CLEVELAND — The Utah Jazz are taking an interesting streak into the Anti-LeBron James Headquarters and their game tonight against the Cavaliers.
But it is not a winning streak.
And, obviously, after their ninth double-digit comeback victory of the season in Milwaukee on Saturday, it is not a losing streak, either.
The Jazz are on, well, a non-streak streak.
During the entire month of December so far, the on-again-off-again ballclub has yet to win or lose consecutive games.
Their Dec. 1 victory at home against Indiana capped a seven-game win streak, and they've traded a loss for a win ever since then. In order this month, they've matched victories over the Pacers, Grizzlies, Magic and Warriors with successive losses to the Mavericks, the Heat, Dallas again and the Hornets.
Which makes one wonder if Saturday's win over the Bucks, coming 24 hours after getting thumped by New Orleans, will be followed by a stunning defeat in Cleveland.
"Well, let's get it over with," Jazz point guard Deron Williams said when asked about that W-L trend. "Let's get another win."
The NBA schedule maker seems to have put Utah in prime position to do just that. The 19-9 Jazz are in the middle of their annual pre-Christmas road trip, but they face an 8-19 Cavalier club that took a 10-game losing streak into its home win Saturday over New York.
The Jazz then head to Minnesota for a Wednesday match-up against the 6-22 Timberwolves.
Though he's as eager as anybody to get that positive streak going, Williams said he isn't counting any wins before they're hatched.
Not even against the LeBron-less Cavs.
"They're a different-looking team, but they're definitely a capable team," Williams said. "They have some good wins this year, so we can't look past anybody."
The best part of the Jazz's streaky ways is that the team has yet to lose two games in a row since it opened the season with back-to-back blowout losses against Denver and Phoenix.
Since then, the Jazz have proven capable of bouncing back from losses like they do from double-digit deficits this season.
"It just shows a lot of character," Williams said. "It shows we don't have any quit in us. We're a resilient team."
Sloan credited Williams & Co. — especially the players who've been together for a few seasons — for being able to recover quickly. Winning on the road a night after getting blasted by 29 points — a 38-point turnaround in 24 hours — was just the latest testament of their mental mettle.
The Hall of Fame coach also believes how the Jazz react to losses shows his players' commitment to playing the game the right way, something he definitely appreciates.
"For the most part the last two or three years, the guys have come back and played hard even though things didn't work out," Sloan said. "We've had games like (Friday) night before. It's not the first time.
"But the important thing as a group and as an organization, you hope that they come back and see the importance of the game," he added. "We still have a lot of responsibility to people who pay to get in to put that effort out there. And I think most of our guys do that whenever we've had those situations, and that's what's made it fun to coach them."
The Jazz came out of Saturday's win fired up about playing defense — something they excelled at during the win over the Bucks.
Williams pointed out that defense isn't just the key to winning championships — it's also the key to winning streaks.
"We can't let our offense and how we shoot the ball dictate our defense," he said. "We have to bring it on the defensive end."
Added center Al Jefferson: "(When) we play defense the way we did (Saturday), you know, we are a great team. We are hard to beat. That's the way we have to play every night."
To wit, before Saturday's game the Jazz had allowed four of five opponents to hit the century scoring mark — something that contributed to their mediocre results. During the Jazz's season-best seven-game winning streak — they have a five-game run under their belts, too — they held teams to 90.4 points per game. That came during Utah's stretch in which it held 11 straight foes to under 100 points, which led to a 9-2 record.
"We've shot poorly and won games," Miles said. "It's always if we defend and if we play hard (that matters). When we defend and we play hard, we're always going to be there."
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