15 March 2012
(Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)
Tonight's game ended in Phoenix with the Jazz becoming the fifth worst road team in the NBA. Offensive highlights from a hobbled Utah back court were perhaps the only moments of brightness during a defenseless outing in the valley of the sun. A buzzer beater from sturdy third string point guard Jamaal Tinsley and a strong first half of basketball from a team that clearly doesn't have a player to lead them through the second half just aren't enough to make up for a failed outing from a team battling to stay playoff relevant.
Tonight may well be the last night we see long-time Jazz man CJ Miles and on-again-off-again Jazz man Raja Bell in a Utah uniform. If it comes to pass that either are traded in the coming hours, the last game they played for this franchise will have been inauspicious and disappointing, not because of the end result, but because on the defensive end of the floor Utah didn't play their hearts out, fight for boards, press the Suns elite point guard or in any fashion try to make Phoenix work for the victory that was far less close than it appeared. Due credit to CJ for his 2 steals, but the aggregate was still not nearly significant enough to eclipse the Suns.
This squad doesn't have a Steve Nash or anyone like him and hasn't since more than a year ago when we sent the last of our elite packing in exchange for a promise of the future. The Suns' endgame makes this abundantly clear. It isn't hard to understand why, at the 6 minute mark just as Utah had tied the game heading down the stretch, Alvin Gentry put Nash back into the game to finish the job that Jared Dudley (4 of 6 from beyond the arc, 21 pts) started. While Nash was on the floor his team was +17. Not one of the Phoenix starters had a +/- less than +17 with Channing Frye rocking an astonishing +25 on 26 points on 53% shooting. The Jazz starters, on the other hand, didn't have a single member above -10.
Pile on top of that performance the fact that Earl Watson reinjured his ankle after only eight minutes of play, rendering him doubtful for tomorrow night's home stand against Minnesota, and you have to arrive at the conclusion that the second half of this season is going to be a slog. Trade or no trade, playoffs or not, the Jazz are in for a long haul.
I don't want to add fuel to the already glaringly bright fire that is the debate over minutes and how many the rookies and sophomores should get, but it is interesting to note that while our starters +/- were all negative, our entire bench was a significant net positive (exception: Tinsley). Hayward (+5, 13 pts), Favors (+12, 14 pts) and Kanter (+8, 8 pts) showed why there is more promise than not in our young ballers. I don't believe that we should forsake our veterans in favor of complete investment in the Check ID team, but I hope that if we do have to part one of our veteran wings it means no more Burks' DNP CDs.
The prognosis for Utah after this loss isn't terrible. There will be good wins mixed with disappointing losses in near equal number for a few seasons to come. How the Jazz went down in Phoenix is the symptom of a broader disorder the Jazz currently battle: Zero Star Syndrome. There is talent to nurture and a business to sustain for the staff in Salt Lake City and future success means uncertainty now. This is the Jazz of now and a little while to come.
Suns 120 Jazz 111
Tonight's game went alot like: Josh Martinez – Uphill Climb
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