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Utah Jazz can hang in there till all the injuries clear -- The Downbeat #1813

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A look at the schedule, a look at the inequality of subjective officiating, and a look at the roster bereft of a star player.

Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

We have to revisit what happened in the last Utah Jazz game and look at why it happened. In my conclusion the lack of a star that the refs have to respect is the key fault. We only have to look at what James Harden gets vs. what our players get to see the difference. But looking beyond the big problem in the Jazz roster, the injuries have piled up. What's the minimum number of wins necessary to keep afloat in January? And can the team do it? We also look at some off-court antics and one of the brightest spots for the 2015-2016 Utah Jazz season.

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Okay, first thing first . . . yes Jeff Withey was fouled on his dunk attempt. And yes, Gordon Hayward was also fouled before the ball was in-bounded. And yes, the Houston Rockets got away with it. At least the NBA admitted they made the mistakes, right? That makes us all feel better?

DB 1813 - Houston Refs

These infractions happened at the 0:25.8 second mark of the game, and the 0:12.9 second mark. You have to think that those non-calls would have adjusted things a bit. I see there was the make-up call with James Harden's foul on Rodney Hood giving the Jazz a 'chance' to earn it all back. But that's like switching over your justice system from fairness to one that goes for 'trail by combat' instead. It's crappy.

And it only reinforces in my mind the need for a star player or two on the Jazz. When we had John Stockton and Karl Malone we used to get star calls. Even when they were gone and Jerry Sloan would pick up a tech in the second half that would elicit a behavioral change by the officials. Right now we have a bunch of guys who will just take it when you put a finger in their ear, and a lot of injured players.

It's rough. But it's the NBA. And it's an NBA where our franchise used to be dominant. We all know what's missing, and it's not tinkering to make an open roster spot for a guy who clears waivers.

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Moving forward, if that's possible for me and other like-minded Jazz fans, we have two things to keep in mind. How long until the team is healthy is the first one. The second, obviously, is how long can the team tread water. The team went 3-1 last week, but I don't know if those are going to be the norm going forward. This month isn't terrible, but it's not impossible either. The team has already won a game and lost a game -- you can argue that both should have been wins, but it's not like the NBA is going to give us a win just because they messed up (again).

Tough Games:

I feel like the first three games are going to be hard, and would be even at full strength. With four of the top six out they should be killers. Portland is here because we rarely beat that team in their gym. They aren't good, but they did win the first game of the season series against Utah.

Easy Games:

These should all make sense. I expect some people to be back by the Minny game, if only just Derrick Favors. The Hornets game is here too because they will be on a road trip and are in a tail spin with all the Al Jefferson news. You may notice that there are five easy games and five hard games -- so that pretty much washes out.

Question Marks:

This is the rub. If the Jazz can perform as expected in the hard games and the easy games, it's these question mark games that matter. The road games should be telling because the teams the Jazz will be playing aren't complete at all. The Detroit game will be tough, and so will the Kings game. But those are at home and we can expect the refs to give our guys a break, right? (Amar dies a little on the inside)

If the Jazz can hover around .500 until February I think the team will be in good shape. Better than expect really with all the injuries. If they win 5+ wins I still think that's good enough going forward. And I think there are at least 5 wins here. Five of 13 isn't great. But what do you expect without Derrick Favors, Rudy Gobert, Alec Burks, and Dante Exum ?

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Trivia, tonight the Jazz face the Spurs. In San Antonio, the Jazz record stands at 20-67, which I think was the Spurs record the year they tanked for Tim Duncan. (Keep moving along, sir.) For the record, it was 20-62, with Gregg Popovich at the helm. The previous SEVEN seasons before that 20 win season the team won 56 games, 55 games, 47 games, 49 games, 55 games, 62 games, and 59 games. If there's on Spurs thing I want our wanna-be's to learn it's to be strategic in your overall thinking.

Of course, the opposite is what we see with the Philadelphia 76ers. But at least they know not to actually try to build a team until they have a star player. In the meantime they are losing a lot of games. But occasionally they do enough to make their fans have an out of body experience like this:

Personally, you have to find some sort of middle ground. You are not going to win a title without a star. But you can't hold your fans' money as ransom for decades waiting for one. This is a strategy issue, and lots of smart people have written about it more eloquently than I am right now. But I do feel, I really do, that lots of the problems the team has late in games, in close games, and when it comes to refs, would have been resolved in the team's favor if they had a take charge, star player.

For all of the roster space flexibility the team has hoarded over the last few years, well, one such hero has not emerged. And I think that's not something to feel good about.

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Who did it better, Trey Lyles or the Chicago Bull's mascot Bennie?

Cool thing about this? He's doing this to the ROAD broadcast here. Obviously a player will never be allowed to ham it up on camera like a mascot, and that's fine. But since we're checking around the league . . . check out this Los Angeles Lakers fan switching to being a Golden State Warriors fan *MID-GAME*!!

Terrible. Terribull even.

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How much are we loving Jeff Withey right now? With Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert both out Quin Snyder has needed a bigman to step up. And Withey has. The 25 year old has seen his minutes, and duh, production go up as the season has progressed:

Month GS G S% MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG ORTG DRTG NET
1 OCT 0 1 0% 1.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0 92 -92
2 NOV 0 7 0% 9.0 2.0 2.3 0.1 0.6 0.9 95 100 -5
3 DEC 5 15 33% 16.7 5.6 4.8 0.5 0.5 1.4 110 104 6
4 JAN 2 2 100% 33.5 10.0 10.5 1.0 2.0 3.5 98 89 9

In my opinion he is a lot better than Jarron Collins and the kinds of back-up centers we've had in the franchise before. Yes, it's a small sample size, but he's been one of the few bright spots so far this season.