Posted by: Spencer D. on February 2nd, 2012The author's views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of the Utah Jazz.
Yeah, that loss to the Clippers hurts real bad right now. Having Earl Watson go down hurt the Jazz’s energy offensively in the fourth. However, it’s times like these that I think players and fans alike praise the rigorous NBA schedule. The Jazz have another game tonight, after a tough loss at home. They’ll be able to forget the loss instead of brooding on it for another day, and hopefully use the anger and disappointment from losing to fuel a good road victory.
Even though missed free throws were again key to the loss, there was a lot of good in that game against the Clippers Wednesday night, first and foremost being that the Jazz gave an impressive showing on ESPN for the first time in a long time. It seems that being on national television always catches the Jazz on their worst nights.
The Jazz were 26 of 36 from the foul line last night. If they’d gone 29 of 36, they would’ve won by 1. Those three technical free throws were potentially game losing misses. If the Jazz want to win these close games, make free throws. They’re called free for a reason. I recall the quote, “We’re shooting 100 percent – 60 percent from the field and 40 percent from the free-throw line. ” ~Norm Stewart. Anyways, enough focusing on where the Jazz need to improve. That’s glaringly obvious to all us fans, I think. Let’s instead focus on three good things from the loss to the Clippers.
The Good: The Jazz Have Heart
This is the good thing in my list. After 20 games and 8 losses along the way, the Jazz have always fought and played hard to the end of every game, be it a blowout loss to the defending champions or a scary close win at home against the Blazers. I really like the fact that none of our players seem to back down. Enes Kanter isn’t afraid to play big defensive minutes, and he’s good at it. Offensively, his game is still raw, but he shut down LaMarcus Aldridge Monday night at home. Hayward deserves a mention here as well. For some reason, his offensive game is stalling. He looks a little wary shooting the ball, and that’s putting it optimistically. But instead of just trying to shoot his way out of what hopefully is a sophomore slump, he’s looking to do everything else he can for the Jazz. Steals, rebounds, defense; this kid’s doing it all right now. He’s developing a very good all around game. He’s going to be dangerous when his offense finally clicks into the speed of the NBA game. And of course, Milsap and Big Al are stalwarts down low, constantly fighting and carrying the Jazz on their back when the occasion calls for it. Jerry Sloan said, “Size doesn’t make any difference; heart is what makes a difference.” This is especially true in this Jazz team, I think. They’re playing inspired basketball, and sooner or later things will click and a deep playoff run will grace the fans of the Utah Jazz once again.
The Better: Al Jefferson Had 27 Points
Big Al proved that even against a “star” like Blake Griffin, he will always be able to put up some kind of decent numbers. He has consistently been a force down low, and his passing is improving every single game. He had 4 assists, tied for most out of the starters Wednesday night. He is becoming more and more the team player and leader that Jazz fans envisioned when we got him for basically nothing from Minnesota. A lot of people still complain about his defense and how he’s slow footed; that’s true, sometimes Big Al gets beat badly on the defensive end and it’s a pain to watch. However, he gives us something Boozer never did: blocks! He can get up and block shots, and usually it’s Big Al or Hayward who like to start the block party in Swat Lake City.
The Best: Milsap Is ALWAYS Clutch
Honestly, when was the last time you remember Paul missing a potential game winning or tying shot? I can’t. He had a miserably night offensively, but as the Jazz were down five with 20 seconds to go, I said to myself, it’s over. Then Milsap rose up and hit a 3. I rose up off my couch and screamed. He may not have contributed a lot due to the fact that Griffin seemed to be exacting revenge on him for the last time he paid a visit to Swat Lake City, but when it counts, Milsap will always be there for this Jazz team and if we get a championship with this group, it’ll most likely come because of stellar play from Milsap. Hopefully that’s not just wishful thinking on my part.
Anyways, there’s what I thought were the three best parts of the game. Share your thoughts with me! And Earl, our prayers are with you to get better soon! We need your bulldog attitude out there to help us win games!
Follow me on Twitter, @Spencer_Durrant
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