SALT LAKE CITY — Scattered boos were audible as the buzzer sounded at the end of Monday night’s game at EnergySolutions Arena.
Unfortunately for the Utah Jazz, the final horn was also accompanied by another lopsided loss.
The latest defeat in the Jazz’s season of setbacks came against the Denver Nuggets, who confounded Utah in the fourth quarter and ran away with a 100-81 win.
In case you’ve changed the channel from Jazz games to "Vampire Diaries" or C-SPAN and lost count at home, that’s eight straight losses to begin the rebuilding campaign of 2013-14 for Utah.
“Right now,” Jazz forward Richard Jefferson said, “we’re not a good team.”
On the road? At home? Strong opponent? Flailing foe?
It hasn’t made a difference.
For the sixth-straight game, the Jazz have been outscored by double digits after 48 minutes of basketball.
To their credit, they keep inventing new ways to botch potential positive outcomes.
This time, it was the fourth quarter that kept them in contention for the worst start in franchise history, which you certainly know by now came in the inaugural season in New Orleans back in 1974.
“The guys were playing hard,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. “(We) just made some critical mistakes in that fourth quarter. It’s tough to overcome.”
Trailing by just two after three quarters, and appearing poised to challenge a struggling Denver team down the stretch, the Jazz simply fell apart in the final 12 minutes.
Alec Burks put Utah ahead 73-72 with a three-point play at the 10:18 mark of the fourth quarter before another blowout loss broke loose.
Former University of Utah star point guard Andre Miller, a 37-year-old who put on a clinic against the Jazz’s struggling playmakers, began Denver’s massive finish with a 3-pointer for a 78-74 Nugget lead with 8:29 remaining.
Kenneth Faried followed with a dunk and former Jazz sharpshooter Randy Foye sank a jumper, giving Denver a 7-0 spurt and an eight-point lead.
John Lucas III, who returned to the starting point guard role instead of Jamaal Tinsley, momentarily stopped the visitors’ surge. Momentarily being the key word in that sentence.
The Jazz then only scored five points over the next six minutes and 48 seconds while being pounded into submission. Utah was outscored 30-13 in that final quarter, including 25-7 in the last nine minutes.
“It’s happened to us the past five or six games. We’ve been right there and all of a sudden we have these spurts where we just kind of fall asleep as a team and they turn that into a 10-, 15-point run,” Jazz shooting guard Gordon Hayward said. “That’s what happens in this league. It’s unfortunate. I think we had this one and we just kind of let it slip.”
That slippage happened despite the Jazz taking a 10-point first-half lead while getting a game-high 22 points (but seven turnovers) from Hayward and a strong 21 points and 13 rebounds from Derrick Favors.
While the Jazz continue to have point guard problems in Trey Burke’s absence, the Nuggets got two brilliant performances from their polar-opposite playmakers.
Speedy Ty Lawson scored 17 points with 10 assists, while Miller, the savvy even if slow veteran, came off the bench to score 15 points.
Denver acted like it needed this one even worse than the Jazz after starting the season 1-4.
“They were desperate. We were desperate,” Miller said. “They came out strong and we have been having some slow starts, but we found a way to get into some type of rhythm and not have too many turnovers.”
It helped that Denver also outrebounded Utah 52-35, dished out 18 assists to the Jazz’s paltry 11, and held the NBA’s worst offense to 36 second-half points and 40.3 percent shooting.
The game was the end of a rough five-games-in-seven-nights stretch for Utah. The Jazz have a practice day Tuesday before beginning a three-games-in-four-nights span Wednesday at home against New Orleans.
“(You) see what you did wrong and try to fix those mistakes, but after that you’ve got to move forward,” Hayward said. “We’ve got another team coming in and they’re looking at us without a win thinking they’ve got it easy.”
It's no wonder why.
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