," Corbin 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.
"These guys, I can't say enough. I think they're playing hard, I think they're trying hard. I think their heart's in the right place trying to win the game. But it's just not getting a win. We have stretches where we're playing pretty well, (but) we haven't put together a full 48-minute game just yet.
"We're 0-8 and we don't want to be 0-9," the Jazz coach said. " ... We can't look ahead; we can't look back; we've got to make sure we understand where we are now and what we need to work on to get better for this opponent."
"This opponent" is the renamed Pelicans (formerly the Hornets) from New Orleans, who have managed a 3-4 mark thus far this season. Wednesday's contest is their second in a row, having played Tuesday night in Los Angeles, and their third outing in four days.
The Pelicans are led by 6-foot-10 Anthony Davis, the second-year forward/center who's averaging 21.7 points, 11.6 rebounds, nearly four blocks and more than two steals a game. Shooting guard Eric Gordon adds 16.1 points per game, and point guard Jrue Holiday is contributing 14 points and 7.1 assists per game for these goofy-looking birds.
Corbin knows that New Orleans will be far from a goofy-looking pushover, however — especially since his own team can't seem to find a win with a search party these days.
"Over the last couple of years, they've gotten better," the Jazz coach said of the Pelicans. "They've been together for a little while now, and they have an identity of who they are and how they want to play.
"They've taken some knocks the last few years and now they're just starting to see the rewards of the work they've put in, and they're starting to feel good about themselves.
"So they're gonna come in aggressive," Corbin said. "They've getting up and down the floor, and Davis has turned into a really nice player for them. ... We have to try and take away their transition baskets."
Corbin said that whether his team loses by one point or 20, it still hurts just the same and that the only cure for what's ailing the Jazz right now is a "W" — something they need in the very worst way.
And the only way that'll happen is if they stay together and keep working hard.
"We'll have opportunities if we continue to work, but we just haven't gotten over the hump in a game yet," he said.
"The guys are great, man. They're disappointed as we are as a coaching staff; we're disappointed in the losses and disappointed in our performance at times, but we're still working.
"And that's the main thing — that we continue to work and stay together, and hopefully this thing will turn around for us soon. ... It's all part of growing through this process, man."
Indeed, something's coming for the Jazz. Now they're just hoping it's a win or two or 20, and not another frustrating defeat in what is quickly turning into a dismal season.
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