The Jazz have been playing pathetically of late. I’ve never been a big fan of the early Martin Luther King Matinee. The Jazz have played poorly in that game for 3 consecutive years now. Lucky for most of us that game got lost in the fact that most of us still had to work so I didn’t suffer through much more than a few David Locke play by play calls towards the end. The Nets loss also came and went without a chance to watch. What I did get to watch was last nights Blazers vs Clippers tilt on TNT. I don’t often watch the nationally televised games and watching Wes Matthews light it up for Portland is like being stabbed over and over with a butter knife. How Kevin O’Conner let him go I’ll never understand. Teams always seem to play better when they know they are the focus of the NBA’s thursday night but I was particularly impressed with the 2 guard play for both teams. I’ve decided that compared to these 2 teams the Jazz have a huge issue at the 2 spot and it’s being exposed now by even the worst of the NBA’s cellar dwellers.
Let’s compare the production of CJ Miles and Raja Bell to that of Wes Matthews and Rudi Fernandez for Portland or even The clipper’s Erik Gordon (who’s really really good) and Randy Foye (Who’s really really bad) in their game last night.
Miles and Bell – 58 min. | 17 pts. | 2 rebs. | 4 assts. | 3 stl. | -12 +/-
Gordon and Foye – 67 min. | 40 pts. | 5 rebs. | 4 assts. | 1 stl. | -16 +/-
Matthews and Fernandez – 71 min. | 45 pts. | 6 rebs. | 8 assts. | 5 stl. | +14 +/-
Biggest issues I see with this adhoc comparison is the lack of any scoring support we’re getting from the 2 spot. It’s obvious teams have scouted Millsap and he’s struggling with bigger more physical opponents on both ends. This puts a greater emphasis on someone else stepping up and right now Raja and CJ just aren’t getting it done. Compound this issue with basic effort issues (note just 2 rebounds in 58 minutes!) and it’s no reason the Jazz are struggling to find any offensive consistency or efficiency.
Personally, I’d like to see the Jazz move Kirilenko for either a more consistent 2 guard who can spread the defense and maybe guard an opponent every once in awhile without fouling, or a bigger more defensively minded back-up for Paul Millsap.
In one of the most memorable weeks of Jazz basketball I can remember the Utah Jazz swept a tough 4-game Eastern Conference road trip with unprobable comebacks in each one.
Miami – Perhaps the signature win of the Season, The Jazz got down early to the South Beach LeBron’s but Deron led them back from 22 down before fouling out in the waning minutes. When things looked bleak something in Paul Millsap changed and the guy exploded for 3 3-pointers in a 30 second span along with a buzzer beater to force over-time. With Deron on the bench it was still unlikely that the Ronnie Price led team could actually beat the leagues newly crowned villains but somehow this unlikely combination get’s it done behind a key three-pointer from Andrei Kirilenko and a huge pair of clutch free-throws from my new hero Francisco Elson the Jazz Win 116-114
Orlando - Having stolen one in Miami that nobody expected them to get and playing on the back end of a back-to-back this game the Jazz had every excuse in the world to loose this one to Dwight Howard and the Magic. They got down early again. This time by as many as 18 but they kept it close into the fourth and then exploded out to 39 point forth to run away from the magic and win by 10. The Jazz seem to have a great scouting report on Dwight Howard. He had a quiet 14 points, only 9 rebounds and a whopping 6 turnovers as they Jazz forced him into tough decisions through timely double teams and sound positioning.
Atlanta – With 2 in the bag, a loss in Atlanta would have been an acceptable for a team now on their 3rd game in 4 nights on the road. Atlanta’s athletic ability and length have always given the Jazz fits as they constantly switch on defense and confuse and disrupt our offense. This was probably the most complete of the three games so far. They hung tough with Atlanta and gave themselves a chance to win down the stretch. Deron was unreal with 24 points and 11 assists on the night. Atlanta had a chance to tie the game with 6 seconds left when Al Horford was fouled by Paul Millsap but the All-Star missed both shots and the Jazz closed it out with another comeback victory.
Charlotte – The comeback is starting to look like a legitimate trend at this point. As a fan you never want to Expect that your team can come back from any deficit but this team has now proven it’s worth at least setting the DVR if you give up on them. In Charlotte they got down by 19 early, battled back and thanks to an incredible game winning runner by Deron they stole another one to finish 4-0 on a Road trip fin which they came back from double digit deficits in all four and five straight overall. The express is rolling!
After a nice home win against the Toronto Raptors, a game which I attended with my two boys, The Jazz hit the road for a Friday night tilt against the Golden State Warriors. It was a listless performance by the Jazz who shot only 39% from the field and committed 19 turnovers and allowed GS to grab 21 offensive rebounds. Three big things concerned me after this one; 1) the inability of the Jazz guards to keep the smaller, faster backcourt of Ellis and Curry from getting dribble penetration and 2) The conspicuous absences of Andrei Kirilenko from contributing much of anything on either end of the court and 3) The inability of the bigs to rebound on either end of the court.
I think the jazz rebounding issues were a bi-product of their Guards letting Ellis and Curry get to the rim. It’s early in the season but the Jazz defensive rotation has been slow or non-existent. From what I witnessed there was such a concern to help when the guards got behind their man that the weakside rebound was never a contest for the Warriors. Anrei’s absence is a trend I hope we don’t see perpetuated. His line: 0-3 FGs 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks and 2 turnoves with a +/- of -13. This looked like the sulking lost Andrei of the 2008-09 season. Even in the win against Toronto where he shot the ball better, he still had 6 turnovers and only 3 rebounds and was the only starter with a pathetic +/- of +2 in a game the Jazz should have won easily…
Jazz got an impressive road victory Sunday over the ever-impressive Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Rebounding well from two bad losses and a lot of media panic, the Jazz played a team game and finally were able to knock down some jump-shots building an early lead and never looking back. I was most impressed with the early energy and consistent play of Paul Millsap. He’s been the most consistent player for the Jazz early and his 30 points and 18 rebound effort was a coming out party of sorts for Paul in his new role as started on this Jazz Team. I’m championing the call for a nickname for Paul Millsap. The best I’ve come up with so far is a reboot of an Old Classic. “The Milkman” Let me know what you think…
The emotional volatility of Deron Williams has been the topic of much of the media since the Jazz second straight double digit loss to the Pheonix Suns. This exchange between Deron Williams and rookie Gordon Hayward is quite telling as to just how far this “new” Jazz roster is from being a cohesive unit.
Okay, so the rookie doesn’t yet know where he’s supposed to be on the court. I remember the same frustrations being expressed by vetrans who had to play with a young Andrei Kirilenko. What was probably lost in Deron’s brooding was the fact that despite the breakdown, Gordon ran a nice split off the pass to Jefferson and converted on the possession. Unfortunately, instead of taking away optimism from his making something out of nothing, the National television audience got to Deron’s watch the verbal tirade continue into the commercial break. The Jazz were never in the game so most fans probably appreciate Deron’s emotional outburst. He has since apologized but said he’s an emotional player who wants to win so it may happen again.
I fully expect a loss tonight in Oklahoma City. What I want to see more of from Deron is less sulking, less brooding and yelling and more teaching, communicating and empowering of his team. I’ve always felt Deron was the best point guard in the NBA because he’s always made the four other guys on the court better than they might be without him. That is not happening right now and until he changes his attitude it probably won’t. I hope Bill Simmons doesn’t win his “Deron demands a trade” office pool, but for better or worse, it comes down to what Deron wants to do and if he really wants to be traded, it could be ugly for everyone – not just Gordon Hayward…
The Jazz have sent us into the weekend on the heels of another discouraging loss to the Phoenix Suns 110-94. To help ease you into some uplifting workplace dialoque, here are some one liners you can use;
• This Jazz team has about as much chemistry as my 7th grade science class…
• Man, Gordon Hayward is cute…
• Bolerjak sure sounds different on TNT…
• Isn’t it great that the “best” Point Guard in the NBA is letting old guys like Billups and Nash whoop his a**…
• Did CJ Miles do anything last night besides foul?
• Deron sure is surely
• Well, there’s always next pre-season to look forward to…
The Jazz Opened the 2010-2011 Season with a 110 – 88 drubbing to their Rivals the Denver Nuggets last night. They were scary in all the wrong ways on a night where any goodwill towards Jazz fans gained by their undefeated preseason was quickly lost in the futility and awkwardness of the Jazz performance on the court. In honor of such a scary performance I’ve chosen Halloween costumes for a few of the Jazz players based on last nights performance.
Deron Williams – Wolfman – He was more man than wolf last night.
Anrei Kirilenko – Vampire – Sucked the life right out of the whole team.
CJ Miles – Ghost – Box score says it all on that one.
Paul Milsap – The Invisible Man – Seemed to be a non-factor.
Gordon Hayward – The Baby – Played well for a rookie but looked a bit scared
Al Jefferson – Frankenstein – Performance was ugly. More harm than good.
Raja Bell – Grim Reaper – Where jump shots went to die all night.
Jeremy Evans – Skeleton – Stick skinny athlete this one.
Hopefully Jazz wake up from this nightmare performance and find some life or Coach Sloan may be digging his own grave…
It’s that time of year – the start of the regular season and elections… Jazz are 7-0 so far in the preseason. Fesenko is playing like a leader. Perhaps his aspirations should include a run at the State Capitol?
Congrats to the Jazz on another great win in Phoenix last night. Since the Millers have decided not to broadcast any of the first three games on local television it’s tough to go in depth about what we’re seeing but three wins to start things out is encouraging. It’s going to be tough to cut guys from an undefeated team. Makes for good early drama.
What’s up with the Kouf?
I often wonder what’s going on with former Jazz alums who’ve moved on to greener pastures. This evening my thoughts wandered to good old “double B” now with the Timberwolves. His departure was somewhat surprising considering his quality summer league play in Orlando but his departure has set the stage for the “Fes-Show” we have enjoyed early in the pre-season. So are Jazz fans going to regret not having the Kouf on the bench this season? Well, in three preseason games for the TWolves, Koufos has averaged less than 12 minutes per game and is averaging just 5 points and 4 rebounds per tilt off the bench. I think based on what we got in return (Jefferson) his departure will not be missed this upcoming season.