Posted by: Earl-Stevens on March 4th, 2010The author's views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of the Utah Jazz.
I’m a bit discouraged about the Jazz’ recent losses to sub-500 teams. In games against the Kings and Clippers, the Jazz started slowly and looked flat through the first three quarters. The competitive juices started flowing in the fourth quarter and the Jazz made some great plays before falling short at the end.
I’m starting to see some of the early-season inconsistency creep back, and the team just doesn’t seem as fluid or unstoppable as they were from mid-January through the post All-Star road trip. During the unstoppable stretch, they seemed to understand their roles and worked well as a team â€“ an elite 12-piston machine rumbling efficiently toward the playoffs.
After the long road trip, the V-12 seemed a bit tired and out of synch. D-Will and AK are beat up, and Boozer and Korver have been picking up the slack. But this is a V-12 engine. . .the machine can’t limp into the playoffs on four cylinders. What happened to the rest of the team?
I believe the Jazz machine needs a tune-up, and there are a couple of components in this ride that need service:
CJ Miles’ Timing Belt â€“ The timing belt is definitely out of synch here. He takes bad shots at the worst times. Commits fouls when we can least afford them, and I feel like the engine always runs roughly when he’s in the game. He’s gifted, talented, entertaining, and has a lot of potential, but he’s wildly inconsistent.
Mehmet Okur’s Alternator â€“ When Memo hits big shots, he acts like the V-12’s alternator – - charging the team’s battery. When he’s hitting outside shots, he also opens the floor by forcing big men to shadow him on the perimeter. Memo hasn’t been the same since the All-Star break, and his alternator role has been partially assumed by Kyle Korver. We need Memo back at full force â€“ if he and Korver get hot at the same time â€“ watch out!
Paul Millsap’s Windshield Wipers â€“ Millsap gets slapped in the face at least twice each game. How many times have you seen him run down the court wincing after a brilliant pump-fake and layup sequence â€“ after being pounded in the face by a juked defender. No foul. Millsap protests weakly and wears a dour expression for the next couple of possessions. Millsap needs to take a couple of lessons from Karl Malone – - lead with an elbow, kick a leg out, do something to protect himself and make the defender think twice next time. Millsap is an absolute animal, but someone needs to activate his mean gene to make defenders give him a little space — and respect.
Ronnie Price and Wesley Matthews’ Fuel Injectors â€“ Price and Matthews are both high-energy players, but there have been times during the past couple of games where they’ve seemed hesitant and lethargic. Price’s big moments seem to come at times of desperation â€“ like when he blocks a layup after turning over the ball. Matthews comes alive when there’s three seconds left on the shot clock and he’s forced to drive through three defenders for an off-balance layup. How about dropping a bottle of STP in the tank so you don’t have to stomp on the accelerator to access that power?
The Jazz are a great team, but like all high-performance machines, they need constant tuning and maintenance. Sloan is a great coach with a very competent support staff, and more than 20 years of NBA coaching experience. His machine is banged up and has performed inconsistently over the past few games, but like a good mechanic, he’ll pull the car in for a pit stop, hammer out the dents, give it a tune up, and â€“ hopefully – have it up and running quickly.
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