[NOTE: This ran a lot longer than I thought so click through for the whole thing. ]
Sorry about not having a recap of game one. I had some serious blogger block.
Really, I couldn't think of another way to say we got buried early, made a couple of comebacks, but couldn't do anything to get over the hump because we lack the defense to do so.
I mentioned that in my exchange with the Lakers blog at the LA times. Not that they needed it, but it was as if Phil Jackson read over my "How to beat the Jazz" and ran with it.
You could have also added:
- Find a role player on the bench and plug them in. They'll have a career game (Ariza AND Brown in this case).
- Get the ball in down low and when help comes, kick it back out for wide-open three.
- Make sure the ball in in AK's hands.
- Let Ronnie B shoot jumpers. Seriously. This is killing us. I talked about it in this pre-season recap against the Lakers. I talked about it after last year's series. clarkpojo talked about it again. As much as I love Ronnie B, he's not a shooter. He's been working on it, but Kobe is figuratively giving Ronnie a Shaq-Ostertag-slap when he can camp out in the lane on D because Brewer can't shoot. I can't remember the last time I've ever seen a defender leave someone that wide-open on purpose. Kobe might as well be a rover on D and just permanently double-team whoever has the ball.
Locke was talking to Kevin O'Connor about this exact thing yesterday. Locke brought up how it looks like Ronnie's numbers were down this year despite him working on his shot. KOC basically said, "No, they're not." When Locke brought up some stats showing that it was, KOC stated, "We have different numbers." I'd like to see what he's looking at then.
"Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results."
We're not doing anything different so why are we expecting to beat the Lakers? The question is though do we have anything to offer that's different from what we've been doing?
This series is going to turn out to be exactly like last year's.
We'll lose the first two at LA, win game three, and have a shaky game four where we may or may not win, and then get eliminated in game 5 or 6.
The team has to do something differently and I'm afraid it's too late with the crew that we have. My question is why didn't we do anything to shake things up at the deadline? We all knew that the Jazz were going to do what they always do and play it safe. There was probably good reason as once everyone was back healthy, we were supposed to see the team that should have been challenging for the 1 seed in the West all season.
The Jazz stuck with what they had and it worked for a while. They won 12-straight though most of those were at home. Still, no small feat.
Then after some colossal losses, things went downhill from there. There was talk about locker room issues. Even Marc Stein brought it up in his playoff preview:
"Rumblings in front-office circles around the league are growing louder that the uncertain futures of potential free-agent forwards Paul Millsap, Mehmet Okur and Boozer -- since it's unclear who's staying and who's going -- have caused tensions in the locker room that have seeped into Utah's play."
Do the Jazz really not know what their plan is for this summer? I respect KOC too much to think that they haven't got a plan. Maybe the tension has come from not telling the players what's going on. Really though, they can't just tell someone in February that they're not going to re-sign them, you know, like Morris Almond.
Regardless of what happens with Booze, Millsap, et al., the Jazz need to pursue through trade or free agency, a straight-up, filthy shooter that can create his own shot. I haven't done much in the way of researching who that should be, but it has to be a top priority. The Jazz need someone that can be a dagger-shooter - someone that can get the Jazz back in the game quickly if necessary and someone that can quell a comeback when the Jazz have a lead. Maybe it could have been Vince Carter? I don't know. I know Sloan is a shoot as close to the basket guy, but we need shooters.
Oh, and whether Millsap or Boozer go, they need to replace that slot with a defensive presence. That's not too much to ask, right?
The 25+ years of stability of the Jazz organization has been the hallmark of the franchise. Sloan, Stockton, Malone, and Larry H Miller have defined the Utah Jazz. For that I am grateful that we've been able to cheer on a competitive team for so long.
But it may have lulled us into a sense of complacency for not demanding more. The Jazz mantra has been to build a solid core and tweak the edges. It's brought a lot of success but not the ultimate prize. Maybe in a small market, the Jazz can't afford to shake things up, but I'm tired of our seasons ending like this:
|2008-09||NBA||Utah Jazz*||48||34||.585||3||2.31||110.1||107.2||Playing Western Conference First Round||Sloan (48-34)|
|2007-08||NBA||Utah Jazz*||54||28||.659||1||6.87||113.8||106.5||Lost Western Conference Semifinals||Sloan (54-28)|
|2006-07||NBA||Utah Jazz*||51||31||.622||1||3.06||110.1||107.0||Lost Western Conference Finals||Sloan (51-31)|
|2005-06||NBA||Utah Jazz||41||41||.500||2||-2.49||104.1||107.0||Sloan (41-41)|
|2004-05||NBA||Utah Jazz||26||56||.317||5||-3.74||104.7||109.5||Sloan (26-56)|
|2003-04||NBA||Utah Jazz||42||40||.512||7||-0.53||101.9||103.3||Sloan (42-40)|
|2002-03||NBA||Utah Jazz*||47||35||.573||4||2.77||105.5||102.8||Lost Western Conference First Round||Sloan (47-35)|
|2001-02||NBA||Utah Jazz*||44||38||.537||4||1.20||105.5||104.6||Lost Western Conference First Round||Sloan (44-38)|
|2000-01||NBA||Utah Jazz*||53||29||.646||2||5.00||107.6||102.4||Lost Western Conference First Round||Sloan (53-29)|
|1999-00||NBA||Utah Jazz*||55||27||.671||1||4.52||107.3||102.3||Lost Western Conference Semifinals||Sloan (55-27)|
|1998-99||NBA||Utah Jazz*||37||13||.740||1||5.54||105.8||98.4||Lost Western Conference Semifinals||Sloan (37-13)|
|1997-98||NBA||Utah Jazz*||62||20||.756||1||5.73||112.7||105.4||Lost Finals||Sloan (62-20)|
|1996-97||NBA||Utah Jazz*||64||18||.780||1||7.97||113.6||104.0||Lost Finals||Sloan (64-18)|
|1995-96||NBA||Utah Jazz*||55||27||.671||2||6.24||113.3||106.1||Lost Western Conference Finals||Sloan (55-27)|
|1994-95||NBA||Utah Jazz*||60||22||.732||2||7.75||114.3||105.7||Lost Western Conference First Round||Sloan (60-22)|
|1993-94||NBA||Utah Jazz*||53||29||.646||3||4.10||108.6||104.1||Lost Western Conference Finals||Sloan (53-29)|
|1992-93||NBA||Utah Jazz*||47||35||.573||3||1.74||109.6||107.4||Lost Western Conference First Round||Sloan (47-35)|
|1991-92||NBA||Utah Jazz*||55||27||.671||1||5.70||112.2||105.6||Lost Western Conference Finals||Sloan (55-27)|
|1990-91||NBA||Utah Jazz*||54||28||.659||2||3.18||108.6||105.1||Lost Western Conference Semifinals||Sloan (54-28)|
|1989-90||NBA||Utah Jazz*||55||27||.671||2||4.82||110.3||105.4||Lost Western Conference First Round||Sloan (55-27)|
|1988-89||NBA||Utah Jazz*||51||31||.622||1||4.02||106.6||101.5||Lost Western Conference First Round||Layden (11-6), Sloan (40-25)|
|1987-88||NBA||Utah Jazz*||47||35||.573||3||2.96||106.8||103.1||Lost Western Conference Semifinals||Layden (47-35)|
|1986-87||NBA||Utah Jazz*||44||38||.537||2||0.05||104.1||103.7||Lost Western Conference First Round||Layden (44-38)|
|1985-86||NBA||Utah Jazz*||42||40||.512||4||-0.67||104.2||104.6||Lost Western Conference First Round||Layden (42-40)|
|1984-85||NBA||Utah Jazz*||41||41||.500||4||-0.32||103.3||103.4||Lost Western Conference Semifinals||Layden (41-41)|
|1983-84||NBA||Utah Jazz*||45||37||.549||1||0.81||109.0||108.0||Lost Western Conference Semifinals||Layden (45-37)|
A few years of suckitude landed us Deron Williams. I would deal with a couple years more if it meant we could get a better shot at a championship. I would take 5 years of suckitude right now if it guaranteed a championship in the 6th year.
Fans of some other teams might say, "Shut your pie hole. At least you have a winning team or have a team at all. Consider yourself lucky." Maybe it sounds ungrateful, but losing your last game of the year doesn't sit well with me.
So it's time to mix things up this summer with the team. I'm not advocating blowing things up, just zig a little when you would normally zag. We haven't won anything yet so far, what could it hurt? Whether the Jazz like it or not, their hand could be forced this off-season. Might as well be the aggressor instead of waiting for things to happen.