Two games into the post-Jerry Sloan era, the Utah Jazz are winless.
One more defeat, and they’ll do something that last happened nearly six years before Sloan became Utah’s coach.
The scuffling Jazz look to avoid losing five straight home games for the first time in nearly 30 years Wednesday night when they face a surging Golden State Warriors team they’ve routinely beaten in Salt Lake City.
Sloan, Utah’s coach since December 1988, abruptly retired following a loss to Chicago last Wednesday, and the Jazz (31-25) have dropped their first two games under Tyrone Corbin - both to Phoenix. They’re just 4-12 since Jan. 17, falling from third in the Western Conference and atop the Northwest Division to eighth in the West and five games back of division-leading Oklahoma City.
In Tuesday’s 102-101 loss in Phoenix, Utah seemed to be in control, leading by eight with less than 7 minutes to play, but was outscored 21-12 the rest of the way. Al Jefferson(notes) had a season-best 32 points after scoring four on 2 of 14 shooting in Friday’s 95-83 home loss to the Suns.
“We played a lot better a lot longer than we did the other night,” Corbin said. “The guys will continue to work on the things we’ve been working in practice the last couple days and we are going to turn the corner. As long as we continue to fight and bring the effort, we’ll make shots and we’ll get some wins.”
Another loss in their final game before the All-Star break, however, would be hard to swallow.
The Jazz have dropped four straight in Utah since an 83-78 win over Charlotte on Jan. 31, and haven’t lost five consecutive home games since a franchise-worst 12-game skid Feb. 15-March 29, 1982.
Utah has lost two of three to the Warriors (25-29) this season, but both of those defeats came at Oracle Arena. The Jazz beat Golden State 108-95 in Salt Lake City on Dec. 13, and have won eight of the last nine meetings there.
In the teams’ last meeting on Jan. 30, two-time All-Star Deron Williams(notes) sat out with a hyperextended right wrist and the Warriors won 96-91, despite a season-low two points on 1 of 9 shooting from Monta Ellis(notes). Stephen Curry(notes) carried the Warriors with 27 points.
That victory over Utah started Golden State’s current run.
The Warriors defeated New Orleans 102-89 on Tuesday, and have won six of eight, with five of those victories coming against teams with winning records.
Surprisingly, Golden State’s defense has keyed this turnaround. The Warriors, fourth-worst in opponents’ scoring at 105.6 points, have limited teams to fewer than 100 points in five of their past six wins.
Although the Warriors are playing much better, most of that success has come at home. They’ve dropped three straight road games and are 6-18 away from Oracle Arena.
At Salt Lake City in December, Ellis had another subpar performance, finishing with 16 points - 9.2 less than his team-leading average.
Williams led all scorers with 30 points in that game, while C.J. Miles(notes) added 20 on 9 of 14 shooting. Miles didn’t fare nearly as well in the two losses to Golden State, however, totaling 19 points on 6 of 24 from the field.