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Utah Jazz: Modest two-game winning 'streak' boosts Jazz's spirits, confidence

Published: Monday, Aug. 31 2015 8:41 a.m. MDT

Utah Jazz point guard Trey Burke (3) drives around the defense of Houston Rockets power forward Dwight Howard (12) during a game at EnergySolutions Arena on Monday, December 2, 2013. (Matt Gade, Deseret News) Utah Jazz point guard Trey Burke (3) drives around the defense of Houston Rockets power forward Dwight Howard (12) during a game at EnergySolutions Arena on Monday, December 2, 2013. (Matt Gade, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — News flash: The Utah Jazz have won two games in a row! Repeat: The Utah Jazz have won two games in a row!

OK, so back in the day, that newsbreaking bulletin wouldn't get a second glance.

But these days, after the Jazz began this season in dismal, disheartening fashion by losing 15 of their first 17 games and wins were so darned difficult to come by, a two-game winning "streak" is almost cause for celebration.

It could be a sign that the Jazz (4-15) — who host the Indiana Pacers, the NBA's best team (16-2), Wednesday night at EnergySolutions Arena — might be turning the corner in their rebuilding project.

"It's great for the guys and I'm excited for them to have some success," Utah coach Tyrone Corbin said of Monday's victory over the Houston Rockets. "To see some of the things we've talked about for a while now starting to show on the floor and they're getting good results.

Utah Jazz point guard Alec Burks (10) tries to drive down court as Houston Rockets point guard Patrick Beverley (2) applies pressure during a game at EnergySolutions Arena on Monday, December 2, 2013. (Matt Gade, Deseret News) Utah Jazz point guard Alec Burks (10) tries to drive down court as Houston Rockets point guard Patrick Beverley (2) applies pressure during a game at EnergySolutions Arena on Monday, December 2, 2013. (Matt Gade, Deseret News)

"We need each other to help each other be as good as we can be on the floor. And there's still a lot of room for growth, so we'll keep working. Sometimes we may not look as well as we will at other times, but we've just got to keep working at it, man. It takes awhile to build up the camaraderie, the chemistry, the belief and the trust in each other when you go into competition together."

HOMETOWN HEROES: Jazz shooting guard Gordon Hayward is an Indiana native who grew up as a huge fan of the Pacers.

And now?

"It doesn't matter to me anymore," he said of his Pacers' fandom before Tuesday's team practice at Zions Bank Basketball Center. "When they had Reggie (Miller) and them, that's when I loved watching their players. But now I'm a Jazz fan, you know.

Utah Jazz head coach Tyrone Corbin applauds a breakaway score by the Jazz during a game at EnergySolutions Arena on Monday, December 2, 2013. (Matt Gade, Deseret News) Utah Jazz head coach Tyrone Corbin applauds a breakaway score by the Jazz during a game at EnergySolutions Arena on Monday, December 2, 2013. (Matt Gade, Deseret News)

"Reggie Miller texted me right when I came out in the draft, and that was like the coolest thing ever because he was my favorite player and I met him a couple of times."

Hayward occasionally runs into another former Pacers star and teammate of Miller's, center Rik Smits, who spent his entire 12-year NBA career with Indiana.

"Rik Smits actually still lives in Indianapolis and he plays every now and again, and it's funny to see him out there," Hayward said.

"He doesn't really have to move because he's like 7-4 so he shoots over you. Sometimes you go to Lifetime or something and just shoot around, and he'll be there shooting around, too."

SOMEONE YOUNG: Corbin has been pleased with the development of rookie point guard Trey Burke, who has been stellar since returning from a broken finger he suffered during the preseason.

Utah Jazz point guard Trey Burke (3) drives around the defense of Houston Rockets power forward Dwight Howard (12) during a game at EnergySolutions Arena on Monday, December 2, 2013. (Matt Gade, Deseret News) Utah Jazz point guard Trey Burke (3) drives around the defense of Houston Rockets power forward Dwight Howard (12) during a game at EnergySolutions Arena on Monday, December 2, 2013. (Matt Gade, Deseret News)

"We knew we needed a point guard, and we needed a young point guard to grow with this young group that we have," the Jazz coach said. "Trey was ranked as one of the best guys out there. He had a great senior year in college basketball and he was rated one of the best, if not the best, guy that we thought would be out there.

"So, of course, for us to have a chance to get him was great for where we were in our development."

In the seven games he's played since his return, Burke has averaged 12.6 points per game — third-best on the team.

SOMEONE OLD: Veteran forward Richard Jefferson, who's averaging 10 points per game this season, has been in double figures just twice in the last six games.

But Corbin pointed out there are many more ways to contribute than simply by scoring.

Utah Jazz power forward Marvin Williams (2) celebrates a 3-point basket during a timeout late in the fourth quarter of a game at EnergySolutions Arena on Monday, Dec. 2, 2013. (Matt Gade, Deseret News) Utah Jazz power forward Marvin Williams (2) celebrates a 3-point basket during a timeout late in the fourth quarter of a game at EnergySolutions Arena on Monday, Dec. 2, 2013. (Matt Gade, Deseret News)

"Some nights, although a guy may not be making shots, there are other things they can be doing to be effective for us on the floor," he said. "Richard's still playing very well for us. He may not be scoring as much some nights as effectively as other nights, but he does some good things on the floor.

"And as this team becomes more familiar with each other, we get more healthy and we get more time on the floor with different combinations, we become a little bit more versatile.

SOMEONE AILING: Forwards Marvin Williams (sore right heel) and Jeremy Evans (stomach flu) did not practice Tuesday morning and will both be game-time decisions as to whether they'll play in Wednesday night's contest against the Pacers.

EMAIL: rhollis@desnews.com

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