Salt Lake City’s ‘curse’: 13 years without a triple-double

It could not be. Utah Jazz, after being the best team in the regular season, could not extend its dominance in the playoffs. Like so many others. That, however, does not erase all of the above. At least, in recent memory; time, with such stories, is usually more cruel. Hand in hand with the Suns, those of Salt lake city they broke all the hierarchies established in the West. They came warning. In his case, after a knockdown in the first round; yes, but what a first round. The one with 475 points combined between Donovan Mitchell and a Jamal Murray that the injuries, sadly protagonists, separated from the present final phase. In the case of the Arizonans, after staying at the gates of some playoffs that, although the mathematics denied, they deserved: they were the only team that did not lose any game in Disneyland.

With two accolades, both franchises came to this season, one that was intended to make a difference with more recent history. And it has. Much more in the case of Monty Williams than in Quin Snyder’s, who, despite everything, must return to the thinking corner. Of course, and it should also be taken into account, not so long ago, both franchises were out of playoffs: in the 2014-15 academic year, they occupied the tenth and eleventh positions. Almost nothing. The best league in the world in all its essence.

In the case of the Jazz, the premises have been clear … even too clear: a choral game based on the perimeter and with the anchor of Rudy Gobert. Again, Best Defender of the Year, but, also again, leaving many doubts at the moment of truth. A single plan, with no answers in the final phase, but sufficient, nonetheless, to appropriate multiple record sheets during the regular course. They have signed the all-time record for triples per game (16.7), held so far by Houston (16.1 in 2019), they exceeded the number of games in a row (11 in total) with more than 15 triples, also in possession of the same Rockets, etc. They were the best in the regular season and, as such, they earned a place in statistical memory.

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Victories, records, praise, criticism, euphoria, despair … The season in Salt lake city he has had everything, but he has not achieved something that, although it seems impossible, has been resisting him for thirteen years: a triple-double. In February, against the Indiana Pacers, Donovan Mitchell was one rebound from breaking the picturesque streak: he had 27 points, 11 assists, 9 rebounds and, after a shot from Malcolm Brogdon, he was well placed to pick up the tenth, in the last seconds of the game. The ball, as if it were part of an alliance to be studied, decided to bounce off the back of the iron, with an unforeseen trajectory. Mitchell could even feel the ball in the palm of his hand, but he didn’t react quickly enough. When he did it completely, Goga Bitadze had already sent the ball out of the bounds of the court. And, with it, the aspirations of breaking with a wait that, for the moment, continues to be postponed.

A mere anecdote, but one that is still surprising in the current era of the NBA. For the fifth year in a row, the competition has accumulated more than 100 triple-doubles in its records and, since the 2011-12 season, the frequency of its presence in matches has increased by 700%. A brutal increase, but one from which Utah has completely stayed on the sidelines. In his case, Carlos Boozer, with 22 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, was the last to sign a double-digit statistical triplet. It was in 2008 and, to make the longevity of the date even more tangible, against Seattle SuperSonics, now Oklahoma City Thunder; although more like an islet in the middle of the sea than as a continuity to something that has been waning its trend. Throughout the history of the franchise, according to data from StatMuse, there have been 24 triple-doubles that have been registered. This season, Russell Westbrook, alone, has signed a few more. Of them, 54% belong to Pete Maravich (7) and Mark Eaton (6). Behind, Karl Malone and Andrei Kirilenko, with three each. The next, a reason for celebration in style in Salt lake city. You should keep waiting.

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