Well, that was ugly. And I'm not even talking about a pitching duel gone bad. The Jazz came out to open the season and laid an absolute egg in their season opener. The fact it was in Denver against a hated rival makes it that much worse. Credit the Nuggets, of course... they came out with passion and fire and just rolled. None of which is true of the Jazz. (By the way... 84 FTs? That's almost 2 FTs/minute. No NBA game needs that. If the NBA is serious about listening to fans... as they claim with their new "everything is a tech" rule, maybe they need to cut down on the pathetic foul calls.)
That's not to say there weren't highlights for the Jazz. Of course there were. They were just few in number, and were overshadowed by the blowout loss and the bad performance in pretty much every area.
- Jeremy Evans: The Jazz tend to have success with 2nd rounders, be it Paul Millsap or Jarron Collins or Bryon Russell or CJ Miles or... well, lets stop before CJ, shall we? That said, Jeremy Evans showed up last night. 4-5 from the field, 3-4 from the line... 11 points. 2 boards. Nothing spectacular in his 11 minutes, but considering that he's a 2nd round rookie and considering that the rest of the team played like crap, you take what you can get. I'm not going to go out and crown him Rookie of the Year just yet, but if he can show up and contribute whenever the Jazz turn to him, we'll take it. He should probably have played more minutes last night. Oh, and if we're going to be picky, a couple of blocked shots would be nice.
- Paul Millsap: Not spectacular (5-9 from the field, 5-7 from the line), but 15 & 8 isn't too bad, all things considered. Sure, you'd have liked more given that Al Jefferson was ineffective, but this is about what you have to expect from 'Sap every night, right? Especially if Jefferson shows up? The 0 personal fouls is nice to see, especially considering how many fouls were called, and how Millsap was a foul magnet last year.
- Al Jefferson's blocked shots: Jefferson himself had a horrible first game. But what's worth noticing is he had 3 blocked shots yesterday. In comparison, Boozer had 36 all of last year. Jefferson is on pace to break that less than a month into the season. Sure, it meant little in the long-run (a blowout loss isn't going to be impacted by 3 more buckets), but its nice. Maybe. Now if he could just show up offensively.
- CJ Miles: Foul trouble benched him early, and it went downhill from there. He finished 0-4 from the field and with 4 fouls in just 13 minutes. Sure you're not expecting 40 points/night from him, but 2 points and ineffective play just doesn't cut it. Worse, the Nuggets had Afflalo and Hit-N-Run explode for 45 points on 15-27 shooting from the field. Not blaming CJ for that, but when they go off, we need to counter in some way. 0 points is not the answer.
- Andrei Kirilenko: So much for contract year explosion, eh? One game in, AK is more like CJ of old than AK of old... and that's not a good thing. He did have 3 rebounds and 3 assists, but just 2 points (like CJ, 0-4 from the field) and 4 fouls. And again, Anthony & Afflalo just went off on the Jazz. Plus he had fewer blocks than Francisco Elson.
- Al Jefferson: Aside from the blocks, this game was a disaster for our new big. He did throw in 7 boards, but was just 2-6 from the field and finished with 6 points. When he's supposed to be the focal point of your offense, 6 points is a complete disaster. While its too early to be worried, it definitely didn't help in the game. Him and Deron seemed off early on (so much for BFF chemistry), and the Jazz didn't seem to really start going inside until way too late in the game. Throw in 0 assists (in Amar's "solar system" analogy, Al Jefferson just might be the black hole) and there are causes for concern; hopefully, they're worked out really soon. Especially considering that there's a game tonight.
- Honorable mention: I don't even know what to call it: Shelden Williams grabbed 16 boards on us (7 offensive) in 23 minutes. The guy is on his 5th team in 5 years, and almost sets a career high (17) on us in the first game of the season. Note that we had Pallo Jeffersapenko (and Elson too) and that they were without K-Mart and Birdman. ... Who exactly were we blocking out? George Karl?
What's next? The Suns. Tonight. After watching the Nuggets go 6-20 from downtown (Afflalo was 3-5, offset by Al Harrington's 2-7 night), we get to take on the Suns (they went 9-19 against the Blazers). They'll run and they'll shoot. They did give up a lot of offensive rebounds to the Blazers, so maybe the Jazz can cash in there. Both teams enter coming off of a road blowout loss.