It's been an interesting couple of weeks for the Jazz, to say the least. Since the All-Star break they've: lost their starting center to injury, made a blockbuster trade for a new starting center, won two games with only 10 available players, been forced to void their blockbuster trade and welcomed home two of their own just three days after sending them packing across the country.
Oh, and they've gone unbeaten.The Jazz, winners of seven straight, haven't seemed the least bit distracted despite all the distractions swirling around them. Still, that doesn't mean aftershocks from the failed Rony Seikaly trade - not to mention the Greg Ostertag injury - won't soon be felt.
"My head's still spinning from everything that's happened this week," said Greg Foster after Saturday night's win over San Antonio.
Foster was in the starting lineup against the Spurs. He scored six points with two rebounds in 24 minutes. Two days before that he was in Orlando wanting to make his debut in a Magic jersey.
But Foster has had a positive attitude about his return to Utah after nearly being traded.
"I'm glad to be back and the most important thing is that we keep winning," he said.
Chris Morris, on the other hand, is an angry young man. He felt Orlando was going to give him a new lease on life. Now he's back to being the 12th man on the Jazz roster.
Morris couldn't hide his disinterest in Saturday night's game. He didn't listen in during timeouts, instead looking around the stands. He sat on the end of the Jazz bench and barely paid attention to the game. He didn't play and probably won't much the rest of the year.
The Jazz, to a man, say one of the great things about last year's team that made it to the NBA Finals was the chemistry. All the guys got along. That chemistry hasn't been quite the same this season and the aborted trade, no doubt, won't help matters - especially if Morris continues to wear his displeasure on his sleeve.
Morris had better be careful, because if he starts complaining too much and causing more problems than he's worth, the Jazz may simply let him go. He's a free agent at the end of the year anyway, and he won't be re-signed by Utah, so if his act becomes too out of control, he'll be history.
Can the Jazz get back the chemistry they had last season? Sure - especially if they keep winning. Don't look now, but the Jazz have the second best record in the conference and are only two games behind the Sonics in the loss column for the top mark.
Considering all the disruptions last week, the Jazz did just fine, thank you. Foster and Morris were dressed and ready to play on Monday against the Charlotte Hornets when they were told to get changed because they'd just been traded. Utah still managed to win, 96-90. Wednesday's home game against the Knicks was just as strange, as the Jazz were still holding out hope that Seikaly would show up. Despite that distraction, the Jazz ripped New York, 94-78, after leading by as many as 34. The Jazz made the Knicks look terrible, but in reality, the Knicks have been on a roll recently. Foster and Morris were back in Jazz uniforms on Saturday in San Antonio. The Jazz nearly blew a 12-point fourth-quarter lead against the David Robinson-less Spurs but won by a bucket when Tim Duncan missed a pair of free throws with six-tenths of a second remaining.
The Jazz have a relatively light week. Call it the calm before the storm. They will play a couple of home games against playoff-caliber competition - Tuesday against the Miami Heat and Thursday against the Phoenix Suns. The Jazz don't play on Friday or Saturday night for the first time all season this weekend. But March will come in like a lion, as they play their first of 12 road games in the month on Sunday afternoon in Houston.
The Jazz beat the Heat in Miami, but that was when Alonzo Mourning was injured. They haven't played Phoenix since getting skunked 106-84 in the fourth game of the year. Thursday's game will be the first of three additional meetings between the Jazz and Suns this season. The Jazz/Rockets Western Conference Finals rematch will be on NBC. It should be much more interesting than the last time the Jazz visited Houston when Charles Barkley, Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler and Matt Maloney all sat out due to injuries. Utah won with ease. It won't be easy this time.
Projected record for the week: 2-1, which would put the Jazz at 39-16 overall.
*Home Game #Road Game
24 Tuesday: KJZZ/TNT *Miami 6 p.m.
26 Thursday: *Phoenix 7 p.m.
1 Sunday: NBC #Houston 1:20 p.m.