The 2013-14 NBA season has been incredibly unkind to the Utah Jazz thus far. Thought to be a team near the bottom of the league but with a lot of potential before the year began, they were the last winless team in the NBA heading into Wednesday night when they faced off with the New Orleans Pelicans in Utah.
Despite shaky defense that allowed the Pelicans to shoot just a hair under 50 percent from the field and 41.7 percent from long-range, the Jazz were able to ride big games from Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter and (surprisingly enough) Richard Jefferson to their first win of the season. That’s right—the Utah Jazz will not finish the 2013-14 season with the anti-immaculate 0-82 record.
Obviously no team is going to finish 0-82, especially when there are NBA-caliber players and the NBA schedule involved. When the Charlotte Bobcats set the record for the worst season winning percentage ever in the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season, they even finished the year with nine wins.
With a team like the Jazz, you knew they were going to have a game sooner rather than later when the pieces clicked. Kanter and Derrick Favors dominated the boards, grabbing a combined 22 on the night. Moreover, Hayward finished with 27 points and 10 assists while Kanter added 21 points and Jefferson added 22. These are the types of things that happen when you have players as skilled as these guys are. Some nights things just click.
In terms of the schedule, this game was really set up in Utah’s favor. Not only were they playing at home, but they were up against a Pelicans team that played a late game in Los Angeles the night before. That’s certainly a heck of a back-to-back to have to deal with and the Jazz capitalized on that.
Going forward, there actually is some optimism for this Jazz team, even if this win is largely due to the situations that the NBA sometimes presents. This team was predicated on the basis that they are young and have potential, but hadn’t totally shown that yet this season. On Wednesday they did. If this team starts to click and develop as the season goes on, don’t be surprised if Utah finds its way out of the cellar of the league.