Utah Jazz fall flat in first half of road trip

Gordon Hayward led the Jazz with 21 points against the Indiana Pacers. The Jazz lost 94-91.

Gordon Hayward led the Jazz with 21 points against the Indiana Pacers. The Jazz lost 94-91.

The Utah Jazz entered their current six game road trip brimming with confidence after having beaten the then-eighth seeded Phoenix Suns 109-86 in Salt Lake City last Wednesday. Certainly none of that confidence remains after the first half of this long Eastern conference swing.

The Jazz took on the Cavaliers in Cleveland Friday night and played well during the first half. Then everything fell apart in the third quarter when Cavs All-Star Kyrie Irving got hot and racked up his first triple-double of the season. Eleven Jazz turnovers didn’t help the cause as the Cavs went on to thrash the Jazz by 20 points, 99-79.

Then it was off to Indiana to face the powerful Pacers in a homecoming for former Butler University star Gordon Hayward. The Jazz again played well in the first half, building two different double digit leads before cooling off and heading to the locker room up one at the half.

The Pacers’ star-studded roster played up to its potential in the third quarter scoring 30 points and giving the Pacers a five point lead heading into the fourth quarter. Jazz swingman Gordon Hayward kept the Jazz in the game during the fourth but could only watch as his buzzer beating three-point shot skipped harmlessly off of the rim. Hayward finished the night with 21 points but the Pacers got the win 94-91.

After playing one of the East’s best teams to a three point loss, the Jazz had a quick turnaround to face the league-worst Milwaukee Bucks. This had all of the makings to be a trap game for the Jazz- too bad head coach Ty Corbin didn’t feel like sharing that thought with the team. The Jazz went into Milwaukee looking tired and uninterested and got manhandled by the woeful Bucks 114-88.

This road trip could have been an opportunity to make a big statement for coach Ty Corbin and his players, instead Corbin’s hot seat has reached boiling levels as his team may very well go 0 for 6 on this road trip if they don’t change things for the better.

In the past three games the Jazz have scored 86 points per game and are allowing over 102 points per game, not exactly the kind of offensive or defensive numbers a coaching staff wants to see. Perhaps the most disappointing part of this losing streak is the fact that the Jazz have played fairly well at times during these games only to fall victim to their own mistakes. This season, the Jazz have made a habit of coming into the second half of games unmotivated and mistake prone. Is it not the job of the head coach to make sure that his team is properly motivated and informed to play the second half of the 48 minute game?

Many Jazz fans are probably welcoming this string of losses, hoping to once again fall down the NBA ranks to better position themselves for a top three lottery pick this summer. But I don’t think they were hoping to lose those games to some of the worst teams in the dreadfully bad Eastern conference. No one expected the Jazz to go into Indiana and nearly escape with a win, but no one expected them to walk into Milwaukee and take an old fashioned beating either. If the Jazz want to turn their fortunes around they have to fix the mental mistakes and learn to play a full 48 minutes. Ty Corbin and the rest of his staff also need to contribute more to the team effort by keeping their players motivated and giving them the playing time that their roles call for. Therefore the 44 million dollar man in Derrick Favors should probably be consistently playing more minutes than Enes Kanter, the same way that potential rookie of the year guard Trey Burke should be playing far more minutes than his backup Diante Garrett.

Corbin has built a reputation among Jazz fans for sending in “experimental” lineups. That was acceptable when the majority of this team was in its first to second year in the league but obviously that is no longer the case. Its high time that Jazz fans and owners were treated to some consistent effort by both players and coaching staff, they at least deserve that after sticking with this team through the horrific start of this 2013-14 campaign. If they don’t see that effort soon, then its probably time to look for a coach who will get it for them.

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