The Jazz finish up their long road trip tonight at Memphis. After the loss to the Hornets on Saturday night, the Jazz have an away record of 4-11. Their home record is 4-9. All of their road wins have come against Eastern Conference teams, which is possibly the most damning statistic against them.
For tonight's game the Jazz will be without bench energy guy Trevor Booker. According to reports, Booker underwent a "minor outpatient procedure" in Charlotte, and will miss just this game. From Tony Jones of the SL Trib:
Jazz forward Trevor Booker underwent a minor outpatient procedure on Sunday and stayed behind in Charlotte. Booker will miss Monday’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies, but isn’t expected to miss time beyond that.
Bets on what the "minor outpatient procedure" was? I'm going with ingrown toenail removal.
Last night Kobe launched an assault on the Sleep Train Arena rims that would have Allied Supreme Commander Eisenhower blushing. He chucked up 30 shots, of which he made 8. He had 25 points. I thought to myself, "That's unreal. I wonder if any Jazz player has ever heaved up that many shots in a game?" The answer is yes. Two different Jazz players have taken that many shots in a game. It happened a total of 10 times. One player did it nine times.
Some things to note:
- The Jazz's record in games with a player shooting >= 30 FG is 5-5
- Big T's game was very similar to Kobe's. Thurl shot 2 more FTs and scored one more point
- Both players were fairly young in most of the games in which they did this.
- Karl did it once in his prime. He scored 47 pts and made nearly 70% of those 30 FGA
Expectations are an important part of the fan experience. I know you're probably sick of reading about it, what seems like every Monday morning, but it's a topic worth thinking about. We develop our own expectations based on offseason roster moves, the draft, summer league, and expected player development. Teams try to control the level of expectation through the media, by saying things like, "This is a season of discovery" or "Our goal is nothing short of a title run." How well teams manage those expectations can be the difference between a fanbase that gives up on a season, and one that is willing to see it through.
Where are the Jazz up to this point? Honestly. The truth is that the expectation scale shifts throughout the year. With some close games and some amazing wins early on, many of us were thinking this team would be the surprise hit of the season. Then, a 9 game losing streak brought us all crashing back down to earth. Are you okay with that? How has it affected your willingness to support the team?
For me, adjusting my expectations is vital. If expectations are too high, the constant disappointment can be draining, but if you lower those expectations based on the sound bites coming from the team, it's easy to look at games on the micro level and be satisfied. The players are doing it. You don't read or hear nearly as much negativity coming from the squad. They seem to have bought in to the fact that they will get better.
In a month or two, when the Jazz's schedule eases up, we will probably see their performance improve in conjunction. The key will be what happens after they have some success? Will they see what they did right, learn, and carry the momentum through to the end of the season, or come crashing back down to earth? If they do, what will it look like on a chart of your expectations?
Starting on the Saturday after Christmas, the Jazz's schedule does indeed even out. They 17 games over the period from 12/27 to 1/30. Seven of those games are against teams they should beat (Lakers, Pacers, Celtics, T-Wolves x2, etc). Ten of those games are at home. The downside is that they have 3 back-to-backs, and two 3-game road trips.
As you struggle with your expectations of the Jazz this year, just remember: At least we're not the Nets.
Merry Christmas, Dunkers