That's just a fantastic picture that captures that dunk so well. I only wish the Kobe could have been in the frame. The whole move was great. He read the pick perfect and took the open lane. My favorite part of that was the little extra something he put on the dunk. He could have dunked it on the way up. Instead, he waited until he was just coming down from his apex to give it a little flare.
I don't really like this term so I don't know why I'm asking this, but is this Gordon Hayward's team now? You can't say that based off of one game but it certainly was a culmination of his season so far. I re-watched the second half of the game last night and it was amazing to see how many aspects of the game he controlled and was part of. He created a large part of the offense in the fourth quarter. He read picks well and either drove to the basket and finished or found other guys for baskets. Twice he kicked it back out to Al for a jumper. Two other times he was able to dish it easily to Favors for the easy finish. He also took a couple of jumpers based off what the defense gave him on the pick and roll.
That says nothing of him frustrating Kobe on the defensive end. I counted no less than three times when Hayward was directly responsible for Kobe yelling at someone (ref/player) or slamming the ball down. He went head to head with the Mamba in his house and took him down.
I just like the way he carries himself on the court. He wasn't distracted by the big venue and didn't back down to the game's biggest player. If you're looking for anyone that has stepped up, it's been him.
Outside of free-throw shooting, something that can be improved upon, Derrick Favors' game last night got overlooked a bit because of Hayward's play. The biggest thing that stood out to me that signified that we have a new Jazz team is when Pau Gasol was dribbling the length of the court and Favors was able to come up behind and block his shot attempt.
When have we ever had the length and athleticism from a big man to be able to do that on most players, let along against a 7-footer? That play was a bit of a "woah" play for me.
More on Hayward from Phil Jackson,
Phil Jackson, who rarely even acknowledges rookies, gave serious props to Hayward. Used his full name, pronounced it right and everything.
"I wish Gordon Hayward would have stayed in college and helped Butler last night instead of kicking our butt," Jackson said.
No back-handed compliments. No smug remarks. Nothing that you normally get from Mr. Zen. Just respect.
And to end this DB on a downer. What sucks the most is that all I could think about last night was that the season ends in a week and we won't be able to see this team develop more for a long time. This lockout is going to kill things. It's going to happen, we just don't know to what extent. It could be similar to 1999 when we got a partial season or it could be wiped out completely.
So I hope you're DVRing these last games and keeping them on hand for your fix. I know I already set last night's game as a keep forever.