Game 38 @HOU: Houston, you have a problem and his name is Paul Millsap
Well…that first half was probably the worst half of Jazz basketball I’ve ever seen. This game, in conjunction with the last game, in conjunction with the game before that, was why BBJ hit the nail on the head when he said:
The Jazz not only couldn’t get anything going, they weren’t trying. Deron was flat-out murdering the team with his play, or lack of. Even the “early-oop” (Earl to Evans alley-oop)–as sure a thing as there is in Jazz basketball–failed, and even the original SWARM (Watson, Price, CJ, Elson, Fes) was unable to stop the bleeding. The last time we actually had a lead in a game was five days ago against Detroit. That’s how bad it was.
Whatever happened at halftime, whether it was Raja’s layup line or Jerry’s talk (CJ said after the game that Jerry told them that if they kept playing hard they’d still have a chance to win, but I imagine he says that every game), they at least came out trying. It was far from what they’re capable of, but at least they were competing. Al scored 14 of his 24 points in the quarter, while on the other end AK was instrumental in containing his Bad News Hair buddy, Scola. The Jazz held the Rockets to 4-20 shooting in the 3rd, and cut the halftime 14-point deficit to 3 going into the 4th.
A combination of missed jumpers and CJ getting called for 5 fouls in 6 minutes (including two charges one minute apart) had the Rockets leading by 9 with 5:28 remaining. This is when Paul Millsap went to work. He scored 11 points down the stretch, and his FT with 1:29 left gave the Jazz their first lead of the game…and their first lead in 140+ minutes of game time and since January 3. Deron then loses the ball and fouls Battier, who makes 1-2. The Jazz get the ball back, and Deron takes a mid-range jumper that was more off than a Fes free thow. Fortunately, AK gets the rebound, gets fouled, and makes both FTs.
The last play of regulation was a head-scratcher. The Rockets inbounded the ball with 0.2 seconds left on the clock, but the ball hit the rim and the light went off. The refs, who had called literally twice as many fouls on the Jazz as the Rockets until the final minutes, and also reversed a call, decided to go with a do-over. OK, whatever.
In OT, the Jazz/Deron just kept feeding Millsap possession after possession, and Millsap just kept scoring time and time again. It was pure, unadulterated domination, and it was truly incredible to behold. He scored 12 of the Jazz’s 14 points in OT and gave the Jazz a 5-point edge with 15 seconds remaining. Fortunately, the cushion was enough that the Jazz were able to come away with the win despite 3 missed FTs in the final seconds.*
*I blame the stat guys that were talking about how AK had yet to miss a FT in the clutch all season. Yeah, I’m looking at you, @clintonite33 ;)
Random Stuff, etc.:
** I want to give this special mention:
** Last thing. We were lucky we won considering how we played in the first half. When it comes to adjustments, practice, hamburger drills, game film watching, stern a-talkin’ to’s, whatever the case may be–the coaching staff needs to go ahead with whatever they were planning on before this game. Our problems are still there. Don’t let the win distract from this fact. Some changes are also needed from Deron. When he comes out disinterested, moody, passive, and like “It’s his time of the month. For the past month…” (@peter_dantes), the Jazz have no chance in hell of winning.
Unintentional Dirty Quote Machines of the Night
** Boler: Lee has no problems penetrating 3 Jazz players.
** Matty on Scola: I think he used every move he had to get it off.
** Matty on the final play in regulation: It’s got to start off of a player’s touch.
** Matty in OT: Millsap…screwing Scola in the ground.
3-0 with the black paisley tie.