SALT LAKE CITY — The 140ish recent earthquakes that have gotten the south end of the Salt Lake Valley all shook up didn’t compare to the rumbling around Jazzland on Monday night.
All the excitement and enjoyment of consecutive wins over two of the NBA’s best teams — Denver and Milwaukee — came crumbling down after the Jazz blew a 17-point lead in a home loss to a New Orleans Pelicans team whose not-so-distant future likely includes the lottery and an Anthony Davis bidding war and not the playoffs.
"That’s the difference between the 2 seed and a 5 seed," one Jazz fan wrote on Twitter. "Difference between conference finals and first round. Can’t lose our focus like that."
"Should be ashamed," someone else tweeted.
"Wow. 17 point lead gone," another added. "I'm trying so hard not to lose hope but y'all are making it more and more difficult."
And so on.
The loss stung, of course. It was a bad loss. There’s no way around that. The Jazz are in the middle of a heated playoff race, trying to keep the Clippers and Spurs from passing them up while also attempting to leapfrog the likes of the Rockets, Trail Blazers and/or Thunder.
Utah is currently in the No. 6 spot in the Western Conference at 36-27, so it’s hard to not lament falling to a team currently dwelling in Lottery Land when what appeared to be a victory would have put them one game behind No. 5 Houston (38-25).
But here’s the deal about the NBA: Bad losses happen all the time.
As a Jazz fan on Twitter humorously pointed out, the Pelicans do have talented NBA players like Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday and Julius Randle on their team and not members of the Mountain View 5th Ward Elders Quorum.
Any team in the NBA is capable of beating any other team on any night.
The Jazz weren’t the only ones to suffer from this fact Monday, and every team ahead of them and behind them in the standings will likely stumble another time or two or more before the postseason arrives.
The Bucks, who have an even better record than the defending champion Golden State Warriors, lost to a Phoenix Suns team that only had a meager 13 wins 4 1/2 months into the season.
Unlike the Pelicans, the Suns might not have as much talent as the Mountain View 5th Ward. (Settle down, Phoenix. It was a joke. Mostly.)
And the Nuggets, the second-best team in the West, lost to the Spurs on Monday after falling to the suddenly red-hot Pelicans on Saturday and to the Jazz in the Mile High City on Friday.
That doesn’t mean fans don’t have a right to be upset or freak out after their team — which had been playing so well — completely unraveled at the seams during a time in the season when each game seems to be so vital to postseason positioning.
Fans can fan however they want to. My mom can show you a really poor patch job that happened after Younger Jody had a meltdown when his favorite college football team lost a game he was watching and kicked a hole in the wall of his childhood home. As a 13-year-old, he also ran outside and cried face-first in the backyard lawn after another loss.
(Older Jody is using the third person here to distance himself from these embarrassing moments that happened in Younger Jody’s life.)
Regardless of how fans reacted to the Jazz giving up a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter to New Orleans, the bummer of a defeat does not change much in the overall scheme of things.
Utah still has a very favorable schedule for the stretch run, beginning incidentally at New Orleans on Wednesday. Between that rubber match with the Pelicans and the season finale on April 10, the Jazz are slated to play just four teams currently in a playoff spot in their final 19 games.
Maybe that isn’t quite as encouraging considering Monday’s come-back-to-earth setback, but seeing a schedule that includes an 11-game stretch against teams currently in lottery position — Washington (twice), New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Phoenix (twice), the Los Angeles Lakers (twice), Charlotte and Sacramento — sure looks better than the top-heavy first couple of months of the season.
Then again, sometimes it just feels good to vent, so go ahead and let it out, Jazz fans.
Well, as previously mentioned, they needed no permission or prompting for that to happen.
I got a sampling of the steam blown off by venting Jazz fans after I tried to console them by tweeting, “The Bucks lost to the Suns tonight. Bad losses happen.”
Responses — and these were mild compared to the social media meltdown that happened elsewhere — included:
• “I’m just happy Rubio didn’t have 8 turnovers.” (Ouch.)
• “Yup. Jrue Holiday, Anthony Davis (even playing fewer minutes) and Julius Randle aren’t the Mountain View 5th ward elders quorum team either. Nights you don’t play well in the NBA you’re going to lose and it’s going to happen a few more times this year as well.” (True story.)
• “Yup, but when you’re hoping for a 15-5 finish this is one you don’t wanna drop. Gotta make up ground.” (Can’t argue with that.)3 comments on this story
• “At least the Bucks will still get home-court advantage. I mean, that dream for the Jazz has been dying a slow death all season, and tonight we just pulled the plug.” (A lot — A LOT — can happen in 19 games and the Jazz are currently only three games out of the third/fourth seed.)
• “So the Bucks aren’t even good? I thought we beat a good team. Jazz freaking suck!” (That’s not quite what I meant, but, well, Milwaukee is in the Eastern Conference.)
• “Another night in the Association.” (Some might call the roller-coaster ride fantastic. Keep your hands and feet inside the rest of the way and — cue Craig Bolerjack — be sure to buckle up for the home stretch.)