UTAH JAZZ (24-13) at HOUSTON ROCKETS (16-20)Game #38 • Away Game #18 • Toyota Center • January 8, 2011 • 6:30 p.m. (MT) • TV: FSN : 1320 AM KFNZ/B98.7 FM and 1600 AM ESPN DEPORTE
UTAH JAZZ -
MEMO Is the only one out tonight.
Aaron Brooks (aggravated left ankle sprain)
Chuck Hayes (moderate to severe right ankle sprain)
Yao Ming (stress fracture in left ankle)
Apparently, the Houston Rockets fans feel the way about us, the same way that we feel about the Lakers. We have knocked them out of the playoffs multiple times, we are consistently better than them. The great thing about this hatred from the Houston Fans is we don't even really see it, or care about it. Just like the Lakers fans don't care about our hatred for them.
Match up of the Night
Kevin Martin vs. Whoever Guards Him Bell/Price/CJ/AK/Hayward
I would like us to foul him very hard very early. Let's see if he can handle that. M/O- Shooter, good free throw shooter, quick release, moves well without the ball think of a better young version of Rip Hamilton. We stop him by being physical often and early. My opinion is that he is soft and does not like a lot of contact.
Our two guards have to match his point output if he gets 25 our two's have to get 25. With all of the fouls that this team gets ( and that we give) I imagine that this will be slow paced game with a ton of free throws.
Houston-1 basically a pick em/push game.
Spencer-Brooks may be out which will affect how Deron plays. We all know how Deron does with smaller faster guards. I think this will be to the game. Houston 96- Utah 97
Jimmy Bragg- Hope is pretty much gone. We lose by eighteen
Jake Jeppsen- Typical Response from jazz fans will be a loss due to sluggish play the last 2 games. However, Houston is without Hayes and Brooks. Gotta contain Martin, and attack inside , where we will take advantage 97-89.
It is hard to watch this team right now. The Utah Jazz have had stretch of horrific games including some of their wins. I feel like our flex offense is not working most of the time. I don't think it is the offense itself, but the effort and players moving in the offense. Guys are not where they need to be, when they need to be there. This is causing a ton of unforced T.O.s on Deron and the team. Last night they racked up 23 turnovers and the Grizzlies had 17, yes I said 17 steals.
Tweet of the Night
Dunk of the Night
Even Rudy Gay is impressed
There were three bright spots in a dismal game last night.
GAME BALL- Goes to Earl Watson. Watson came in early last night when Deron got in early foul trouble (7:13) of the first quarter and kept the offense running ok. His biggest contribution came in the second half when he helped lead the Jazz back to within striking distance. He finished with 12 points and didn't miss a shot.
Paul Millsap - finished with a quiet 20-8
Millsap said that his hip still hurt but, once the adernilane started flowing it felt much better. When you get in the game you can't really worry about that stuff.
Gordon Hayward- A few times during the night Gordon looked like he was the only player on the floor that wanted to win the game. He was hustling and was one of two players with a plus in the +/- category last night, the other was watson.
In all I thought the game lacked effort by many of its players. I am always upset when the Utah Jazz lose but even more so when the effort or desire is not there. As a fan, I can handle losses when we get beat by a better team, or when we work our ass off and still lose to a hot/streaking team. Last night was neither of those. The Jazz just didn't show up as a team. Hopefully they can recover quickly and get ready for the game against Houston tonight.
I missed everything last night. The twitter roll, the actual game and the memo that said "don't show up". I watched the first half late last night and was so disgusted that I needed 24 hours to get over this loss. All hands on deck are screaming mutiny, including Deron Williams. Frustration is probably a better explanation for all of this. I don't like that the leader of our team thinks that we might not make the playoffs. Even more so that he said it to the media.
I believe that Deron may be going through a Kobe stage. Which needs an entire post in itself. Coming this weekend.
ESPN writer David Thorpe wrote an Article about the improved play of Utah's own Gordon Hayward, here are parts of the article.
It's only three games, sure, but when they are so different from what we had seen from him, it bears looking deeper into what transpired. Hayward played with tremendous hustle at Butler, but early on in his NBA career, all I saw was a casualness that suggested he thought he was a can't-miss prospect. Now, after a disastrous first seven-plus weeks, it appears Hayward began to understand that anything less than an all-out effort was going to doom him to comparisons to Adam Morrison.
So Hayward began attacking the rim, going after loose balls, making hustle plays everywhere and even earning some terrific dunks. He made some shots, too, which always helps, but my guess is he did so because he was feeling better about his overall game. It's a pretty common occurrence: players finding their shooting stroke only after improving other parts of their game.
Hayward always has been a guy who plays with more toughness than you'd think just from looking at him, and that part of his game has returned. It's a good thing, because guess how he was rewarded for those three excellent games? He played just six minutes in Utah's next game against Detroit. But at least he's shown some life as a player and reminded the Jazz brass of why they drafted him in the first place. As long as he maintains that edge, he'll keep earning chances.
For the rest of this season, Hayward has to try to play the part of Lou Gehrig, replacing a starter permanently every chance he gets. Next season, he could be Wally Pipp, fighting off a new draft pick who's trying to replace him in the rotation. Such is life in the ever-competitive NBA.
Hayward has still not hit the top ten but is obviously doing better.
In case you missed this yesterday Al Jefferson gets punked a little by Deron and Fez.
Also there is this great find from Slcdunk. Deron on the Disney Channel.
UTAH JAZZ (24-11) vs. ATLANTA HAWKS (22-14) Game #36 • Home Game #20 • EnergySolutions Arena • SALT LAKE CITY January 5, 2011 • 7 p.m. (MT) • TV: FSN Utah RADIO: 1320 AM KFNZ/B98.7 FM and 1600 AM ESPN DEPORTE
Paul Millsap – GAMETIME DECISION (bruised right hip) looking like a nogo
Mehmet Okur – DAY-TO-DAY (lower back strain)
Marvin Williams (back contusion) is out
90-86 Nov. 12th 2010
Matchup of the Night if Millsap Plays
Paul Milsap (doubtful) Vs. Josh Smith
Josh Smith has hit on 27 three pointers this year which is three times his previous 3 year total of (9). Smith is 7th in the NBA in blocks and is one of the best weak side shot blockers in the league. He is also 18th in the league in RPG. The Atlanta Hawks are 17-4 when he has two or more blocks. He will get more than two blocks tonight.
Fundamentally, I think that Millsap is much much better than Smith. Athletically, Smith is just a freak of nature. Millsap should win this match up because his of his patience, and a specific role in a very good offensive scheme. I believe that Millsap has more heart, than about 90% of the players in the NBA. He will have difficulty when Horford comes over on help defense, let's hope that he uses his passing ability to get the shooters some open shots.
Jake Jeppsen- Joe Johnson, having a horrible year shooting, Jazz main threats will be Horford and Smith. OREB will make the difference in outcome of the game. Not having Millsap (doubtful he plays) . Personally feel like a slow start tonight will equal a loss. Start hot, but not too hot to get complacent.
Jimmy Bragg- The way we are playing, and without Millsap, I will be suprised if we lose by less than ten. I am a pessimist now.
Brendan Kenney- Overly optimistic. The Utah Jazz are going to shoot these birds down. Hayward gets 20 and ten.
Spencer Campbell- Hawks 104 Utah Jazz 92 I don't feel good about this at all.
Spread is Jazz -5.5 they must not have the Millsap News.
By Jake Jeppsen (@CowhideGlobe)
The Physics of Chemistry
First, thank you to a good friend of mine who encouraged me to write this piece through great conversation. You know who you are. Much appreciated.
Go on a journey with me. Close your eyes. Ok, not really, since that makes reading difficult. Now pretend you are the floor leader of a professional basketball team. You call the plays. You call the shots. You are relied upon in the clutch. You are the man, as they say.
You’ve come through for the squad time and time again. Sometimes, you were the sole reason for your team’s success. You are an All-Star and YOU KNOW IT. Now…we take a turn down a different road.
Success isn’t coming as easy this year…to you, at least. You’re struggling to find your stride in getting the team involved like you’re accustomed to. You struggle early, and often. Yet others around you are succeeding, and big time.
Yet somehow, your team is winning, so it COULD be tolerable. But you’re unhappy. Why? Because you are no longer THAT GUY. The guy who is praised for carrying a squad. The guy who gets credit for the team’s success. The guy who is always talked about.
You’re no longer “The Man”.
KFAN Radio’s Ben Bagley (@benbags) tweeted the following after the Utah Jazz’ 102-97 victory over the Detroit Pistons: “Interesting Utah Jazz locker room. Lots of joy over 4th qtr & win. Deron lone voice thatreally stressed play needs to be better earlier…Raja & AK said the players have talked about the concern,but both enjoyed the Utah Jazz win. Deron was ALL about the early poor play.”
Now, before you start murdering me for suggesting the Deron Williams is no longer the man in Utah, read further. This man is, in fact, the man in Utah. But Bagley’s tweets give us a deeper look into the mind of D-Will. And I see two glaring facts about him that hopefully you see as well.
Deron is a perfectionist. Jazz fans criticizing him for his “negativity” need to understand that his imperfections fuel him. Sometimes to a fault, sadly. Deron expects zero mistakes from himself, because he knows how good he is, and can be. But then he expects it of his teammates. This is fine, to a certain extent. I want my leaders expecting perfection. But, as pointed out to me during our aforementioned conversation, this expectation at times leads to detrimental results and stagnation. Bad body language and sulking causes more damage than good.
What is the result? Slow starts by the starters. Nervousness about making the smallest mistake. Early deficits. Finger pointing. Nothing going right. That is, until the bench unit backcourt - led by Earl Watson and Ronnie Price – come in to calm the storm.
Wait. Earl Watson and Ronnie Price? Cleaning up a mess that Deron Williams has left behind? That can’t be…right. Can it? Sadly, folks, it has been for nearly every one of Utah’s 35 games so far this season. Now, obviously, Deron isn’t solely to blame for the slow starts. It goes deeper than one position. All are accountable to the poor starts, but Deron’s inner drive for ”Gr8ness” pushes him so strongly, it is having an adverse effect on his squad. And it’s obvious.
Adapting to change can be difficult. Deron played alongside Carlos Boozer for many years. They knew each other, understood each other. It became routine. And now? Change. One that is not happening overnight.
Nothing hammers this point home more than the infamous “Bullet Pass To Your Head” Gordon Hayward incident in the 2nd game of the season. A misunderstanding. A wrong route. A rookie who didn’t know better. And the veteran openly (and rather childishly) reprimands him for not living to up his standards. This was during a game. We don’t see what happens behind closed doors at practices.
Think guys are afraid of living up to Deron’s expectations? No one wants to make a mistake. Guys aren’t playing loose like the second unit. The bench is energetic, free-flowing goodness on the eyes. The starters are stiff and, at times, emotionless. CJ Miles postgame said it best (to paraphrase): They sure can get it done in the 4th quarter. Why can’t they do it in the 1st?
How many of you have ever struggled financially in life after at one time being self sufficient? It’s embarrassing. You become so accustomed to taking care of yourself (and your family, if the shoe fits), that accepting assistance from someone else feels degrading. It becomes an issue of pride.
In a basketball sense, Utah’s superstar point guard is coming to the realization he needs help. And it’s not easy to admit. This is one of the league’s greatest, if not top, point guards (we won’t get into that tired argument). How could he, THE Deron Williams, need to rely on anybody to succeed? He’s the man, right?
Deron has pride. It has to be frustrating for a player of his caliber to be an integral part of these slow starts, then see Watson and Price enter the game and eliminate deficits like it’s nothing. Granted, he is facing starters while Earl and Ronnie battle back ups, but the energy discrepancy is so tangible, you can practically taste it. A light switch goes on when the star goes out. And it pains me to say that. Honestly.
It’s has to be bothering Deron to see the bench “scrubs” having to be the heroes, knowing full well he is more than capable of being THAT guy. He’s happy for their success. He’s just used to being the man. Luckily, he has help this year, something he hasn’t always had (unless, of course, you consider Jason Hart and Brevin Knight help). Something he isn’t used to relying on. Hell, if he’s smart, he can learn a thing or two from ‘em.
He is a perfectionist. He has pride. And the two things that drive him to be the best sometimes drive the teammates he plays alongside backwards.
I know this has a negative feel to it. That was not my intention. In fact, there are many positives to be taken from these words. This team is ahead of schedule, development wise. Jerry has struck gold on a bench squad that exemplifies true hustle and heart, a deadly combo. Oh, yeah – and Utah is winning on the road (11-5!!!!). Be happy, Jazz fans. You have a lot to be thankful for. And a lot to look forward to.
For all the “woes” Jazz fans are having with these slow starts – THE JAZZ ARE WINNING GAMES. Clint Peterson (@clintonite33) pointed out via Twitter: "Jazz fans, realize just how far ahead of schedule this team is. Teams with this many new faces rarely get to the tune of 70% wins.” So freaking true.
We’re really nitpicking with the slow starts stuff if the team is still 24-11. Would wire-to-wire blowouts be preferable? Sure. But get real. That happens rarely for ANY team. And, as David Locke pointed out, the Jazz are 6-1 in games decided by 5 points or less. Last year? 9-9. And 4-6 at this point last year. Pleasing trend, indeed.
So cheer up. This team will kick it into high gear, just like they do every January/February. But it’s going to take a little something extra this year. Deron Williams has to be the leader his team needs him to be.
His statistical numbers are there. The wins are there. But the chemistry among the starters is not. Instead of being overly critical (including of yourself), lighten up once in a while. Address the concerns, but don’t dwell on them. Express frustration, but follow it up with encouragement (which Williams has done, let it be known). You can’t always be a cheerleader, but you can’t always be a Grinch.
Be a leader beyond stats. Be the leader these boys deserve. Elite awaits.