SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH - NOVEMBER 29: Joe Ingles #2 of the Utah Jazz celebrates a three point shot in the second half during a game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Vivint Smart Home Arena on November 29, 2021 in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

Utah Back To Having Fun On The Court

After a heartbreaking loss was followed by two dominant victories, the Jazz are having fun on the court again with surging Boston coming to town Friday night

The last two and a half weeks have been a roller coaster for the Utah Jazz. 

On one end, Utah had two heartbreaking defeats to Memphis and New Orleans— both of which came on last-second shots. Those losses had many around the league questioning if the Jazz were the true title contenders they were perceived to be at the beginning of the season.

“I don’t think we’re playing like a team that wants to play for a championship,” Rudy Gobert said after losing to the Pelicans. “We’re playing like a young team right now, and we’re losing to young teams too. The young teams are playing better than us in the clutch. We’ve just got to look ourselves in the mirror and just realize what’s going on.”

On the other end, Utah is two shots away from posting an eight-game winning streak. During that time, they’ve posted some of the top offensive numbers in the league and very much looked like a team capable of hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy in June.

But Utah refuses to live in perceived worlds. Instead, the Jazz believe in reality, and the reality of the situation is that they’re 6-2 over the past eight games — And those should be the only numbers that matter.

They’ve rebounded from that loss to New Orleans with victories over the Pelicans and Portland Trailblazers. Those wins were two of their best performances of the season, back-to-back 22-point victories where the starters played minimally over the final 12 minutes.

What changed in those two games was simple: Utah wanted to have fun. 

The Jazz wanted to put the season expectations behind them, all the talk about winning a title and winning with conviction. They wanted to get back to having fun, the backbone of their success and rise as one of the top teams in the league.

“It’s really going to help us down the road,” Gobert said after the win over the Pelicans. “It was necessary in a way. Sometimes it’s better to lose than win a game that you’re supposed to lose. Just keep getting better, keep embracing the opportunities and keep having fun.”

“In the huddle, we just said let’s go out there and have fun,” Mike Conley added. “Everyone is so tight and stressed, and we weren’t having fun the way we were last season. So tonight was more of that atmosphere where guys were being selfless.”

The Jazz will attempt to continue those fun-loving and winning ways on Friday night when they host the Boston Celtics. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. MST from Vivint Arena. 

After a very slow start to the season, Boston is 10-5 over its last 15 games and resembling the team many believed they’d be. With Jayson Tatum averaging a near double-double of 24.4 points and 8.9 rebounds and Marcus Smart anchoring the No. 5 defense in the league, the Celtics are looking to make a statement on Friday night.

For Utah, continuing those winning ways will be of the utmost priority if it’s done the right way. The Jazz want to play tough defense and share the ball on offense, with team success overshadowing individual success. 

“Everyone wants to shine, but to have the maturity to know that when we shine as a team, everyone shines, that’s wisdom,” Gobert said. “Who remembers when the Bulls (of the 1990s) won, how many points everyone averaged? Nobody cares. All we remember is that they won and got a ring and won championships.

INJURY REPORT
Utah Jazz
*Trent Forrest: QUESTIONABLE / non-COVID related illness
*Udoka Azubuike: OUT / right ankle injury

Boston Celtics
*Jaylen Brown: OUT / return to competition reconditioning

BROADCAST INFORMATION
Time: 7 p.m. MST
Location: Vivint Arena / Salt Lake City, UT
TV: AT&T Sports Network
Radio: 1280 The Zone 

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