Game 52 @SAC: A win is a win, regardless
Pre-game good news and bad news…first, the new bad (today):
I know this is stating the obvious, but 1) The offense still turns into standaround offense much of the time when Big Al gets the ball; 2) Big Al is so much more effective when he gets the ball and leans forward for a layup rather than stepping back and throwing up a Mississippi hooker (push shot).
Ever since the night when Al fell on his “buh-tawks” and said he doesn’t like to dunk, he’s been dunking harder, and dunking more. In the first quarter, Al was slamming it down like he was possessed by the ghost of a raw, powerful, 25-year old Mailman and it was a sight to behold.
Speaking of raw, Fes got into the game [relatively] early due to Franny Elson’s being out of commission. Bull in a china shop though he may be, Fes was making some huge plays and getting the [Jazz] crowd [watching at home] on their feet with his dunks, offensive boards, and unbridled enthusiasm.
Despite Big Al’s early dominance, the return of an extremely hustley AK, Deron’s sporadic ninjaness, and the unleashing of the Ukraikenian, the Jazz were never able to pull away. It was a one-point game at the half, and a combination of stupid jump shots and an array of alleged (and by “alleged,” I mean “A-FREAKING-LLEGED”) fouls put the Jazz in the penalty at the 7:41 mark in the 3rd, and down 7 after three quarters.
Behind a lineup of Al, AK, Gordon, Raja, and Earl to start the 4th, the Jazz finally got back in the game. It seemed like Raja was hitting everything he was throwing up (which was wonderful to see), and for the first time it felt like there was actual momentum in the game rather than just watching the Jazz and Kings trade buckets. After giving up three consecutive EASY baskets in a span of 1:15 (cough:TYPICAL:cough), our boys managed to reel off a 10-2 run (8 by Millsap), to give the Jazz its first lead since midway through the second quarter.
Al corralled a huge rebound off a Cousins miss with the game tied and 2 minutes remaining, and AK hit a short jumper. Millsap fouls out on the next possession, and is followed to the Disqualification Bench by Cousins. AK goes 1-2 at the line with 22 seconds to give the Jazz a 2-point lead, and it’s deja vu 14 seconds later when he goes 1-2 again. Fortunately, Casspi misses a trey at the other end, and the lungs of Jazz fans start working again. At the end of the day, AK Saved Us All, but nearly gave us heart attacks while doing so. :)
The Utah Jazz Blog’s highlights here.
Random Stuff, etc.
** Raja was doing his post-game interview and Boler and Matt were asking him about the full-court layup at the end of the third quarter where the ball got to him via Fes’ hands.
Boler: Do we give Fes an assist or not on this play?
Raja: You have to give an assist. That was the best pass I’ve ever gotten.
Boler: Best pass ever! Fesenko! To Raja Bell!
[Fes pops up out of nowhere]
Fes: I’m right here!
Matt: Talk about your pass to Raja Bell at the end of the quarter.
Fes, without skipping a beat (naturally): Well, we practiced it. We work on it like a lot…
Raja: Chemistry, baby!
Fes: Yeah, I just hope it gonna end up on Top 10 play.
Raja: You know how I finish. You know I’m a finisher.
Boler: Hey Fes, that was the Morgan Jeweler Diamond Play of the Game!
Fes: Wow, I’m…flattered. What is that?
LOL. (KFAN audio)
** When asked whether he’s talked to Boozer, Deron said no, but that he recently talked to Kyle and Ronnie B (he’ll always be Ronnie B) and that they’re having dinner tomorrow. (KFAN audio)
** Why is it that we can never seem to get the entire roster humming in unison? For the past few months, we’ve been wondering whether Al and Millsap could have a good game in the same game. Raja slumped like nobody’s business last month, and now that he’s back in finer form than ever, it’s CJ’s turn in the slumphouse. Deron might not have been hurting the team earlier in the season, but his attitude and poutyness certainly didn’t help. The Earl-Ronnie P SWARM backcourt was great earlier in the season, but now that Deron’s [in a] better [mood], Ronnie P has joined CJ in the slumphouse. Sigh.
** Cause for concern? Al and Millsap combined for just 10 rebounds. AK and Fes, meanwhile, combined for 15 rebounds.
** Great to have AK back (and he didn’t take any 3s!). You all know how much I love him so don’t take it from me how “on” he was tonight; take it from Kings fans.
** While opponents continue to look like 3-point shooting specialists against us, meaning our perimeter defense has been horrid, our own 3-point shooting has been awful as well. Over the past five games, we’ve gone 22% from behind the arc, including 1-9 and 1-11 nights.
Unintentional Dirty Quote Machines of the Night
** Boler: Sometimes you think you’re wide open, get a little bit excited.
** Boler: Casspi deep, no, yes! I thought he was off the mark but he hit that shot.
** Matty: You can’t be shocked when he shoots it in your face.
** Matty: We’re tied in the SAC.
** Boler: Raja, glad you got your stroke back.