Hoping to continue improving on a dreary start, the Jazz resume play Friday night at the Salt Palace, taking on the Seattle SuperSonics.
After losing five of six games, the Jazz came home to beat Orlando Wednesday night, 106-91.If the Jazz win tonight, Jerry Sloan will pick up his 100th win as Jazz head coach. Since taking over for Frank Layden in December 1988, Sloan has compiled a 99-58 record for a 63.1 percent success rate.
The Sonics, 4-4, have had the advantage of playing six of their first eight games at home. They got in the books on Tuesday when they handed the Nets a record 33rd consecutive road loss, keyed by Xavier McDaniel's 35 points.
The last loss came at the hands of the Los Angeles Clippers, a 78-65 defeat. Their only road win was a 135-129 win over lowly Denver.
McDaniel is leading the team with a 23-point scoring average. He not only leads them in scoring, but in newspaper lineage. He made headlines during the summer when his name came up as trade bait. He accused the Sonics of failing to tell him what was going on when his name came up in connection with a trade to Cleveland.
But apparently they still love him in Seattle. After a particular string of stories involving McDaniel during the off-season, President Bob Whisitt replied, "I read these things, I read them every summer from X," he said. "Whenever a reporter gets ahold of X and X is not in Seattle, it's easy to get him excited. That's why he's the X-Man. He's an X-citable guy.
"X is a very good player. I'm not worried about him. He's a competitor."
Said Coach K.C. Jones just prior to the season-opener, "That's X. He's an up-front guy. He says what's on his mind, I don't blame him. He's as happy as a pig in mud right now."
McDaniel had 35 points in the last contest. But he got only seven points in the previous game. Tuesday's 35 points snapped a 14-point-per-game slump over the three previous games.
McDaniel is followed by Sedale Threatt, with a 16-point scoring average. The NBA's No. 2 draft pick, Gary Payton, has started every game and is averaging about 11 points a game. He is third in minutes played, trailing only McDaniel and Threatt.
"He's a hard-nosed street kid," said Jones of Payton. "He knows the point guard position and he makes mistakes but doesn't let it bother him."
But the Sonics aren't all well. Dale Ellis continues to recover from what is being called Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome of the right foot and is on the injured list. Then he was suspended Wednesday for five days without pay for disciplinary reasons.
Quintin Dailey is questionable for Friday's game due to tendinitis in his right foot. In Ellis' place, Threatt has scored in double figures in seven of the first eight games.