Thank goodness we had Sundiata Gaines on the floor again tonight at the end of regulation. It was for completely different reasons of course as the Jazz had a huge lead and Gaines didn't even get a minute of playing time. He did manage to get a shot up, but it was off. Probably because he was too close to the basket and the Jazz had the lead.
The Jazz team from earlier this season may have let this game get too close at the end of the fourth or even lost the game altogether after coming off a big win two nights ago. But they came out and took care of business. Though the Bucks did cut a 19-point lead to 5 twice, the Jazz were able to put together some good defense and push the lead back up to double-digits.
Lots of quirky things in tonight's game. After the Jazz got out to a 18-3 lead, Bucks coach Scotty Skiles yanked all of his starters. Takes some stones to do that. Side note, with EA announcing that they're bringing back NBA Jam, it's worth noting that Skiles was a god on that game. Could not miss a three.
Carlos Delfino was pretty much in NBA Jam "he's on fire!" mode all night. Without him, this is an even uglier game for the Bucks. In fact, his 28 points tonight was a career high. He was 6-10 alone from downtown and 10-14 overall. Another career-night against the Jazz.
The good news though is that against everyone else, the Jazz played very good D. Minus Mr. Delfino and the Bucks shot just 37%.
As was mentioned in the game thread, the defense of the Jazz has been amazing. I don't think it's jinxing if I state that in amazement. That's not to boast at all. I honestly can't believe how well they've handled things. Even their losses can't be pinned on poor D.
They're getting a lot of deflections, steals, and rebounding well. They're also playing the best help D that I can remember. They're rotating well and and not leaving their feet. There's still been some forearms to the back, some swiping fouls (instead of hard fouls), and not taking advantage of turnovers, but it's been pretty remarkable.
Solid performances tonight from everyone. Boozer and Okur didn't have the best shooting nights, but both had 12 boards (Okur had 8 in the first quarter) and they had 12 & 15 points respectively.
AK shot the ball well while going for 12 & 6. Surprisingly he had only one assist and one steal, and no blocks.
Deron shot well in a limited 32 minutes. He was 7-11 and 2-3 on threes for 18 & 6. He did have 5 turnovers though but Boozer scored the team high in that category with 6. I think that puts the Jazz at 3-9 (fixed) when Booze has > 4 TOs.
Ronnie B finally cooled down in the assist category with just 2. He only played 23 minutes though and had 8 points. Millsap had 7 &4 including his second career three-pointer. He said after the game that he can make those. This one came as the third quarter was winding down and after the Bucks turned it over. He had to get off a turnaround jumper after the ball was loose on the floor. I remember in summer league a few years back when he had a three at the buzzer to tie the game at the end of regulation. His agents are now trying to renegotiate his contract and show that he's a 100% three-point shooter.
While I was listening on the radio. I heard when CJ came in the game. He jacked up a long three on committed two fouls in the span of about 10 seconds. The Jazz called a time out and I thought that was the last we'd see of CJ for a while. Here's the sequence,
|3:15||9-23||C.J. Miles enters the game for Andrei Kirilenko|
|3:15||9-23||Paul Millsap misses free throw 1 of 2|
|3:15||9-23||Utah offensive rebound|
|3:15||9-23||Paul Millsap misses free throw 2 of 2|
|3:14||9-23||Paul Millsap offensive rebound|
|3:09||9-23||C.J. Miles misses 26-foot three point jumper|
|3:08||Andrew Bogut defensive rebound||9-23|
|3:02||9-23||C.J. Miles shooting foul (Hakim Warrick draws the foul)|
|3:02||Hakim Warrick makes free throw 1 of 2||10-23|
|3:02||Hakim Warrick misses free throw 2 of 2||10-23|
|2:59||Hakim Warrick offensive rebound||10-23|
|2:56||10-23||C.J. Miles personal foul (Hakim Warrick draws the foul)|
|2:56||Utah full timeout|
But CJ stayed in and played very well. He had 19 points, 2 steals, and one assist.
Tomorrow night starts one heck of a stretch of games for the Jazz. Not counting the Nets game at home next Saturday, I don't think the Jazz have a gimmee win until a March 15th game at home against the Wizards. The combined winning percentage for those teams is 51.9% (53.7% if you take out NJ). I'm also thinking that the Pistons and Clippers are going to get better than what they're at. Also, pretty much any road game for the Jazz will be hard to win.
So I can imagine that the next month and a half will be some of the most maddening or satisfying for Jazz fans. Throw in the trade deadline and we could see some increased visits to the psychiatrist.