In Houston, Shandon Anderson is remembering the way he took winning for granted with the Jazz. At Golden State, Antawn Jamison says "it's really starting to hit me" — the Warriors' season is over already.
But in Salt Lake City, Donyell Marshall is dusting the cobwebs off some long-buried emotions. Like a man waking from a coma, he's remembering a former life — the one he lived back in college, when he played for a contender.
The Jazz came back from a 15-point deficit at the Delta Center Wednesday night to beat Seattle, 86-82. The win maintained first place in the Western Conference and the second-best record in the league. For Marshall, who spent six seasons with the hapless Warriors, this time of year means more than it has for years.
No more marking down the last week of April as the first week of vacation.
Marshall, who finished with 13 points and 14 rebounds, had back-to-back windmill dunks that thrilled the crowd, as the Jazz took the lead for good. He pumped his fist, threw his arms around Karl Malone during a timeout and smiled periodically throughout the game.
This is work?
Sign him up for a double-shift.
"I'm used to this being the time of the season — with 20 games left — when it was almost like being in a jail, when you're marking (the days) down," he said. "That's pretty much what we used to do (in Golden State). Twenty games — mark it down. When April came, it was like everybody got excited for the wrong reasons. We got excited because we knew our season would be over and we could get out of there. Now, we're excited to get to the playoffs."
Marshall's former team continues to flail like a suffocating man. The Warriors are 16-45, the third-worst record in the league. Not even the abysmal Los Angeles Clippers can match their futility. The Warriors would have to win every remaining game to even have a shot at the final playoff seed, having lost 17 of the last 19 games.
Golden State, of course, is familiar with pathetic basketball; the Warriors have been terrible for years. Last season on this date, they were 16-43, in the throes of losing 19 of 20 games. The year before, they were considerably better (7-10 in the lockout season), celebrating a two-game win streak. But they proceeded to lose five of their next six and failed to make the playoffs. In 1998, they were 13-47 on March 8, in the middle of a streak that included 16 losses in 19 games.
The last time they had a winning record in March was in 1994, when Latrell Sprewell, Chris Mullin, Chris Webber and Billy Owens played for the Warriors. Though they finished 50-32 and made the playoffs, they were swept in the first round by Phoenix.
Meanwhile, Anderson is playing for a Houston team that is just 33-28. The former Jazz guard left with hopes of winning a title, but is now hedging on whether he wants to re-sign with the lackluster Rockets.
"I'm spoiled," he told the Houston Chronicle. "I spent my first three years in the playoffs and went to two Finals. I got accustomed to that."
Jamison hasn't been so lucky. He has spent his short career playing for the franchise that was once home to Rick Barry, Wilt Chamberlain and Nate Thurmond. Now it has Adonal Foyle in its starting lineup.
"Mentally, it's draining," Jamison told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's hard to be out there enjoying yourself when you have 43 or 44 losses and 16 wins. It's really starting to hit me."
Across the Sierra Nevadas and the Great Basin, Marshall says he's feeling as he did at the University of Connecticut, waking up and looking forward to going to the arena.
April vacations really aren't much fun.
"When you do big plays here, you get the crowd into it. You make a nice dunk or a backdoor pass, it brings excitement into it. You know it's for a reason. It's not to try to win a game to stop a losing streak, it's just to win this game so we can have the best record going into the playoffs."
Oddly enough, Jamison and Marshall have something in common. The reality of their situations is starting to hit them both.