While You Were Sleeping - 23 February 2011

It's the return of While You Were Sleeping where I recap last night's action of the games that impact the Jazz.  Early in the season wins and losses by other teams are hard to gauge for the team.  But after the All-star break, the races are a lot tighter and the outcomes more noticeable.

So with that, we kick off the playoff push with recaps of two games from last night.  CJ is pretty chill, so we'll let him give us the reactions this season.

The Good

Cj_happy_medium

No games were a true win last night.

The Neutral 

Cj_indifferent_medium

Memphis Grizzlies 107 - Denver Nuggets 120

Both teams were without their stars.  One permanently and one semi-permanently.  This was the first game for the Nuggets without Carmelo and Billups. The Grizzles were sans one Rudy Gay due to injury.

Denver came out the inspired team and put the Grizzlies away early with an 8-0 run in the first and then delivered the death blow in the second with a 14-0 run late that put this one away.  Garbage time in the fourth made this score a lot closer than it was.  From the Denver Stiffs,

Seeing the Nuggets tremendous effort tonight - against a worthy opponent mind you - showcased just how poisonous the Melodrama was to this franchise. Remember how Nate, Jeff and I all predicted that this team could go big places in our preseason previews IF Melo stayed? In hindsight, I suspect the Melodrama cost us at least five wins, if not more. This isn't to kick Melo in the rear on his way out of Denver, it's simply to re-state the obvious that despite Melo's alleged "professionalism", the theatrics surrounding his future were a colossal distraction for the players and coaches...and despite their best efforts, they couldn't overcome those distractions on a nightly basis.

The new guys showed up at the game and got a standing ovation.  Six of the nine available players for the Nuggets scored in double figures.  They were led by JR Smith.  Yes, that's right.  He had 26 points with 6 threes but needed 22 shots to get that.

We'll see how long this adrenaline boost lasts for the Nuggets and if the imports cause any disruptions for the team while they integrate the new guys.

The Jazz were going to pick up a 1/2 game either way with this one.  With Memphis losing, Utah moved 1/2 game up on them in the loss column.  Denver got a bit of separation from the idle Jazz.

It looks like Gay's absence couldn't have come at a worse time.  They were surging at just the right time.  We'll see if they can hold on while he's out.  They may not be holding pat though with rumors of them shopping Zach Randolph to the Magic in exchange for Bass and and Jason Richardson.

Other takes:
Straight Outta Vancouver
Denver Stiffs

The Bad

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Los Angeles Clippers 88 @ Oklahoma City Thunder 111

The Thunder may run away with the division now.  If that's the case, they could fall off the radar for WYWS.  With the win last night, they're six games ahead of the Jazz and 4 1/2 up on Denver and Portland.

They used two huge runs last night to put away the Clippers.  A 15-0 run to close the first half turned a lose game into a 16-point lead.  The Clippers were able to get it down to single-digits in the third, but a 10-0 run to start the fourth put the game away.

Jeff Green and Kevin Durant led the way with 22 and 21 points respectively while James Harden came off the bench to add 19.

Oklahoma City next play at San Antonio, at Orlando, and then host the Lakers.  So there is a chance for someone to close the gap a bit.  They're playing really well right now though and could take 2 of those games.

Other takes:
Welcome to Loud City
Clips Nation

Overall

If the Thunder would have tripped up against the Clippers, it would have been a great night.  As it was though, it was a pretty solid night as the Jazz got a smidgen of breathing room from the Grizzlies.  That loss will look even better if the Jazz should fall tonight in Dallas.

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