"Can't ever keep from falling apart
At the seams
Can I believe you're taking my heart
-Come Undone Duran Duran
The first play of the game saw Memo try to take a charge from Nene and ended up with Okur on the ground after Nene had come down on his ankle. I thought, "Okay, let's see how they respond." At first, it looked like Denver might take advantage and get off to a large lead.
But thanks to Deron Williams, the Jazz not only responded, but they built a 30-23 lead after the first quarter.
The Nuggets closed that gap in the second quarter and the two teams battled through the end of the third. The Jazz were still up 1 until Deron fouled Chauncey Billups on a last-second three-pointer to send Billups to the free-throw line, giving the Nuggets a two-point lead heading into the fourth.
That's when the Jazz team we know
and love returned. Deron sat out the the first two minutes of the fourth quarter and saw the 82-80 deficit grow to 89-80 by the time he checked back in. The Jazz didn't score until more than three minutes into the quarter when Williams hit a couple of free throws.
By then, it was too late. The Jazz, especially the front-court, folded quickly. They were taking poor shots. And nobody left their feet for a rebound. How many put-back dunks did the Nuggets have to get before they would at least put up their arms as the ball was coming off the rim?
And after playing semi-pro defense the first three quarters, the Jazz must have forgotten to finish their huddles with 1-2-3 defense because it completely disappeared.
They couldn't keep anybody in front of them as Ty Lawson, Chauncey Billups, and Carmelo Anthony drove at will. They either got all the way to the basket or were able to easily find the other man under the hoop for an easy basket.
Perhaps the most egregious example of the team's fall was Paul Millsap's lollipop outlet pass to Deron Williams that was easily intercepted by Melo. Millsap was punished for his misdeed by being on the wrong end of an absolutely eviscerating dunk by Anthony.
All that and I haven't even mentioned Carlos Boozer's crapfest. After having a tremendous pre-season, Boozer could not have been worse. He was 3/14 from the field and two of those came in the closing minutes. He settled for jumpers from the elbow and wasn't close. All of the bad feelings for Boozer came rushing back.
He already doesn't have any benefit of the doubt from Jazz fans. Another couple games like that and there will be a march on the ESA demanding his trade. I'm not quite at that point yet. But if the front office would like to pull a Denver and trade a big-name player early in the season, I wouldn't object.
Millsap didn't do anything tonight though to show that he should be starting.
Hard to pull positives out of a mess like this. Memo had a solid shooting first half. AK played as expected. The Jazz also shot free throws well.
Unfortunately, the loss greatly overshadowed the dominant game that Deron Williams had. He finished with 28 & 11. D-Will was 8/8 from the free throw line and 9/15 from the field including 2/3 from downtown. Forget bestowing the All-star mantle on him, with his play in the pre-season and tonight's game, he could be in the early discussion for MVP if he keeps this up.
While this game won't instill any confidence in fans, it really is only the first game of the season. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like the Jazz have turned a corner when it comes to playing on the road or playing D.
If this continues for another couple games, it may behoove O'Connor to shake things up and trade Boozer for the best player (shooter preferably) that he can get.
- Before the Melo dunk, Fesenko had the best dunk of the game when he threw one down driving to the hoop in the first quarter. Some times he looked like he will be a dominant big man, others he looks like he shouldn't be in the NBA. Being the first game, we'll see how the next couple of months play out.
- Another fault tonight, the Jazz didn't get back at all on D. That was another weakness from last season.
- AK could be the best actor of all time. We know his legendary flops, but he was able to draw an AND-1 on Melo after taking a shot and acting as if Melo had hacked him.
- The Pepsi Center was surprisingly full at tip-off despite the 20' of snow they got.
- Jazz vs Nuggets recap