Update: Originally posted 3/9/08 at Biased Fan. How could I not? Easily the best title I had, no?
Ha ha… get the title? Get it? No “D” in Denver. Ha ha… I’m so clever! Okay, I’ll stop now.
Can you say impressive? The Jazz were hitting on all cylinders tonight, jumping up by 31 before finally “settling” for a 132-105 win on their home-court. It’s one thing to win in such fashion when you’re playing a team that is about ready to give up on the season, or when you’re playing a team that just can’t hit a shot for the life of them in the game (it happens). It’s completely different when you explode for 77 points in a half, when you drain 11 of 15 long-bombs, when you shoot over 60%, when you have 7 guys in double-digits and 4 players with double-doubles… and even more impressive when you do it against a team with 2 All-Star’s, against a team that’s still in the playoff chase. And when you do it against (hated?) division rivals… it’s all the more sweeter. Yes, a win is a win. But when you can leave a message like this on the back end of a back-to-back, road-home set, it feels all the more better. Especially with a 4 game road-swing coming up.
First, for the sadly pathetic Nuggets. AI (28, 4 assists) and Hit-N-Run (24, 6 boards) were there (as they always are), but they really got no help. By the time bench-players JR Smith (16 points on 7-12 shooting, 1-4 from deep) and Linas Kleiza (14 points, 5-9 shooting) decided to step up a little in the 4th quarter, the game was already over, with AI on the bench and Hit-N-Run ready to join him. Chucky Atkins added 9 points off of the bench. Marcus Camby had 6 points and 9 boards, and Kenyon Martin added 2 points before leaving after 10 minutes with a “mild concussion” (how the hell can a concussion be mild?). The 5th starter, Anthony Carter was scoreless. Yakhouba Diawara had 2 points off of the bench, and Eduardo Najera had 4 points and 5 fouls. The team shot 47.5% from the field (not really a bad mark), but just 23.8% from deep (5-21). They did nail 24 of their 33 FTs. They only had 30 boards (5 offensive), and only 17 assists. Those numbers look even worse when compared to the Jazz…
Deron stepped up huge for the Jazz. Despite being relatively cold (5-13) from the field, he finished with 14 points and 16 assists. That’s right… one less assist than the entire Nuggets team! Oh, he also had a long (30-foot?) bomb in the 4th with the shot clock winding down that was just amazing in the fact that he swished it from so far out. Brewer had 8 points in… you guessed it, 24 minutes. CJ had 13 points, going 5-10 from the field (2-3 from deep). Booze joined Deron in the double-double group, tossing up 23 points and 11 boards. ‘Sap had 16 and 10 off of the bench. Korver had 12 points, including 2 long-bombs. No Knees had 10 points. Price added 7, and even Flop added 2. Only Jason Hart was unable to get a point in the game. He did pick up an assist late. And then you have tonights MVP… Mehmet Okur. He was 9-11 from the field, including an amazing 6-7 from deep (the Nuggets absolutely refused to guard him out on the perimeter). Those 6 three-pointers are a career high for him. He finished with 27 points, 11 boards and 3 steals. For those of you counting… Okur, Booze & ‘Sap managed to out-rebound the Nuggets by 1! The team shot a blistering 60.2% from the field (50-83), and drained 11 of their 15 long balls (73.3%). They also got 70% of their FTs (21-30) to fall. The finished with 43 boards (9 offensive… 6 by Okur, Booze & ‘Sap) and 36 assists. All in all… an amazing performance.
I don’t get it. Both teams played tough games last night… Utah in Phoenix, Denver at home against San Antonio. I mean, obviously the Nuggets were hurt by the fact that the Jazz were shooting at a blistering pace (of course, allowing a ton of dunks/lay-ups does that, and so does leaving an on-fire Okur open beyond the arc play-after-play). Speaking of which… does the blame go on the Nuggets for not understanding that that Okur was hitting them, so you might want to stay on him? And that leaving the Jazz players open for dunk after dunk isn’t a good thing either? Or does it go on George Karl for not game-planning better… at least against Okur? Anyhow, I digress.
The lack of help for AI & Hit-N-Run really seems to be hurting them… 2 guys can only do so much on their own. It’s too late to change things this season (other than tinkering with the line-ups and all), but you’d think that they’re going to be working hard to address that in the off-season. Adding a PG seems like a huge must, even if you have to give up the “potential” that is stored in the body of Linas Kleiza or who-ever else. Don’t you?
Also, what was with the sudden influx of fouls in the 4th quarter? It was like the NBA called the refs in between quarters and told them to make sure that the game didn’t get too far out of hand (score-wise). And if it did, they were to keep blowing their whistles as much as possible. Which they did. To annoying extents (for example… the Nuggets were in the penalty in the 4th quarter… with 2 and a half minutes gone by!). Including a couple of phantom fouls on No Knees that just made no sense. And, totally unrelated to the refs, kudos to the Jazz bench for yet another amazing performance. I’m still not sold on some of the pieces… Flop, Hart, No Knees against fast-paced teams (he’s a huge boon if you’re matched up against half-court offense teams)… but it’s nice knowing that the bench can pick up the slack if need be (unless you’re trying to replicate the performance that you could’ve gotten from Deron). Especially ‘Sap. Talk about a 2nd round steal. We saw the rebound, defense and energy last year. He’s still got all of that, but he’s turned into a nice scoring option off of the bench too.
Basketball John with Halftime Update
My Utah Jazz recap
Frank Layden Admirers
Luhm & Siler with good plans (IMO) for the NBA pre-season
The Nugg Doctor
Pickaxe And Roll
The Jazz, now 4 games up on the Nuggs in the Northwest, now head out on a 4-game road trip. Four games away from the ESA. Luckily for them, they have the momentum right now with their last couple of games.