Jazz enthusiasts enjoy a double delight: a victory alongside a captivating display by Victor Wembanyama

Utah Jazz forward Taylor Hendricks (0) drives to the basket during a game against the San Antonio Spursat the Delta Center in Salt Lake City on Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024.

Marielle Scott, Deseret News

The Delta Center is home to the Utah Jazz, where Jazz fans faithfully stand behind their team through thick and thin and show up each and every game day to show their loyalty…

Well, at least that’s the case most of the time.

These days — with losses coming more regularly than wins, and as the Jazz clearly work toward future success rather than success in the present season — it can be a little tougher to convince some fans to pony up the dough for a game.

But on Sunday, there was something else worth seeing: the 2023 No. 1 overall pick from the San Antonio Spurs, Victor Wembanyama.

“Since the trade deadline, I haven’t cared about watching the Jazz,” a local fan told the Deseret News. “But I’ll pay money to watch Wemby.”

As a large group of fans clad in Jazz gear entered the Delta Center, I asked who was at the arena to see Wembanyama and they all cheered.

Fans showed up early and clapped excitedly as they watched Wembanyama go through his pregame workout. And, in the end, they were treated to the best of both worlds — a game in which Wembanyama had highlight plays on both ends of the floor, and a rare Jazz win.

Snapping a five-game losing streak, the Jazz came out on top 128-109, and did so with some pretty incredible 3-point shooting and really intentional defense.

It’s not easy to play against a team with a 7-foot-4, ultra skilled player and keep that team from owning the paint, but rookie Taylor Hendricks, tasked with the difficult assignment of defending Wembanyama, did a pretty good job.

“No one has enough size to guard Victor but I think Taylor did a good job with his speed and his length and tried to climb up underneath him a little bit and speed him up some,” Jazz head coach Will Hardy said.

“I thought overall, Taylor did a good job initially at the point of attack of not getting blown by, and it allowed his teammates to help him.”

It took Kris Dunn and Collin Sexton combining for eight steals, Sexton and Jordan Clarkson combining for 20 assists, Lauri Markkanen having a really efficient night and leading the Jazz with 26 points and the entire team shooting 48.6% from 3-point range to get the job done, but the Jazz were able to do it.

That being said, Wembanyama made sure to put his imprint on the game.

In the opening minutes, Wembanyama wowed with three huge blocks and capped off the night adding two more to his total.

In the end he finished with an, average by his standards, 22 points and 10 rebounds to go with his five blocks.

The Jazz can at least be proud that Wembanyama didn’t put a 5-by-5 on them like he did against the Lakers on Friday night, finishing with 27 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists, five steals and five blocks, and he didn’t end up with a triple-double including 10 blocks, a feat he most recently achieved against the Toronto Raptors on Feb. 12.

But Wembanyama, despite the expectations and his early performances, much like the Jazz, is concerned with creating habits that are sustainable.

“It’s a long season, a new challenge every night,” he said. “You see guys like Shai (Gilgeious-Alexander), (Joel) Embiid, they might score 30 a night, but every night they’re going to get to score 30. Once you’ve done it, it’s about repeating it.”

So for at least one night, the Jazz were able to keep Wembanyama off the path of repeated success and the fans enjoyed every second.

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