PHOENIX — The Utah Jazz are feeling pretty good right now after consecutive wins against Western Conference playoff-bound teams, including their win on Sunday against the league-leading Phoenix Suns. But they’re cautious about letting the recent wins create a false sense of security.
There are three teams that are tied for fewest wins (15) this season — the Detroit Pistons, Orlando Magic and Houston Rockets — and there are only two teams in the league that have lost games to all three of the league’s bottom-dwellers: the Charlotte Hornets and the Jazz.
The Jazz have actually had their share of losses to bad teams this season. Games that Utah should have won against rebuilding or struggling teams have stuck with the Jazz.
So, as the team prepares for its next three games, all against teams at the bottom of the Western Conference, starting with the Rockets on Wednesday night, the message is crystal clear. This is not the time to start feeling safe or to relax.
“We can’t let up against Houston, we can’t,” Donovan Mitchell said, moments after beating the Suns on Sunday. “The biggest thing is how do we respond. ... Are we going to come out thinking we’ve figured everything out and we’re winning a championship? Or, are we going to keep our foot on the gas?”
While the Jazz are feeling like they head into Wednesday game with the right mentality, it’s not likely the Rockets will just lay down and let them have the win.
Houston is in the midst of a nine-game losing streak, its longest skid in 2022, so the Rockets are desperate for a win. And, the Rockets have been trending in the right direction for the last couple games, losing to the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday by just a single point (99-98).
The last time the two teams met was on Jan. 19, and while the Jazz were without Mitchell, who was sidelined with a concussion, they still had the rest of their starting lineup and were not nearly as shorthanded as they had been for other games in January.
“We’re clearly not at our best right now,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said at the time.
Simply put, the Jazz should have won that game, but they let it slip away with sloppy defensive execution and completely avoidable mistakes.
This time around the Jazz look to prove that they aren’t the same team they were in the earlier part of the season and that they aren’t going to let scheduled wins turn into bad losses.