06 February 2012
Despite going an “eh” 2-2 last week, I’m going to say it was a good week for the Jazz. While the team suffered a heartbreaker to the Clippers and an ugly loss to the Warriors, both losses were sandwiched between impressive victories vs the Blazers and the Lakers (and a win vs LA feels like 5 wins for us Jazz fans). Utah now sits at 5th place in a stacked Western Conference, something most Jazz fans wouldn’t have guessed before the season started. So how is this team, one that was predicted to be a bottom dweller, excelling with no superstar and a rookie (sort of) head coach? It’s pretty simple, the Jazz are playing as a team, and it’s clearly evident as different players step up each week.
Our wing situation is still trying to figure itself out. Howard is starting to get back to where he was a few weeks ago before his leg injury. Last week he helped fill in for an injured Bell and was able to pitch in 10.3 points (44% shooting), 2.8 assists, and 4.3 rebounds. CJ started off great, putting up 15 and 16 (points) in the first two games, but disappeared in the next two scoring just 10 total. It’s hard to judge Miles right now. This season he is giving us a little over over 10 points a game, and doing it in under 20 minutes. However he is shooting just 38% from the field, his worst since his rookie and sophomore seasons. With Howard (and Bell) back in the lineup CJ has to produce, otherwise he’ll likely see a dip in playing time. Gordon Hayward had possibly his best week of the season, and is slowly getting closer to where we want him. Hayward put up 13 points, 2.8 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1.3 steals, but his defense cannot be forgotten. David Locke talked about it in his “Emptying the Noggin” after the win vs LA (These are great breakdowns by the way).
“Gordon Hayward did a terrific job on Kobe denying the ball. He still has lesson to learn he committed the same foul twice on his jump shots, but he battled Kobe. Gordon never gives up the slightest edge. He battles and he made Kobe work really hard to get the ball tonight. Who would have ever imagined his defense would be his strength. This was a defensive night for Hayward you can’t ask him yet to guard Kobe and have an offensive game and he did the job the team needed to win. Now he gets Carmelo on Monday and Danny Granger on Tuesday”
Now if Hayward could just start to get that 3 ball to fall…
Last week I wrote about Harris excelling and Watson struggling; now the two point guards have switched places. Harris was aggressive vs Portland and finished with a very nice game to start the week, but after that he contributed very little and finished with just 7.3 points and 3.7 assists on the week. Watson on the other hand played amazing. While Earl only scored 5.3 points a game, he led the team in assists (7.7), steals (2.3), FG% (61%), and average +/- (+7.7), not to mention he did all this with only 1.3 TO’s and in just 24 minutes. His best game of the week easily came against the Lakers, where Earl had a line of 8 points (75%), 11 assists (1 TO), 2 steals, which included a dagger three and alley-oop to CJ that brought the house down. Did I tell you that he did that on a sprained ankle that many thought would keep him out for at least a week? That is the type of performance that gives you a place in Utah Jazz lore, let alone wins you weekly awards…
Bad ankle? No problem. (Photo via @Earl_Watson)
We must also give credit to the Jazz’s starting bigs, Millsap and Jefferson. Al had a very solid week as he led the team in points with 21 (51%) to go along with 7.8 rebounds and 1.3 blocks. With so much focus on Millsap’s season, we tend to forget that Jefferson should also be in the All Star discussion. That being said, Millsap has been playing a step down from his All Star levels recently, but he still was able to put up 16 points (49%) and 11.5 rebounds last week, which is actually pretty good. While looking and some of Millsap’s numbers, I found a comparison that I know you’ll enjoy.
But let’s not forget our two young big men, who both had solid weeks as well. Favors and Kanter are becoming a very good duo off the bench, on both sides of the ball. Last week the two combined to average for 15 points, 10 rebounds in 37 minutes. Those aren’t exactly scary stats, but when you consider that neither of them is old enough to have a drink yet, it isn’t bad at all. Then you have to factor in the defense the two have been playing as well, which David Locke pointed out a few times.
(Emptying the Noggin’) “The play of Favors and Kanter in the early part of the fourth was the key to the game. Bynum is the Lakers offense option in the 4th quarter with Gasol and Bryant on the bench, and Kanter played him great, then when Bynum switched over Favors did as well.”
Once again I had trouble picking a winner, which is a good thing in this case. Like I said earlier, any of our players can step up and contribute, and almost each one of them has been a contender for the weekly award at some point or another. So with that, I have made my decision.
*I haven't forgotten you Burks and Evans! I just hope Corbin finds a way to get you a little more PT...
Player of the Week (Week 6)
Earl Watson runs away with this weeks award. (Photo via Trent Nelson, Salt Lake Tribune)
Earl Watson 5.3 pts (61%), 7.7 asts, 1.3 TOs, 2.3 stls, +7.7 (+/-)
Runner(s) up: Al Jefferson, Gordon Hayward, Paul Millsap
Special mention(s): Enes Kanter, Jamaal Tinsley
(Special thanks to @sproul13 who helps keep track of weekly stats)
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