Game 43 vs. NJ: Jazzle Dazzle
The sun might not really be shining and the birds might not really be singing, but all is good in the world. Top to bottom, start to finish, this was just an outstanding effort by the Jazz, who connected on 21 of their first 25 shots (84-freaking-percent through 1.5 quarters) and led 60-42 at the half on 71% shooting.
It’s not that the Nets played bad in the first half. They shot 50% from the floor and from the three-point line, but unfortunately for them, the Jazz were shooting over 70%. In the second half, you started to see the team that’s only won three games this season. With 6 minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter, Yi and Lopez only had one board each (I noticed this because I have both Yi and Lopez on my fantasy team, and I really needed boards today), and New Jersey’s starters had four rebounds total.
It was extremely encouraging that the Jazz maintained their 30+ point lead throughout the game, and were able to avoid their usual late collapse. They were playing loose, having fun, and team chemistry looked as good as I’ve ever seen it. At the same time, I was feeling so sorry for the Nets. Losing night after night can’t be fun, and I don’t think they’re as bad as their record. It’s just that–as the Jazz have shown over this past year–losing sometimes becomes an attitude or a culture. The Nets might not have much of a bench, but their starting lineup is definitely above average. Mark my words: they’re going to get a good draft pick, win 30-40 games next season, Kiki is going to win Coach of the Year, and be fired within six months. You heard it here first.
Oh, and –NEWSFLASH–The lead threshold for Jerry pulling the starters before the three-minute-remaining mark is apparently 30 points.
Some individual/group accolades:
Ronnie Price is just pure, plain, unadulterated hustle. He had a dunk that was identical to this one, and my mind just totally projected Carlos there standing beneath the basket.
AK didn’t play in the second quarter after injuring his hand, and came back out in the second half with some kind of hand brace on. I was steeling myself for “injured AK,” but less than two minutes into the half, he had a vicious dunk that told me everything was A-(O)K (middle picture is AK smiling after landing back on earth). And yeah, Deron liked what he saw.
Our bigs: Memo (best he’s played all season offensively, and 3 blocks to boot), Boozer (simply just “on”), AK (dunking, blocking, and thieving all over the floor), and Sap (showing off a stunning array of And-1 circus shots) combined for 29-41 (71%) and 29 boards.
Ronnie B scored 15 points on 5-5 shooting, and honestly, everything was clicking to the point where we didn’t need much from DWill, who had a very Jason Kidd-esque night (1-4, 5 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals).
All in all, this was the Jazz I’ve been waiting for all
season [last] year.
Final note: I was thisclose to making a long distance phone call to KFAN during the pre-game show listening to the two guys that were on air butcher Yi’s name (“Why John Long”? Seriously?). In an era when information is so readily available and easily obtainable, how do you not check before speaking? And double demerits for the comments about how the Nets are funded by the Russian mafia.