And that, is why the Jazz are not a top tier team yet. There's no way one of the top teams in the league come off a week beating teams like SA, LA, and Orlando and then give up 110 points to one of the worst teams in the league. Matchups, smatchups. Cannot happen.
Despite how poorly the Jazz played, they came alive with 4 minutes to go in the game. Millsap had three of the biggest blocks I've seen this season in addition to the one he had against the Lakers. The team got a couple of steals late. They finally tied it up with about 16 seconds to go after Memo missed a three, followed by Millsap getting the offensive rebound, kicking it back out to Deron, who ninja-whipped it into AK for the game-tying dunk. Unfortunately, that gave Minnesota a last possession.
Jonny Flynn had little resistance as the clock wound down and he drove into the lane for the layup. The Jazz then got the ball back with three seconds left but a Deron Williams three was off.
I joked in the game thread that as long as we had a fifth quarter that we would be fine. We almost got one but it never should have come to that. There were a bunch of reasons for the loss, let's look at a few,
- Free Throws. 21/37 isn't going to cut it in church ball let alone the NBA. Even with as bad as the Jazz played on D, if they made their season average of 75%, they win this game.
- Not bringing the same focus as they did against the Lakers
Seems to be a classic Jazz trap. Play well against the big teams and take the little teams for granted. By the time they finally got things going late in the fourth, it was too late.
- Too little Booze? He got 15 shots, but like above, he didn't get things until the fourth quarter and didn't really impact the game like he has over the past few weeks.
- Defensive rebounding on both ends. The Jazz gave up 14 offensive boards while getting only 7 for themselves. They got a couple of stops down the stretch but couldn't get a defensive board. Jazz got worked on the boards overall 48-36
- Jonny Flynn got any shot that he wanted and nailed them. He started out 4-4 from three and drove at will. Part of that was getting by DWill and the other part is that there was nobody inside to stop him. He got most of his in the first half which kept the momentum going for the TWolves. He finished with 28 & 5 including that game-winner.
- As mentioned in the game thread, the rotation probably had something to do with it. Korver and AK both saw action tonight. For Korver it was the first of the year and AK had been out for a while. Both never got in the flow of things. They needed to be worked back in at some point of course but they definitely impacted the rotation that the Jazz had going on.
Also CJ wasn't on the bench for a lot of the game as he was apparently sick. Kobe had the last laugh so it seems.
- I said matchups, smatchups. And that is still true. But for whatever reason, the Jazz haven't matched up well with Minnesota. Probably the biggest reason being rebounds. Jefferson and Love are some of the best in the league and the Jazz just don't see that often.
And still this is a game that the Jazz needed to win (you know as opposed to the others that they're okay to lose :)). This loss is a huge stomach punch as they head out on the road with their first stop in NJ. And now your worst fears are that they're going to lose back to back games to the two worst teams in the league.
What sucks most of all is that all of the great things that we saw in this game were for naught.
Deron Williams continued his amazing run by putting up 38 & 13 with just one turnover. 19 of those points came in the second quarter but the Jazz were only up 4 at the half. Pathetic waste.
It's a waste that I wasn't able to say how Millsap's monster blocks were a turning point in the game.
We're so close right now and I don't see how we can take the next step. We have problems with quick, penetrating guards because we're not slowing them on the perimeter when there is a pick and roll or some other type of screen. Once they're past that first line of defense it's a jailbreak.
One thing that I was going to mention about the Laker game, which I kind of did in the game thread, was that their bigs were killing us. Gasol and Bynum had their way inside and if Kobe had become a passer instead of a shooter in that game, they could have won that.
Because we're so close, the Jazz need to pull the trigger on something to get some interior D. Amazingly, I think we have the shooters right now in Brewer (mid-range J has been good) and Wesley Matthews. With CJ returning there's now the odd man out with Korver. I don't know who he can be packaged with or for whom. But we'd need a Gasol-like steal trade-wise to become a true contender.
As for now we have a team that will give us 7-3 but 1 or 2 of those losses are against the bottom teams in the league and come playoff time the interior "defense" will be exposed. We need some help. Great quote from clarkpojo on the subject,
Mostly our defense is so bad. But mostly our defensive execution. We fail to run special defenses to gameplan against other teams. It’s frustrating.
Hand it to the TWolves though. They exploited the Jazz again on offense and for the most part got the shots that they wanted and knocked them down. They've seemed to have figured out that if you can get to the Jazz early, they're not going to be able to slow you down easily.
On a lighter note, we now how Harprisms. I used to keep track of Boonerisms but I got used to them and tuned them out. Every once in a while he will still say something that sticks out. But don't worry, we have Matt Harpring to the rescue. He gives some insight on some things, but others are just, well, Matty. Here's just a few namely because I couldn't keep up with him,
- He asked why nobody whacked Kobe's hand in the Laker game when they knew that he had a broken finger. Not really a Harpism, but he was confirming something that I thought players might do, but never really knew for sure or not.
- "There should be a stat for playing hard."
- On the TWolves, "They're playing to win." As opposed to other nights when they're trying to create a vortex of suck.
- What were some that I missed? Too bad he won't be around after tonight.