Utah Jazz: Jazz looking for consistency as Bobcats, Big Al come to town
Chuck Burton, AP
SALT LAKE CITY — Perhaps the biggest downfall for the Utah Jazz this season has been a lack of consistency. The Jazz have played some great games but also laid several eggs. They have yet to put three good games together.
That will be their challenge Monday night when they face the Charlotte Bobcats for the second time in 10 days, this time at EnergySolutions Arena at 7 p.m.
The Jazz are coming off two strong games against the NBA's two Los Angeles teams — a 105-103 win over the Lakers on Friday night and a 98-90 loss to the Clippers, a game that was tied with a little more than two minutes left on Saturday.
Before that, they had a bad loss to Memphis, a win over the Bobcats, a bad loss to Atlanta, a win over Orlando and big losses to Miami and San Antonio.
It’s been frustrating for the Jazz and coach Tyrone Corbin, but he feels they’re about to turn a corner in the consistency department.
“Our overall performance is getting better and getting more consistent,’’ he said after the close loss Saturday. “I can’t say enough about our guys coming out after last night and the effort we had tonight. I’m pleased with that.’’
Clippers coach Doc Rivers came away from Saturday’s game impressed by the Jazz. Rivers' Pacific Division-leading team beat Utah by 32 in the preseason, but the Jazz put a big scare into the Clippers Saturday.
“Utah plays hard; they execute; they don’t stop; and they keep running their stuff — they’re dangerous,’’ Rivers said. “It’s funny, I look at (Tyrone Corbin), they traded half their team away over the summer and their point guard was hurt, yet when you watch them play, you wouldn’t know it. They play hard; they play as a team, and it’s really nice to see.’’
In Charlotte, the Jazz will be playing a team that is 14-17 and in fourth place in the NBA’s Southeast Division. The Bobcats are coming off a heartbreaking 118-116 overtime loss at Atlanta Saturday night. The stop in Utah will be the first of a four-game Western road trip that will include games against the Clippers, Portland and Sacramento.
The Bobcats are led by guard Kemba Walker at 18.6 points per game, followed closely by former Jazz center Al Jefferson, who averages 17.0 points and leads the team with 10.3 rebounds per game. Other likely starters include Gerald Henderson (14.9 ppg), Josh McRoberts (8.1 ppg) and Anthony Tolliver (4.2 ppg).
Forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has been out with a broken hand for the past month and forward Jeff Taylor is out with a ruptured Achilles tendon.
BIG AL’S BACK: When Utah plays Charlotte Monday night it will mark the second game against Jefferson, this time on the Jazz's home floor after taking a three-point win in Charlotte.
Jefferson is coming off a monster game Saturday night in a game against another former Jazz man, Paul Millsap, as Big Al scored 24 points and pulled down 23 rebounds.
On the trip to Charlotte, center Enes Kanter sent a pre-game note to his old pal Big Al that Jefferson shared with the media afterward.
When asked about it after Saturday’s game, Kanter said, “I can’t wait. He should send me a note. ... We beat them last time.’’
TOO MANY TURNOVERS: Rookie point guard Trey Burke has made a big difference in Utah’s season with his strong play, as a scorer (13.5 ppg) and distributor (5.1 apg). One of his strongest points has been his ball-handling as he was averaging just 1.5 turnovers per game before the two weekend contests.
However, after never having more than five turnovers in a game, Burke had seven miscues against the Lakers on Friday and six against the Clippers on Saturday. He’s the first to acknowledge the problem and vows to get it fixed.
“I feel like the past couple of games I haven’t played my best at the caliber I know I’m capable of,’’ he said. “My turnovers the past two games, I turned the ball over too much. I need to slow down. I’m my biggest critic, but it’s my job not to get down on myself and learn from my mistakes.’’
JAZZ NOTES: Following the game with Charlotte, the Jazz play the only team in the league with a worse record — the Milwaukee Bucks — on Thursday night. Then it’s back to L.A. to play the Lakers again. ... Utah is 13-5 all time against Charlotte, including a 6-2 mark at home. The Jazz have won nine straight in the series. ... The Jazz are 8-7 with the starting lineup of Burke, Gordon Hayward, Marvin Williams, Derrick Favors and Richard Jefferson.
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