CHICAGO — Gordon Hayward recently warned that this will be a "long season" if the Utah Jazz don’t figure things out and start winning games as they’re supposed to do as professional athletes.
At this particular long-season rate, the 2013-14 season will end in the year 2099.
That season-ending April 16 game in Minnesota might really feel like it’s an eternity away if Utah doesn’t start hitting shots, which it failed to do at an alarming rate in a 97-73 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Friday night.
The Jazz’s aim was so bad in this lopsided loss — the worst this season — the team’s field-goal percentage was closer to the Mendoza line than the coveted 50 percent mark.
Mired in an ugly slump, Utah only hit for a .294 average.
“We shot 20-something percent. You’re going to have to be really, really, really good defensively if you want to win a basketball game shooting under 30 percent,” Jazz shooting guard Gordon Hayward said.
“It’s just lack of execution. We didn’t get very many good looks, and when you can’t score the basketball it just puts too much pressure on your defense.”
And on your team, which seems further than ever from getting win No. 1 of this rebuilding season.
While Chicago won for the first time in three games and only the second time this year, the Jazz dropped their sixth game in a row and seventh overall, going back to last season.
Utah now finds itself in the second-worst season-opening losing skid in franchise history, trailing only the 0-11 start by the inaugural 1974 New Orleans Jazz.
In a recurring theme, Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said the team has to maintain a positive attitude and keep plugging away.
“We have to make sure that we don’t feel sorry for ourselves. Our defense struggled because our offense did,” Corbin said. “We just have to continue to work hard and find ways to get the ball in the basket. You can’t let a team shoot 50 percent and win.”
The Jazz, who watched the Bulls shoot 52.8 percent from the field, didn’t come close to doing that while preserving their status as the only winless team in the NBA.
Though Utah can’t feel sorry for itself, the way Friday’s game went and the season continues to sputter, you almost expected Michael Jordan to appear on the court and apologize for pushing off in the 1998 NBA Finals just to make the Jazz feel a little bit better.
That didn’t happen, and the Jazz weren’t getting any solace from their old rivals. In fact, one trash-talking Bulls fan summed up how bad the situation looked for the visitors at the United Center when he screamed, “Utah is the new Charlotte!”
While that seems like a low blow, Al Jefferson and the Bobcats already have three wins on the season.
The Jazz will get another chance to turn things around when they visit Toronto tonight to take on a 2-4 Raptors squad.
“Losing is always very frustrating, so the frustration level stays the same,” Hayward said. “We have another one (Saturday). I think you’ve got to focus on that and just try to learn from the losses.”
At least Utah has a lot of opportunities to learn.
Like in Brooklyn and reminiscent of the dreadful eight-point quarter in Boston, it became evident that that would be the case again from early on in this defeat.
Utah fell behind 5-0 in 53 seconds and never came close to challenging the Bulls after that while eventually trailing by as many as 29 points.
Utah shot just 27.7 percent in the first half and then scored only 33 points in the second half.
This is the third game in a row the Jazz have scored under 90 points. Utah’s nonexistent offense has yet to hit 100 points in six games.
“Honestly, I think the biggest thing right now is we’re not making shots. We shoot (29.4) percent. Take nothing away from Chicago, but I know we have a lot of guys here that can score the basketball. It was one of those nights where kind of everybody was off.”
Unfortunately, the Jazz have had a season full of those nights.
Incidentally, Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and a handful of other projected lottery picks will play in the United Center on Tuesday as part of the ESPN Champions Classic, featuring Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and Michigan State.
No doubt the Jazz, early favorites to nab a high draft spot, will be scouting those high-profile games closely.
“We have energy and talent,” Jazz center Enes Kanter said. “We just have to fight through this.”
NOTES: Bulls point guard Derrick Rose, who missed all of last season with a knee injury, had one of his best starts of the season, scoring seven points in the first four minutes en route to 12 points and five assists. Hayward led Utah with 15 points. Derrick Favors and Alec Burks each scored 10 and were the only other Jazz players in double figures. Rookie center Rudy Gobert had a game-high 12 rebounds.
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