What the Jazz Locker Clean Out Taught Me

It’s been over a month since I posted here. I checked out during the three game road trip that included losses to Milwaukee, Cleveland, and New York. I made a mental note that I wasn’t going to blog again until the Jazz made me feel like they were back in the playoff race. Well, they got there. They finished strong but couldn’t quite seal the deal to make it into the playoffs. At some point I decided to just enjoy the ride, just because I stopped blogging didn’t mean I stopped watching, and wait until the off-season  Here we are. I listened to the players’ interviews during locker clean out and with that, plus what else I’ve heard and read, here is what I’ve learned as a fan of the Jazz now that I look back on the year.

  1. I’m a fan of every player on this Utah Jazz roster as a person and a player. I like every guy on the team and, assuming the ones who leave don’t take random parting shots at the club or Jazz Nation, I will cheer every guy who leaves to another team when they play here. I don’t want to see any individual player leave but I know many will and not only that, it’s necessary for this team to have big changes if they’re ever going to contend for a title. I know it has to happen but I’m glad I don’t have to make that decision.
  2. Randy Foye is the most likely free agent to return to the Jazz next year. This doesn’t even feel close. Out of all the free agents, he is the most vocal about how much he loves it here and that he wants to be back. He even admitted that if not for the Raja Bell situation, he likely would have signed a three year deal here last summer. It seems like bringing him back next year is practically a formality. Personally, I’m all for him returning. Maybe not as a starter but as a key player.
  3. Fan favorite DeMarre Carroll is the second most likely to return. He’s only slightly less vocal than Foye about how much he enjoys playing here and how he wants to be back. He even volunteered to participate in Junior Jazz activities this summer despite not yet being on next year’s team. Fans love him because of his attitude and the energy he brings every minute. A team needs a couple of energy guys who bring a great attitude. We already have Jeremy Evans as one of the guys, Carroll is a great second.
  4. Mo Williams was the only other free agent to openly admit he wants to return. I was pleasantly surprised to hear Mo say he loves it here and wants to come back. I have mixed feelings about Mo as a player, though I’m a fan of his as a person. I’ve enjoyed many moments from him this year and been frustrated too. Depending on his role, I likely wouldn’t mind his returning…if we also draft a promising point guard we intend to groom for the starting role.
  5. I need to come to terms with next year’s team not including Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap. Our two most high profile free agents were very diplomatic with their answers about their free agency. They neither admitted to wanting to stay or to leave. I doubt they or our front office has a strong handle on the odds that either, neither, or both will return. It will depend largely on the market for them. All year I’ve felt it was more likely that Millsap would return than Al. From their interviews, and Dennis Lindsey’s, I now think of the two it might be more likely to be Jefferson. Though if I were to bet money on any outcome, it’d be that neither of them return. I see the promise of what that means for Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter but it also makes me a little sad. I have genuinely enjoyed both Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap being part of the Jazz and if they leave, my head will the see sense in it while my fan heart aches.
  6. Al Jefferson thinks Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter’s ceiling is the Hall Of Fame. Big Al heaped some pretty big praise on the guys who might replace him next year, projecting them BOTH as All Stars and Hall of Famers. I don’t care if he was exaggerating or that’s lofty, it’s still fun to hear.
  7. This is Gordon Hayward’s team now. GM Dennis Lindsey admitted that they told Hayward that starting now, he is a leader of this team. Hayward admitted that he has to take on a larger role. Regardless of what happens in free agency, this is Hayward’s team…at least for next season. Obviously, this isn’t a fact, just feels that way.
  8. It’s likely Derrick Favors’ team now too. Say hello to the co-captains of next year’s team: Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors. Seems the most likely scenario and even if it’s not official, the mantle is likely theirs for the taking.
  9. The Utah Jazz being a lottery team next year is on the table. Without openly admitting that the team could bottom out next year, Lindsey did stress that if the Jazz miss out on the big free agency or trade moves they’d like to make this off-season  they won’t spend money just for the sake of it. It’s a real possibility the keys to the team could be fully handed over to the young guys. Jazz Nation has been clamoring for it, it will be interesting to see how much they support the team if instead of 9th in the West, the Jazz are 12th. We’re spoiled, even if it’s best for the long term, will the fans support a year of bottoming out? I hope we don’t find out.
  10. This will be a fascinating off season for the Jazz. I didn’t just learn this, it’s stating the obvious. I just felt like ending on 10. With the Jazz season over, it’s time to put my basketball fan cap on and enjoy the playoffs.

Jazz Collapse Causes Cavs Win #UTAatCLE

Utah Jazz (32-28) at Cleveland Cavaliers (20-40)

  • (End 1st) 19-23. A bit of a struggle to start. Seem to be getting good looks but they’re not falling. Mo Williams scored the team’s first 5 points, a nice welcome back. Starting lineup is a bit different tonight. Jefferson is still hurt so Favors gets the start again. Mo is back, he joins Foye, Millsap, and DeMarre Carroll, who replaces Marvin Williams. Kyrie Irving at least has been kept in check.
  • (Half) 51-49. Gordon Hayward scored all 15 of his points in the 2nd quarter, fueling the big advantage the Jazz hold in bench scoring and helping them come back to take the lead. It’s great to have Mo Williams back in the lineup, the team seems to be playing quicker already and they own a 10-1 advantage in fast break points. Irving didn’t score in the 2nd quarter. He was kept in check when they played in SLC, hopefully that continues. Both Favors and Kanter are continuing their strong play as of late.
  • (3rd 5:37) 57-55. This 3rd quarter isn’t looking particularly good for the Jazz (shooting 2/11) but compared to the last few games, it’s brilliant. Millsap has been a beast on the boards during the quarter and the defense has been strong. The offense? Well…
  • Foye FINALLY makes a basket and it’s a 3, his first shot made in 7 quarters of play. Jazz need his slump to end NOW.
  • Another 3 for Foye. Monkey off his back?
  • 3 in a row!!!
  • (3:27) 67-58. Jazz Nation rejoices as Randy Foye ends his slump with 3 straight 3 point shots. What a shot in the arm to the Jazz offense this is. The terrible 3rd quarter turning around now.
  • Another Foye 3!
  • (End 3rd) 76-68. After a dreadful opening 6 minutes, the Jazz woke up, thanks largely to Randy Foye breaking out of his slump with 4 3s. Jazz playing better now and still keeping Irving to only 9 points. Encouraging right now, hopefully they close. Jazz need this win in a bad way.
  • Correction: 3 3s for Foye. Foot on the line for his 3rd of what seemed like 4.
  • (4th 8:00) 84-76. Jazz Nation should be enjoying this game, the entire “core 4” are having a strong games. Kanter is doing so well it’ll be tough once more for Corbin to figure out if/when to bring Favors back in.
  • That question has been answered. Millsap and Favors both back in after the break.
  • (5:51) 88-81. Impressive defense by Burks on Kyrie Irving. Facing him one-on-one, Burks managed to knock the ball away for a steal. The last minute the Cavs are building some momentum, thanks to C.J. Miles, hopefully the timeout squashes that.
  • Come on, C.J, knock it off! 8-0 Cavs run.
  • Burks 3 stops the run.
  • No, Harpring, the young guys are not “literally growing up before our eyes.” They’re doing it figuratively speaking.
  • (2:00) 100-94. Millsap breaking out the spin move as well. All 3 of the big men showing nice footwork tonight. Hayward and Burks still both playing great but Mo has replaced Alec to close it out. It’s Mo, Foye, Hayward, Millsap, Favors to close but Favs picked up his 5th foul before the break. Fortunately, Kanter is also having a great game should he need to come back in. It’s getting interesting but I’m feeling confident. Mostly.
  • (:56.4) 101-102. Cavs 10-1 run. Jazz are collapsing before our eyes. Literally.
  • That was a terrible, awful, horrible possession, Hayward.
  • I don’t know how that shot didn’t drop for Mo Williams.
  • (Final) 101-104.

I’m too angry right now to even bother with any postgame thoughts. The wound is fresh and I am furious. I was feeling better about this team than I had in a long, long time and now this happens. Cavs ended the game on a 12-1 run to come back and win. If the Lakers weren’t such a terrible team I’d accept the Jazz as being a lottery team. Instead, they’ll be the 8 seed, and no better, to get rewarded with another first round sweep by the Spurs. I wish that felt pessimistic.

Next Game: Utah Jazz at Chicago Bulls. Friday, March 8, 6:00 PM MST.

Jazz Fall to Bucks in OT, Drop to 8th in West

Utah Jazz (32-29) at Milwaukee Bucks (29-28)

  • No Jefferson tonight. Get to see Millsap and Favors start together for what I believe is the first time this season, probably ever.
  • Sloppy start to the game. Jazz score first 4, Bucks score next 7. A fair amount of turnovers for both teams already.
  • Favors has 5 rebs in 5 minutes. Channeling the good vibes Kanter left from Friday?
  • (1st 5:16) 10-9. 8 points 7 rebs for Favs
  • There’s Favors’ travel call for the first half. Hopefully just one this game, last time I pointed it out he had one per half so…
  • (1:45) 18-14. Favors is having the type of game that Kanter had on Friday. 14 points, 9 rebounds. Hopefully Enes gets going here soon too. Millsap was productive too. Everybody else? Not so much, yet. Offense struggling overall.
  • Per my point, Favors is 7/12 from the field while the rest of the team is 1/11.
  • (End 1st) 24-20. Favs 15, Carroll 5, Millsap 4, everybody else 0. Jazz up 4, yes, but need more help to keep this going.
  • (2nd 8:53) 29-24. Jazz built a 9 point lead but offense has started to stagnate somewhat.
  • (5:32) 33-30. There’s Favs’ double-double with 6 min left in the 2nd. 15/10 now.
  • (2:25) 44-36. Carroll having a nice night to complement Favors, Burks is stepping up now too.
  • (Half) 48-45. Inconsistent half. Jazz blew a 9 point lead and an 8 point lead. Very up and down but felt like they played decently. Still, it’s been mostly Favors, Carroll, Millsap. Need more help.
  • (3rd 6:02) 54-58. Stop me if you’ve heard this one: Jazz struggle in the 3rd.
  • (4:40) 54-64. No timeout, just thought I’d point out the score. Bucks own the 3rd 19-6 so far.
  • (2:48) 58-68. Ugh. Still down 10. Let’s move on.
  • (End 3rd) 75-65. *Grumbling and muttering to myself.*
  • 30-17 difference in the 3rd. It’s a mystery why the Jazz are so awful in the last few games in the 3rd.
  • 49%-37% difference in FG. You can figure out who is who.
  • (8:56) 79-72. “Jazz…still…within distance.” That’s one way to put it, Harpring.
  • (5:56) 80-85. Fantastic shot by Ellis, spin in the air reverse layup. Still, Jazz battling back slowly.
  • Technical foul FT by Hayward, couple of FTs by Burks cuts it to 2.
  • (4:36) 86-86. All tied up.
  • …He says before Redick drains a 3 and Kanter turns it over.
  • (2:01) 94-91. Kanter and Burks are fueling this Jazz run. Nice comeback but need to finish now.
  • (:54) 94-94. While we wait for the official review on this Millsap turnover let’s point out that this’ll be the 20th Jazz turnover. They had 20+, oddly, in that Bobcat blowout too.
  • (:23.8) 96-94. Nice touch from Kanter for the go-ahead basket!
  • Jazz get the stop! Ellis miss, Millsap rebound, heading to the line.
  • Made the first.
  • Missed the second.
  • (:13) 97-94. That miss means Bucks down one possession still. Stating obvious, I know.
  • 19 points for Burks, good to see. Can we start him at PG yet? Start him at PG then bring Mo off the bench until he’s fully healthy then swap the roles if needed?
  • Jennings with the pump fake…then rattles in the 3.
  • (:8.4) 97-97. One more chance for a GW shot for Jazz.
  • (End Reg) 97-97. Hayward passed up a jump shot to try to drive and failed. Kanter got the rebound, missed the put back jumper, was very close.
  • Burks, Hayward, Carroll, Millsap, Kanter played most of the 4th and closed the game. Same lineup for the OT period.
  • Millsap scores but Redick answers with a 3.
  • (OT 1:04) 105-104. Trading baskets, Jazz cling to 1 point lead, turn it over AGAIN instead of building the lead with a minute left.
  • (:30 something) 2nd 3 from Redick in this OT puts Bucks up 2.
  • Carroll 1/2 FTs. Missed FTs killing Jazz late.
  • (:14.7) 106-109. Ellis for 2. Bucks up 3.
  • (:9.2) Jazz can’t get a shot off, Bucks keep swatting it out of bounds. Another try for Utah coming.
  • Foye stays scoreless by missing that 3.
  • (:5.4) One more chance, perhaps?
  • (:1.6) 108-109. Millsap air balls a 3 and/or passes it to Kanter for the putback layup.
  • Nope.
  • (Final) 108-109.

The Jazz really need to go 2-2 on this road trip to stay in the hunt, this was one of the two I figured they could win. The Cavs won’t be a walk in the park thanks to Kyrie Irving and the Jazz’s inability to guard talented PGs. Then it’s the Bulls and Knicks. This one was rough. 0-4 is…well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Nice games from Favors, despite not playing the 4th or OT, and Kanter but the Jazz lost. These gut punch losses sort of sting a little less when you have more of them and you accept that the Jazz aren’t as good as I’d like. I did enjoy seeing Millsap and Favors play together, that feels like a strong possibility for next year. I’ll do a post on the off-season later but, still. No desire to analyze this game any more. It stings, move on.

Next Game: Utah Jazz at Cleveland Cavaliers. Wednesday, March 6, 5:00 PM MST. 

Kanter Shines As Jazz Blowout Bobcats

Charlotte Bobcats (13-44) at Utah Jazz (31-27)

  • (1st 6:39) 4-9. Kanter and Favors with all 9 Jazz points, Kanter with 6 of them.
  • (2:59) 13-8. What a thrilling quarter. CHA is 4/14, UTA is 5/14 shooting. I suppose it can be expected for Utah with 3 starters out.
  • (End 1st) 21-9. 8 points, 9 rebounds and a block for Kanter in the 1st quarter alone. Very impressive even if it’s against the Bobcats.
  • (2nd 9:39) 27-11. Charlotte is a terrible basketball team. I like what the Jazz are doing minus three key guys, everybody is stepping up, but it’s important to not get too carried away by realizing how awful the Bobcats are. Still, this is fun to see the young guys do well. Evans had a nice dunk before this break too, really like seeing him finally get some minutes.
  • Hey, CHA is shooting 27%. Are they awful? Jazz playing great defense? I’ll say both. Jazz shooting 43% and lead the rebounding 23-9.
  • (2nd 5:49) 32-15. Kanter looks fantastic tonight, regardless of the opponent. He’s already got a double-double with 10 points, 10 rebounds.
  • No need to continue updates, the Jazz are cruising. Enjoy watching the young guys shine.
  • (3rd 5:46) 57-37. Kanter has 17 rebounds. The Bobcats have 17 rebounds. That is all.

That really was all for the updates. I wasn’t at this game. Blowouts are fun in person but it’s hard to stay as engaged on TV or have anything interesting to say. Nothing to add aside from how great Enes Kanter was, how good the defense played, and how terrible the Bobcats are. Enes Kanter finished with 23 points and 22 rebounds, the first Jazz 20/20 game in two years. I’m not going to read too much into this win, the Jazz were supposed to win and I’m glad they won big with the young guys (aside from an off night for Favors) stepping up. Up next is a 4-game road trip. This stretch of 9/12 on the road could determine the Jazz playoff future. Here’s hoping they’ve turned it around and Millsap, Jefferson, and Mo Williams can all return sooner than later.

Next Game: Utah Jazz at Milwaukee Bucks. Monday, March 4, 6:00 PM MST.

Reeling Jazz Look to Rebound Vs NBA’s Worst

I went to both games this week. I took notes during both games this week. Yet, no post. That should tell you something about my mood regarding the team this week. Monday vs Boston was a gut punch. Hard fought game, well played, just couldn’t make the big plays down the stretch and in OT. Plus, Paul $*(#ing Pierce. Wednesday? That was nearly as disappointing and miserable of a loss as the debacle vs Houston. Which I also attended. Boy, I’m sure getting my money’s worth of my half of the season tickets this year. At least I got the Miami and OKC wins. I suppose that’s balance.

I’m not going to clean up my notes too much. I’m simply going to post them to clear my conscience and move on as a fan. Actually posting this is my personal catharsis. With this I can move on and accept the Jazz as a lottery team.

Okay, sure, they’re still #7 but how confident should Jazz Nation feel knowing that after tonight the next 9/12 games are on the road and Utah is a far better home team than away? I’m not rooting for them to miss the playoffs, certainly not, but what kind of positives can I find after Wednesday? Derrick Favors posting decent numbers in a start? Well, sure, but the Jazz got blown out so how much value do those numbers have? Plus, did you see what Al Horford and Josh Smith did? Isn’t defense his specialty? Jefferson’s defense was worse. And those were the two best players for Utah vs Atlanta…and it wasn’t close. So there you go. First up, Boston. I’m putting minimum formatting into this because I’m doubtful many want to relive those losses like I’m forcing myself to do now. For us masochists, enjoy.

Celtics at Jazz

  • (1st 5:45) 16-15. I’m sitting closer tonight and already impressed with Boston’s defense. They swarm to the man with the ball as soon as he touches it, every man, every pass. No easy shots. Oh look, the Jazz can’t guard the PG. Bradley has 10 already but at least Millsap has 8.
  • (1st 1:50) 24-22. There’s Favors’ daily travelling violation. One per game, bank on it. Jazz started Ear Watson at PG and are using Burks as the backup. This is a competitive game.
  • (End 1st) 28-26
  • (2nd 8:51) 34-34. And the Oscar goes to Pierce. The positive spin is he really knows how to sell fouls. Jazz Nation would say he’s a fabulous flopper.
  • (5:46) 44-36. Hayward is on fire. 3 3s and an alley oop. Taken control of game.
  • (3:59) 44-41. Where did the Jazz D go? I was starting to enjoy myself.
  • (Half) 53-48. Jazz responded after a brief slump. Feeling good.
  • (Bulk of 3rd Q) If the Jazz can’t put any effort into being competitive then neither will I with this damn blog.
  • (3rd 2:50) 65-70. Bench has woken up this stagnant team. Favs with a 3 pt play, Hayward at the line after this break. Deficit was 8 so this is progress I suppose.
  • (End 3rd) 72-80. Jason Terry has 4 3s. Did the Jazz miss the scouting report of his entire career and the game evidence that he’s good from there? Maybe guard him?
  • (4th 9:51) 81-82. Need that go to guy to take the big shots. Hayward seems to be stepping into that!
  • (5:45) 89-89. This is one tightly called game. It will go to wire.
  • (2:46) 93-93. Big Al with the wheezy. Burks & Hayward have played the entire 4th.
  • 97-95 Dammit, Pierce.
  • (:19.9) 97 all. Burks!
  • (All of OT summed up with my lone entry) Pierce.
  • (:4.2) 107-108. Paul hits a couple of FTs. Not looking good though. The Jazz offense looked completely inept during overtime, I’m sure Boston’s good defense had a lot to do with it.
  • (Final) 107-110.

Hawks at Jazz

  • (1st 7:46) 5-8. An utter lack defense on Teague brings early boo birds from the home fans. I refrained. No Paul Millsap tonight (ankle) so Derrick Favors got the start.
  • (2:45) 17-21. This is a rough start.
  • (End 1st) 25-30. Big Al with 11 points, Josh Smith with 10. Former Jazz man Devin Harris has 8. He and Kyle Korver got warm receptions from the crowd, I was included in that.
  • (2nd 8:28) 30-39. Jazz have no energy. Neither does the crowd. I am included.
  • Nevermind! Favs with a block, Big Al with a spin move, score, draws foul!
  • (5:41) 41-41. Nice rally and effort now, thanks for getting back in this Jazz.
  • (2:01) 44-48. What an utterly confusing sequence. How does a missed dunk lead to a timeout? What just happened? Why can I not get any answers?
  • I guess…there was a foul? Or something? I don’t know. I no longer care.
  • (Half) 48-56. Great way to end the quarter…for the Hawks.
  • Big Al needs help offensively. Only 3 points for Hayward? Favs with 10 but he hasn’t looked great all around. Seems off.
  • (3rd 10:14) 48-56. No score yet. Either team.
  • (9:06) 1st points of half come 3 minute in with ATL FTs.
  • (8:14) 48-62. No Jazz points yet. What a pathetic effort.
  • Jazz finally score at 7:38 left.
  • The score of the 3rd quarter is 6-2 in 6 minutes. This is disgusting.
  • (End 3rd) 66-82. What an awful quarter with 1 min of competence at the end. Big Al is getting no help offensively. Jazz are lottery bound.
  • (4th 10:43) 71-82. Jazz finally show up to this game? Glimmer of energy.
  • (5:09) 82-90. Faded then back! Might have a game!
  • (Final) 91-102.

You’ll notice I stopped updating. I was fooled. Jazz toyed with getting back in the game but only for a spurt here and there. It was a pitiful game and I was deflated.

Next up, Charlotte. Jazz might be still without Mo Williams and potentially Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson. Might see the Jazz future with Burks, Hayward, Favors, Kanter getting heavy minutes against the NBA’s worst team. In theory, Jazz should still win. But who knows what team we’ll get anymore. That’s as optimistic as I’ll get right now. A noncommittal “who knows” against the Bobcats.

Jazz Cruise By Warriors, Move Into 6th

Golden State Warriors (30-22) at Utah Jazz (30-24)

  • See? I do remember how to do game logs. Back to the regular format of these updates.
  • (1st 4:48) 17-9. I will be providing no player scores tonight thanks to the JumboTron apparently malfucntioning at ESA. I’ll have to use the Utah Jazz App or my memory, which is unreliable. So far, the Jazz look great. Getting lots of open looks, feels like the lead should be even larger. The Warriors, on the other hand, look flat.
  • Welcome back, Hayward!
  • (2:14) 21-13. Warriors really look out of sync. It feels like a blowout but I’m not about to get carried away, Jazz just look better.
  • (End 1st) 26-19. I reiterate that the Jazz look better tonight. Far cry from the lethargic performance last time GSW was here. No clue who’s leading the team in scoring, I will check at the half.
  • (2nd 8:52) 36-26. Warriors seem rattled as evidenced by Lee picking up a technical after a Burks 3. This is fun for Jazz Nation so far. Jazz playing great team basketball and I can’t think of anybody for Utah that is having a poor game.
  • (5:20) 45-40. Signs of life, and outside shooting, from GSW. Jack and Curry are really heating up. I recall both of them scorching us last time yet I still don’t feel all that nervous.
  • Just like that, the Jazz quickly get the lead back to 10.
  • (2:20) 56-47. This quarter has featured very brief runs with the Jazz still looking in control of the game.
  • (Half) 58-53. Okay, I knew Stephen Curry was having a good game but he’s got 18 points? That’s a bit surprising still. Jack has 13, which is not surprising. For how much I talked about GSW being out of sync they’re shooting over 54% but I maintain that the feel of the game has favored Utah all the way as somebody who is in attendance. Jazz have more balanced scoring with 10 points apiece from Hayward, Jefferson, and Millsap.
  • Great. Now the internet data is switching to 4G and LTE on a whim and it’s causing my updates to post on the whims of…who knows what. (Edit later: I’m not going back to try and remember. Oh well, 2nd half didn’t need a lot of updates anyway.)
  • GSW cut the lead to 1 but never led. If memory serves, they’ve never tied or led the entire game.
  • For the Warriors it’s been Curry and nobody else. Sure, Jack and Lee have been good but Curry is trying to carry the load. Big Al has 9 points this quarter. Solid.
  • (End 3rd) 87-79. Nothing to say. Lead is 8 but Jazz still in control.
  • (4th 8:54) 93-87. Curry is lighting it up. Thankfully Hayward and Jefferson are performing well. Lee just picked up 5th foul. Jack may get 20-10 tonight for GSW. He’s at 19-9 right now (the 9 are assists).
  • (2:27) 111-94. Burks with a dagger 3! G’night everybody!
  • (Final) 115-101.

Postgame: Amusingly, Jack didn’t score nor get an assist after I noticed he was that close to a 20-10 game. I’m cool with it. Curry only scored 11 in the 2nd half after dropping 18 in the 1st. The Jazz finally played a strong 48 minutes. From start to finish they played hard and looked like the better team. This was a fun, refreshing win. I’m glad the All Star Break didn’t seem to slow down their momentum and it was great to see Hayward back, who didn’t look like he’d even missed any time by picking up where he left off. Really pleased with the team right now and this win strengthens my belief that the trade deadline (which is Thursday, not Friday as I incorrectly said yesterday) will pass without the Jazz making any moves. Playing quite well and all this without Mo Williams. This was the final game before the trade deadline for Utah so now Jazz Nation and the Jazz players spend an anxious two days waiting to see what happens. Then hopefully we can finally come out on top in one of these close games against the Clips.

Next Game: Utah Jazz at Los Angeles Clippers. Saturday, February 23, 8:30 PM MST.

After All Star Break, How ‘Bout Them Jazz?

Once I failed to post on a few games I made a decision to just go ahead and take a hiatus until the All Star Break. Now that it’s  come and gone, time to take a look at the Jazz and where they’re at for the latter 1/3 of the season.

The Jazz are in pretty good shape to make the playoffs right now with a record of 30-24. They’re 6 games above .500 which equals their best mark of the season. They currently hold the #7 seed in the Western Conference but if they defeat the Golden State Warriors tonight, they move into a tie for the 6 spot.

The debacle vs Houston might have been a turning point for the Jazz. I was tweeting in attendance at the game and early on the Jazz didn’t look right. There’s no need to fully rehash the blowout but Utah could have gone in the tank after that bad of a loss. Instead, they seem to have responded to it with strong play since then. They haven’t won every game and even let one slip away (Chicago) that they should have won but running the Thunder out of ESA was a very pleasant surprise. Fortunately I was at that one too so it made up for the Houston game in my mind.

The elephant in the room for the Jazz, and many teams right now, is the trade deadline on Friday. More rumors, such as Millsap to LAC for Bledsoe, will keep sprouting up but it’s best to try not to get worked up over them. The Jazz are notoriously secret with trades, remember the Deron Williams bombshell, so any information that gets leaked is either unsubstantiated or highly unlikely to come from Utah’s front office. Personally, I expect the Jazz to make no moves. They’re in good shape to make the playoffs, which is certainly very important to the Miller family, and they definitely won’t sacrifice their tremendous cap space this offseason for a short-term boost. Yes, they want to win now but more importantly build for the future.

I’ll try to get back to my stream of consciousness game recaps now that I’ve essentially taken a month off. At the very least, I’ll post once a week going forward. Good luck to the Jazz, keep climbing the standings!

Jazz Cruise to Win Over Cavs #CLEatUTA

Cleveland Cavaliers (10-31) at Utah Jazz (21-19)

After a four day break, the Jazz are back in action tonight as C.J. Miles returns to ESA with the Cleveland Cavs.

  • C.J. Miles got a nice warm reception from the Jazz crowd, I’m glad to see that. Yes, he was inconsistent here but it’s still good to root for him and give some love since he didn’t leave on bad terms, those media day comments notwithstanding. I still root for him at least, I don’t know about the rest.
  • Rough shooting start for Jazz. They’re 2/7 so far.
  • Make that 3/10.
  • (1st 5:53) 10-16. The Jazz are still struggling to really get going but they aren’t too far behind for me to feel like I have to panic. 4/12 shooting, that will improve. The break seems to have them a bit rusty.
  • (2:44) 20-21. Randy Foye’s hot shooting is getting the team going, the Jazz are warming up. FG shooting is up to 8/16 which means they’ve made their last 4.
  • (End 1st) 26-23. Foye has 9 points and the team is playing much better now. The bench is giving a good spark, particularly Derrick Favors.
  • (2nd 8:15) 34-29. Not much to say, back and forth game right now.
  • 7-0 Cavs run, tied.
  • (5:41) 38-36. DeMarre Carroll stops the run it with a long jumper and got fouled.
  • Now the Jazz are on a 7-0 run thanks to 2 steals from Carroll and Earl Watson.
  • (1:11) 49-47. Still back and forth.
  • (Half) 53-48. Scoring leaders are Foye (11), Carroll and Favors (9). C.J. leads the Cavs with 10. Jazz have improved their shooting to 23/44 for 52.3% after a rough start.
  • (8 min roughly) 65-54. Jazz came out strong, look to be comfortably controlling the game. I doubt many more updates will be needed.
  • (End 3rd) 84-68. Foye has 20. Big Al has a double-double. Millsap is quiet offensively but contributing everywhere else with blocks, assists, rebounds. Favors looks fantastic, Kanter doing well too.
  • (Final) 109-98.

For a nice change of pace, the Jazz didn’t falter in the 4th quarter and stayed comfortably ahead of the Cavs the whole way though didn’t get it to blowout stage. Still, I never felt the outcome was in doubt. It was a well played game for the Jazz, they’re in a nice rhythm right now. Foye led with 20 but Favors was close behind with 19, this was one of his best games of the season. Shot the ball well, rebounded, blocked shots. Enes Kanter was fantastic as well. Jefferson was his usual self, 14 points and 10 rebounds. Off night for Hayward but Jazz didn’t need him tonight, thankfully. Utah kept Kyrie Irving in check tonight and C.J. cooled off considerably after his strong first quarter. Utah gets another small break since their next game isn’t until Wednesday.

Next Game: Washington Wizards at Utah Jazz. Wednesday, January 23, 7:00 PM MST.

Jazz Beat Heat, Take Break, Rise in West

It seems like five days ago the Jazz last played, doesn’t it?

In one sense, having this much time off could be seen as a negative since the Jazz had built some momentum but I think it was more likely felt as welcome time off to recover from injuries. Marvin Williams I’m sure wasn’t complaining. What a fantastic game on Monday though. That’s two years in a row that the Jazz have beat Miami in SLC, though this year we didn’t need a last second pass from LeBron to Haslem for the GW miss.

I’ll give some highlights of the very brief notes I took on the game.

An amusing quote from my nephew early on: “How come they call us for everything but not them ?” When a 10-year old notices a discrepancy in the officiating you know it must be pretty obvious.

  • (End 1st) 30-25. LeBron has 11 already but Millsap and Carroll have 7 apiece while Jefferson has 10. Great start.

So, LeBron hit 20 points in the 2nd quarter. He was certainly feeling it early on but he was the only one for Miami doing much. The Jazz shot 68% in the first half. Sixty-Eight Percent.

Big Al was terrific in the 3rd quarter, carrying on from the strong first half. Millsap looked great as well.

Here are the few notes I took in the 4th quarter when panic was setting in as the Jazz missed FG after FG and the Heat stormed back from 20 points down.

  • (4th 5:59) Furious heat run. Jazz spent 1 full minute with the ball and drew 3 fouls. They’re in the penalty already. Got NO points. The refs seem whistle happy on both ends. Can we stop the bleeding?
  • 95-91 Did LeBron really just get called for an offensive foul?!? Oh, Heat are on a 21-5 run. Fun.

So, in the closing minutes I have two words to describe how the Jazz held on to win: Gordon Hayward. He was the only Jazz player to hit a FG in the 4th quarter and the biggest shot of the night was with roughly one minute left. He was on the right, just inside the three point line. Dribbled behind his back, side stepped a defender, then calmly drilled a 20 foot jumper straight on. It was the dagger that finished the game. We may have our guy who’s willing to take the big shot.

An interesting thing has happened since that game. Monday night, after the win, the Jazz were 9th place in the West. Now, Saturday morning, as they get ready to take on the Cleveland Cavaliers in SLC they have risen to 6th. This is in large part due to the 3, 2, 4, 6, and 5 game losing streaks by the two teams above them (Golden State, Denver) and three below them (Portland, Houston, Minnesota) in the standings, respectively. So, thank you to those teams for helping the Jazz in the standings. Utah has a great chance to build on this with 14 of the next 19 games being played at home after a brutal road stretch. With such a large home stretch in front of them, 21-19 feels like a pretty good place to be at the midpoint in the season…which technically will be after tonight but with a five-day break, feels like now.

Tonight, C.J. Miles makes his return to Utah. I hope he gets a warm reception. Yeah, he was frustrating with his inconsistency but I always rooted for him. Glad he’s doing well in Cleveland this year, hopefully Jazz fans agree.

Next Game: Cleveland Cavs at Utah Jazz. Tonight, January 19, 2013. 7:00 PM MST.

After 2-1 Road Trip, Jazz Prepare for Heat

So much for greater consistency in the new year. I may do more of this type of update going foward where I lump a few games together. The good news is that the Jazz are 3-1 in the last 4 games which I’m covering here. The bad news is that the one loss involved blowing a big lead that deflated my enthusiasm to the point that it helped delay my writing about the team. So there you have it. I took scattered notes on all 4 games so I’m dumping them all here then preparing to go to the game tonight when the Heat come to town.

The last home game was a week ago today:

Dallas Mavericks at Utah Jazz

  • (5:23) 13-15. Kaman with 10 points already, Dirk has 5. Jazz have spread the scoring out with 4 players.
  • (2:54) 16-17. Jazz settling for a lot of jumpers earlier than necessary. Usually not good sign but Hayward takes it to the hoop, draws foul.
  • (End 1st) 19-26. More settling. Inconsistent play right now, not getting into offense. Good defensive hustle.
  • (2nd 10:16) 27-27. 3s from Watson and Hayward help tie it. Came from moving ball and open looks this time.
  • (5:43) I am getting a headache from the incessant screaming of the children behind me, it’s slowly driving me and my nephew insane. Hey, parents, it’s okay to tell your kids to tone it down a notch, they can still enjoy themselves without NONSTOP SCREAMING. Hayward is having a nice game with 10 points. Back and forth game.
  • Half. 53-53. Marvin with a nice buzzer beater 3. Hayward has 18, 15 of them in the 2nd quarter. Kaman 14.
  • (3rd 6:24) 64-59. Flagrant foul by Kaman on Big Al changed the momentum.
  • (2:28) 69-73. Well, so much for momentum.
  • (End 3rd) 74-80. What a dreadfully poor finish to the quarter.
  • (4th 9:14) 78-82. Game getting physical, crowd testy. Favors and Dirk going at it big time. Favors lost his cool and threw Dirk to the ground (note: this was later classified as a flagrant foul by the NBA, I was surprised during the game that it wasn’t one) but it seems to have fired everyone up. Burks takes hard foul too.
  • (5:59) 80-86. Back in jumper mode. Making shots would help the comeback.
  • Extended playing time for Burks and to my pleasant surprise he’s now playing point guard.
  • (4:35) Burks 3! Tied! 86 all
  • (2:54) 88-86. Burks has played the entire 4th and much of it at PG. Could he be the future PG?!? I may be overreacting.
  • The 1st foul Dirk gets whistled for in the entire game is the biggest…coming with 30 sec left of a 4 pt game
  • (Final) 100-94. Jazz win!!!

Utah Jazz at Charlotte Bobcats

First game of a 3-game road trip for the Jazz.

  • (1st 5:16) 12-10. Nice start for the Jazz, I like the energy coming out but already a couple of turnovers so not quite as crisp as they need to be yet.
  • (3:57) 20-12. Quick 8-2 run in just over a minute forces a :20 timeout by Charlotte. Jazz still playing well, hopefully won’t see a letdown.
  • (2:19) 24-16. 6 assists already for Tinsley. Jazz are getting some amazing bounces on the rim today.
  • (End 1st) 27-20. Balanced attack from Jazz, playing very well. Good ball movement, good defensive energy too. Shooting 60%. Only real negative is the 5 turnovers in the quarter.
  • (2nd) 31-29. Jazz were just on the wrong end of a 9-0 run.
  • (3:00) 47-35. Jazz go on their own run to go back up by double digits.
  • 15-2 run in 3:30
  • 18-2 thanks to a Hayward 3.
  • Interesting note from the broadcast. After this 3-game trip the Jazz will have played the most road games in the NBA but will then play the next 15/20 at home. Big opportunity for the Jazz to move up in standings.
  • (Half) 63-44. Isn’t it nice to see the Jazz do what they’re supposed to against inferior teams? Finally not playing down to the competition, really like what I’m seeing tonight aside from all the turnovers, which is a bit concerning.
  • (3rd Not as strong to start the 3rd quarter but no cause for serious concern…yet.
  • Jazz keep building the lead up to about 20 then allow the Bobcats to whittle it down to 10. If the game gets close I’ll start updating more but otherwise I’ll just relax and enjoy.
  • (Final) 112-102. The game wasn’t as close as the final score suggests. It’s really a relief to see the Jazz bury inferior teams once in a while.

Utah Jazz at Atlanta Hawks

  • (1st 5:54) 16-10. Good start for the Jazz, particularly Al Jefferson.
  • Amusing moment when Corbin wanted a timeout but Jazz apparently didn’t notice. Foye drains a 3, Corbin seems cool with it.
  • Foye if off to a remarkable start this game, scoring 15 points already including 3/3 from behind the 3-point line.
  • (End 1st) 25-22. I’m enjoying this so far, Jazz have been playing well lately and it’s continuing early on in this one.
  • (2nd 8:54) 29-31. Well, the bench just blew the 7 point lead. Both units have let the Hawks shoot 50% and the 2nd unit doesn’t look as sharp as the starters have been playing.
  • 47-41. Jazz starters have righted the ship, continue to play well, include Hayward in that bunch.
  • (Half)
  • (3rd 9:39) 54-43. Jazz come out hot in the 3rd and seem to have taken control. Hopefully they can build on this early momentum and put the Hawks away so they can rest up with another game tomorrow night.
  • (End 3rd) 76-68. After getting the lead close to 20, the Jazz have a mini meltdown to close out the quarter and the Hawks are right back in it. Their 3-point shooting kept them somewhat in the game then a few consecutive turnovers by the Jazz helped Atlanta get right back in it. Ugh.
  • Bench has been awful aside from Hayward.
  • (4th 2:35) 92-94. What a disappointing and inconsistent quarter from the Jazz. Now they’ve lost the lead, will they be able to recover and pull out a win of a game they’ve mostly dominated?
  • Nope.
  • (Final) 95-103.

Utah Jazz at Detroit Pistons

Okay, I lied. I took notes on 3 of the last 4 games. This game coincided with the NFL Playoffs but since my Alex Smith fanboyism prevents me from enjoying the 49ers current success (I’m a University of Utah alum) I stuck with the Jazz for the entire 4th quarter. It was nice to see them come back from 15 down. It was less nice to see them nearly blow a 9 point lead in the final 2 minutes of the game but hey, they won. Any road win is good and blah blah blah.

Next up, the Heat at EnergySolutions Arena. Tonight at 7:00 PM MST. I’m expecting a sellout with many bandwagon Heat fans around me in the upper deck. Hopefully they’re less irritating than Laker fans. Shouldn’t be tough, the bar on the irritating scale is very high.