20 February 2012
Photo credit: Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images
It should seem impressive that the Jazz lost by only four points to a Spurs team that shot just shy of 50% from beyond the arc on a barrage of triples from Matt Bonner and Gary Neal. Up until the very last seconds of the contest Utah had myriad opportunities to strike a winning blow against San Antonio who continued to leave the door open for them. When the final buzzer sounded however, the Jazz had failed to execute in the clutch and the Spurs headed out towards Portland with a chance for a perfect Rodeo Road Trip. As much as the Spurs victory can be attributed to their stellar sharp shooting and a mid 2000s-esque double-double from Tim Duncan, the Jazz failure to execute late is equally responsible for the Jazz loss. Ultimately, it was Richard Jefferson who delivered the dagger that shut the door for good on Utah this evening at Energy Solutions Arena.
There are two primary ways that a loss like this can be framed. The first is as above, putting the onus on our failure to execute in crunch time. The second, of course, being that the Spurs are hot as hell right now and that there is little to nothing that any team can do to stop them, as evidenced by their current win streak. The capital "T" truth is probably a combination of both. The Jazz aren't a great team, the Spurs are, so even when Utah is clicking at home it is going to be hard for them to pull a win out.
The real story tonight is that Devin Harris got to push the ball and in so doing put up better numbers than he has in recent games. It is too soon to tell if he can have a Raja Bell style turn around this season but if the Jazz can find a way to play Devin the way Devin likes best to be played it is possible that our woes at point could become less severe going into the second half of the season. With 15 points on 75% shooting, 4 assists and perfection (albeit 1-1) from the charity stripe Devin Harris should try to use this game as a springboard from which to enter a more confident position in this offense.
CJ was the only second unit player tonight who had a respectable outing while racking up 13 points, 2 boards and an assist. No other Jazz man broke double figures from the bench.
The starters played like starters and even if the numbers don't bear it all out, every Jazz man played hard. It was a good loss. Yes, such things exist.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention the other major storyline that developed this evening in Jazzland. #32 himself, Karl Malone, was in the house sitting right under the basket next to the beloved Doctor. There was some speculation as to whether or not Greg Miller who was also in attendance would avail himself of the opportunity to speak with Karl, and it appears that he indeed has. This Twitpic care of @saltcityhoops:
Let's hope this means we can put the "unpleasantness" behind us. Maybe something unexpected and even excited comes of this.
And of course, one more thing. The most important of all.
Three years ago today the Utah Jazz lost their heart and soul, the true genesis of their continued presence here and the embodiment of the ethos we are all proud to call Jazz Basketball: Larry H. Miller. In these three short years it seems that almost everything has changed for the Utah Jazz and yet tonight we witnessed a game of Jazz basketball that should remind all of us of days past. All Larry ever asked of his Jazz was real pure effort, night in and night out, on the court that came to bear his name. These things take time Jazz fans, but tonight we were graced with some great basketball the likes of which would have made the Jazz's departed owner proud.
Let's go get .500 in Minny.
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