Jazz Know UNIX, Fend Off Raptors 125-108

The Jazz have now beaten the Raptors 11 straight times dating back to 2005 after last night's win.  For most of the night, it was the Jazz carving up Toronto on offense while twice building up 20+ point leads. Of course it would have been better had the Jazz built up a 20-point lead and maintained it instead of letting it disappear in the third.

The Jazz didn't give it up though, Toronto took it. The Jazz never relinquished the lead in that disastrous third period but credit needs to be given to the Raptors.  Most teams can go on runs to cut into a deficit like that, but their comeback was a result of consistent play and forcing the Jazz into bad shots and turnovers.

For the first two periods, the Jazz had their way with them.  They were in the paint (or pah-aint as B&H reminded so many times last night) and Toronto had nothing to stop Jefferson and Millsap.  Millsap's consistent jumper has opened up so much for him down low as he's able to get a step by defenders now after giving the ball fake.  Al continues to abuse anyone that's on him in single coverage.  Whether it's the fake and up and under or the deadly drop-step, he's beating everyone one on one.

What Toronto did right in the third was double and triple-teaming Al and essentially packing the paint.  They were swarming him and then recovering quickly when he was kicking it back out.  With the missed jumper, forced turnovers, and fouls by the Jazz, the Raptors were able to get back in the game.

Andrea Bargnani provided the offense in that quarter with 15 points with a three and 6 free-throws.  Toronto went to the line 13 times in that quarter (felt like 33) and slowly whittled the lead from 19 to just a single point after a pair of Sonny Weems free-throws with 2 minutes to go in the third.

In case you're wondering how Bargnani is pronounced, here's a visual,

Images_medium Images_medium

The turnaround point in the game was CJ Miles' play at the end of the third though.  Wait, not so fast, not the three-pointer at the buzzer.  After Deron made a couple of free-throws, Toronto in-bounded the ball with just about three seconds left to get off a heave before the buzzer.  CJ though forced DeRozan to the sideline and caused him to step on the line, giving the ball back to Utah. 

That play is what I consider to be the turning point for the Jazz.

Okay, now you can talk about the the bank-three that CJ made.  He in-bounded to Deron and got the ball right back for the heave that banked in.

Credit Deron for pushing the ball after two Weems free-throws and getting to the line with just 2 seconds left.  His free-throws and CJ's work turned a two-point lead into seven heading into the fourth.

CJ was the story in this game.  He scored another three to start the scoring in the fourth.  With his outside shot falling, the inside opened up again.  It also allowed him to drive by Barbosa and beat two other defenders for a layup early in the fourth.

From there the Jazz were able to run the offense again with Deron dishing and kicking out to CJ and Price for threes.  The inside opened up and Utah was able to exploit Toronto again

Let's look at the players...

Deron Williams

Deron has feasted on the Raptors guards over their past four meetings.  He's averaged 21 & 12 with 6 boards over that span.  Last night he had 14 in the first quarter alone on the way to 22 & 14 & 8.  Poor Millsap.  Last season he had to deal with Boozer stealing boards.  I counted at least twice last night where Deron took a couple of those away.  He must be trying to get his PER up.

One other note on Deron, his FT% is near 90% having just missed three (26/29) all season.  The team overall is up above 77% now (from 75%) after last night's performance.  This will play a large part in our success this season.

CJ Miles

#whatupdoe?  I'll tell you what's up, CJ's three-point percentage.  He's nailing 57% (8/14) early in the season with five of those coming last night.  That will come down of course but if he's right around 40% for the year, we'll be in great shape.  If CJ keeps playing like this, I won't care if I ever see him on twitter again.

He finished the night with 19 points on 7/12 shooting.   There were three players with 20+ points last night and we almost had a fourth.

Al Jefferson

What might have been overlooked in this game was that his 27 points was a season high.  He just keeps going to work each night and getting it done.  Sloan keeps leaving him in there even after the other starters are out to get some work.  Some of that's for conditioning I'm sure and some of that it to get more experience running the offense in a real game situation.  He's looking better on the pick and roll with Deron and still has that surprised look when he gets the ball so close to the basket.  He runs back up the court with that look on his face that seems to say I can't believe how much easier points are to get here.

Paul Millsap

Remember, this is the guy that wasn't going to be able to replace Boozer's production.  All he's done through 4 games is put up 24 & 11 while shooting 63%.  His PER has jumped from around 17 to 27.  Those numbers may come down a bit but he just continues to prove everyone wrong. 

He's not just getting a lot of buckets from pick and rolls, he's hitting them from everywhere.  Right now, he's shooting 67% from 16-23 feet out.  Like I mentioned above, that consistent jumper is opening up a lot of things for him right now.  Maybe his agent's claims weren't that far off.

Ronnie Price

Proof that nobody watches the Jazz.  None of Price's plays, other than his three-pointer, made it into the top 10.  He even had a tailor-made top ten play when he picked the ball and went in for the flying left-handed slam.  In fact, the Jazz didn't make it into any of the top ten plays on NBA.com's highlights.  It wasn't a late game and we even got a Kobe AND-1 from a three-pointer that made it in.

My play of the night from Price though was when he got picked and after fighting through and trailing Barbosa, he was still able to leap from behind and block Barbosa's jumper.  Amazing athletic play there.

My second favorite was on his made three-pointer.  Jack was yelling in his ear two feet away and after he drained it, he turned around and just gave Jack the little look.  Best trash talking ever and he didn't even say a word.  Oh, and that dunk later was after he picked off Jack's pass.

Other notes
  • AK had a solid game.  The 6 turnovers hurt, especially the ones in the third.  But he had a couple of steals and broke up plays in addition to 4 assists.
  • The Jazz had a tightened rotation already as Fess and Evans were out.  None of the bigs got into foul trouble though.
  • Deron had a play where a loose ball was coming down and tipped it around Calderon to himself, got the break going, dribbled around the back, and kicked it out to Raja for the jumper.  A great play.
  • Deron hasn't been coming out at the 3:00 mark in the first this season.  He's either come out at the break or plays into the second.  I don't know if this is Deron asking to stay in longer or Sloan not wanting to turn things over to Watson/Price or both.
  • Speaking of Price and Watson, another great play came when Price penetrated, found Watson running the basline, who then flipped the ball behind his back to Millsap who nailed the jumper.
  • I was afraid with Booner going to radio that I would miss out on Boonerisms.  However, Matt may be making up for that.  I can't remember who he was talking about, but instead of saying he has all the tools, he said that player had all the utensils.
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