ORLANDO (ABC4 Sports) – Following Thursday’s 101-88 scrimmage loss to the Phoenix Suns, the Utah Jazz said it will take a little time to adjust to playing with no fans in attendance.
“For us, having such a great home court advantage and then coming to play with really nobody there, I think that’s one of the biggest things,” said Donovan Mitchell, who led the Jazz with 17 points in 21 minutes. “You know, we have a great fan base as far as being in the crowd and getting loud and everything. So to go from that to when you run out and hear ‘Here come the Jazz’ and it’s just silent, I think that’s one of the craziest things.”
“You can usually feel the momentum of the crowd, the loudness and everything,” added Jordan Clarkson, who scored 14 points. “It’s missing, so we’ve got to find it on our team bench. It’s definitely different, but we’re going to make it work.”
Mike Conley is in his 13th season in the NBA, but even he said he had never played an NBA game quite like this.
“You first realize it is when you run out of the tunnel getting ready for the layup lines and there’s literally nobody cheering or anything like that, said Conley, who poured in 12 points. “It was kind of surreal at that point but once the ball was tipped off, I think it was just basketball.”
While the players couldn’t rely on the crowd for energy, there was one positive aspect to playing in an empty arena — they could actually hear each other on the court.
“If there’s one thing that I like about having no fans it’s like I can actually hear my teammates and they can hear me better,” said all-star center Rudy Gobert. “During a playoff series when you have all the fans singing ‘Defense, defense’ it’s hard to hear each other. Now, it’s a little easier.”
We saw the Jazz experiment with a variety of lineups against the Suns as they adjust to life without the injured Bojan Bogdanovic. Head coach Quin Snyder went small at times with Jordan Clarkson on the floor, and he went big with Rudy Gobert and Tony Bradley both on the court for the first time together.
“We can go forward in any direction,” Snyder said. “I’ve done that in practice with that group. I thought Tony had a presence. Tony and Rudy, I thought that’s a combination that you could see. At the same time it’s a combination you may not see.”
“We’ve done it a little bit in practices over the last few days,” Gobert said. “I’m used to it because I’m used to playing with Derrick Favors. But Tony is a little bit of something new.”
The Jazz next play Miami in their second of the three scrimmages Saturday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. Utah’s first NBA restart game is scheduled for July 30th against New Orleans.