The Salt Lake Tribune – Mar 20, 2008 – Lya Wodraska and Chhun Sun – Asked about the significance of Utah’s franchise-record tying 19th home win on Monday and Jazz guard Deron Williams shrugged off the milestone.
“It means nothing,” he said.
He is wrong, and he is right.
It means nothing in the sense that for Williams, the most important thing is to win games and better Utah’s place in the playoff race. He doesn’t care if franchise records are set in the process.
But he’s wrong in that Utah’s 19-game winning streak does matter. Utah, with the best home record in the league at 29-3, has more confidence and more of an edge when its on their home court.
Think about it this way: Where do you like Utah’s chances of beating the Los Angeles Lakers better, at home or on the road where the Jazz are just 16-21?
It’s what sports psychologist John F. Murray refers to as a “physical acceleration,” that sets in with each win.
“Whatever we do tends to be repeated because that’s what you know,” he said. “It’s the definition of confidence. You are expecting the best and you become more efficient in the things that will continue the streak. You don’t have to force the issue because you have a feel of it.”
While Utah’s streak matches the longest for a single season, and is one shy of the record set for a streak that extends more than one season (20 from Feb. 26, 1998-March 5, 1999
[due to strike Jazz played first home game on Feb. 5, 1999]) it pales in comparison to the longest home streaks the NBA has seen.
The longest home streak was set by the Chicago Bulls from March 30, 1995 to April 4, 1996, a record that came in an era when the Bulls were winning three straight NBA titles. Seven of those wins were in the 1994-95 season. The Bulls won 37 games in a row in the 1995-96 season before the streak ended with a loss to Charlotte on April 8.
Invincible was often how the Bulls were described during that time, and that is exactly how they felt, said former guard Steve Kerr, now the general manager of the Phoenix Suns.
“It was an amazing feeling of invincibility,” Kerr said. “You didn’t think you could lose. You kind of felt from other teams they sensed their fate.”
If the Jazz win their last nine home games, including tonight’s crucial game against the Lakers, it would give them 28 straight wins which would rank Utah’s run as the sixth longest in NBA history for a single season home winning streak. The Bulls’ 37-game streak is the longest.
“You kind of knew going in you were going to win,” Kerr said. “It was just a jolt that motivated you for the rest of the season.”
Whether it is blowing out good teams like Denver, coming back from big deficits to win or prevailing in the close contests, the Jazz have shown a similar confidence at home and opponents are aware how hard it is to beat the Jazz, Lakers coach Phil Jackson said.
“It’s a big edge,” Jackson said, thinking back to his run with the Bulls, and also of Utah’s current streak. “The Celtics had it in the 80s. This is a place that’s always tough to play. It gives them a confidence.”
It takes more than showing up and waving to the crowd during introductions, something Jazz coach Jerry Sloan hopes his team remembers, especially as they prepare for tonight.
“It doesn’t matter until we get this thing and try to win every time we step out there to get in the playoffs,” Sloan said. “That’s still a long road ahead of us.”
37: Chicago, Nov. 3, 1995-April 4, 1996
33: Orlando, Nov. 3, 1995 – March 19, 1996
31: Boston, Dec. 10, 1985 – April 13, 1986
19: Dec. 29, 2007 to current
19: Jan. 19, 1996 to March 29, 1996
19: Dec. 13, 1989 to March 3, 1990
17: Nov. 9, 1991 to Jan. 22, 1992
Most consecutive home wins
in professional sports:
NFL: 27 by the Miami Dolphins, 1971-74
NBA: 44 by the Chicago Bulls, 1995-96
NHL: 20 by the Boston Bruins, 1975-76
MLB: 26 by the New York Giants, 1916
Most consecutive home games won in more than a single NBA season 44 – Chicago, March 30, 1995 – April 4, 1996 40 – Orlando, March 21, 1995 – March 19, 1996 38 – Boston, Dec. 10, 1985 – Nov. 28, 1986
NBA single season
Most consecutive home games won in a single NBA season:
Jazz single season
Utah’s longest home winning streaks for single season:
Fisher’s return, Part 2
In town for today’s game against the Jazz, Lakers guard Derek Fisher said Wednesday he isn’t sure what to expect from Utah’s home crowd. Maybe the fans will boo him, maybe they won’t, but he’s not taking anything personally anymore.
Dr. John F. Murray is a sports psychologist and clinical psychologist providing sports psychology and counseling services based in Palm Beach, Florida.