To say the least, the Jazz had it rough last week. First they blow a big lead to the Raptors and end up losing in double OT. Then a Dirk-less Dallas shows us the importance of the three pointer, draining 11 of them en route to another Jazz loss. Thankfully, we (barely) survived a home game vs the Jimmers Kings. Going 1-2 isn’t ever fun, but it is something we will have to get used to as our schedule will start to get tougher and tougher.
I’ll be honest with you, if you asked me a week ago whether Devin Harris would “Be traded or win a Player of the Week award first.” I would have confidently told you he’d be traded. It looks like I could be wrong though, as Harris had his best week of the year, and probably his best game in a Jazz uniform (vs Raptors). Not only was Harris third in scoring last week (14.3), but he did it on a very impressive 61% from the field. Harris also led the team in assists with 5.3 to go along with just 1.3 turnovers per game. We don’t need Harris to play like an All Star to win games, or even make the playoffs. But we do need him to play efficient, and be a serviceable point guard. And that is what he did last week, let’s hope it continues. On the other hand, Watson had a bit of a down week. Our favorite backup point guard averaged more turnovers (3) then he did points (2.7) and assists (1.7). I’m sure Watson is well aware of his struggles, and I’m sure he’ll do everything to turn them around. Even when struggling, Watson is still a leader on this team and can contribute elsewhere. I love his attitude, which he consistently shows through his twitter.
Last Saturday we learned that Paul Millsap is in fact, human. Paul had just 6 points on 20% shooting vs the Kings (he did grab 14 boards though).Who knew? This of course comes after his insane 31 point performance vs Toronto, which included a clutch tip in and a “DID HE JUST DO THAT?!” three. Once again Millsap is contending for the award as he had 19 and 10.7 on the week, however he did just shoot 41% overall. Jefferson’s spent the week fighting through an injury (he played 2/3 games) and it showed in his play. Big Al was able to score 15.5 points a game, but it was with only 6 rebounds and on just 43% shooting. On a positive note, Jefferson was able to average 3 blocks and 2.5 assists, both parts of his game that he has improved in this season. However, if Jefferson’s ankle injury continues to bother him, Favors will likely have to step up. Thankfully Derrick was able to rebound from his mini slump in the week prior and put up a nice line with 10.3 points and 6.7 rebounds. While he has had a few really good games this year, it still doesn’t feel like Favors has “broken out” yet. That could happen this month, it could happen next year, who knows? We need to be patient with him.
I really liked what I saw out of our rookies last week. With each game Kanter is getting more and more comfortable, especially on offense. We saw this in Dallas as the Jazz went to him in the post multiple times, with Kanter coming through. Enes finished the week averaging 7 points (54%) and 4.7 rebounds in just 15 minutes. He’ll likely get more if he keeps up his current production. Thanks to the improved play of other wings, Burks has seen his minutes go back down to just 6.3 a game. However that doesn’t stop the rook from producing, who still managed to score 4 points in his limited time. One nice thing we saw from Burks last week was his ability to hit the three ball, nailing 2 of 3 vs Sacramento.
Last of all you have our wings, which are still a mixed bag at this point. Raja has finally become a solid player (7.3 points, 53% last week) and is probably our best three point shooter right now (not much competition there though). Gordon is still trying to get there. He had an alright week with 10.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 4.3 assists (second on the team). Then again, if you throw out his bad game vs the Raps you’re looking at 15 points a game on 49% shooting. I think we all can live with that. Josh Howard played pretty poorly after returning from his injury (2 points in 15 minutes). He obviously isn’t back at 100% yet, and he sooner Josh can get there the better. He will definitely be key to any attempt at a playoff run. Then we have CJ, who put together another solid week. Miles scored 13.3 points (44%) in just 22 minutes a game. He is starting to thrive in his 6th man role, thanks to him ‘playing’ and not ‘thinking’. CJ is coming into games and attacking right off the bat, opening up the rest of his game. I couldn’t find the tweet, but someone mentioned that if CJ keeps up this play he will earn himself a new contract, and it might not necessarily be from the Jazz.
Before I pick my winner, let me point out that I am going to slightly change something. Instead of basing it on just overall stats, I’m also going to start looking at players who made big improvements, or players that made nice contributions despite not being the best player on the team. Otherwise (like Clint pointed out to me) Millsap could win it 80% of the time. With that being said…
Player of the Week (Week 5)
Devin Harris is informed of my decision. (Photo via Tom Smart, Deseret News)
Devin Harris 14.3 pts (61%), 5.3 asts, 1.3 to’s
Runner(s) up: Paul Millsap, CJ Miles
Special mention(s): Enes Kanter, Alec Burks
(Photo Credit: Ravell Call, Deseret News)
The trend of losing to sub-mediocre teams at home only lasted one game as the Jazz barely dodged adding another mark to the loss column tonight. While they avoided the outcome of that heart-breaker against Toronto, they certainly seemed comfortable mimicking that shipwreck of a game for all of about 47 minutes. Yes, the Jazz won a game they were supposed to tonight (I'm not sure the crowd was rooting for that outcome at all times), nonetheless it left a great deal to wonder about, the least of which is the mental health of some of Utah's fanbase.
Snarkiness aside, the sometimes abysmal play of the Jazz was offset by some refreshing glimmers of competence from players who have looked a little less than professional of late. Gordon Hayward scored more than 20 points for only the third time in his young career (21 to be precise) and in combination with CJ Miles' 20 points two of our oft maligned wings accounted for almost 45% of our total offense. When 60th pick Isaiah Thomas from UW went on a fourth quarter tear, Alec Burks decided he wanted to make sure he wasn't completely outperformed by a second rounder. Josh Howard reminded us why he's such a valuable asset for the Jazz, at +5 on the night his hustle may well have been the spark that got the Jazz to buckle down in the fourth quarter for a few minutes and keep Sacramento from taking control of the game. Oh yeah, and Jimmer Fredette shot some threes.
The First Quarter: Where Gordon Hayward finds his "Wings" (yep.)
After an opening three ball by Raja Bell, Hayward followed suit with two more of his own. The Jazz seemed to be working to get Hayward going, and if they were indeed trying to help Gordon find his groove, it seems to have worked. I'm thinking it has more to do with Kolbi being in town, but with the inscrutable spelling of her name I may be giving her too much credit. There seemed to be a cost to getting Hayward going from outside, though, because for the majority of the quarter the Jazz weren't playing to their strengths. While Jason Thompson did his level best to imitate the Jazz's hustle game in the paint (to some good effect too), our own post presence Paul Millsap was offensively subdued and went on to shoot only 20%.
The Second Quarter: Where the Jazz Imitate Sacramento, and it Goes Poorly
Early in the second the Jazz started playing like the Jazz again, spurred on by the second unit as the second unit is often want to do. Keith Smart, sensing that it was a problem for his Kings to keep playing like the Kings called a time out just as Utah started to get rolling. But instead of the Kings coming out of the timeout playing more cohesive ball as is usually the case with timeouts, the Jazz came out of the King's timeout playing worse basketball. Starting with Favors' pulling up for an elbow jumper way too early in the shot clock and followed by a sequence of plays where Tyreke Evans, then CJ and then Tyreke again ran full court for layups, the Jazz fell right back into the disjointed tempo of Sacramento basketball. Millsap made up for his off shooting night by holding it down on the defensive end (reaching his tenth board with almost 4 minutes left in the first half) and was the only factor keeping Sacramento from running the Jazz our of their own gym. Thompson racked up twelve points for his team by the time the half ended and kept the Kings within striking distance going into the break.
The Third Quarter: Where the Wings Keep Utah Flying (mmhmm, yep.)
Ty Corbin must have said something to remind the Jazz who they are during half time because the Jazz came out for the third quarter motivated to battle hard and blow the game open. Harris opened the quarter with a strong defensive play that lead to a transition bucket. Two hustle plays and two technical fouls later the Jazz had opened up a six point lead. But two jumpers from John Salmons and Jason Thompson's last two points tied the game back up. Utah's aforementioned wings decided to take control. With strong defense at the helm, CJ scored on three consecutive plays: taking it to the hoop, knocking down a three and then running the break to reclaim a six point lead. Not to be entirely outdone, Gordon Hayward got a fast break bucket of his own. After Jimmer got his third triple of the game and Reke went coast to coast for two, Earl Watson nailed a buzzer beating three to take Utah into the fourth up 11.
The Fourth Quarter: Where Isaiah Thomas Goes "Steal of the Draft" all Over Everbody, and Alec Burks Looks Good.
After Earl's big triple, the Jazz looked positioned to avoid the hair pulling fourth quarter (and overtime (and double overtime)) they suffered against the Raptors. But knowing that Energy Solutions Arena is the building where deep second rounders and undrafted free agents tend to make careers for themselves, 60th pick Isaiah Thomas (no relation) went off the handle. In 18.6 minutes he put up 13 points with the help of 3 for 3 shooting from beyond the arc. So much for comfort zones. Alec Burks seemed to be the only Jazz man who was even remotely interested in containing the surge from Sacramento's bench, and though his play was sometimes amateurish, he did go for eight points while making two treys. As the game came down to the wire the Jazz held only a two point lead. Keith Smart drew up (presumably) a play that could give Sacramento the win and the delirous Cougar acolytes lost in thier chants of "We want Jimmer" the end they so lusted for. The ball in Fredette's hands, Earl Watson played tenacious defense and forced an airball three. After a truly upsetting injury to Chuck Hayes, Devin Harris jumped right into his own low bar by missing one of two free throws. The Kings failed to tie the game up and the Jazz (through no consistent effort of their own) walked down the tunnel victorious.
*Song that tells the story - Hiphop Music - Braille
*Final Score: Utah 96 - Sacramento 93
Four weeks and about a quarter of the way into the NBA season the Utah Jazz have found their identity. The Jazz now without a superstar have learned to depend on each other. They’re gritty, they hustle, they play with heart and chemistry, but most importantly they have each other’s backs and trust each other. Utah went 2-1 last week, picking up solid wins over the Clippers and T-Wolves and losing a hard fought battle vs the Mavericks. Overall the team had a successful week, and despite that loss I like what I am seeing.
It didn’t surprise me when Devin Harris was thrown into trade rumors this week; his play hasn’t exactly been up to “par” lately. Our starting PG averaged just under 8 points and 3 assists last week as he struggles to find his groove and place with this team. I think most of us agree that Harris isn’t in our plans for the future, but it is clear we are aiming for the playoffs this year, and the Jazz will need him to come around if they want a chance at making them in a deep Western Conference. On the other hand, second-string PG Earl Watson continues to play fantastic, good enough to make him a contestant for this week’s award. On a team with no official captains, Watson has come out and shown that he is a leader on this team. Whether he is with the bench squad, or sometimes the starters, Earl is out there running a team, a team that is almost always outplaying the opponent. His defining moment, and in my opinion the play of the week, was when our 6’ 1” guard stuck up for Derrick Favors and literally went at reigning Finals MVP, Dirk Nowitzki. Following a moving screen call on Favors, Dirk went on to slap the ball out of the second year forward’s hands. Watson, not exactly a fan of the move, proceeded towards Nowitzki and slapped the ball out of his hands (or at least tried to). While the act earned Watson a technical, it more importantly sent a message, a message that this team won’t back down from anyone. Earl is quickly becoming a fan favorite, and you can only wonder where the Jazz would be had he not been resigned.
(Jeremy Harmon, The Salt Lake Tribune)
CJ Miles sent a message of his own last week as he took advantage of an injured Josh Howard. Our favorite “inconsistent” wing had his best week of the season, scoring 19, 17, and 18 in three games while shooting just under 46% from the field. Miles was also a great momentum guy off the bench, averaging the second highest +/- on the team with +11 per game. We all know that CJ is much better when he is attacking the basketball instead of settling for jumpers, and he proved that last week with a much improved shot selection (Let me also note that Miles had 0 turnovers on the week). Can CJ keep up this play? If he does he may have a case to become a starter over Gordon Hayward, who still hasn’t found his way out of his slump. Hayward managed only 5.33 points last week on an ugly 21% shooting. His shot will eventually fall, but is he going to be passive or aggressive when it does? I won’t lie, I love Hayward facilitating our offense, he had 6 dimes vs Minnesota (2.33 on the week). But I don’t love Hayward deferring to teammates when he has a shot of his own. It may be hard for him to retain his starting position if he can’t produce at the levels that CJ and Howard have been.
Both Burks and Bell had nice weeks, each making solid contributions to the team. Thanks to some much improved ball (9 points, 51%) Raja has seen his playing time rise for the second consecutive week, which went up to 28 minutes last week. Burks continues to impress as he slowly but surely progresses. The rookie guard had a nice week with 8.33 points and 3.33 rebounds in just 18 minutes. He is starting to play in a more controlled fashion, not to mention his pretty good D.
Once again, the Jazz bigs played a major role in last week's wins (and near win). Paul Millsap is still,the man, and has become the key to our offense. Millsap won all of his matchup last week, which included high caliber players Blake Griffin, Dirk Nowitzki, and Kevin Love. Paul averaged approximately 21 points, 9 rebounds, with a nice 2.33 assists and 1.33 steals. If he keeps up this play, he will undoubtedly be worthy of an All Star selection. Whether or not he can keep it up though, is still a mystery, especially as defense’s start to key in on him (like Dallas did). @IWMTB19 (Great follow by the way) had some thoughts about this on twitter.
Utah’s other lead big man Al Jefferson, had a bit of a down week. Al scored about 17 points a game, but it was on a scary 39% shooting. Thankfully he helped out elsewhere. Jefferson was able to grab over 11 boards (something I have criticized him for) and dish out a very impressive 3 assists a game. Interestingly enough, it was Jefferson’s first week of the season he went without recording a block. Maybe the best improvement between Al and Sap is the chemistry the two of them are building together, something they didn’t have much too of last season.
Derrick Favors only played in 2 of last week’s game (sat out vs LAC), and was not able to make much of an impact in either of them. Favors had his worst week of the season, averaging just 1.5 points and 4.5 rebounds in 12.5 minutes. He was also the only player to average a negative +/- with a -4.5. You can of course thank Millsap’s increase in minutes for decline in Favors’, but you cannot deny that he is struggling. Clint pointed out on twitter that Favors’ turnover % the past few games has been far from good.
On a brighter note Enes Kanter looked good once again, with 6 points and 3.66 boards in 15 minutes last week (First week this season Kanter has had more PT than Favors). Kanter also made his first long range jumper, something some of us fans have been dying to see, and a part of his game that was much hyped before the NBA Draft.
I love our team right now, I think we all do. They are simply playing as a team, and that’s why it was so hard for me to pick a winner this week. But I’m not just going to type over 1,000 words for nothing, so here you go.
Player of the Week (Week 4)
Paul Millsap applauds my decision. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)
Paul Millsap 21 pts (56%), 9 rebs, 1.33 stls, 2.33 asts, +14 (+/-)
Runner(s) up: Earl Watson, CJ Miles
Special mention: Al Jefferson
(Thanks @sproul13 for weekly stats)
(Photo by Colion E. Braley - AP)
Utah Jazz fans know it. The dilemma is how to help the rest of the basketball world see it as well. Paul Millsap is an All-Star.
Only there's quite a few barricades to his officially receiving the prestigious stamp of peer approval, not the least of which is a system conducive to catering to fans that aren't for most of the year getting to have the loudest voice in the matter, as well as player reputations that carry far more weight among national pundits who heavily influence texting and typing fingers in voting.
I won't even go into the "rantangent" (new word!) of Tim Duncan erroneously being listed as a "Forward" yet again, when he clearly hasn't been one since Rasho Nesterovic was the starting center on the San Antonio Spurs nearly a lifetime ago now. But for this exercise we'll ignore Timmy and the obvious reasons he doesn't, but probably will, belong on the All-Star squad this year in Orlando and focus on those who legitimately do at the PF position.
Our six participants and top candidates are, alphabetically: LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol, Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, Paul Millsap, and Dirk Nowitzki.
Note: Denver's Danilo Gallinari is absolutely also in this mix, but hey, we have to draw the line somewhere and his game certainly leans more toward a tweener role than a traditional power forward's, even if Dirk is also more perimeter oriented. Dirk is also far more likely a player Millsap would have to unseat to make the show, and it feels like Millsap is closer than Gallo at this point. But now you have a deeper understanding, between the listed candidates and Duncan and Gallo, as to just how difficult it is to crack an All-Star lineup in the West as an "F." And that's not even to add in the Kevin Durants and other such forwards who undoubtedly will be there
Here are their season stats through January 21, 2012, per-game, per-36 minutes, and Advanced.
Click here to see full size as the Bloguin format is horizontally challenged
Whether we like it or not, three of the players on this list are virtual locks for the February festivities: Perennials Dirk, Pau, and Griffin, who stands a better chance of getting voted in as a starter than Nowitzki does of sinking a freebie from the line after an Earl Watson ball slap technical.
More bullet points (through games played Jan. 21):
• Currently only three of these players are on teams playoff positioned, Gasol, Millsap, and Nowitzki, often a deciding factor for coaches and/or commissioner's picks (in the case of DNP due to injury). This is likely Millsap's best chance at getting into the game, my fellow Jazz fans
• One of these players, Love, is on a team with a losing record. Then again, he was last season too and still made the game. And his offensive stats are better than ever even as he's added an element of passable defense to his repertoire
• Two of these players are playing less than 36 minutes per-game, Millsap and Nowitzki, indeed, both have played less than 32 MPG (a key factor for success in a compressed season, but another topic for another savvy Ty Corbin day)
• Note the middle statistical box, per-36 minutes, where with minutes played normalized among the candidates Millsap compares favorably indeed, logging in as the most efficient of the players and top three in virtually all significant categories for the position. While we might be tempted to insist he play more in order to cement his status in an All-Star bid, it's far more important to remember the big picture here, the one where he and Al Jefferson share the load so well for the good of the team in the long run
• Paul Millsap leads the group in FG%, Steals, least Turnovers, Player Efficiency Rating by +3.1, True Shooting Percentage, effective FG%, Steals Percentage (seems redundant, but for you non-stat-heads advanced percentages are a more accurate measure of a player's production on the court than a standard box score), Offensive Rating, and Win Shares per-48 minutes by an impressive margin
• Millsap is top two in additional categories of Offensive Rebound Rate, Blocks Percentage, lowest Turnover Percentage, lowest Usage Rate (meaning his actual production is highly efficient), and Defensive Rating
• According to mySynergySports Millsap ranks 1st in the NBA on offensive plays on cuts scoring 1.71 points-per-possession, 1st in offensive rebounds resulting in scores at 1.67 PPP, 12th in the post at 0.99 PP, and 20th overall in scoring at 1.07 PPP
• On defense Millsap defends Spot-up shots most often, 37.6% of the time, giving back only 0.74 PPP ranking him 33rd up from a 2010-11 253rd, and Post-ups 34.0% of the time giving up a mere 0.63 PPP, good for 11th in the NBA up from last year's 159th-place rank. Overall he's giving up only 0.78 PPP good for 104th-best, much improved from his last season's 264th-place rank on defense
While Kevin Love is truly greatly improved defensively this season, a fact noted by the national media, what's flown under the radar here is the fact that Millsap was not good defensively last year, but is living up to his wide-spread rep that he is, this. And magnificently so.
• mySynergySports overall offense - defense ranks: Millsap 20th on O - 104th on D | Gasol 67th on O - 24th on D | Griffin 160th on O - 153rd on D | Love 88th on O - 114th on D | Aldridge 55th on O - 216th on D
We can't ignore head-to-head matchups
Some would say it's foolhardy to base what a player does head-to-head against another when attempting to discern their worth for awards, but I submit that it's something that cannot be ignored, especially on a team like the Jazz whose winning ways have largely been determined by beating opponents in individual matchups, something Millsap has excelled at this season.
Millsap has played head-to-head against four of these players in the last ten days (remember, in the first tilt with the Lakers Bynum was out due to time served courtesy a Finals cheap-shot and Gasol matched up on Jefferson, not Millsap, which actually gives us a nice round four-game sample size to work from in this tangent), with Aldridge yet to come, in a week's time. Aldridge is also the only other player on this list aside from Millsap to have not yet appeared in an All-Star game. Most would say Aldridge was snubbed last season, making him a likely target to make it, this, over Paul.
Those recent four games, in chronological order:
These four players have 16 All-Star appearances between them, including three straight for Gasol, ten straight for Dirk, and all four were in last season's exhibition in the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Again, tough nut to crack. But I'm sayin' there's a chance. Or at least that there should be.
• Outscored this bunch 91-51, or 22.75 PPG to 12.75 PPG, holding them to five made made FGs each and 20-59 from the floor for .339, while making 39-69 FGs for .565. Love leads all PFs in scoring this season at 24.1 PPG, Griffin is 3rd at 21.2, Dirk 7th at 17.5, and Gasol 10th at 16.3. Love and Griffin are also top eight in the entire NBA. Based on season averages they should have outscored Millsap 74.1 to 66.4
• Despite being several inches shorter, out-rebounded 'em 37-35. Love and Griffin are top four in the league overall and lead all PFs at 14.1 and 11.7, with Gasol checking in at 8th among PFs at 9.4 per game. The foursome should have eaten glass over the much smaller Millsap at a rate of 40.6 to 34.8
• Registered a solid 8 assists, good for 2.0 per game, to only 5 total for these, some of the best-passing big men in the game today. Griffin, Gasol, and Nowitzki are 3rd, 7th, and 8th each among PFs in assists this season with Love coming in at 1.8 per game. Season averages says they should have logged 9.4 dimes to Millsap's 8.0. He was also the only player on this list to dish at least one dime every tilt
• Picked pockets 7 times to a big fat goose egg. Millsap leads all PFs at 1.73 steals per, but the oppositional bunch should have netted at least 2 total instead of 0
• Turned it over only 5 times to 11 for the 16-timers, a 1.25 rate for Millsap to 2.75, nearly twice as often coughing up the rock
• Held all four to under 50% from the field and Blake Griffin to less than 50% for only the second time this season to that point. Millsap is 5th overall in NBA FG% making an astonishing 74.2% at the rim adding the double-threat mid-range at a career clip of 50% on the season from 16-23 feet on 3.1 tries a game
• Broke Kevin Love's double-doubles streak, the longest such, at 15 games, to start a season since Moses Malone's 30 years ago. Love had a 94% chance of logging a double-double coming into the game
Millsap has historically struggled with both Gasol and Dirk, but no more. He's figured 'em out. Now it's he who is the offensive threat that stretches defenses, forcing his man to expend precious energy on defense they can ill afford in this shortened season, coming to find him as he roams the floor as a legitimate multi-headed monster from any angle with a mirror of a 'mate on the opposite side willingly waiting to trade shifts at any time he's called upon to.
The Utah Jazz lead the league in efficiency differential in the frontcourt. And it's not even close. They're 3rd in the NBA at +8.7 at the PF position and 2nd at +6.5 at the C position for a combined +15.2 on the season.
"Last night it was Millsap first, early, and often.
The offense has slowly transitioned from Al to an Al/Millsap combo and our team is better for it."
The Jazz have long gone to Jefferson at the beginning of games to try and establish an inside-out presence first and foremost, but the last handful of games Ty Corbin has opted to go to Millsap for the first few scripted possessions, and he's responded well for the most part. The Mavericks opted to double Paul quite a bit when he was the focal point, and his numbers reflect that. But Rick Adelman and Minnesota did not, and again the numbers reflect that as well.
Millsap isn't a player you can handle one-on-one anymore with his work ethic, hustle, and ability to add something new to his game every single year -- last season it was extended shooting range, this it seems to be an all-new way of seeing the court in the passing game.
Snub the man at your own peril. Cause he'll make you pay when and where it really matters.
Paul Millsap is certainly making a case this season for an all-star bid. Fellow power forward and arguably the league’s best one at that, Minnesota Timberwolves’ Kevin Love, was in town Saturday night. Squaring off against his direct competition for that coveted nomination, Paul had an opportunity to bolster the impressive résumé he’s been building all year.
Well, put another merit badge on that sash. Paul Millsap is soaring with eagles. And on this evening, as a different kind of Eagles would sing, Paul Millsap "got the best of (Kevin) Love".
(Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)
Millsap was sky high once again, on both ends of the floor, including: Yet another masterful 4th quarter performance AND playing key cog in ending Kevin Love’s impressive double-double streak (league’s longest to begin a season since Moses Malone in 1981-82, courtesy of our own Spencer Campbell). The Jazz snagged their 10th win of the young season, beating the pesky Wolves 108-98. Shout out to Hot Rod Hundley.
In what is becoming quite the handful for opposing front courts, Millsap and Al Jefferson are beasting in the paint. What’s more impressive than the steady stream of quality stats this duo is putting up, is the chemistry and intuition these two are developing regarding each other’s game. I’m hardly the first to take notice, as evidenced by this fantastic piece from Clint Peterson at Hardwood Paroxysm.
Early on, Minnesota was fed a heavy dose of Utah’s bigs’ production, with 14 of Utah’s 22 1st quarter points coming from Paul and Al. Unfortunately, young stud Ricky Rubio was on his game this evening. Rubio was everywhere, getting 3 early assists and 3 steals in the first, leading fast breaks and getting the entire team involved. Minnesota looked fantastic for the entire first half. Pretty solid, considering this was the second game of a back-to-back, coming off no doubt an emotionally draining win over the Clippers at Staples.
But, as we saw earlier this week with Dallas, the combination of elevation and tired legs set in early in the 3rd quarter. The 54-52 lead Utah took into the half would jump quickly, as the Timberwolves came out flat. Led by Jefferson and Raja Bell, Utah rode a 12-4 run to a 76-62 lead. Normally, this would feel like coast-mode against the Timberwolves of years past.
This isn’t your normal Timberwolves squad, though. Minnesota got physical and, well, let’s just say creative in getting to the free throw line. The pace slowed dramatically. Whistles rang out frequently. Even Ty Corbin was hit with a technical foul… Odd. He’s usually so stoic and calm. (/sarcasm) Before you knew it, Utah’s lead was whittled to three points going into the 4th quarter, 84-81.
And then Paul Millsap happened. For one, Paul frustrated Love all night long, who shot a dismal 5-21 from the field for only 15 points. More importantly, the emblematic glass eater was kept off the boards (eight rebounds, only three offensive), ending his aforementioned double-double streak at 16. Secondly, Millsap fired in 12 of his game-high 26 points in his final stint, finishing on 67% shooting. The man is making some serious waves, and getting skeptical Jazz fans bought into this team at a rapid rate.
Throughout the game, Millsap and Jefferson worked together so fluidly. Watch these two closely when you have a chance. They sense each other. They know when to cut. When to pass. When to follow a miss for a tip in. When to defer to the other. A feat many thought Al wasn’t capable of. Now? Deron Williams isn’t the one trying to make Al Jefferson an all star anymore. Paul Millsap is, and getting some serious production out of his partner in crime. Kudos to Ty Corbin and this coaching staff for taking two interesting ingredients in Paul and Al and whipping up a batch of something extra special. If you didn’t leave this recap already for the link to Clint’s HP piece which explains this concept 10,000 times better than I ever could, you have my blessing to do so now. Go. (Come back and finish this when you’re done, though.)
Earl Watson. I mean, that about sums it up, if you’ve been watching these games, right? Watson is solidifying himself as a leader, not just to the bench squad, but to the entire team. After a questionable late substitution against Dallas on Thursday, Corbin opted tonight to keep Watson on the floor to finish the 4th quarter (nearly 16 straight minutes on the floor). That’s a serious vote of confidence. The thing is, the tempo is seriously pushed when Earl is leading the charge. Utah’s bench has been outscoring opponents all season quite regularly. Earl Watson can be thanked for that. Let him know you appreciate it, he’s friendly on Twitter! (@Earl_Watson)
One more Earl High Note moment: Forced to heave a late-in-the-shot-clock three, Watson banked in the shot (no doubt called it under his breath). Immediately following the banked triple, Ron Boone (welcome back, Booner!) read the $50 donation sponsorship for all of Utah’s made threes, brought to you by…none other than….Mountain America Credit Union. Oh, the irony.
C.J. Miles continues to respond positively to early season woes. I’m a little confused, though, as he was taking some heat for “chucking” tonight on my Twitter timeline. I disagree vehemently. These aren’t stupid shots coming early in the possession. On consecutive possessions, Miles was deferred to with less than five seconds on the shot clock to make a miracle happen. Nailed one three. Missed another. That was just two instances that happened to be back to back.
More and more, C.J. is having to bail out the Jazz for poor ball movement by taking a less than desirable shot. Not entirely his fault. But if you told me C.J. would give us 18 points in 21 minutes while playing SUPER aggressive (got to the line ten times tonight), I’ll take it every time. Ease up on C.J., guys. He didn’t even foul anyone tonight at the worst possible time. See, improvement!
Outside of a couple nice blocks, Derrick Favors was fairly quiet tonight. One point, 0-3 FG, and two turnovers on a team-low +/- of -9 in 15 minutes, Favors perhaps played a little more reserved due to last night’s rare ejection. He did grab 7 rebounds, so not a total whiff. But we’ll need to see stronger performances if we’re ever going to see those minutes increase. And with Paul and Al in beast mode, it’s going to be that much more difficult. Make those minutes count, my man.
Maybe I'm just in a good mood, but that sums up that section. Utah is now at 10-5, with a rare extended break before hosting the struggling Toronto Raptors on Wedensday at ESA. A stiff test await later in the week, as Utah travels to Dallas to try and avenge last Thursday's heartbreaking loss to the defending champions.no comments
The Jazz were on National Television with a chance to show the country that we are, “as good as our record.” The Jazz decided not to show up on the defensive end during the first half, giving up 59 points on 58% shooting. They also let Shawn Marion score 16 points in the first half on 7-10 shooting. Not only did Marion dominate the floor on the offensive end, he shut down Millsap after being switching with Dirk on defense. Marion’s height and athleticism bothered Millsap.
Our generally explosive bench gave up 21 points in the first half and led a mild comeback late in the 2nd quarter, but the Mavs pushed the lead to 13. The Jazz cut the half time lead to nine on a buzzer beater by Bell and then to eight on a technical (Dirk at the end of the half) freethrow by Harris to start the second.
Third quarter started out with the Jazz running about 8 possesions in a row with one and outs. The crowd was audibly annoyed and frustrated with the offense and the lack of execution. The Jazz put together a fantastic run led by defense, which held the Mavs to 11 3rd quarter points and tie the game at 71 going into the fourth.
GAME CHANGING MOMENT: The Watson technical foul, the Favors ejection and the CJ steal and Dunk all within about 45 seconds of each other. Crowd blew up, Dirk gave up and the Jazz went up by three.
GAME CHANGING MOMENT: Ty substituted Harris (who was having a horrific game) in for Watson who had led the Jazz back from the dead and was controlling the tempo of the game. I personally feel that this substitution was only the second coaching mistake by Corbin this season. The second mistake was not calling the timeout against the Lakers a week or so ago.
Free Throws- The Jazz shot phenomenal from the free throw line, hitting 16 of 17 in the first half, and finished with 26-29 89.7%.
C.J. Miles- played an all around fantastic game. He didn’t shoot especially well, but he had timely steals, passes,rebounds, and some fantastic dunks. He was super aggressive for the second straight game, which leads to good things happening for the team. Jazz fans know that he is a much better player when he is aggressive and doesn’t “think” about things.
Team Chemistry- Earl Watson is everything good about NBA basketball. He works his ass off, is a fabulous teammate, teaches and mentors both on and off the court, and doesn’t take crap from anybody including Dirk. I think having Raja, Tinsley, and Howard are great for the team chemistry and leadership. Millsap has quietly become the on court leader and the team usually goes as he goes.
Hayward Steal and Dunk
I am upset with a loss that should/could have been a win, however the team played defense when they had to, they are listening to Ty, and are gelling very nicely. I too feel like Earl Watson in the post game interview, "Tonight we had a chance to go from good to great -- we let one get away.”
PNR- The Jazz did not cover the pick and roll well last night. In fact they didn’t help the helper or play very good defense at all. They got dominated in the paint giving up 48 points mostly from guards and Marion. I dont feel like we took the night off because the third quarter was fantastic we held the Mavs to 11 points. However I think we let the Mavs get whatever they wanted in the first half.
Raja Bell and Devin Harris finished 2-13 and none bigger than an airball by Harris with 45 seconds left in the game that would have cut the lead to one.
Substituting Harris for Watson late in the fourth quarter-see my thoughts are above.
I hate losing. I hate losing when we should/could have won. I originally thought we would be horrible, I am very satisfied with where we are at as a team right now. Most of all, I am entertained.
enough for me to convey how I feel about a mediocre sandwich. Therefore, it is somewhat of a shock tome that I can sum up tonight’s game in one word…
This game was DELICIOUS… and I drank it up. Even during the second quarter, in which the official’s hada wager about who could call the most touch fouls. This has game had all the passion and excitement ofa neck and neck playoff game, and yet… it was never really close. Observe…
This graph (courtesy of pmgameflows.com, the coolest people alive) tells a tale of total domination.After a very quick 11-0 run near the start of the game, it was all jazz all the time. Basketball is a game of runs and— according to the folks at popcorn machine—the clippers had three of them. Two 8-2 runsand one 6-0 run. Those, by the way, are not very impressive. Even if you throw out the entire fourth quarter, which was all garbage time, the trend of the graph is all in one direction. Every run of the Clippers was countered by a bigger run by the Jazz. Like a sine wav multiplied by –x (geeky!), every shift toward the Clippers was followed by a bigger shift towards the Jazz. I got the feeling that if they kept playing, the lead would just keep growing indefinitely, forever and ever and ever…
The lowest +/- on the Jazz was Gordon Hayward, who had a 0. The highest +/- on the Clippers was Chauncy Billups with a -4. You read that correctly. No player on the Jazz had a negative +/-, and no player on the Clippers had a positive one. We punched them in the mouth so hard and so fast that they literally threw in the towel with a few minutes left in the third quarter, something I had never even heard of happening. Total domination.
I can’t really tell you why it was so exciting, despite being as competitive as an early season Ute game(note: I’m a Ute fan, I can say that!), but it was. My voice is gone, my throat is sore, and two hours laterI’m still thinking about it. I stayed all the way until the final buzzer, which was constantly delayed at the end by a malfunctioning shot clock. I’d like to tell you that I am super fan and stay glued to every game no matter what happens, but that would be a lie. I completely lost interest in last Monday’s win over the Cavaliers, and that actually classified as a game at one point. Something about this game was just awesome, giant scoops of sweet delicious awesomeness. We just Lob Citied all over Lob Cities face.
Live in the moment please.
I got to be honest; I am getting tired of the negativity. There is a very real difference between being realistic and trying to suck the life force out of every living soul. The Jazz—OUR Jazz—are playing incredible basketball right now. I don’t care that so many wins have been against bad teams. I don’t care that we have gotten lucky and played against a lot of teams with their stars out. I don’t care that
we have had a lot more games at home than on the road. I don’t care that apparently during the month of February, a giant hole is going to open up beneath the Energy Solutions Arena and Hell’s minions are going to come out and eat our children. I DON’T CARE. Our little time is growing up before our eyes,much faster than any of us ever dreamed. They are playing well, they are playing together, our bench is deep and our starters even showing vast improvement. Right now is a fun time to be a Jazz fan. I am more excited about every upcoming game than I have been in years. Paul Millsap has been replaced by some kind of basketball playing robot. We have youth, cap space, assets, and nowhere to go but up. Ifall you can do after a win like this is think about all the things that are wrong with the team, you should probably find something other than sports to occupy your time, like planning for your own funeral. Afterall, just because you are alive right now and walking around and stuff, one day you are going to die a slow and painful death, probably alone, unable to pee without help from a machine. You should probably focus more on that. I’m just being realistic.
This is not last year’s run
We cannot get out to a great start to the season without someone reminding us how we started out well last season and it all went crashing down. However, everything about this team and this run is so different. Last year’s early season run was a blast, don’t get me wrong. We were the comeback kids, and no situation was too dire. Deron Williams was playing every bit the NBA super-star, putting this team on his back, overcoming the deficiencies of his team mates, taking and making big shots in the clutch. Paul Millsap went down to Miami and turned all of their water into wine. It was awesome, it was exciting,and all the nay-sayers said it was unsustainable, and they right of course (and they probably missed outon another great and exciting period of Jazz basketball). We couldn’t defend the three point line (or really anything or anyone for that matter), and on the rare occasion when an opponent missed a shot,we had no idea to actually possess the basketball afterwards. Our chemistry was awful, our team was fragmented, and our team became such a dysfunctional relationship that divorce was the only option.We were top heavy in talent, and it was only able to cover up our lack of cohesion and depth for so long.
It’s obvious just how different this team is. Our point guard position is arguably our weakest position at times, evidenced by the fact that Devin Harris seems completely unable to secure the starting spotthat was handed to him on a silver platter. We are dominating teams inside on the offensive end, and while our dribble-penetration and help defense looks awful out there at times, the much-maligned AlJefferson and the “undersized” Paul Millsap are simply not letting the other teams bigs have their way anymore. We have so much depth right now that I am not even sure what we would do with another few high lottery picks, which was basically my goal when the season started. While a few problems arestill the same, such as our poor free throw shooting and high propensity to foul, many of the strengths and weaknesses of this team have completely flip-flopped.
What doesn’t seem as obvious is what is so different about the run we are on now than last years. For one thing, admittedly, the competition is easier. Playing Cleveland and Milwaukee at home is not the same thing as playing Miami and Orlando on the road, obviously. What is so impressive to me is that the Jazz are simply finding a way to stay in every game all the time. We are not letting our opponents goon huge runs like we did last year. Since the Spurs game, in which we were blown out in embarrassing
fashion for the third time in four games, the Jazz have not out of a game. Even the game they lost to the Lakers was a game in which no team was ahead by more than 6 points. 48 minutes of basketball in which neither team was able to pull away whatsoever is just so fundamentally different to the type of games the Jazz played last year.
I’m not saying the Jazz are going to win the Championship this year, and I anticipate some growing pain swill come up in the near future. What I am saying is the Jazz are playing a type of winning basketball that is sustainable, a foundation that can be built off of going forward. I don’t see us finishing second in the west this year, but this is not fake and hollow success.
A few other thoughts…
I am a believer in Paul Millsap. I came into season in the camp of people who thought Millsap was simply too small to be a starting Power Forward in this league, that he was a great player offensively but would always be a defensive liability against the leagues other dominant big men. I was so wrong. Millsap transcends conventional wisdom. He is like Tim Tebow, but with talent. I would argue that with the depth we have now, any given player on any given night can be out and we would hardly miss a beat, with the exception of Paul. He is the heart and soul of this team in every way, and he just keeps getting better. His modest 20 points tonight came on7/11 shooting and 6/6 from the free throw line, as efficient a game as you could ever ask from someone. He is our superstar, and we must never talk about trading him again. If there was evera player in this modern Jazz era that needed to retire as a Jazz man, it is Paul Millsap.
I am having a harder and harder time believing in Devin Harris as a point guard. I know we have been spoiled around here, and averaging 10 assists almost seems like the minimum a player should have to do to even call themselves a point guard in Utah. I am really trying to look pass the high expectations from this position we have been used to and give him a chance, but I have been thoroughly unimpressed. I read a few other people tonight who said Harris had a good game, but I’m highly suspicious that was simply based off of his better than normal shooting. He looks completely unable to manage the offense to me, his ball handling leaves so much to be desired, and he seems to be turning the ball over a lot. I would really love to see someone do a statistical comparison between our primary point guards, because as far the eye-test goes, Earl Watson is better by a mile.
There is still a lot of work to do on our dribble penetration defense. There were a few play stonight, especially in the third quarter, that were just awful. For all of the awesome defense our bigs are doing on the other teams bigs in man-to-man coverage, the help defense is still breaking down terribly way too often. However, I’m trying to keep perspective here, and realize that the Jazz have only played 13 regular season games after completely turning their defensive system on its head. The kind of defensive breakdowns I saw tonight were not the result of anyone player’s poor defensive effort or skill, but communication and system issues. I have faith inTy Corbin at this point to get those worked out as the season goes on.I may sound blasphemous to some, but I think we really over rated Jeremy Evans dunk earlier in the season, the one that was (incorrectly) waived off as offensive foul. He had 4 awesome ones tonight. All Jeremy Evans dunks are awesome though, he is incapable of doing anything andnot making it awesome. However, the fourth and final alley-oop from Earl Watson tonight wassimply the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. If he is denied from the dunk contest this year,baby unicorns will cry.
Courtest of @prodigyJF
I am grateful for the opportunity I had tonight to experience this game. I am grateful for the opportunityI have had to experience this team, especially over the last week or so. No matter what happens, evenwhen the world ends in December, these moments of my life cannot be taken away from me. As weendlessly obsess about “RINGZZZ” and legacies and brands and Collective Bargaining Agreements andCompetitive Balance and all that stuff, it’s nice to enjoy sports every now and then.
"You know David, at the beginning of the year we were just hoping the Jazz would win a game" - Ron Boone.
"The Grasshopper, whatever you call it... He just throw it, I go get it" -Jeremy Evans
They'll say that the Jazz won against a team without CP3 or Mo Williams. They'll say that the Jazz beat a team on the tail end of a back to back to back at home. They'll say that Blake was tired and Chauncey couldn't step up. They'll be 100% right, but in stating the obvious, the NBA punditry will do something dangerous on behalf of many teams in the league: They'll miss the fact that Paul Millsap is an All-Star whether he makes the West's roster or not; That a superstar-less Jazz team has gelled with the kind of chemistry that will propel it from the post Deron era with the momentum that any rebuilding team could only dream of. They won't talk about how not a single player on tonight's Jazz roster had a negative +/- or how the deepest bench possible for the Jazz looked like the '92 Dream Team. They'll say or omit all of this at their own peril because the Utah Jazz are coming. Maybe not this season, or even next, but believe you me, they are coming and they're going to blow a lot of people's minds some day.
...before they blow minds, however, they are going to start consistently winning the games they should and lest my hyperbole mislead you, that is exactly what happened tonight.
The First Quarter: Where CJ Miles Pokes his Head Out and Declares Winter is Over
CJ Miles is a demonstrably better player when he drives to the basket instead of trying to make a statement jumper at the beginning of his rotation (let me learn how to use statistics to prove my point and until then, just take my word for it). So, when Paul Millsap started sharing the torch off offensively toward the end of the first quarter after a precedent setting eight points in four minutes and CJ's opening play was indeed a drive and not a jumper, it followed that #34would post the same number of points as #24 in close to the same amount of time. While fans might have been worried about Josh Howard's absence, CJ allayed those fears with a stellar performance on both ends of the floor. While it it helped that Raja played strong and stayed in almost all 12 minutes, the unit on the floor in the last 4 minutes of the first (of which CJ was the shining star) were +7 to the starter's +5 demonstrating just how deep Utah is and how potent they can be in a pinch without either Derrick Favors or Josh Howard available to contribute. My favorite moment, even if there wasn't a hug this go around, was a pass from Al to Paul in the post. Our bigs are sharing the ball and buying in to what Tyrone Corbin is selling and that's a really, really good thing.
The Second Quarter: Where Foul Trouble is the Price the Jazz Pay for Solid Defense.
Even though CJ Miles was killing it on the hardwood at Energy Solutions Arena Ty Corbin found time for Alec Burks (Eric Burks, Eric Books, Alex Borks, whatever) who while going +10 on the night was -2 in his first stint, to take the floor. On the whole, this quarter was the weakest the Jazz played this evening. There are alot of reasons for this, but from where I'm standing the most significant is that the Jazz pushed hard for fast break points born from solid defense and the price they paid for that defense was foul trouble. Our boys were in the penalty early in the second and it was likely a contributing factor to why the they couldn't blow the Clips out before halftime. Our defense made DeAndre Jordan look like an obstinate middle schooler and Al Jefferson's infamous ball fake continued to find biters. At the end of the half Big Al had 4 assists, the Jazz had 28 points in the paint, 25 boards and 18 bench points. The Clippers didn't have an edge in a single one of those categories.
The Third Quarter: Where the Jazz Lull LA into a Sense of Complacency... then Destroy Them
The Jazz started slow. The Clippers looked so tired it made me almost pity them and somehow for the first 8 minutes and 12 seconds the Clippers stayed close enough to the Jazz to keep me worried. After a disorienting air-ball from Raja Bell (Who at +17 on the night shouldn't have done that, tsk tsk) Ty called a time out to put that nonsense to a stop. The Jazz went somewhere in the range of +23 from that point on, as well they should have in a stretch that featured a Big Al to Millsap to Big All to the rack sequence that demonstrates quite clearly how Al has worked on the very nature of his game to the Jazz's advantage. While a clearly exhausted Blake Griffin demonstrated that even when he's running on fumes, he can still explode CJ knocked down a three and beasted for boards, Devin Harris nailed a clutch trey and Al and Paul showed that when they stay in the post a little longer before transition can occur, beautiful things can happen.
The Fourth Quarter: Where I can't Say Anything that will do a Butt Whoopin' Adequate Justice
The youth movement started the fourth quarter, dropped bombs all over the Clippers and then finished the fourth quarter. Ty Corbin, showing a lack of restraint in a way that Jazz fans like myself adore, let the young'uns run wild and embarrass the Clippers' bench all the way to second in the Western Conference (yes... go look... for one shining moment, that's true). It, at this point was a haze for me, so instead of trying to coherently explain how things unfolded I will share three thoughts I had in the fourth. First: "Burks to Evans who seems to have taken off from Bountiful? -- crystal ball yes plz" Second: "We got two Earl-y-oops! Booyeah" Third: "Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Go Jazz! I forgive CJ Miles all the time and I love it!" Ahem. Yes. Yes indeed.
*Song that tells the story: Marathon - Dilated Peoples
Also, is anyone surprised?
The Jazz have been surprising quite a few people lately (myself included) since their 1-3 start. In a matter of fact, the Jazz have won 7 of their last 8, and are a Pau Gasol three away from being second in the West. You may be quick to point out the weak schedule the Jazz have played, which is true. However, you can’t forget this team was one play away from beating the Lakers, and just shocked Denver on the road. Is this team legit? It’s still too soon to say, but making the playoffs is definitely in the picture right now, and Ty Corbin’s team is doing all the right things to get there. Overall the Jazz played a very impressive this week, going 3-1 and getting contributions from a handful of players.
Devin Harris very well could be playing the worst ball of his career right now. His PPG (8.3) is the lowest it’s been since his rookie season, not to mention his APG (4.8) which haven’t been this low since 06-07. Harris averaged 5.25 points and 5.5 assists in 28 minutes last week, obviously something we cannot have from our starting point guard. Fortunately Watson continues to do a fantastic job at running our second unit, sometimes even our starters. Watson didn’t put up any flashy numbers last week, but he did average 5.5 assists (in 20 minutes) and had the highest +/- average on the week at +8.5.
Bell’s recent play makes you wonder how much his wife’s pregnancy has been on his mind. Following the birth of his new child, Raja had his best week of the season. Bell averaged 8 points on 65% shooting to go along with that he dished out 2.25 assists and played some much improved defense. His focus is at a completely different level right now, giving fans what they expected of him when Kevin O’Conner signed him 2 summers ago.
Raja isn’t our only wing playing well though. Howard, Hayward and even Burks all had good weeks and continue to progress. Despite getting injured and not finishing the week, Howard has shown us he can be a consistent threat off the bench. Josh averaged 13 points on 47% shooting last week, and could be starting to find his stroke from long range (something the Jazz are in dire need of) as we saw him hit two deep balls vs LA. Hayward is taking baby steps. G-Time didn’t have a great start, but he finished the week with solid performances in back to back games, including a 19 point game (and some pretty damn good defense) last night in Denver. Also should be noted that he averaged 4.75 assists to only 1.5 turnovers. While Hayward is still getting there, David Locke pointed out that he wasn’t anywhere near this level at this point last year, and that we should be very happy that he can contribute like this while he still develops.
Burks and Miles finish up the wing rotations, and Corbin is still trying to figure out what they can contribute. CJ has been playing like CJ. While he did have one great performance last week vs the Cavs (17 points) he didn’t have the same production in the other three games and only shot 38% from the field. I love CJ, but he needs to contribute more consistently, something we’ve been saying for too long. Burks on the other hand is doing a fine job at making the most of the minutes. He averaged 5.5 points in 9.5 minutes last week and is slowly looking more and more comfortable. Alec definitely looks like a rookie out there sometimes, not always taking the best shots and sometimes playing a little out of control. But the effort is there, and so is the skill. It will be interesting to see if he starts to take any more of CJ’s minutes.
We need to give a huge thanks to our bigs, who deserve a ton of credit for their play last week. Favors didn’t have the best week, as his production seemed to slip a little. On the bright side, he is showing that he can consistently hit a mid range jumper (falling away sometimes), and he did manage to finally get his first assist of the season. I wonder how much playing time he will get, especially if Millsap and Jefferson continue their high level of play. Kanter rebounds. Actually, Kanter rebounds very well, and I’m pretty sure you know this. The young Turk is making small strides offensively and is looking much better than he did earlier in the season. He is also showing good signs on the defensive end with his effort and rotations, I still can’t believe he is the same age as me (19).
I saved the best for last, as both Jefferson and Millsap have very impressive weeks and were the top two candidates for the award. Jefferson wasn’t perfect however. We cannot overlook his not so memorable performance vs LA (11 points, 29% shooting). While it’s okay for players to have bad games now and then, it can be concerning when it comes against the same team, a team you could see in the playoffs (see Carlos Boozer). Fortunately Al was solid throughout the rest of the week giving the Jazz just under 20 and 10 (19.75 and 9.75) and an impressive 2.5 blocks per game.
Millsap. Mansap. Thrillsap. Call the man whatever you like (except for “Milsap” that is…) because that dude was nearly unstoppable. Millsap is playing at All Star levels right now, and it is extremely fun to watch. What exactly did this guy do last week? Well he…shot 90% (not a typo) from the field vs Cleveland, dropped 29 points on Pau Gasol, put up 18 points/12 rebounds/4 steals/3 assists against the Nets, and powered the Jazz past Denver with 26 points (16 in the fourth, 14 in a row) and 12 rebounds. He also has a PER of 26, ahead of guys like Kevin Love, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Paul. Lets just say, I didn’t have any problem picking the latest Player of the Week…
Player of the Week (Week 3)
(Photo via Jack Dempsey, AP)
Paul Millsap 23 pts (64%), 9 rebs, 2 stls, 1.75 asts, +7 (+/-)
Runner up: Al Jefferson
Special mentions: Josh Howard, Gordon Hayward, Earl Watson
(Thanks @sproul13 for weekly stats)