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The Utah Jazz got off to a hot start...a SMOKING hot start in Minnesota Wednesday night. Behind the stellar play of Howard and Millsap it seemed the Jazz were well on their way to a much needed road win. The offense was clicking, the defense was dialed in and the Jazz seemed to be humming like a well oiled engine. They had 10 steals at half, two more than their season average. They were forcing Minnesota into bad shots and playing extremely well offensively with 16 assists on 23 made field goals by halftime. It was a beauty to watch. But it was the Jazz' two achilles heels that proved to be their demise in the end.

Highlights:

Josh Howard has climbed out of his slump. He looked 10 year younger last night, showing signs of what made him an All-Star in 2007 with Dallas. He shot the ball extremely well, was scrappy on the defensive end, and beautiful in transition all night long. The play that defined his night best was his blow by two handed dunk early in the game. He finished the night with an extremely efficient 19 points and 6 rebounds.

 


Utah Jazz' Josh Howard, right, drives around Minnesota Timberwolves' Wesley Johnson in the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012, in Minneapolis.


Much ado has been made about Paul Millsap’s game as of late(I’ve been one who has been expressing my disappointment).

Maybe all he needed was a little “Love”. He seems to rellish playing against Kevin Love. Paul stuck it to Love again tonight leading the Jazz with 25 points. He played well on the defensive end as well finishing the night with two steals and two block shots. Here’s to hoping a little “Love” was all Sap needed to get his game back on track moving forward.


Utah Jazz' Paul Millsap, left, drives around Minnesota Timberwolves' Kevin Love in the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012, in Minneapolis. The Timberwolves won 100-98. Millsap led the Jazz with 25 points and nine rebounds while Love scored 10 and had 10 rebounds.

Burks also continues to shine. He is playing with a bit of swagger. And why shouldn’t he be? He is making the most of his time on the floor. He provides flashes of brilliance on both ends of the court. Drawing tough defensive assignments, tonight’s being Barea, and playing smart on the offensive end. He dominates the ball when he’s in but has found a way to find his teammates and get them the ball at the right time. He chooses his moments when and when not to make a play. And proves efficient even in short stints on the floor.

 

Lowlights:

 

As indicated early, the Jazz have two Achilles heels that continue to be their downfall: defending the three point shot and opposing guard play. And both proved to be their undoing tonight. The T-Wolves shot 40% from the floor on the night, suggesting the Jazz defense was getting exactly what they wanted. But what that number doesn’t show is the T-Wolves blistering 50% from behind the arc. When the Jazz seemed in control up 83-67 early in the 4th, the rain started falling, in torrential form.

And what of the other Achilles, opposing guard play? Barea and Ridnour, who hit the game winner, led Minnesota in scoring, combining for 39 points. The Jazz continue to struggle defending opposing point guard. Barea and Ridnour were just another in what has been a long line of guards racking up the points against the Jazz.




Minnesota Timberwolves' Luke Ridnour , right, shoots as Utah Jazz' Paul Millsap defends in the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012, in Minneapolis. The Timberwolves won 100-98. Ridnour scored the winning basket at the buzzer.

This game hurt. No question about it. A game that was in the firm grasp of the young, talented  Jazz only to be stolen away by an equally young and talented Wolves team is tough to take as a fan.

And lets be honest, it’s not going to get any easier to watch as the toughest is yet to come, but there is still many positives to watch for. Burks play continues to impress and amaze. I sat and watched him tonight and couldn't help but think of what the future holds for him. He plays with confidence, with that swagger. Gotta love that. Combine that with Kanter's stellar play and you have a very, VERY promising future.