02 April 2012
(AP Photo/Don Ryan)
Lately the crux of the fan base arguments surrounding the coaching prowess of Tyrone Corbin have focused on his rotations in late game situations, deficit situations and lead maintaining situations -- really all situations. There's been a sense of coaching malaise among the Jazz twitterati ever since the 4 OT loss in Atlanta more than a week ago. Losses to the Celtics, Kings and Clippers piled up in short order and left many unable to commit to either "team Playoffs" or "team Lottery" as far as their rooting predilections were concerned.
Much of the rotation frustration has centered around the absence of Jamaal Tinsley at point guard and the underwhelming play of the recently returned Earl Watson. An argument can be made that comparing the more recent play of Earl Watson to the play of Jamaal Tinsley during the long stretch of #playoffpush2012 is an apples and oranges proposition given the presence of Josh Howard as a starter and the benefits of having Gordon Hayward come off the bench. This is, as of now, a moot point because Devin Harris' ankle is the latest joint on a veteran Jazz guard to make up Ty Corbin's mind for him regarding rotations in the back court.
A demoralizing and sluggish start for the Jazz and over the top 3 point shooting from Wesley Matthews and Luke Babbitt left the Jazz hovering around the 10 point deficit mark for much of the first two quarters. Devin Harris severely tweaked his ankle with 2:30 left in the 2nd which sent him to the bench for the duration of the game. After a 3 game losing streak in which veteran point guard and Rucker Park notable, Jamaal Tinsley saw exactly no action, reliable #6 subbed in, shouldered 18 minutes, dished out 6 assists, made 2 steals (one of which assured the Jazz victory) and even snagged a rebound. From that point until 9:21 remained in the third the Jazz went on a 16-0 run.
The Jazz success during the trans-halftime run came from Jamaal Tinsley's cool demeanor running the point, but also from Ty Corbin's answer to Portland small ball. Al Jefferson and Derrick Favors handled the five and four while Paul Millsap moved to the three. LaMarcus Aldridge was rendered relatively ineffective by the switch and Joel Przybilla was demonstrably frustrated. Millsap, who had been missing in action in recent outings flourished at small forward dropping 31 points, snagging 11 rebounds and plain outhustling his counterparts on the Blazers.
Wesley Matthews was a man on a mission against his former team posting a game high 33 points on 15-18 shooting with 5-6 of his shots falling from beyond the arc. While Aldridge seemed bafflingly ineffective late in the second and early in the third he nonetheless put up 27 points and secured seven rebounds. Portland suffered throughout the game from an excess of jump shooting and both Matthews and Aldridge left their teams worse when they went off the floor at -5 and -9 repectively while Millsap and Tinsley did the opposite at +15 and +13.
Portland kept close throughout the fourth quarter, finally taking the lead on a Matthews three ball that fell with 2:34 left in the fourth. Al Jefferson answered with a 10 footer and the Jazz took reclaimed the game from Portland after a Millsap dunk off an Alec Burks assist put them back up 98-97. Tinsley opened the game up with 26 seconds left when he picked off the inbounds pass from Nicolas Batum to a lackadaisical looking Raymond Felton and dished to Paul for another dunk. Hayward drew a foul on Raymond Felton with 5 seconds left, sank both free throws and clinched the game for Utah and kept them withing a game of the 8th seed in the Western Conference and withing two games of the 6th.
Final Score: Utah 102 - Portland 97
If the Playoffs Started today: Utah would be lottery bound.
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