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When the Utah Jazz were playing great last week against the Atlanta Hawks and New Orleans Pelicans, they didn't think they had arrived. So a three-game losing streak entering Wednesday's game against Portland will not make them overreact, either.
Quin Snyder and company are committed to rolling with the ebbs and flows of a long schedule. That's why panic levels weren't high following Monday night's loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. The focus was simply on figuring out ways to play better.
"We've lost a couple of games and we haven't played well," Snyder said. "It's not a line being drawn in the sand. It's February, and it's that time of year. We obviously need to play better. We need to win at home, and all of the things that go with it."
Still, the Jazz are a veteran team. Even if they welcome the all-star break, which starts on Thursday, the team knows what awaits on the other side.
Utah has hit a February wall, which some teams negotiate better than others. The Jazz hope much of the process of improvement will come with some rest and relaxation.
"A lot of us are still going through the process of being a playoff team," Jazz forward Gordon Hayward said. "The veterans have told us what to expect after the break. The teams that are making a playoff run start gearing up, and the teams that aren't start falling off a bit.""
The New York Knicks may be in disarray, but they're still No. 1 in one of the sports world's most important categories.
Worth a whopping $3.3 billion, the Knicks are the most valuable franchise in the NBA, according to Forbes' annual valuation of the league's teams. The Los Angeles Lakers ($3 billion), Golden State Warriors ($2.6 billion), Chicago Bulls ($2.5 billion) and Boston Celtics ($2.2 billion) round out the magazine's top five.
The Utah Jazz rank 20th at $910 million. According to Forbes, the team's revenue is $164 million and its operating income is $36 million.
The clock still strikes Dame Time, but the former Weber State star and his Portland Trail Blazers teammates haven't had much success late in games this season.
"It feels like when we're in those situations, the worst thing happens," Damian Lillard told reporters in Portland this week after jumping out to a 7-0 run in overtime Monday night, only to lose to the Atlanta Hawks. "… It feels like we just haven't had great luck."
The Blazers rank 23rd in the NBA in efficiency in games that are within three points in the final three minutes. They are 11-16 overall in those games.
"As competitors, every loss you have is tough," Lillard said. "Right now, the situation we're in, it's important for us to win games and string wins together. … When it gets time to win down the stretch, we're in positions to win games and we're not coming out on top. I think that's a little bit draining."
The online betting site Bookmaker.eu places Gordon Hayward in the middle of the skills challenge pack, placing his odds of winning at +920. Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas is the favorite to win it.