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Written by Matthew Oliver | 11 February 2012

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Photo Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

In a late night outing on ESPN the well rested Utah Jazz failed to keep up with the Western Conference leading Oklahoma City Thunder on the second game of a road back-to-back. I've been to a small number of games at Energy Solutions Arena and the only losses I've witnessed (with the exception of the playoff position deciding season finale that Boozer sat out in '10) have come at the hands of Durant and Co. The outcome of last night's game wasn't surprising. 

I wish I could hate the Thunder the way I hate other Western Conference power houses that have dominated the Jazz in years past. I don't. This Thunder squad is the culmination of an experiment in drafting, trades and small market management that should make Jazz fans hopeful for a similar future and former Sonics fans saddened and outraged at what could have been.

The reality is that when Russel Westbrook goes off for 28 and the trio of Westbrook, Durant and Ibaka go for 63 while the entirety of Utah's starting lineup barely eclipse them with 67 (and for that most part thats an impressive 67), there is little to be done do unless your bench dramatically outplays theirs. They didn't, nor did any of Utah's defensive efforts.

Early in the game the Jazz moved the ball well, got great looks and distributed the scoring load. In the starter's first stint Raja knocked down two threes, Al had 2 assists and 4 boards and while Millsap scored little, he came up with a steal, a board and an assist. Sadly his performance lacked the "I just got snubbed for an All Star spot and I'm going to prove to you why you are idiots" flair that could have saved the Jazz from embarrassment if not defeat. The OKC starters went on a 16-4 run in the third that put the Jazz in the ground for good.

While the second unit kept the game competitive in the second quarter, neither Earl Watson's tenacity or his incessant lobs to CJ Miles would be enough to keep the Thunder bench from keeping the game blown open late in the third and early in the fourth. The return of the starters toward the end of the game did nothing to preserve the Jazz's dignity and the game ended inauspiciously, without any fight from the home team despite a eager and energetic crowd. 

A team playing their second game on a back-to-back on the road made a well rested home team go from looking fresh and crisp to dog-tired in two quarters. Its impressive. The Jazz do not have answers for play like this, they won't for a while yet. They lost last night to the fruits of developing around a young core, if they are lucky, they lost to a future in their path.

Just remember, the Thunder had to take their licks too.

The lesson to be taken away from last night's loss is two fold. First, CJ Miles is a player who belongs at the rim. While he shot 0-4 from 16-23 feet from the basket, he was 4-4 at the rim, and while his perfection at the rim is certainly exaggerated by the sheer torrent of lobs delivered by Earl Watson, his career numbers support the premise. At the rim in the last six seasons, CJ Miles shoots 65%, this season alone, above 70%. CJ Miles makes the Utah Jazz a better team when he drives to the basket. His talent isn't in daggers that punctuate the flow of a basketball game in decisive fashion, his power is in consistent interminable drive to the rack. 

The second is that Enes Kanter's tenacity increasingly leads me to believe that if there is a three piece core of young talent that this team will take going forward, Kanter is currently the most likely member of the Check ID team to last with this organization. Burks, Favors and Hayward all have big question marks floating above them right now, but Kanter with last night's 5 boards in 14 minutes and a season average of nearly the same is a piece the demands more minutes and more attention.

The future is bright, but the immediate present will be a hard slog. Stay tough Jazz fans, the rewards will be worth it.




 

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Written by Alan Zaugg | 07 February 2012

 

Gordon Hayward returned home Tuesday night to a welcoming ovation. It was a bittersweet return, however, as the Jazz drop their fourth straight game on the road.

But the game wasn’t without it’s excitement as the Jazz came back from 21 down in the third quarter to push the young, disciplined Pacers to the brink before falling short in the final minutes.

Highlights:

The Jazz fought down the stretch. When the Pacers opened up a 21 point lead early in the third quarter it seemed as though the white flag was going up again and the Jazz were going to get run out of the building for a second straight night.

Yet behind the combined efforts of Paul Millsap and Gordon Hayward (combined 15 points in the quarter) they whittled their way back to within 7 to end the quarter. For a young team, being down on the road 21 points to a VERY good Pacer team in the 3rd quarter, to battle back shows grit.

Paul Millsap found his offensive game, scoring a team high 18 points on 5-7 shooting, 8 of that coming in the 3rd quarter. He led all Jazz players with 10 rebounds, 9 of them on the defensive end. He also chipped in four assists.

Utah Jazz's Paul Millsap puts up a shot against Indiana Pacers' Roy Hibbert, behind, during the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2012, in Indianapolis. Indiana won 104-99. (Associated Press)

The bench had a strong showing following their horrific night in New York, outscoring a very good Pacers bench 36-24.. CJ and Favors led the bench with 12 and 10 respectively. Favors also finished with five rebounds and a blocked shot. Early Watson didn’t score the ball but finished with a team high seven assists and two blocked shots.

Kanter continues to play tough defensively as he finishes the night with a block and 6 rebounds. Offensively he continues to improve in the post. He is learning to finish stronger at the rim and has developed a decent post game as well. He finished the night with 6 points on 3-6 from the floor.

Lowlights:

Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. For the second night in a row the Jazz turnover the ball uncharacteristically finishing the night with 17.

The offense continues to struggle at times as well, especially in the first half. Many times it was one and done, resulting in a fast break the other direction. Often times the team gets into a half court set and everyone watches as the ball is fed into the post and then disappears. Guys try to do to much when they get the ball, rather than let the game come to them.The Jazz offense that has been so fluid to begin the year with cuts, passes and easy buckets has found tough, stagnant moments all too often lately.

The fourth quarter featured a Jazz defense that was near stifling early on as they held the Pacers scoreless for nearly 6 minutes as they took a one point lead at 85-84. They defended the pick and roll well and kept the Pacers out of the paint. They also rebounded the ball extremely well allowing only 2 offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter.

But in the end they came up short unable to get stops down the stretch and unable to match the Pacers offensively as well.

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Written by Spencer | 06 February 2012



Courtesy of Youtube. 

We played like crap. Only highlight was third quarter. Here is the Game flow via PopcornMachine.
Screen_shot_2012-02-06_at_8.56.17_PM
 
Double Click to Expand. 
I am not going to say that the Knicks are are better without Amare, but Melo is a cancer and always has been. It will be interesting to see how they do if he is out fo an extended time... 

 

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Written by Kyle Kirkham | 06 February 2012

POW
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…

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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.

boozer_millsap_compare

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.

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(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)

watsonPOW6
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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Written by Spencer | 06 February 2012

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Written by Jacob Jeppsen | 05 February 2012

We needed a distraction.  After the tumultuous last few days of Eclipse-esque drama, debating whether you are #TeamGreg or #TeamKarl, a diversion was absolutely called for.  And what better way to deflect our attention from the nastiness that has been brewing in Jazzland than an exciting Saturday night matchup with our good friends, the Los Angeles Lakers?

Well, “good friends” is such a…wrong choice of word there.  More like “Pain in our a**”.  (Shout out to Karl Malone)

Millsap_Bear_Hug
Paul Millsap and Bear showing Greg Miller and Karl Malone how it's done.  Can't we all just get along?
Copyright 2012 NBAE (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)

An extremely tight, hard fought contest between the Lakers and Jazz turned into a one-sided affair in the final quarter.  And as I typed that sentence, knowing the Jazz’s history with the Lakers, you’d probably be expecting a depressing, woulda-coulda-shoulda to follow it up.  Well, my friends, on this night, you’d be wrong.  So wrong.

Having already suffered two defeats this season to the giant that haunts our sleep, tonight was a prime opportunity to get some positive mojo going at home before hitting the road for 14 of their next 20 games.  Getting the Lakers on a back-to-back after a hard fought victory the night before didn’t hurt either.

Neither side truly had a strangle hold on their opponent at any given point of the first three quarters.  Part of the problem was the whistles.  A flurry of fouls throughout, really, hampered the teams’ ability to create any space.  Largest lead of the first half was a 37-31 advantage for Los Angeles, which Utah was able to whittle to just a two point deficit, 49-47, by halftime.

Much of the same in the third quarter, as neither team took the reins.  But as the Lakers starters began making their way to the bench in preparation for a fourth quarter showdown, Utah’s bench led by Earl Watson, was ready to put the gas pedal to the floor.  Utah slowly started building a lead as the Lakers awful bench floundered.  C.J. hit a sweet jumper off the curl, LA called timeout…And then all hell broke loose.

On the Lakers’ next possession, Earl Watson stripped (and possibly fouled) Pau Gasol at the top of the key, leading to an Earl-to-Derrick Favors uncontested dunk (more on Favors’ extraordinary night later), much to the delight of the Energy Solutions faithful.  Mike Brown is not one of the Energy Solutions faithful.  Therefore, he was not delighted.  In fact, he was livid.  Brown stormed the court to confront the referee when it appeared he may have made contact with the official.  Not surprisingly, Brown was ejected.

Josh Howard made one of two technical free throws, but the floodgates of Jazz scoring were just starting to open.  Rookie stud Enes Kanter (more of my thoughts on his fantastic game later) scored a short jumper to put the Jazz up 77-68.  He immediately contested the Matt Barnes runner on the other end, forcing the miss, grabbing the rebound and hitting Earl Watson in the open court.  Earl found a cutting C.J. Miles baseline and the two connected for a play-of-the-game alley-oop that brought the house down.

It was at this point I tweeted, “Damn, it feels good to be doing this to the Lakers.”  Our guys are the ones usually getting punked.  We’re the ones not getting the benefit of the doubt.  We’re the ones who just can’t quite get over the hump.  But tonight?  We were doing the punking.  And it was a marvelous spectacle of magnificence.

Utah was rolling.  In fact, Utah not only held the Lakers scoreless for a nearly five minute stretch of the fourth quarter, they went on a tear of their own, scoring 14 unanswered to lead 83-68.  But if you know Kobe, you know the jaw never sleeps.

Kobe immediately fired back consecutive triples, then followed those up with a three-shot foul.  Nine straight points reeled off by the Mamba and everybody’s favorite Lakers were right back in it.  How would Utah respond?  Another “we’re not quite there” meltdown?  A roll over and die exhibition?

No sir.  Utah responded with absolute confidence – confidence triggered by their backup point guard turned fan favorite, Earl Watson himself - to get over the hump and seal Utah’s first W of the season against the Lakers.  Al Jefferson shattered any momentum Los Angeles had going for them by  hitting a jumper with less than a second on the shot clock.  Deflation ensued.  An Earl Watson three was the straw that broke the camel’s back, and Utah would be victorious 96-87.

High Notes:

Earl Watson.  What can you say about this guy’s play that hasn’t been said already?  Although the “Bulldog” nickname doesn’t quite feel right to me, Earl bullied the Lakers tonight and involved everyone on the floor with him.  In an off night for Devin Harris, Earl played the entire fourth quarter on an injured ankle, but you’d hardly notice it was bothering him.  Earl’s energy, fire and smart play – especially late in the game – were truly pivotal in this win tonight.  Earl for life.

Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter were fantastic tonight.  Granted, LA’s bench is one of the worst in the league, but the big man dynamic duo (Kantman and FavoRobin?) were called on to do more than stop Troy Murphy and Josh McRoberts.  These two combined for 13-18 from the field, 22 points and 14 rebounds.  Kanter in particular, had the tough task of keeping Andrew Bynum in check.  Time and time again, he succeeded.  Bynum struggled in stints versus the rookie, and grabbed only two rebounds in his 13 minutes of Kanter-time.  Well done, Enes.  You’re more than just a rebounder, and it’s starting to show.  Against the starting Western Conference All-Star Center, no less.

I mentioned earlier tonight that creating turnovers, getting out and running (remember, LA’s tiring back-to-back in Denver last night) and keeping LA’s bigs in check were keys to winning this one.  Well, how’s this: 12 fast break points for Utah (only FOUR for LA), 14 Lakers turnovers leading to 20 Utah points, and a 52-40 advantage for the Jazz on points in the paint.  Against the Lakers bigs, that’s quite the feat.  Much love to Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter – each of whom logged double digits in points and combined for 56 points and 40 rebounds.  Sweet (Jazz) music to my ears.  Couldn’t be prouder of this frontcourt tonight.  As for the points off turnovers, what an effort by Earl Watson, again, to lead the charge.  Even the Black Mamba himself had praise for Earl, saying his defensive energy was the key and spark for Utah’s success.

Low lights:

Devin Harris had a forgettable night.  0-6 FG, 0-1 from three for just one point and three assists in 22 minutes.  Ouch.  It’s quite possible that injury is hampering him more than he’s letting on.  With Watson, and even Tinsley playing as well as they have lately, perhaps a little extended rest is what Devin needs.  Here’s to hoping that’s the only thing throwing his game off.

Outside of a poor showing by Devin, I’m so high off a Jazz win over the Lakers that I’m done focusing on the struggles.  This win was needed after the last two losses.  A true team effort in every sense of the word, this type of win generates a feeling amongst fans that there is harmony in the locker room, that the team has bought into what Tyrone Corbin is selling, and that the drama from this week is a complete non-factor in their eyes.  After all the drama of the past few days, this win certainly was a welcomed distraction – thank you, Jazzmen!

Now, who wants to go to lunch tomorrow?  Call me and we can make an appointment.  I promise to be on time and will even sign an autograph for you.

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Written by Alan Zaugg | 04 February 2012

Much has been swirling around the Utah Jazz organization the last 48 hours. A lot of “he said, she said” finger pointing. A war of words surrounding the exit of Hall of Fame Coach Jerry Sloan almost a year ago.

Like many Jazz fans, I’m still trying to piece it all together.

To quote the words of a classic movie “A Few Good Men”:

Col. Jessep: You want answers?
Kaffee: I think I'm entitled to.
Col. Jessep: *You want answers?*
Kaffee: *I want the truth!*
Col. Jessep: *You can't handle the truth!* - A Few Good Men via IMDB

Many of “us” out there feel we are “entitled” to the truth. We “deserve” the answers to everything that goes on in the Utah Jazz organization. We feel that because we put our emotions, time, effort and, yes even, our money into rooting for our favorite NBA team we are entitled to answers.

While we may earn the right to know what’s going on with the team, we most certainly are not entitled to everything that goes on behind closed doors. I’m not sure we could handle it or the repercussions that could come as a result either.

We can sit here and debate whether or not Sloan left of his own free will and choice. Or whether Deron forced the Jazz’ hand on the situation.

But let’s focus, instead, on the legacy that is Larry Miller, and the future of the Jazz as it is now constituted.

Larry H. Miller (Photo via KSL)

Larry was the consummate owner. He loved the organization. He was passionate about it. There’s no doubt about it. The Utah Jazz, was his family. And he, along with his management team, provided a safe, sound, and welcoming environment for his employees, including and especially, coaches and players. That’s what you do for family.

That legacy has now been passed on to his son.

Greg is just as passionate as his father was. He also provides that same environment, along with his current management team, that Larry did. An environment based on loyalty and respect. And he will defend it to the end. Greg has proven worthy to continue the legacy left by his father. He makes decisions based on the best interest of the organization...and yes, the community as well. And he would go to bat to defend the organization over and over again.

Furthermore, let’s not allow the events of the last two days tarnish the legacy of two of the greatest coaches the NBA has produced. Jerry's legacy as a coach will be remebered with the likes of Red Auerbach, Phil Jackson, and many others. His legacy is cemented as one of the greatest coaching minds the NBA has ever known. And his assistant Phil Johnson, his right hand man, is equally great. Both were passionate about the game. And most importantly, both, wanted to win.

That legacy, just like Larry’s, has been passed on, to Ty Corbin.

The Utah Jazz has entered a new era. The torch has been passed on. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Time passes, and people move on. It is now Ty and Greg’s turn to continue the tradition. Remember the good times, and embrace the new era, rather than focus on the details and events that brought the present to fruition.

Rather than go down the dark path of “entitlement”, focus instead on the future of a young, talented, and exciting Jazz team. Embrace the new era.

As a modern cliche states “the name on the front of the jersey is more important than the name on the back” or the coach who is on the sideline.

Embrace and appreciate it or...you may lose it!

So as the stories continue to unfold. As we continue to hear the back and forth rhetoric regarding the sad exit of one Jerry Sloan, remember...you want the truth, you may have to deal with it, and all the repercussions that come with it. Some things are better left as they are. Better left behind closed doors where they were intended to stay.

Remember, as the 2011-2012 slogan states: #WeAreUtahJazz

A great timeline of the situation provided by @monilogue

Read more from Greg Miller

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Written by Alan Zaugg | 03 February 2012

We've all seen it. Head on over to your local park, playground, outdoor basketball court, or recreational center and you'll witness it.

Playground basketball.

Where anything goes. Where behind the back, inbetween the legs, alley oops, dunks, and no look passes are a thing of the norm. Where a player may bounce a pass to himself through the legs of another, leaving the defender helplessly lost as to where the ball went. Where hustle is king over basic fundamental basketball.

Last night at Oracle Arena...you got playground basketball at its best.

The Jazz limped into Oakland on the second night of a back to back needing a win, having lost three of their last five. But it was destined to be an uphill battle without the services of Harris, Watson and Bell. The task at hand: contain a dynamic backcourt, brilliantly capable of play playground basketball.

Monta EllisGolden State Warriors' Monta Ellis (8) lays up a shot against Utah Jazz' Josh Howard, left, and C.J. Miles (34) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012, in Oackland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Stephen CurryStephen Curry (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

Highlights

Jamaal Tinsley got his first start of the year and did not disappoint. Last night is a perfect reason why I loved the signing of Tinsley. He showed flashes of his days in Indiana. He finished the night with a team high and season high 13 assists. And those assists came in flashes of brilliance! His best assist of the night was a no look, behind the back dime to a driving Jefferson for a one handed flush. Tinsley a true point guard did a masterful job running the offense for the Jazz. He directed teammates to places on the floor and orchestrated offensive sets like a Master Conductor.


Utah Jazz guard Jamaal TinsleyUtah Jazz guard Jamaal Tinsley (6) drives against Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry (30) during the first half of an NBA basketball game on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Hayward continues to find his grove finishing the night with a team high 21 points. He was a perfect 8-8 from the FT line as well. He also added four assists and two steals. Hayward's confidence continues to rise as he continues to do the right things in the offense.


Lowlights

The already depleated Jazz bench struggled all night to contribute, finishing the night with only 18 points. Burks, who was called upon to play the backup point position was serviceable contributing 7 points, was the only bright spot off the bench. Miles, Favors and Kanter wer all a combined 2-14 on the night, each struggling to find a flow in the game.

Perhaps the most disturbing stat of the night was on the offensive glass. The Jazz gave up 22 offensive rebounds on the night, leading to 28 second chance points. The Warriors completely out hustled the Jazz on the glass providing themselves additional opportunities to score over the course of the night. David Lee was the biggest contributor pulling down eight of those offensive boards. Paul Millsap was the only Jazz player to finish the night rebounding in double figures with 11.

David LeeDavid Lee (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

Last night in Oracle Arena it was playground basketball at it's best. There was plenty of behind the back dribbles, fancy footwork, no look passes and between the legs dribbles.

Whether you're a Jazz fan, Warriors fan, or an avid NBA fan, BOTH teams provided some flare and excitement that was exhilirating and entertaining to watch.

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Written by Clint Peterson | 02 February 2012

LACatUTA_-_Flickr_Scrunchleface

The remains of the rim the Clippers abused last night in Energy Soultions Arena - via Flickr, Scrunchleface

For a 10-game stretch Ty Corbin had gone to Paul Millsap as the first option in the scripted, early offense. Last night marked a shift back to Al Jefferson after Millsap's offensive game continually abandoned him as opposing teams began bringing doubles early and often, throwing him off his game. Ty messed with the mojo. Now this pair will have to re-find that rhythm that had them so successfully scrambling defense as a tandem.

Jefferson responded well in his return as number-one O-option, to the blistering pace of orange iron destruction set by the Clippers, keeping the Jazz close even as the ESA crowd were ooh'd and awe'd by a display of inhumanity from Blake Griffin. Chris Paul makes Griff an entirely different beast, both on the floor and in his consciousness while on it. 

It was pretty apparent Millsap's number one goal last night was to not end up in Griffin's growing file of Mozgov and Perkins posters. After that defensive disappearing act I'm tempted to Photoshop him into one (especially after I'd spent 10 minutes pimping his improved defense in a segment for WERW Syracuse that afternoon). It's an interesting dynamic that a single display of obscenity at the rim such as Griff's utter disrespect for Perk can seep into opponents' minds and have the far-reaching effect of making them fear to be next, compromising their defensive effort.

C33_tweet_-KoN

Last night I got to see what I'd hoped to in the previous SLC tilt with the Clip Show a couple of weeks earlier. And it was glorious. At times all I could do was put my hands over my mouth and make gutteral grunts with wide eyes. That was one helluva a game, a worthy battle for a national audience. The Jazz fought to the bitter end. Be proud.

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• Al Jefferson is a willing passer. The ball never stops in his hands unless he feels an advantage in the post. He juked DeAndre Jordan out of his shoes countless times, avenging his previous effort against the league's second-best block artist making him a non-factor on the D end. Big Al is averaging elite big-man-passer numbers over his last five games, 3.0 assists per game

• Really nice effort from the wings on defense with Raja Bell still strained. Gordon Hayward was given various difficult defensive assignments and managed to make an impact on both ends of the floor with that floppy hair flying. He even dunked with one hand. No, really, he did

• Alec Burks came in and made a really nice, patient dribble penetration and pass that resulted in an easy bucket for the Jazz. Unfortunately, he then reverted back to crazy-legs Alec the next three possessions shortening his stint considrably

• Enes Kanter made a mid-range shot. Repeat, Enes Kanter made a mid-range shot! It's good to see him wrap his head around these opportunities from a little further out and take advantage of them finally. Hopefully his confidence here continues to grow

C33_tweet_-_Mete_Aktas

• After the Jazz shot 40% from the free throw line in the first half I offered a solution to this funky fundamental predicament: Let Derrick Favors take the techs. Favors started the season shooting 42% on freebies. He's made 86% of his last 22 tries

• And speaking of the big young guns, they've looked really good together or singularly on the floor in recent stints. Kanter's defense is becoming a factor for opponents to have to overcome and his footwork on the low block is fooling them as well. Favors continues to tease us with ever-improving post moves too.

• For those worrying on their minutes, don't. Kanter is averaging about what Al did as a rookie and Favors is what Millsap did as a soph. Their developmental arcs are right on track and being managed very well by Ty Corbin and Mike Sanders. It's frosting that we're able to actually count on them for meaningful minutes in important game situations

• Count me as not a fan of the Devin Harris-Jamaal Tinsley backcourt. I get that Corbin was trying to counter the Clippers' David Kahn-esque collection of point guards, but Tinsley is pass-first and Devin isn't a spot-up shooter by any stretch. Either way you mix and match this pair in the backcourt is counterproductive

• That marks three straight wins over the NBA's toughest division, the Northwest, by the Clippers. They've now beaten the top three teams there in consecutive games and go to Denver tonight

• Two players, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, combined for 61% of the Clippers points. Three players, Griff, Paul, and former Jazzman Mo Williams combined for an astounding 79% of the Clippers points. The Jazz guards and wings did a nice job on CP3 for the most part. He just hit some really incredible daggers down the stretch with hands in his mug. He's that good

Some great links on the game that fill in the blanks nicely:

David Smith's always-interesting Instant Analysis

Nice recap-DownBeat this morning from Twitter's @YuccaManHoops at SLCDunk

Popcorn Machine's game flow chart, very helpful in determining when and where holes were or weren't filled

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Written by Spencer | 30 January 2012


Portland Trailblazers at Utah Jazz Running Game Diary.

First Quarter

12:00 Camby the oldest man the Association

11:43 The token horrible first foul by Favors

10:50 1-2 great game thus far... ugly everywhere.

10:04 Refs calling this game tighter than “No Comment”

8:45 Millsap gets impregnated by three Blazers at once. 3-3

8:21 Hayward gets pinned against the glass both him and the ball

First Time Out Ty dropping Forget You Bombs!

I got to be honest I don’t hate it commercial Raja Bell

4:42  Hayward showing us the Sacramento was a fluke.. Air-ball

4:00 Howard with the baseline three. Por 17-12

3:18 Watson and Kanter enter

2:55 What up Doe?

1:24 Portland 22-17 Millsap looking to kill someone.

:54 Check that, Kurt Thomas is the oldest guy in the Association.

:17 Kanter out mans Thomas gets a pop in the face.

End of quarter Por 26-20 Ugly Half so far.

12:00 #LetEvansDunk

10:22 What Up Doe Jumper?

9:07 Kanter going beast mode on rebounds reverse layup. He is outstanding at finding the ball. If he was as good at finishing as he was rebounding uh oh.

6:04 Kanter with the Moving screen this is so ugly.

5:33 Miles being aggressive and it pays off with a finger roll. Booner saying something about Rack

4:33 Feels like 50 only down eleven on Felton’s Three.

2:55  Everyone was invited to the party where we just stand around and watch Felton grab it.

5 assists and we are shooting 29% and within striking distance.

2:20 Hayward using the rim as a passing utensil.

:23 Jazz run a PNR with Earl and Sap and sweet pass from Miles.

End of First Half

Ugliest half of the season. Hayward might have gotten too much from Kolbi. Kanter can rebound,and he can do it well. He has shown that against some generally good rebounders. His position and planning on misses is very good. It is not a coincidence Miles is staying aggressive but needs to finish with at least 20 to win this game.


10:09 LMA with  five straight points pushing the lead to ten. Millsap struggling on defense tonight.

8:08 Harris with a floater over Camby. Harris is playing more aggressive and good things are happening. Insert Free Throw joke her.

5:25 LMA is going nuts he can’t be stopped.  Millsap gets Blocked and Camby yells,” Get that shit outta here.”  It is also apparent that Millsap is struggling with this match-up and has not played so well after the past couple of games.

2:55 Harris to Millsap alley-oop on a fast break. 63-50 Portland. Hayward has heated up in the second half, this mostly due to the fact that Kolbi has left town.

Local commercials kill me now.

2:00 Harris with a drive and bucket Jazz down one 63-62 Harris to it hard to the rack and finished on a little fade away.

:32.9  Worst Call of the Night

:2.4  Harris with TWO free throws to end the third  70-69 Por

Fourth Quarter

11:56 Watson steal and Evans one of two free throws 70 all

9:58 What up Doe? one of the prettiest right hand moves I have ever seen from Cj Miles.

9:23 Evans with a put back dunk that rocked the house Batum going unconscious

8:13  Evans with a NBA Jam ridiculous... just ridiculous...

6:50 Standing ovation for Evans.

6:23 Millsap puts the Jazz up by one 18 foot jumper.  He hasn’t shot very well but has played hard and well.

5:30 Jazz up five on Earl Watson’s middle of the lane floater 84-79

3:05 Earl Watson with steal... poked it out of Batum’s hands.

1:43 Millsap with a one on one fade away against LMA. Things getting chippy and the fans are quietly optimistic.

1:23 Watson with the Subway Sub of the Game.

:24 89-87 Utah up Millsap just got triple teamed and lost the ball in the lane and Portland had three straight open looks to take the lead, but no one did. Nate calls time out with 14 second left on the shot clock and 24 left on the game clock.

:13 Hayward misses the first and the Jazz continue to miss free throws late in the game. Jazz lead 90-87 Gordon could have sealed the deal but decided not to make the first. He wants it to be more interesting.

:4.6 CJ Miles goes to the line for two free throws.  Swishes the first for a sigh of relief.

:2.3  Gordon get the rebound on the second Mile miss and heads to the line... Hits the first and second.

End of Game Utah Jazz 93-89

Ugly win, but Jazz show guts and grind out a win. They were down 11 at one point. and overcame a shooting expedition from Nicholas Batum in the fourth quarter. All of the Jazz startes minus Favors end up in double digits. This was definitely a team win.
















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