Game 9 @ATL: unfrickinbelievable
Playing the Hawks in Atlanta scares me–I just seem to have way too many memories of losing there in an empty arena. They might not be as good of a team as Orlando or Miami, but looking at the schedule earlier this year I thought that Atlanta was the one we would most likely lose.
The game started out slow-paced, but it wasn’t a slow start for the Jazz. At the half, the Jazz had collected 42 points. “Just 42 points…SMH,” you might say, but it was the first time in five games (and we’ve only played nine to this point) that the Jazz broke 40 in the half.
Perhaps the most eyebrow-raising stat of the night was that the Hawks shot 21 FTs in the second half, compared to 0 in the first. They definitely helped our cause by only making 11 of the 21, while we helped ourselves by taking care of the ball and turning it over only nine times. Meanwhile, fresh off of being grilled by Charles Barkley about how much his ginormous diamond earrings cost, Al Jefferson tallied a career-high six assists. That’s something worth celebrating.
The game was close with the Hawks’ lead rarely getting above 5 until the beginning of the fourth quarter, when we reached double-digit territory. Jerry’s great, awesome, unexpected lineup of Earl, CJ, Evans, AK, and Fes refused to die, and they tied the game on [YET ANOTHER TIMELY] AK three-pointer with 6:43 left (below). I have to admit that I kind of wished Jerry would let those guys stay in the game, but it was a lineup of Deron (so many ninjaaaaaa moments tonight), CJ, AK, Sap and Big Al that closed the game.
In the closing minutes, we saw clutch play after clutch play. Huge offensive boards by Al and AK. And-1 and jumper by Sap. Dagger FTs by Deron. And we squeaked by for the win.
So, do we (and by “we” I mean the starters) have enough left in the tank to take the Bobcats tomorrow night? Stay tuned…Tip-off is only 18 hours away.
For years, the over-repeated, go-to Jazz factoid when non-Jazz broadcasters couldn’t think of anything else to say was “Matt Harpring used to play football.” When Matty retired last year, the top replacement factoid candidate that had been waiting in the wings for several years was naturally “Paul Millsap led the NCAA in rebounding for three consecutive years.” Unfortunately, Millsap was usurped by last season’s Cinderella, “undrafted rookie Wesley Matthews.” Now that the Matty #2 is gone, is Millsap it this year? Or will the spot be taken by ol’ reliable, “longest tenured coach in professional sports Jerry Sloan”?