Utah Jazz: Historically bad night brings back memories of an old Larry H. Miller moment
SALT LAKE CITY — Saturday’s lousy shooting night in Minnesota linked this Utah team to an interesting moment in Jazz history.
By making only 28.8 percent of their shots, the Jazz set a franchise record for field-goal percentage futility. The previous low shooting mark happened in a 73-62 home loss on Nov. 14, 2005, to the New York Knicks when Utah only made good on 29.3 percent of its field-goal attempts.
Jazz fans might remember two significant moments surrounding that ugly game.
First, the late Larry H. Miller was so livid that the injury-plagued Jazz only scored eight points in the third quarter, the fuming owner, Utah's most passionate fan, walked from his old courtside seat to the Jazz huddle between quarters, barked at then-coach Jerry Sloan and players, and then stood next to the team bench during the fourth quarter.
"They (players) probably did get a little bit intimidated,” Sloan said at the time. “But they have to learn how to play at this level if they are going to be in this league.”
The next day, the Deseret News reported that former players Greg Ostertag and Matt Harpring were among the active athletes who got a tongue-lashing. Miller also “seemed to have heated words” for injured Andrei Kirilenko and Carlos Boozer, who sat behind the bench.
Former Jazz guard Devin Brown admitted the passionate Miller “was vocal.” He said the main point received was that the owner “spends money on our team, and he wants us to play hard. We need to play harder."
From the Nov. 15, 2005, article:
“When Brown was pressed on what Miller said specifically, Ostertag, who was standing nearby, sarcastically told his teammate to share the exact language, then snapped, ‘It's a family show,’ before walking to the showers in disgust.”
Sloan told reporters he didn’t hear what Miller said.
"I was aware that he was in the huddle, but I didn't hear him say anything I had other things that I was concerned about," the Hall of Fame coach said. "Larry can say whatever he wants. He owns the team. I've never had a problem with that."
That, by the way, also led to No. 3 draft pick Deron Williams getting the first start of his NBA career the next night in Sacramento. D-Will, who remained bitter for years about not being a full-time starter his rookie campaign, was in the first unit for the next 19 games. However, he returned to the bench for the following 25 before securing a permanent starting role in Utah’s final 28 games of that 41-41 season.
The Jazz made 27 of 75 shots in that game more than eight years ago. Sloan described his team’s interior attempts “kind of like an adventure.”
Or a misadventure.
Sloan's description also fits the current club’s clunker against the Timberwolves, a game in which Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said the team simply lacked pep and energy along with dozens and dozens of shots. Even normally strong finishers Derrick Favors (two missed dunks) and Jeremy Evans (three missed tips) had head-smacking possessions in which it seemed like the Target Center rim was playing defense against them.
Overall Saturday, the Jazz missed a whopping 52 of 73 field goals to enter a portion of the history book they’d rather avoid. Utah only scored nine points in the second quarter and 23 in the entire first half, tying a franchise record for fewest field goals in a half with eight.
“You never want to put all your weight on one game, whether it’s good or bad,” Marvin Williams said in the cramped visitors locker room. “We’ll learn from this game and hopefully bounce back and put out a better performance Tuesday.”
The Jazz host Minnesota on that night at ESA after having Sunday off and getting one day of practice Monday.
An especially puzzling part of Saturday’s offensive no-show was that the Jazz had played so well in Detroit the night before, putting up 110 points and shooting 54.4 percent in a blowout win. Corbin thought the 21-point win, Utah’s largest margin of victory this season, was one of the team’s better all-around performances.
“You’re going to have some ups and downs,” Corbin said. “You just don't want it to be this broad.”
Saturday's effort was much more reminiscent of how the Jazz played during their 1-14 start when duds were common than how Utah had performed while going 13-13 after the season's bumbling beginning.
“We didn’t attack as we have been. We lost in all areas (Saturday),” Corbin said. “We’ve got to make sure this is just a short-term thing.”
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