Posted by: Jaron on January 17th, 2012The author's views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of the Utah Jazz.
Wow, what a game. I haven’t had that much fun watching the Jazz play since… I’m tempted to say ever, but I’ll go at least as far as to say since we made the Western Conference finals in 2007. The comeback games early last year were definitely fun to watch, but they also had that “pit in your stomach” feeling that comes from a game winning shot attempt after a 4th quarter comeback. Games like those are enjoyed most after the fact, when Paul Millsap tips in that shot, or nails that 3. When D-Will slashes through the lane for a game clinching layup.
This game however was just plain fun, from start to finish. This was a great team effort. Six different Jazz players scored in double figures, Evans and Bell almost got there as well, and there were only eight turnovers committed on our side.
I’d just like to make a few deeper observations from the game.
CJ Miles is insanely fast, he blew several defenders out of their shoes tonight to get easy layups, which warmed up his jump shot, and he also hit Al Jefferson after burning another defender for an easy shot. The knock on him is consistency, but I have always liked his attitude, just wish he’d slash to the basket every night, instead of settling for jump shots. He needs to play every night like he did tonight.
Gordon Hayward had three points tonight, paving the way for the bandwagon jumpers to call for someone else to start in his place, forgetting he put up 19 two nights ago in Denver. In that game he had the first two points on an easy layup, in this game it seemed like most of the first quarter had gone by before he attempted his first shot. I think it’s obvious that he loses confidence if he doesn’t get involved very early in the offense. Hopefully Coach Corbin notices this, and I’m sure he will. This brings me to my next point.
Ty Corbin has done a great job trying different lineups and rolling with what works. He takes guys out when they are playing poorly and clogging up the offense, i.e. Hayward tonight, CJ in Denver. He makes sure everyone has good match-ups. I loved seeing Raja guarding Chauncey Billups early on. Chauncey is clearly the best back court player on the Clippers when Chris Paul isn’t playing, and Raja really shut him down early. Billups shot 25% from the field tonight. I don’t remember seeing Devin Harris and Watson playing together until tonight, I’m sure it has happened, but tonight they were very effective in the short time they were on the court together. Devin Harris hit some great shots at the 2 spot and looked very comfortable. They got out and ran and continued to build on the lead and I felt that lineup really blew the game open early on.
I’ll make a couple more obvious observations that I would be wrong to leave out of any post about this game. Paul Millsap is clearly the leader on this team and the best player, he was knocking the ball out of Blake Griffin’s hands on almost every possession, which clearly flustered him and made him almost a non factor on offense.
Jeremy Evans is incredibly electrifying, he had me jumping off of my couch several times tonight. Not sure he’ll continue to get very many minutes when Favors comes back, but there’s no doubt he is a very exciting player to watch, I would love to see what he can do in the dunk contest if given the opportunity.
Alec Burks is going to score a ton of points for the Jazz, his style of play just makes it obvious. His shots are going to fall more consistently, because he takes great shots, but the key is he gets to the line. As long as he continues to drive and get to the line, he is going to score efficiently in bunches and bigger bunches when given the minutes and with more experience. I predict he will average at least 20 ppg once he gets his shot to be a bigger part of the offense and play more minutes consistently.
I love Kanter’s toughness at such a young age, give him time to work out his rookie quirks and he is going to be an enforcer on our team for years. He is already showing his strength advantage over nearly every guy he matches up against, hopefully we get to see him match up against Demarcus Cousins when the Kings and Jimmer come to town. Cousins and Kanter are practically the same height and weight, I’d like to see which one is stronger.
Our depth is the key to our success. I can’t remember the last time I felt great about our lineups no matter who is on the floor. Even Jamaal Tinsley made me believe with his garbage minutes, I will admit I cringed when I saw him come into the game, even with our huge lead. He took some bad shots, but also made some amazing plays; the half-court alley-oop to Evans, and the behind the back Globetrotter layup both had me up off the couch. That being said I still believe he is our weakest rotation player, but he’s at the end of the rotation, so who cares? It is just awesome to never cringe when any of our players enter the game. I don’t know if there’s any other team in the league that has depth across the board the way we do, and that depth will win us a lot more games than it already has this year.
Sidenote: Anyone hoping the Jazz get some respect from the media? Fughettaboutit! Just watched the NBATV highlights of the Clips and Jazz, I swear to you the highlights were split 50-50. Maybe 60-40 Jazz. In a game that was 100% Utah. They couldn’t help but show more highlights of Blake Griffin than Millsap. They didn’t even mention Utah’s winning 8 of their last 9, and although they seem to be pleasantly entertained by the leaping ability of Jeremy Evans, as long as the Jazz have no clear cut SUPERSTAR (I think Millsap should be getting serious all-star recognition, but I’m not holding my breath) they won’t get anywhere near the respect we might like to see. My thoughts: WHO CARES? The joke is on them if they can’t see the incredible basketball on display in the last nine Utah Jazz games. Let us happily fly under everyone’s radar and right into a high seed in the playoffs with a great chance to do some damage. Is it probable? It may still be too early to tell, but is it possible? I’d say it is very possible.
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