Game 19 vs. MIL: Trap Avoided
A win streak coming into the game. Morale is high. A low-profile game against a sub-.500 team. Said sub-.500 team is missing four of its top six players, including three starters. Wrapped up in a nutshell, we have all the makings of a trap game.
Let’s just throw the first half out the window, because for all intents and purposes and in the scheme of things, nothing happened in the first half. The possible exception was Earl Watson’s first half high-arcing, buzzer-beating bank shot that practically touched the rafters at its apex. That shot extended the Jazz lead to 8, which was the Jazz’s biggest lead in an extremely close quarter thanks to the efforts of Opponent-All-Star-of-the-Night Ersan Ilyasova.
On second thought, let’s extend the first half throw-out to three quarters.
The Jazz had around a 10-point lead early in the third, but the Bucks were within 3 midway through the period and the Jazz lead was in the 5-7 range for the rest of the quarter. All in all, it was an ugly quarter, but I wasn’t panicking or nervous. At the same time, I was hoping that the Jazz realized that losing to a team as depleted as the Bucks would be like losing to the Wolves, Warriors, or pre-Blake Griffin Clippers. As soon as I think this, I DO start feeling nervous because we have a history of losing to those teams.
So anyway, the fourth quarter is where (when?) all the good action happened. I still don’t know how it happened, but in the blink of an eye, we were up 15. I probably would have gone on thinking it was a close game had BBJ not mentioned it in the game thread. It was at this precise moment that AK took over (to my delight, because he was as blah as the rest of the team in the first half). Andrei is known for his D, and in the fourth quarter, that included not only Defense, but Dunking, Dishing, Driving, Drawing fouls, Denying shots…and getting offensive boards. At the end of the quarter, the Jazz had outscored the Bucks 29-15, and there was one more in the W column.
** Ronnie P was a huge spark, as usual. I love that I can add “as usual” to that. Playing alongside Earl Watson has elevated Ronnie P’s game with a power-up named consistency. It’s like Ronnie P was Fire-Flower Super Mario before, but with Earl there he is now Starman Super Mario.
** Speaking of those two, I am of the opinion that Earl Watson and Ronnie Price should never be forced to play without each other ever again for the rest of their careers. Those two belong together. Two for the price of one, if you will.
** Some more on Earl: Watson was fantastic in 27 minutes of playing time, collecting 12, 6, 7, 2, and 1. Deron, meanwhile, was able to play the second fewest minutes of any game this season.
** Big Al and Deron had very efficient double-doubles tonight. Big Al +22; AK +21; Watson +20; six Jazzmen with double-figure positive +/-.
** AK gets a lot of grief for his hair and yes, a lot of it is from me, but–thank you HD close-up– Memo’s hair deserves a lot of grief as well. Seriously, Memo? This is what you’re going with?
**Per Jody Genessy’s twitter, there were fans holding up a “Go KF-44 the Ukrainian Assault Weapon” sign. Absolutely love it.
** AK and Earl Boykins :)
Post-Game Quotes (KFAN):
Deron Williams: [Andrei] is our x-factor. We can go as far as he can take us. The things he does on the court nobody else can do…he’s doing everything for us.
Jerry Sloan: We’re not going to go run hamburger drills to see if we can get someone to [rebound]…I did that maybe in my first year of coaching, and I got somebody hurt. (At this point, I think everyone listening is just dying to know what a “hamburger drill” is. Fortunately, Jerry went on to explain.) So I don’t want to take a chance on running hamburger drills, where you throw the ball up, and let them knock each other down to get it; whoever gets it is the winner.
Unintentional Dirty Quote Machines of the Night
** Boler on Jennings: He bangs it deep.
** Boler on Earl’s 1st half buzzer beater: Down she goes off the window! (Don’t try to figure out how that works. You’ll end up confused like me.)
** Jerry Sloan: Our size, I think, hurt them a little bit. We had bigger guys, especially Al. He got inside.