Utah Jazz: Not quite a state disaster, but Jazz struggle vs. Pistons in governor's presence

Published: Monday, March 24 2014 10:20 p.m. MDT

Utah Jazz's Gordon Hayward, John Lucas III, Richard Jefferson and Jeremy Evans (left to right) in the final minutes as the Utah Jazz are defeated by the Detroit Pistons 114-94 in NBA basketball Monday, March 24, 2014, in Salt Lake City.

Tom Smart, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Gov. Gary Herbert was at EnergySolutions Arena on Monday night.

Surprisingly, the governor did not declare the entire 2013-14 season — or at the very least this particularly brutal Utah Jazz game — to be an official state disaster.

Considering the Jazz dropped to 23-48 with an ugly 114-94 blowout loss to the woeful Detroit Pistons, that declaration might have been justified.

“It was a disappointing loss,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said.

Herbert wasn’t at this game just to be a spectator with sweet seats next to Jazz president Randy Rigby. Utah’s political boss was at the arena on business.

During a first-half presentation, Herbert took to the court for a ceremonial signing of a bill passed in the recent legislative session that allows Utahns to buy Utah Jazz license plates.

Proceeds of the specialized plates will be donated to help fund Larry H. Miller Charities in the Beehive State, so at least that positive came out of the night.

The rumor, which might’ve started on press row, that the plates will include a 2014 motto, “A pretty, great draft pick,” could not be confirmed.

While their team got crushed on the court by 26-44 Detroit, falling behind by a whopping 20 at halftime, Jazz fans gave some other Utah-related license plate suggestions on Twitter:

— "Draft Pick Elevated" (@brownbearSLC)

— "Your Utah Jazz, the only thing worse than the air quality" (@jmjink)

— "This is the plates” (@DiceWiley)

One thing was certain: This wasn’t the place for a good basketball showing Monday night.

Two nights after one of their most thrilling wins of the season over Orlando — thanks to Trey Burke’s late 3-pointer — the Jazz simply came out and played like April 16 can’t get here quickly enough.

Utah fell behind 9-2 when Corbin called a timeout and then smacked his hands in frustration as his team approached the bench just three minutes into the contest.

“We came off right from the beginning like we were running in mud,” Corbin said. “I don’t know if we were thinking about the other night or what. But we’ve got to play with a lot more energy than we showed tonight.”

The Jazz pulled within two points a few minutes later and only trailed 26-23 after the first quarter, but that was about all the fight this team had until the deficit was 25 points early in the second half.

The lackadaisical effort against a bad Detroit team, one that had lost 15 of 18 games, was rewarded with one of the most dispiriting defeats of a rough season in which the Jazz have lost by double digits in 34 outings.

“We’re professionals. We have to find a way to play hard every night,” Jazz forward Richard Jefferson said. “I think our guys are putting forth the effort. There’s not an excuse, but we’re starting a rookie point guard. We’re starting guys who’ve never played these type of minutes. There’s going to be nights when you’re flat.

“It (stinks). But it’s the truth of the situation. Coach is right, you have to find a way, and that’s part of the learning process right now.”

This was an all-around poor performance for a Jazz team that’s now lost 12 of its last 14 games. Detroit outshot Utah 55.4 percent to 41 percent to end a 10-game winless streak at ESA and win on the road for the first time in 14 outings.

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