Playoffs R1G3 vs. DEN: Thank Goodness for Paul-Man Fever
This is how the game started:
None of our jumpers were falling and we couldn’t score to save our lives, so we responded and adjusted by…shooting more jumpers. Boozer in particular couldn’t get anything going, and Fes contributed missed layups rather than dunks (bring back the “European disco”!). The Jazz went 6-23 to start the game.
And then Paul Mansap Millsap checked in.
Scoring or boarding, Sap was just plain eating the ball tonight. He was scoring every time I blinked–and that’s not really much of an exaggeration. Sap went 9-9 in the second quarter on blessed layups and dunks, and saved the Jazz. He also out-offensive rebounded the entire Nuggets startling lineup. With Paul in the game, the Jazz connected on 16 of their next 22 and went into halftime with only 1 TO and a 4-point lead.
In second half action, we saw some magnificent defense from our wings. The effort of Wesley J. Korver deserves a great deal of praise.
In my opinion, Korver is playing his best basketball in a Jazz uniform right now. He’s obviously always been able to shoot the ball, but his defense has improved leaps and bounds. That’s not to say that he’s suddenly a defensive stopper–he is limited by athleticism–but effort and mindset make a world of difference. Neither Wesley nor CJ shot the ball particularly well, but Wesley was pure hustle and made the shots that mattered, while CJ–well, with CJ I think we’re finally starting to see what we’ve been waiting for for so many years: a balanced inside-outside game, understanding what Jerry wants from him, and best of all, increasing consistency.
Thanks to the effort of our three-headed wing monster, the Jazz were able to keep the proverbial foot on the extremely tattooed throat, maintain the lead, take Melo out of the game with foul trouble (resulting in that very whiny expression you see above), get every guy into the game, and go up 2-1 in the series.
Incredibly, I haven’t even mentioned Deron yet. If Sap was the gravity at the core holding everything together, Deron was the gravity around the edges containing the team. How Deron goes, so goes the team.
There was no BOOM BITCHES, but that was about the only negative in a truly feel-good night.
When asked before the game what his goals were for the night, Fes said, among other things, “get defensive rebounds if Boozer gonna allow me.” Poor Fes.