There's been lingering smog over the Salt Lake Valley for the past couple of weeks, especially around the ESA. The good news is that it's starting to break up a bit.
The Jazz (at least I think it was the Jazz) had another dominating performance as they pounded the Miami Heat. This had a similar feel to the Dallas game as the game was tied late in the first quarter but saw the Jazz slowly, but surely pull away. And unlike the Mavs game, the Jazz never had to rebuff a run from the Heat.
The Jazz finally get another win against the Heat in the Dwyane Wade era and we probably have to attribute that to Sundiata Gaines a bit. He took out Wade and Michael Beasley in his few minutes on the floor in the first half. First, he and Wade were going for a loose ball when it looks like Wade sprained his wrist in a small collision with Gaines. He also was able to drive on Beasley, draw the contact, and finish with an acrobatic bank shot. The significance was that it was Beasley's third foul early in the second quarter and sent the Heat forward to the bench. It was significant because he was lighting it up when he was in the game with 20 points.
Would having Wade at full strength and having Beasley in for more minutes have been the difference between a win and a loss? Probably not tonight, but it would have been closer no doubt.
The Jazz probably would have still won because they were peaking again on offense. They shot 57% from the field including 60% from the arc. Even more amazing was all of the precision movement on offense and the deft passing. The Jazz had another 28 assists on the night. While that's just a little above their average, they were making the perfect number of passes. They made the extra pass but didn't over-pass.
And don't look now, but the Jazz have held five straight opponents to a sub-100 score: 91, 94, 93, 91, and 89. The Jazz have been hit or miss on offense though and that's lead to the inconsistent record.
So the big question is of course, "Have the Jazz started to turn things around?" I don't know, but I'm enjoying what I'm seeing right now.
And what I'm seeing are things like Memo getting 5 blocks in a game with four of those coming in the first quarter in the span of about 7 minutes:
|9:06||Mehmet Okur blocks Rafer Alston's driving layup|
|7:13||Mehmet Okur blocks Michael Beasley's layup|
|4:35||Mehmet Okur blocks Jermaine O'Neal's layup|
|2:05||Mehmet Okur blocks Udonis Haslem's 4-foot two point shot|
We're seeing Ronnie Brewer turn into an assist king. He had another 8 tonight after posting 10, 6, & 5 the previous 3 games.
We're seeing Deron look like he's enjoying the game again and not forcing shots and he's still getting his 23 & 10 that he got tonight.
We're seeing the strong bench play that has been a trademark of the Jazz for the past few years but hasn't had the impact so far this year.
And we're seeing what appears to be, brace for it, some team chemistry.
My question is, where has this been all year? We've seen a couple of glimpses of the Jazz playing at a high level, but unfortunately we've also seen them come crashing down. Does it really take a team that's been together for 3 seasons + to take 38 games to start putting things together?
And I think that's why the Jazz will enjoy these wins, they're still waiting for the digression we've seen previous. Like I've stated before, it will take a run of quite a few games like this to convince me we're looking at a different team.
The last time the Jazz beat the Heat, it took a strong showing from the starters and that was the case in this win. They got 82 of the 118 points from the starting 5. Boozer had another strong showing with 25 & 11. And like I mentioned above, Memo shot the ball to the tune of 13 points with 6 of those coming on threes. And AK didn't fill up the stat sheet but shot the ball well on his way to 15 points.
The two rookies had good games as well. Gaines had 7 in addition to his two take-downs mentioned above. And Wesley Matthews was outstanding with 18 points on 8 shots and 6 FTAs.
Now we find ourselves in a bit of a dichotomous situation in that the more the Jazz win, the more likely we don't see any moves to improve the team. Yet you don't really ever root for your team to lose. In fact, it doesn't seem like the FO is going to make a move regardless of whether the team is winning or losing, so we might as well hope they keep on winning.