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Written by Spencer | 24 March 2012

If you missed last night, you missed arguably the best game of the season. Jazz took all of Denver's punches (literally) and still kept the their wits to run Denver off the floor. If this team plays like they have over the past two weeks, come playoff time, they could beat anyone in a seven game series. If, remind you, they play like they have over the past two weeks. 

Devin Harris went Circa 2007 on us with his best dunk in five years, and his first of the season. If you didn't see it, you need to check it out. Thanks to @ProdigyJF

Not only did Devin have a huge dunk, he played within the offense, and distributed the ball all over the floor (9 assists).  He lead the team. He was a leader. 

This was the best all around game of the season. The team passed the ball well and had a season high 32 assists. The Jazz scored a season high in points and the correlation between points and assists is obvious, but the Nuggets allowed us a ton of possessions because of their pace of play. The Jazz were amazingly efficient last night with 32 assists on 48 baskets, 7/15 from three,  18/29 from the FT line (could be a lot better) and only 14 turnovers. Normally the Jazz score 97 points on 100 possessions. Last night they scored 121 points on 97 possessions. That is efficiency.  

This win, as well as the last five, have been team wins. Yes, on certain nights some guys are shooting better, but none of these wins would have happened without a specific player on a specific night. 

The third quarter was one of the best of the season. Double Click for full size Popcorn Machine
Denver_at_Utah_Popcorn_Machine._
The lineup of Miles, Harris, Hayward, Millsap and Jefferson dominated the third quarter outscoring the Nuggets by ten and pushed the lead to 18 heading to the fourth. During that stretch they only had two turnovers and nine assists. 

The fourth quarter was a stat pad and highlight real that allowed us to see Earl's return. He Jeremy Evans hooked up on a couple of alley oops that crushed any thought of a miraculous Nugget comeback. 

The Road awaits, and so do recommitted Jazz fans. See you Sunday in Atlanta. I can't predict a win or a loss, but I can predict a team effort, which gives us every chance to win. 



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Written by Chad | 23 March 2012

Not only are we talking about the Utah Jazz making it into the playoffs, but the margin between 4th and 11th right now in the west is only 4 games, with anywhere between 18 and 21 games remaining for the 8 teams in this range. It’s still relatively early if you consider we are barely past the 2/3 mark of the season to start talking about such things as playoff seeding, but it’s so much fun that none of us really care! Some teams are bound to rise out of this muck, and some are bound to fall out, but for right now all 8 teams are legitimately in the mix.

With such a tight grouping of so many teams, it’s important to get a clear understanding of tie breaking rules in the NBA. Go here for a detailed analysis: http://www.nba.com/statistics/playoff_picture.html. Or, let me sum up the main points for you:

  1. All three division winners in the west are sufficiently above the fray so this primary tie breaker criteria should not come into play—Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs, and Los Angeles Lakers.
  2. Sans division winners being involved, the primary tie breaker criterion is Head-to-Head record. After that, record against own conference (west, obviously) is next, followed by record against playoff teams in own conference, but I won’t go very deep into that—just keep it in the back of your mind
  3. If more than two teams end with the same record, then the combined head-to-head records determine the seeding, and it gets sort of complicated from there.

In an effort to better explain number 3, and why its big time important, let’s look at the head-to-head records between these 8 teams:

Each cell represents the record of column team versus the row team (wins – losses – remaining). For instance, Utah has 2 wins against Memphis, 0 losses, and one game remaining. Each team’s total head-to-head record against the other 7 teams is summarized at the bottom. So against these other 7 teams, Utah has won 7, lost 8, and has 7 remaining to play.

While we are all very aware of Utah’s record against these teams, their record against each other might be just as important. In order to illustrate this, let’s take a fun example of the Jazz, Timberwolves, and Clippers being tied, assuming the season ended today. The Jazz have 2-1 record against Minnesota and a 1-1 record against the clips, meaning they are ahead or tied against both of them, which you would think would be good enough to either take the tie-breaker or at least move to the next category. The total head-to-head combined record for the Jazz in this example is 3-2, or 60%. However, the Timberwolves currently own a 3-0 record against the Clippers. Therefore, the Timberwolves combined head-to-head record at this time is 4-2, or 66%, while the Clippers would have a 1-4 record in this scenario, or a 20% head-to-head record. Therefore, the final order would be Timberwolves, Jazz, then Clippers if they were to end up tied in this example. Even though the Jazz own the head-to-head against the Timberwolves, they would end up seeded behind them!

It gets even more complicated if in a multi-way tie situation, two or more of the teams have the same head-to-head winning percentage. There are no easy to explain example of this, but if in a four-way tie for instance 2 of the teams had a 60% head-to-head win percentage and that was greater than the other two, it would then be reduced to a 2 way tie between the two teams with 60%, and 2 way tie-breaker rules would then used to determine the winner between the two.

While these situations are unlikely, unlikely situations just love to happen in the NBA. It will be especially exciting if we are talking about a 3 or 4 way team between teams all of which are in the playoffs, and the tie-breaker criteria are used to determine seeding, not just who wins out for a final spot. Hopefully within a few weeks, we will see this 8 team list shortened to 4 or 5—with the Jazz being one of the 5, of course—and we can start getting a clearer idea of who we are rooting for when scoreboard watching around the league.

Final note: if the Jazz win tonight they would be in a three-way tie with the Nuggets and the Rockets (this will be true no matter the outcome of other games tonight). The Jazz would then have a 3-2 head-to-head record, or 60%. The Nuggets and Rockets would have a 2-3 (40%) and a 2-2 (50%) record, respectively. Therefore, for at least one day, the Utah Jazz would be the 7th seed!

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Written by Clint Peterson | 22 March 2012

March 20, 2012

Al Jefferson
, pre-game: You gotta do whatever it takes to win. Whatever it takes to win games, to get to the Playoffs. It’s not about Al Jefferson. It’s not about Paul Millsap. It’s not about Devin. It’s about the Utah Jazz.

Paul Millsap, post-game: Our team is playing great. Our bench is playing great. It’s a team effort. It’s not just me. It’s not just Al, or Devin. It’s a team effort.

Big Al: Coach ran a play for me at the end of the game, and I said, “No, give it to Paul.” He ran it for Paul, same play. Paul hit a big shot that put us up 6. That’s just what it takes to win.

[Why did you think Paul had a better chance of scoring?] Number one, I was scrubbin’ a little bit from the field. Paul wasn’t. I felt like Paul had a better advantage on Ibaka than I did on Perkins. For the last four games that we had won, Paul been the finisher. He been the one that been closing the games out. So, why stop now? I said, just go to him. And he didn’t let me down.

Big Al: [How much is the team like a family to you?] It’s not “like”; they are family, they your second family. We fight for each other, you know’m sayin, we go to war with each other. And at the end of the day I believe we would die for each other...

Courtesy Living and Dying By the Jazz


 

The only warning required was that you may need a box of tissues. Bravo, Shandonfan. Bravo. 

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Written by Alan Zaugg | 21 March 2012

Two nights after putting the clamps on the leading scorer in the NBA, the Utah Jazz hosted the second leading scorer in the NBA, Kevin Durant. A tough task for the young, shorthanded Jazz squad, who had found out earlier yesterday that Josh Howard would undergo season ending knee surgery.

With the previous two meetings being what they were, blowouts, I think Jazz fan was content to let this game be what it is, learn, grow, and move on to the next one. I dont think anyone expected what was to come.

This game started off slow. The Jazz seemed to struggle to get an offensive flow early, partly due to the defensive pressure that Oklahoma City was putting on them. The Thunder were contesting every shot attempt the Jazz took (six blocks by half) and it seemed that it would be a long and difficult night. It seemed impossible to break the defensive stronghold being put on them.

But the struggles ended there...right there...at the end of the first quarter. What came next? A grind it out, back and forth basketball game that proved to be more than anyone expected.

The defense that had gotten them a win in LA came ready in the second quarter. Forcing the Thunder into turnovers and getting in on the rim action themselves. By halftime the Jazz had almost equaled OKC's blocks with five of their own. And had taken an eight point lead to the locker room.

But it is the Thunder we are talking about. You know...Durant, Westbrook, Harden...yeah those guys. And they came storming back in the third quarter behind a blistering 71.4% shooting. Yes they were that hot! But it was the defense that came to play in the fourth, combined with a little fancy showboating and such that found the Jazz on the winning side of the scoreboard in the end.

Millsap_OKCvsJazz
(AP photo/George Frey)

Highlights:

CJ continues to play well on defense drawing yet another tough assignment in Kevin Durant. After putting on a defensive show Sunday against Kobe, CJ followed it up with yet another brilliant performance helping to slow down Durant. Durant finished the night 6-22 with 18 points and six turnovers. CJ frustrated Durant and contested every shot he took. It’s no surprise that CJ is seeing more time of late. His defensive intensity has risen to new heights. It is obvious that he has made a concerted effort to assert himself more on the defensive end of the court.
CJ_OKCvsJazz
Copyright 2012 NBAE (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)

Devin Harris continues his hot streak from behind the arc. It was his three straight shots from downtown that opened up the paint for the Jazz in the third quarter, alllowing Jefferson to do his work on the low block against Perkins. Devin Harris has been on fire from outside of late. And for the Jazz, that is a welcome site. When Devin is on is game whether he is darting to the basket or hitting the outside jumper, it opens up a world of opportunities for the rest of the team. Devin has found his groove. That groove that made him an All-Star not too many years ago. And a groove of any sort at the point guard position is huge for the young Jazz team.
DHarris_OKCvsJazz
Copyright 2012 NBAE (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)

Finally, one highlight, one lone highlight was the play of the night. Early in the 4th quarter Jamaal Tinsley, who has been a rock for the team all season called for a pick and roll from Kanter and in one flashy, yo-yo like move, went around the pick, bounced the ball between defenders legs, and put up a push shot that caught nothing but the bottom of the net. Tinsley has been the crafty, headsy veteran who sits his time on the bench and comes in when called upon to simply do what he does. He has been the veteran voice for the team and when called upon, has come in and played basketball. Smart, simple, plain old basketball...with a little flare of course. And he did it again last night. He finished the night with 11 points and three assists, but was a spark that the Jazz needed off the bench. 

After all is said and done, the Utah Jazz have themselves a 4 game winning streak going. A streak that has seen them play two gritty overtime games, go on the road and steal a game from the best homecourt team in the NBA, then come home and frustrate the best team in the West.

The Jazz are poised to make a playoff push. And with wins like this, they are making it clear that they will not be denied.

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Written by Kyle Kirkham | 20 March 2012

POW
Besides the defensive meltdown vs the Suns, the Jazz played really well this week. They blew out the Pistons at home, were able to close two overtime games against the Wolves and Warriors, and then somehow did the impossible and beat LA, in LA. It’s crazy, after never being able to win in LA during the Sloan/D-Will era, the Jazz have already done it twice in the past year. Overall, I think it’s fair to say most of us fans really enjoyed watching the team play last week, and it wasn’t just because we were winning, but how we were.


Devin Harris

Last week’s line:  13.6 points (41%), 5.6 assists (2.4 TO’s), 2.2 rebounds, 1.2 steals

While his shooting has gone down a little, I still really like the way Harris has been playing. He scored 12 or more in each of our wins and led the team in assists for the week (Yay! Our starting point guard led the team in assists!). Harris also stepped up in the clutch, getting big time buckets vs the Warriors and Lakers. Every week I talk about how I don’t think Harris is part of our future, but he is slowly making a case that he might be.

 

Raja Bell

Last week’s line: 3.3 points (44%), 1.7 rebounds, .7 assists (.3 TO’s)

Bell missed the last two games with injury, but did not impress in his first three games of the week. Raja simply looked like he did at the first of the year, really bad. He obviously wasn’t traded, so it will be interesting to see where he fits in once he recovers from his latest injury.

 

Josh Howard

Last week’s line: 8.2 points (40%), 3.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists (1.6 TO’s)

Howard was kind of “meh” last week. Didn’t have any great numbers, had more TO’s than assists (seriously though, does he know how to pass on a fast break?), but he was key in our victory vs the Lakers and it’s hard to hate on that. We all know he isn’t going to be with the Jazz long term, but he still can make contributions to the team as they make a run at the playoffs.

***UPDATE***

If you haven’t heard already, Josh Howard is out for the rest of the NBA season due to his left knee, which needs surgery. I don’t think we will resign him over the summer, which means this is probably the last time I write about him. I know I wasn’t Howard’s biggest fan, but I wish him the best of luck in recovery and hope his can continue his stay in the league. However I don’t see this as a major blow to the Jazz. While Josh was a contributor at times, I think Hayward and Burks are both better players, and now will share some of his minutes.

 

Paul Millsap

Last week’s line: 16.6 points (42%), 10.4 rebounds, 4 assists (1.6 TO’s), 4.4 steals, 1.2 blocks

Millsap had quite the week. While he wasn’t giving us 20 points every night, he showed up just about everywhere else. 4 assists, 4.4 steals, for a power forward? That’s incredible. Not to mention he still averaged a double double. Millsap is the only power forward to lead his team in steals, and is 5th in the league in steals per game, 5th! He also had another stellar game vs the Lakers, doing something a former Jazz power forward never could do (Hint: His name rhymes with snoozer).

MillsapStealsTweet

 

Al Jefferson

Last week’s line:  21 points (55%), 10.7 rebounds, .7 assists (1.3 TO’s), 1 block

Al only played in three games this week due to the passing of his grandmother, and he dedicated his game vs the Pistons to her, putting on quite the show. Al spun Monroe in circles and scored 33 points on lights out shooting and even hit his first career three (in the final seconds of the game). I gave Al an automatic pass in his next two games despite him playing poorly, I don’t think I can judge a player who just lost one of his biggest influences. Maybe something to keep that in mind as he returns to the lineup this week.

 

Jamaal Tinsley

Last week’s line: 8 points (52%), 4.3 assists (2 TO’s), 1.8 rebounds

With Watson going down early last week with a sprained ankle, Tinsley took control of our second unit, and did a really good job. A lot of fans weren’t too excited when we signed Tinsley, and I don’t blame them. He had “washed up vet” written all over him, the fact that he was playing in the D-League didn’t help either. But here we are, talking about Jamaal Tinsley. While he isn’t as good at scoring like Devin, and isn’t a defensive player like Watson, Jamaal is the best passing point guard on this team. Tinsley averages 8.6 assists per 36 minutes, compared to 7.1 (Watson) and 6.4 (Harris). The problem is he’s third on the depth chart and Earl should be back in the lineup at some point this week. I’m glad I don’t have Ty Corbin’s job.

 

CJ Miles

Last week’s line: 8.8 points (41%), 1.8 assists (1 TO), 1 rebound, 1.5 steals

And the #Whatupdoe Era continues! But seriously, I’m sure that the passing of the trade deadline was a major relief to Miles, and I don’t think any of those rumors helped out his game last week. Statistically, Miles didn’t have a good week. However I do think he did a better than usual job of contributing elsewhere. CJ was second on the team in steals, had the highest average +/- on the week with +8.3 (Favors was next at +5.6) and was Kobe’s main defender, who shot 3/20. The season is 2/3’s over, and now is Miles last chance to make a good impression of the Jazz front office.

 

Gordon Hayward

Last week’s line: 11.8 points (50%), 2.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists (.4 TO’s)

Gordon continued his good play off the bench through last week, including a 26 point game (and some damn big plays) vs the T-Wolves. He did completely disappear offensively vs LA though (0 points, 2 shots) which can be a bit concerning. Hayward has done this a few times this season, but I don’t think it is always his fault. I think Gordon is going to be a good player, the type that every team wants. The key for him to play good consistently, which mean he needs a consistent role. And with the Josh Howard news, he could very well get that consistent role pretty soon here.



Derrick Favors

Last week’s line: 11.8 points (52%), 9.2 rebounds, 1.2 blocks, 1.6 assists (24.6 minutes)

GoodBoringTweet

Derrick Favors definitely likes himself, because he is definitely good and the complete opposite of boring. Favors played tremendous last week. In my last post I wrote the Favors was playing the best ball of his career, and a week later he is playing even better. The absence of Jefferson and a bump in minutes gave Derrick the chance to up his play even more, and he didn’t disappoint. Derrick started the week solid, but things really picked up on Wednesday night. While Favors only finished with 4 points, he set a career high in rebounds with 16 (against a Love/Pekovic front court) and had four blocks. He then followed that up with the best game of his career vs the Warriors. Derrick finished with a new career high in points (23), rebounds (17), FT’s (9/9), had an OT forcing and-one dunk, then made multiple baskets in the extra period to help get the W. But no, Favors wasn’t finished yet. He went on to record a double double vs the Lakers (and Bynum), while setting a new career high in assists, with 4. We are witnessing Favors take the next step. Like Locke said in one of his recent “Tip Off” video’s, Favors is starting to realize what he can do with his body, and using that to his advantage. Also, here are some awesome quotes from the sophomore.

FavorsDamnRightTweet



Enes Kanter

Last week’s line: 6.6 points (54%), 6.6 rebounds (15.4 minutes)

Kanter rebounded from his slump and had possibly the best week of his career last week. His weekly stats translate out to 15.4 (points and rebounds) per 36 minutes. That’s really quite good, you guys. And like Favors, Kanter also had some fun setting career highs. Enes grabbed 13 boards (in 20 minutes!) against the Warriors, then scored 17 points (and made 5 FT’s) vs the Lakers. But he wasn’t just scoring vs the Lakers, he was scoring against the second best center in the league, Andrew Bynum. And don't forget his defense on Bynum as well.

KanterBullyBynumTweet

I still can’t believe this kid is only 19.



Alec Burks

Last week’s line: 13.7 points (57%), 3.3 rebounds, 1 assist (1 TO) (26.5)

It’s amazing to think that Burks started out the week with 2 DNP-CD’s, but he did. However the way he played in the next 3 games was even more amazing. Alec finished the week 3rd in scoring, and led the team in shooting %. Then Alec had the best game of his career (how many times have I said this so far?) in LA scoring 17 points in 19 minutes, while doing most of his damage in the pivotal fourth quarter.

FearlessBurksTweet

The plays he has been making are incredible; he is already finishing at the rim at an elite level. Ever since David Locke scouted Burks in college, I have heard a lot of Burks/Wade comparisons. Here are some fun Per 36 (minutes) numbers comparing the two's rookie years.

WadeBurksPer36

I’m not saying Burks is the next D-Wade, because I doubt he is. However, there is no denying that he can score at this level. Josh Howard’s injury means that there are going to be 25 more minutes to go around, so Burks is likely to get a big boost in PT, and I’m excited to see what he can do with it.


*Players who didn’t play (much): Jeremy Evans, DeMarre Carroll, Earl Watson


It was awesome watching our team play last week, and it was especially awesome to watch our young players preform and close games. I bet most of you can guess who won this week's award.


Player of the Week: Week 12


FavorsPOW12

Our latest PoW Winner introduces himself to the rim. (Photo via Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune)

Derrick Favors 11.8 points (52%), 9.2 rebounds, 1.2 blocks, 1.6 assists (24.6 minutes)

Derrick Favors, my second favorite tweeter (Behind Karl Malone, of course)
 FavFavorsTweets

Runner up: Paul Millsap


Special Mentions: Alec Burks, Al Jefferson, Enes Kanter


Thanks @sproul13 for weekly stats

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Written by Chad | 20 March 2012

I wanted to write a quick follow up piece to the one that I wrote a few weeks ago since things have changed dramatically since then. Luckily, no one ever actually saw that one, so let’s just forget about that for now shall we?

Once again let us set aside the question of what is best for the Utah Jazz. It’s an ongoing debate and despite what people on both sides of the issue say, there is no easy answer. I want the Jazz to miss the playoffs because I think we are going to desperately need the draft pick to facilitate a trade that we will have to make, that of trading away Al Jefferson, even though such a move will break my little heart. I want the Jazz to make the playoffs because, more than anything, I want Al Jefferson to go to the playoffs. Despite his flaws, Al is such a good person, and so easy to root for. Regardless, let’s not go there today…

The Jazz currently sit at a 45.3% of making the playoffs according to the brilliant mind of John Hollinger (side note: it has jumped like 20 points from the last two wins). Hollinger has the Rockets at the 8th seed currently in his projections with a 34-33 record, although he only lists their playoff odds at 46.6%, so the margin right now is razor thin. One has to be real careful interpreting a lot from these base percentages, however, simply because all the teams in the 8th seed hunt changed so much at the deadline, with the Jazzes main change being they started playing their best players more. The important takeaway is the 34-32 record. Let us go ahead and assume 34 wins is the magic number for now; it’s as good a starting point as any.

Quick side note, since none of you actually saw my previous piece, with regards to the two biggest changes since I wrote that. The first is other teams in the hunt are going south, and the magic number went from 36 wins a few weeks ago to 34 today. The other—and this one is huge obviously—is the Utah Jazz won two games I had pegged as absolute losses (Miami at home and @LAL) and haven’t dropped any games I had pegged as absolute wins yet.

So let’s take a look at the 21 remaining games on the schedule:

Oklahoma City Thunder

@ Los Angeles Clippers

@ New Orleans Hornets

@ Sacramento Kings

@ Portland Trailblazers

@ Memphis Grizzlies – B2B

Denver Nuggets – B2B

Phoenix Suns

Dallas Mavericks

@ Atlanta Hawks

Golden State Warriors

@ Portland Trailblazers

@ New Jersey Nets – B2B

@ San Antonio Spurs

Orlando Magic

@ Boston Celtics

San Antonio Spurs – B2B

Phoenix Suns

Sacramento Kings

@ Houston Rockets

Portland Trailblazers

 

For the purpose of the simplification I pegged 3 games as “Safe Red” and 3 games as “Safe Blue” (pardon the political related snark). Yes I have Atlanta in there because for some reason, the Atlanta Hawks have our number. I put the hornets as safe blue because I think the Jazz go back there and get their vengeance. So if we make these assumptions, and add them to our current record that puts us at 26-25 leaving us needing 8 more wins from the remaining 15. Let’s take a look at what is left after that:

@ Sacramento Kings

@ Portland Trailblazers

@ Memphis Grizzlies – B2B

Denver Nuggets – B2B

Phoenix Suns

Dallas Mavericks

@ New Jersey Nets – B2B

Golden State Warriors

@ Portland Trailblazers

@ Boston Celtics

San Antonio Spurs – B2B

Orlando Magic

@ Los Angeles Clippers

@ Houston Rockets

Phoenix Suns

 

So the Jazz would need to go 8-7 out of these remaining 15. If I was a betting man (and I am), I would bet even money on that happening. This is really happening, and only 3 weeks or so after I wrote a piece no one read about the fact that it was next to impossible…

One final thought, if we want to get into the world of fantasy. A few extra wins here or there, or a few extra losses by Denver and Dallas (neither of which is actually that out of the realm of possibility), and Jazz could end up in the 6th seed, which would currently put us playing the Lakers…

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Written by Spencer | 19 March 2012

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Written by Matthew Oliver | 18 March 2012

PaulandGordon
(Paul Fraughton | The Salt Lake Tribune) - Left 
(Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images) - Right

The impending trade deadline may have left the Utah Jazz a little flat earlier this week when they offered little to nothing on the defensive end during a rout in Phoenix that didn't really look that much like a rout by the numbers. In the aftermath of that deadline, as nothing at all happened, Jazz fans had something to feel a little "meh" about. In the games that followed however, Jazz fans have gotten something to feel a lot "hell yeah!" about. Younger players and veterans alike have been pulled together to finish games decisively, albeit not in regulation. While the Jazz beat the improved (and now Rubio-less) Timberwolves at full strength, they succeeded in surviving the Warriors without the significant support of thier leading scorer, Al Jefferson.

The battle for the final playoff spot in the west is white hot right now. Phoenix and Utah are each only a game and-a-half out of eighth place and Minnesota is only two games out. Clearly, as every media outlet that covers the Jazz has pointed out, every game counts. The game against Minnesota counted more.

With only three games against the Timberwolves in this truncated season, Thursday's game would grant the victor the tiebreak in case of a possible deadlock for the eight seed. Minnesota has in its pocket season series wins against Houston and Portland with Phoenix yet to be decided. After some theatrical basketball in Utah on Thursday, Minnesota lost the season series against the Jazz, a fact that is significantly playoff relevant.

As is often the case with overtime victories the most important moments of the game happened in the last few seconds of regulation and the resultant five minutes of extra basketball.

A sign of progress
against Minnesota. 
Ty Corbin doesn't have plays for closing games. It isn't a coaching deficiency, it's an experience deficiency. The play our rookie coach drafted up at the end of regulation against Minnesota was good enough to be discussed on SportsCenter and in The Daily regardless of the fact that Paul Millsap missed the crucial layup. Corbin created something beautiful that cleared space for an imbounds pass play to Millsap at the bucket for the win. The ball just didn't fall. The fact that Ty Corbin called a play that was highlight worthy if effective and still discussion worthy while it wasn't should make Jazz fans unbelievably happy. Our young guys are clearly growing. So is our head coach.

An overtime victory against Minnesota.
Tied at 105-105 with 1:14 left in OT Paul Millsap began his redemption explosion. Paul Millsap picked a pass to Kevin Love, Harris recovered and tossed the ball over his shoulder like an apple core, to Millsap who dished it to Hayward for the huge slam dunk. Jazz up two. After a Hayward recovered a missed Webster three ball, Harris found Millsap off the pick and pop at the top of the key who knocked down a sweet jumper with :19 left. Jazz up four. Immediately thereafter, Paul Millsap picked off the inbounds pass to Kevin Love forcing the Timberwolves to foul after a twenty second time out. Hayward converts both free throws. Jazz up six. Victory!

raisingtheroof
We call it, Raising the Roof.

***

The game last night against Golden State came with it the usual burden of proving something against Mark Jackson and the additional burden of proving that the Jazz are capable of grabbing victory from an opponent without the consistent offensive barrage of support from Al Jefferson. 

A sign of progress
against Golden State
The fourth quarter heroics of Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Devin Harris put the Jazz back in the game they lost control of late against Nate Robinson and the Warriors. It was big defense and unbelievable offense, strung together, that kept the Jazz in the game and put them in a position to dominate Golden State in overtime. Starting with a monster block to recover the steal which translated into full court Gordon Hayward fastbreak madness at the 2:30 mark in the fourth, the Jazz executed a series of powerhouse plays kept Energy Solutions Arena on their feet: Click to see the Gordon Hayward dominate on both ends. After a huge shot from Devin Harris with 41 seconds left in regulation to tie it up, Nate Robinson knocked down a brutal three pointer. With 30 seconds left in the game, down three, Favors set the pick, rolled into a Harris pass and slammed the ball home right in 
Andris Biedrins' face for the and 1. The young pieces are coming together. On a night when the best show of support for Big Al in his time of grief was to show up and be a beast in the post, Favors did just that. 23 points, 1 block , 1 steal and 2 assists. Epic. Sadly the jazz couldn't close it out the the fourth.

favorsbiedrens 

An overtime victory against Golden State
Unlike the victory against Minnesota, there was never really any equilibrium as far as the score is concerned. Favors opened the quarter with a free throw line jumper, Gordon Hayward followed with the spot up jumper. Jazz lead by four. Favors recovers a fumble under the hoop by Millsap and puts it up and in for two. Jazz lead by four and force a Golden State timeout with 3:21 left. Millsap tips in the fall away jumper miss by favors and puts the Jazz back up six at 2:41. Millsap knocks the long elbow jumper down at 1:55 to give the Jazz an eight point lead. Millsap takes it to the rack for two more, gets slapped in the face on a despicable no call, and put Utah up 10. After a late three from Robinson Jazz get the 7 point victory and back to back home wins in overtime. No Al Jefferson, no Earl Watson, no Raja Bell

The Jazz have gone from 0-2 to 2-2 in overtime play this year in three days, and climbed back up to .500 in the same span of time. A tough rest of the season lies ahead, but if these last two games are any indicator of how the Jazz will perform in games with extra playoff significance, there exists a real possibility that after only one year of not making the post season, the Jazz may make an appear anew. 

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Written by Clint Peterson | 15 March 2012

The Utah Jazz didn't find an acceptable trade partner by this year's deadline. How did fan reaction go?

I sum up.

 

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But hey, at least we're not the Portland Trail Blazers.

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However, if you feel the need to drown your sorrows I'm here to help. Utah style.

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Written by Matthew Oliver | 15 March 2012

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(Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)

Tonight's game ended in Phoenix with the Jazz becoming the fifth worst road team in the NBA. Offensive highlights from a hobbled Utah back court were perhaps the only moments of brightness during a defenseless outing in the valley of the sun. A buzzer beater from  sturdy third string point guard Jamaal Tinsley and a strong first half of basketball from a team that clearly doesn't have a player to lead them through the second half just aren't enough to make up for a failed outing from a team battling to stay playoff relevant.

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Tonight may well be the last night we see long-time Jazz man CJ Miles and on-again-off-again Jazz man Raja Bell in a Utah uniform. If it comes to pass that either are traded in the coming hours, the last game they played for this franchise will have been inauspicious and disappointing, not because of the end result, but because on the defensive end of the floor Utah didn't play their hearts out, fight for boards, press the Suns elite point guard or in any fashion try to make Phoenix work for the victory that was far less close than it appeared. Due credit to CJ for his 2 steals, but the aggregate was still not nearly significant enough to eclipse the Suns.

This squad doesn't have a Steve Nash or anyone like him and hasn't since more than a year ago when we sent the last of our elite packing in exchange for a promise of the future. The Suns' endgame makes this abundantly clear. It isn't hard to understand why, at the 6 minute mark just as Utah had tied the game heading down the stretch, Alvin Gentry put Nash back into the game to finish the job that Jared Dudley (4 of 6 from beyond the arc, 21 pts) started. While Nash was on the floor his team was +17. Not one of the Phoenix starters had a +/- less than +17 with Channing Frye rocking an astonishing +25 on 26 points on 53% shooting. The Jazz starters, on the other hand, didn't have a single member above -10.

Pile on top of that performance the fact that Earl Watson reinjured his ankle after only eight minutes of play, rendering him doubtful for tomorrow night's home stand against Minnesota, and you have to arrive at the conclusion that the second half of this season is going to be a slog. Trade or no trade, playoffs or not, the Jazz are in for a long haul. 

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I don't want to add fuel to the already glaringly bright fire that is the debate over minutes and how many the rookies and sophomores should get, but it is interesting to note that while our starters +/- were all negative, our entire bench was a significant net positive (exception: Tinsley). Hayward (+5, 13 pts), Favors (+12, 14 pts) and Kanter (+8, 8 pts) showed why there is more promise than not in our young ballers. I don't believe that we should forsake our veterans in favor of complete investment in the Check ID team, but I hope that if we do have to part one of our veteran wings it means no more Burks' DNP CDs.

The prognosis for Utah after this loss isn't terrible. There will be good wins mixed with disappointing losses in near equal number for a few seasons to come. How the Jazz went down in Phoenix is the symptom of a broader disorder the Jazz currently battle: Zero Star Syndrome. There is talent to nurture and a business to sustain for the staff in Salt Lake City and future success means uncertainty now. This is the Jazz of now and a little while to come.

Final Score:
Suns 120 Jazz 111


Tonight's game went alot like: Josh Martinez – Uphill Climb

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