This is what I used to call the "Stat Stars" of the night; but I don’t want to make this a stats website. I know the vast majority of my posts are numbers based, and that’s not what everyone comes here for. Hence, the necessary change to "Jazz Quintet". Furthermore, instead of trying to single out one guy, or three guys, I think it’s important to look at the five guys who did their jobs right (regardless of stat production). Our game plan (when we run it) doesn’t mean everyone can get big numbers or touches, and I think it’s worthwhile to point out the guys whose contributions do not jump out at you when looking at the boxscore. Anyway, these are the five guys who make up our Jazzy Jazz Quintet from the last game:
Devin Harris: Sure, he didn’t finish with a 20/10 game, but over and above statistics we aren’t even in this game (let alone in a position to win it) if it wasn’t for Harris’ surge in the first half. He played in that decisive "angry Deron Williams" mode that we need. Honestly, we’re a team of second bananas right now – and we’re going to need a guy to step up and be the focal point. That’s part of the reason why our coaching staff is hesitant to jettison Al Jefferson to some other team. Last night Harris pushed the ball up the floor, made contact, and got to the free throw line 9 times last night. Last night Harris was doing junk on the Sixers that I always hated him for pulling against us, before he joined our squad. He had a negative assist to turn over ratio (not great for a PG, to say the least), but did enough to keep us in the game when the game could have turned on us. He’s not doing a John Stockton impression when he’s scoring 19 points in 26 minutes, but he did deserve to be listed first here. If he doesn’t force the action in the second quarter, there’s a good chance that we mentally check out early again like we did in the previous two games.
Derrick Favors: This kid (let’s not forget that he’s only 20 still) has only five double-doubles in his career. This was his second in a Jazz uniform. More than that, this was his first 20/10 game. It will not be his last. Bereft of the services of Al Jefferson, Favors stepped up big as the starting center. He stayed out of foul trouble and played a Malone-like 39 minutes. He also torched the Sixers with inside play, relentless effort, and a couple of midrange jumpers (one baseline and one from the free throw line). This was a confidence building game, what else do you call it when you shoot 63 fg% while the defense is primarily concerned with you?/p>
Paul Millsap: This season Paul has been combining The Hulk with Bruce Banner; or more precisely, the Mansap (his rugged inside play that we all fell in love with when he was a younger player) with Thrillsap (the Miami Millsap who has guard dribble skills and legit three point range). The end result is a guy who is averaging a double double in points and rebounds, as well as dropping assists, getting steals, blocking shots – and – shooting 40% from deep. Last night he had a 14/14 game, which is probably the most overshadowed 14/14 game of all time. He also had three steals, two blocks, two assists, eight free throw attempts, and one made three. It is ridiculous to me that he’s the only guy hustling on the floor, in every game, regardless of the score.
Gordon Hayward: The Precious just keeps doing things that make us love him. I love his shot blocking ability, people sleep on that (2 last night). I also love his ability to drill three pointers (50% 3pt last night). But what I really appreciate the most out of him is his floor vision and ability to create stuff for his team mates (3:1 assist to turn over ratio last night). His ball handling for his height and his defensive length make me think that his future in the NBA is as one of those Scottie Pippen / Andrei Kirilenko / Lamar Odom types of forwards. But more than any of those guys, this kid is super clutch. He wanted the ball with the game in the balance, and he won the game with his dagger jumper off of a Favors screen. One thing I’m not a huge fan with how he makes those Harpring Curl shots harder than they are supposed to be by fading away . . . but I loved how he made them. That’s what counts. Hayward is a guy who wins games. And he’s showing that.
Earl Watson: When Earl substituted in for Devin late in the third quarter the Jazz were down a couple of points. When he checked back out in the fourth we were in the driver’s seat. Earl was on the court with Derrick Favors, Josh Howard, Enes Kanter, and C.J. Miles; and during that early stretch in the fourth quarter the Jazz enjoyed their greatest leads in this game. He was the floor general and was attacking the defense, either to finish with a layup or dump off a pass to a big. He kept the defense honest and scored all of his points of this season all in this game. He also had 4 assists against only 1 turn over, which is the high standard you’d want from a veteran back up point. Oh, and he knocked down a three last night. He and Harris had superb games for us, I can’t wait to see what they can do as a tandem as the season goes on.