The Morning Shootaround – Utah Jazz: Week 15

This week’s games:

  • Tuesday, February 3 – Portland Trail Blazers. Moda Center. 8:00 PM MT.
  • Wednesday, February 4 – Memphis Grizzlies. Energy Solutions Arena. 7:00 PM MT.
  • Friday, February 6 – Phoenix Suns. US Airways Center. 7:00 PM MT.
  • Saturday, February 7 – Sacramento Kings. Energy Solutions Arena. 7:00 PM MT

Game of the Week: Utah Jazz vs Sacramento Kings

He’s ba-ack!!! Saturday night’s game against the Sacramento Kings will mark the return of interim head coach Tyrone Corbin to Energy Solutions Arena.  During his time in Utah, Corbin led the Jazz to a 112-146 record. From 2010 to 2014, Corbin’s Utah teams only saw the playoffs once, which many will recall as the year the Jazz were swept by the Spurs in the 2011-12 season.  Corbin went to Sacramento as an assistant after parting ways with the Jazz this past off-season, only to be moved to interim head coach on December 15, 2014 when the Kings fired Mike Malone.

So why is this the game of the week? Well, the Kings have struggled as of late, which makes this a very winnable home game for the Jazz. Also, I’m curious what kind of reception Corbin is going to get from the Utah crowd. Anyone who has read my posts about the Jazz under the Corbin knows that I never thought the guy was given a fair chance to succeed in Utah, and if we’re being honest, he’s inherited the same type of situation in Sacramento. I would hope that Jazz fans will take it easy on the former coach, but know that frustration is still there from the brutal seasons that all endured under Corbin. Let’s just try to focus on a good game from the Jazz and not go too crazy with the #FireTy remarks, mmmkay?

Player Focus: Gordon Hayward

Over the last ten games, Hayward has been pretty much at his season averages.  He’s been averaging 19.2 points, 4.9 rebounds, 4.6 assists, and 2.0 steals per game.  Those are really respectable numbers, but really, that’s what we should expect from Gordon “Max Money” Hayward at this point. The thing that makes Hayward my player of the week is the game that he had last Friday night against the Warriors – 26 points, 15 rebounds, 6 assists, and 3 steals. Now those are all-star numbers, and with Hayward not making the All-Star game this year, maybe he’s feeling some extra motivation.  So, why not? Hayward, you get the spotlight this week! Let’s see if this was one big game or if you’re able to take your game to the next level yet again.

Game Predictions:

Blazers: Now at first glance, you are thinking the same thing that I am – Portland has a talented group of guys and this is likely a game that is out of reach for the Jazz, right? Well, if you look at what the Blazers have done recently, it’s less than impressive. They’ve won two of their last ten.  Two! Of their last ten!  Those victories came against the Wizards and Kings, both at home.  While many losses have been against talented teams (Hawks, Cavs, Spurs, Clippers, and Grizzlies), the Blazers have stumbled in winnable games, including the Celtics and the Bucks. I was going to to give this game to Portland, especially with it being a home game for them, but after looking at their recent games and knowing that LaMarcus Aldridge isn’t 100%, I’ll take a shot on the Jazz. – Jazz win, 101-96.

Grizzlies: Memphis revenge game!  Remember that big win that the Jazz got at the end of their pre-Christmas road trip? Well, here’s the game where the Grizzlies get a chance at payback, and given their recent play, I think they’re in a great position to do so.  The Grizzlies have won ten of their last eleven games, including their last six.  While they’ve had a few injuries lately the only player that they might be missing appears to be Vince Carter, and with the acquisition of Jeff Green, they should be fine.  Jazz lose, 95-87.

Suns:  Phoenix is one of those teams that you’re unsure what to think of right now. They’ve won six of their last ten games, but they’ve only lost five games in 2015.  Those losses have come against San Antonio, Memphis, Houston, Golden State, and the Los Angeles Clippers.  While those teams are definitely respectable teams to lose against, three of those were double-digit losses. So what can the Jazz expect?  Well, Phoenix plays in Portland the night before on the late game on TNT, so Utah may catch a bit of a break. The Suns are fourth in the league when it comes to points per game, but are 28th in points allowed, so expect a relatively high scoring game, even if the Suns have tired legs from the night before.  Rest and reputation as road warriors this season have me favoring the Jazz in this one, but expect it to be close. – Jazz win, 104-103.

Kings: When the Jazz visited Sacramento back in December, the Kings seemed like they might be moving up in the West. Sure, DeMarcus Cousins was injured, but the Kings had started the season better than most had expected.  Then chaos broke loose and the Tyrone Corbin era began in Sacramento. Well, before Saturdays win at the Pacers, the Kings had dropped eight straight. What can we expect when many Jazz players face their former head coach? I’d say you can plan on a win for Utah. – Jazz win, 102-94.

Jazz History: February 7, 1998

Jeff Hornacek represented the Utah Jazz at the NBA All-Star weekend festivities in New York City.  Hornacek brought home the hardware, winning the AT&T Shootout.

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About the author

Devin Masters

Devin has been a lifelong Utah Jazz fan, enduring the heartbreak of Michael Jordan's push-off and the tragic end of the Sloan era. A lover of college athletics, he supports Notre Dame and the University of Utah. A fan of the world's game, he can be found cheering for Real Salt Lake, and the American and Spanish national teams. Also a fan of the Denver Broncos, and a casual follower of the Colorado Rockies and Seattle Mariners. He is a Dub State graduate and widely considered the pride of Ogden.