Game 47 vs. Peskies: [Sigh of Relief]
With Deron out (hand problems) and Earl in at tip-off, the Jazz were literally off and running. It was the antithesis of Jazz basketball of late, and Earl was pushing the ball in a way we’ve been dying to see. AK made the Jazz’s first shot–a three (blessedly his only three attempt of the night)–and the Jazz were off on a 10-0 run. Not lackadaisical. Unselfish. Active. Easy buckets. Finally, something to cheer about.
Side Note: While some fans were extremely pessimistic about Deron’s absence and commented that we were basically dead in the water and en route to our seventh consecutive loss, I have to say I was optimistic. Deron’s obviously not solely responsible for the recent slow starts, but I do think he plays a major role in them. I’ve said that the lineup changes the coaching staff tried weren’t the ones I would’ve made, and this change, though temporary and forced by necessity, was just good for the team as a different (and again, temporary) look.
Even so, the Peskies kept it close. It was 58-55 Jazz at halftime, and as The Fes and The Koof were both inactive, there was sadly no halftime dance-off. Meanwhile, it was announced at halftime that Memo wouldn’t be returning due to a lower back strain (get well soon, Fes and Memo!).
While score-wise the game was too close for comfort for much of the second half, it never felt like we were in danger of losing. It was an 8-point game going into the fourth quarter, and a 3-point game with 1:37 left after Senor Amor made 5 straight free throws. The Jazz got the lead up to 5 on a Senor Fuego (that’s Paul Millsap to you) jumper and then 8 on three FTs by CJ. In a week when we’ve seen d-bag opponents attempt dunks while up 40 (yeah Los Angeles Lakers I’m lookin’ at you), I thought it was total class on CJ’s part to hold on to the ball and run the clock when he had an open dunk in the final seconds.
Can’t get overly excited about one close win against the Wolves (though they have been playing well). Given the way we’ve been playing lately, however, a little bit of celebration wouldn’t be completely out of order.
Head over here for full-game highlights.
Random Stuff, etc.:
** Some fans complain about Deron not pushing the ball and others say he can’t push the ball because the other guys don’t run. Regardless, this is what Phil Johnson had to say post-game: [Earl] pushed the ball, and he got the ball to people on the break. People won’t run if they don’t get the ball on the break. … He was just pushing it up the floor and did a great job and really looked for people. He’s not looking to score himself, he’s looking to get people the ball and consequently our guys ran. (KFAN audio)
** Jazz Nation was in such a good mood that there was some major crazy talk after the game. I give you Exhibit A (thanks to TM):
** When AK played well against the Nets, everyone was like “He’s playing harder because he’s auditioning for the Nets.” When he came out strong against the Spurs, it was because he wanted back in the starting lineup. So what’s the reason tonight? That he and Deron obviously don’t get along? @_@
** Raja’s going through a really rough stretch. We know what kind of a player he is though, and fans’ gang-bashing on him is not going to help him get out of the slump any faster. Just sayin’.
** There was no poutyness and negative body language tonight. Absolutely refreshing. Deron and Raja were even smiling on the bench at the end of the game. Here is evidence of Deron Williams cracking a smile for the first time in 2011:
** Earl, post-game: I think losing builds character. I think losing, you learn a lot of lessons. Some people look at losing as a negative thing, and in the moment it is hard to overcome mentally, but after you get past it you realize you become a better team. You realize guys got better. You realize that it builds mental toughness, and that’s what we need in order to get to our destination and win a championship. (KFAN audio)
Unintentional Dirty Quote Machines of the Night
** Jerry, post-game: [Al] got beat early in the game, he let his men get inside him.
In regards to this “signage”:
There was also the whole Steve Brown showing off Kevin Love’s lotion bit (sorry, I wasn’t fast enough with the screencap):
Note: The black polka dot tie Jerry wore tonight might be a good luck tie. He posed for his Hall of Fame portrait in it, and this was the first time he’s worn it this season. Yes, I am becoming way closer and more personal with Jerry’s ties than I ever thought possible.