It felt a little like a Hoosiers movie flashback as Jazz fans gathered round the radio (or streaming web audio) to take in tonight’s no TV preseason tilt in Portland. I like how the Jazz set up their pre-season games. Having just played Portland last week I was interested to see how both teams had improved with a week of practice since their previous match-up.
With only David Locke’s scratchy voice to guide us through the action, it sounded like the Jazz players had both collectively and individually taken it upon themselves to learn and improve as the Jazz maintained control over a very focused and physical Portland team. Portland limited it’s rotation to nine guys for much of the game while Jerry stayed with his broader pre-season rotation with 14 guys playing 12 minutes or more.
• Sundiata Gaines is making his statement for a roster spot. With a rather young and undersized squad, he controlled much of the second quarter continuing to hit tough, time-sensitive shots. Ronnie Price didn’t get off the bench until late in the game but he seemed to make the most of his playing time; short-fisting a dunk but following it up with a three.
• Fesenko is like a good reality TV show. He led the Jazz scoring 18 points on 7-10 shooting and pulling down seven rebounds. The Jazz were +11 with him on the floor and he even made 4-6 free-throws. He seems focused and serious about winning some playing time in the rotation at least until Memo returns.
• Deron and Matthews had some passionate one v one possessions in the third quarter that would have made great TV (had the Jazz broadcast the game.) Maybe it’s just the fact that Wes is matching up against friends and Nate wants to build his confidence here in the preseason but he led the Blazers in shots and minutes again.
It’s early but the new look Jazz are making it hard not to get excited about this team. Unlike the last few years where you could argue the Jazz were somewhat soft, this team has come out and played physical, focused and aggressive pre-season ball. They have a system and a swagger. Jerry Sloan led teams always look better and more prepared early than other teams do so I suggest cautious optimism as we watch this team grow and gel. Tomorrow will be a good test on a tough back-to-back with the Phoenix Sun’s tomorrow. Sadly — no TV again. Hopefully the boys from Hickory can pull out another win while we Jazz fan’s gather round the radio for another listen…