After Thunder Loss, Jazz Hit Worst Stretch In Decade

Mar 20, 2024, 9:23 PM | Updated: Mar 21, 2024, 1:00 pm

SALT LAKE CITY –  The Utah Jazz fell the Oklahoma City Thunder 119-107 to fall to 3-14 since the NBA Trade Deadline.

Collin Sexton scored 25 to lead the Jazz.

Chet Holmgren and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander combined for 66 points on 24-44 shooting in the win.

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Jazz Stretch Is Worst Since Corbin Era

With their 14th loss in their last 17 games, the Jazz are in the midst of their worst stretch of basketball since 2014, the final year of Tyrone Corbin’s tenure as head coach.

The Jazz had a 3-13 stretch in 2017 during Donovan Mitchell’s rookie season, but won 24 of their final 34 games to qualify for the playoffs and stun the Oklahoma City Thunder with a first-round series upset.

Unfortunately for Jazz fans, there will be no such turnaround with just 13 games left in the regular season.

Now the question becomes if this year’s Jazz team will match the 2014 Jazz whose slide extended to 3-21 before winning the final game of the regular season in double-overtime.

The Jazz would have to lose their next seven contests to match the dark days of the Corbin era which ultimately resulted in the head coach’s dismissal.

Though current head coach Will Hardy is at no risk of losing his job, both losing stretches were by design to earn the Jazz the highest odds of winning the draft lottery as possible.

In 2014, the losing stretch resulted in the Jazz landing the fourth-best odds (10.4 percent) to win the draft lottery and move up to the top selection.

However, lady luck favored the Cleveland Cavaliers who selected Andrew Wiggins with the top overall pick while the Jazz slipped to the fifth and selected Australian guard Dante Exum.

The 2024 Jazz will hope to have better luck, and a better return for their losing ways this summer.

A Controlled, Irrational Collin Sexton

Sexton continued his run of strong play, nearly single-handedly keeping the Jazz in the game against the Thunder through the opening 36 minutes of the game.

Entering the night Sexton was averaging 21.0 and 5.7 assists over his last 20 games while shooting an astounding 50 percent from the floor and 47 percent from the three-point line.

With the rest of the Jazz backcourt combining to shoot 8-29 against the Thunder, Sexton poured in 25 points on 12-19 shooting to go with seven assists in 30 minutes on the floor.

“Collin is very impressive,” Hardy said. “I think he’s made such big strides this season in terms of his reading of the defense and understanding of how he’s being guarded.”

While skill level and confidence have never been questions for Sexton, the application of those assets was not always effective.

Too often the guard’s belief in himself appeared irrational as he tried to drive into the teeth of an opposing defense hoping his natural skill set would bail him out.

This season, Sexton has used that unique, sometimes irrational confidence to take on some of the best teams in the NBA, but has developed the basketball IQ to benefit his team.

“He was doing a really good job in between the games of making adjustments, seeing things, watching film, and learning,” Hardy said of Sexton’s early season play. “Now we’re seeing him have the ability to do it in a game, and I think that’s the next level for him.”

While Markkanen has been the clear prize from the Donovan Mitchell trade in 2022, Sexton is more than earning his keep in Utah.

Jazz Standings Watch

With Wednesday’s loss, the Jazz fell to 29-40 on the season and now sit 4.5 games back of the 11th-seeded Houston Rockets in the West.

The Jazz sit 1.5 games back of the Atlanta Hawks who own the league’s 10th-worst record.

If the season ended today the Jazz would have the ninth-best odds (20.2) of moving up into the top four spots in the draft lottery, and a 96.9 percent chance of owning a top-ten pick in June.

Utah Jazz Next Broadcast

The Jazz will face the Mavericks on Thursday at 7:30 pm MST in Dallas. The game will be televised on KJZZ, streamed on Jazz+, and can be heard on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone.

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Ben Anderson is the Utah Jazz insider for KSL Sports and the co-host of Jake and Ben from 10-12p with Jake Scott on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. Find Ben on Twitter at @BensHoops or on Instagram @BensHoops.

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After Thunder Loss, Jazz Hit Worst Stretch In Decade