1. Things can change quickly in the NBA.
Let us take a trip back in time, but we won’t go back too far. 11 days to be exact. When things were roses, giggles, puppies and cotton candy. The Utah Jazz had dusted yet another Playoff team, demolishing the Charlotte Hornets to the tune of 94-66. That impressive victory signified the team’s eleventh win in 13 outings. The Jazz were the talk of the NBA, and rightfully so. They were defeating everyone that got in their way…well, at least those that were postseason-bound. Utah’s defense was the best in the league. Rudy Gobert was getting some nice national publicity, as was Quin Snyder, Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward and company. Those were good times.
Fast forward to present time. The Denver Nuggets just made easy work of the Jazz, coasting to an easy 107-91 victory. All of a sudden, Utah has dropped four consecutive games and five of six. The offense is not as crisp, the defense not as dominant. There are some struggles individually and yes, collectively.
It just goes to shine light on the funny thing that is the NBA. Fortunes can change in the blink of an eye. That certainly happens within the course of a game almost every time out. You have to appreciate the ups, for the downs can come without much warning.
All this said, this change in fortunes could prove to be a positive for the Jazz in the long run1. The young Utah squad got a taste for what can happen when it is firing on all cylinders. It saw how very much potential it has and what playing as a cohesive unit can do on the court. Now, it has also seen how some slippage can alter trajectory.
This spell has also served as a reminder to the fan base that the Utah Jazz are very much still a work-in-progress. There is so much growth yet to occur, but the overall progress cannot be denied. This has been an exciting spell for the team and the future is very, very bright. Have no doubts… Snyder will use this recent road bump to help teach some valuable, lasting lessons.
2. So, why did the Jazz lose so badly to Denver?
The Jazz were thrilled to welcome back Hayward to the fold. While he was not 100 percent sharp, the swingman tallied 24 points, seven rebounds and three assists in his return. So, what happened to cause this loss?
It was a rough go, with a lot of credit going to Denver. They were disruptive on defense and consistent on offense.
3. Rest in peace, Hot Rod Hundley.
While this does not relate directly to the game, the sobering news was very much on the minds of the Utah franchise and its loyal fans. Hot Rod Hundley, the distinct, colorful and memorable voice of the Jazz, passed away at the age of 80. Sadness. Sincere sadness.
Hundley was and always will be a part of the fabric that makes the Utah Jazz what it is. He was there when the team was awful and he was an essential part of its glory years. There was Larry H. Miller and there was Jerry Sloan. There was John Stockton and Karl Malone. And then, there was Hot Rod.
The legendary broadcaster was there for all the major moments in Jazz history. He called John Stockton’s record-setting assists, the Mailman’s 61-point night and, of course, “the Shot.” He spanned three different eras2, doing so seamlessly. He was the constant throughout all the transitions, someone who could always be counted out to entertain and inform.
Through his energy, his unique and unforgettable phrases — ones that will always be quoted — and his absolute passion for the game, Hot Rod was, in many ways, Utah Jazz basketball. His radio calls made fans feel like they were actually watching the game. He and Ron Boone teamed up to make the television broadcasts so fun.
Hundley’s persona was larger than life, but at the same time, it felt like he was everyone’s friend. He was absolutely one in a million. You gotta love him, baby.
Hot Rod Hundley was a major part of my childhood. He made the Jazz come alive and helped me fall in love with basketball. #jazzblast
— David J. Smith (@davidjsmith1232) March 28, 2015