Last night the Jazz looked like the team with all the chemistry. They had a well-rounded scoring effort with 7 players in double figures, and 25 assists on 39 made baskets. But, the stats that really standout are the 56% from beyond the arc and the players that lead the team in assists: Derrick Favors and Demarre Carroll.
All of this led to racking up a lead that at one point hit 41 points, even as Kobe went into "Takeover Mode" (or whatever cute name Lakers fans want to give it) and scored all of the Lakers points in the third quarter. Takeover Mode also ended the night with a -26, so....
I have been impressed with Alec Burks during this preseason. We always knew that confidence would not be a problem, but his air this year is not one of feigned self belief. His demeanor this year falls more in line with a player that knows he belongs in the league and his accomplishments will only be limited by his work ethic. Last night was no exception, as he went a perfect 4-4 (including a 3 pointer) and added 3 boards, and a steal. In fact, during the preseason he is shooting 61%fg, 67% 3fg, and 8pts in 16 mins a game.
I'm not sure what those numbers mean, but I do know they are significantly better than Foye's in roughly the same number of minutes. This will come up later today, in more detail, but in his interview with the SBN Clippers Blog- Clips Nation, Amar raises some great points about Foye. I absolutely agree with him that Foye is being used wrong. Part of that is probably the offensive sets, but it I think some of it is that Foye fancies himself a player that can "create his own shot", and from my observations, that is where he struggled. Last night, he had a pretty good shooting night, and it was due to spot up shooting.
The preseason is meaningless, the preseason is meaningless...
Here is Jody Genessy's video of the beginning of Burks' quest to overthrow his teammate in the Slam Dunk Contest:
One of the biggest tests of the improvement of this team will come tonight, as the Jazz take the court against the Clippers. The reason? The Clippers feature an pick-and-roll heavy offense with a dynamic point guard and scoring power forward. Just what we need to see if the new players, and full training camp has improved the team's defense. Millsap actually matches up pretty well against Griffin, so it is sure to be the matchup to watch. The other one? Lamar Odom. Last season he was completely abysmal, and the preseason thus far, he has not fared much better, but some of his biggest bright spots last season seemed to come against the Jazz. Lets see if history holds true for L.O. and the Jazz.
Regardless of the meaning we fans try to glean from preseason performance, I think one thing is undeniable: the chemistry developed during wins helps. Those 48 minutes where things go right, like last night, absolutely count, and for a team that has so many new and young faces it is necessary. When things go right, its easier to remember what happened to make it go that way. Which pass was at the right spot, which defensive rotation helped stop a possession, which play had all of the screens in the right places, and so on.
The other thing you can glean from these wins is how much the demand by the Jazz staff that players come to camp in shape makes a difference. This has to be one of the reasons why the Jazz usually play well in preseason, compared to other teams, and my hypothesis was that it carried over into the regular season, but the data doesn't hold up. Excluding the odd season last year, the Jazz went 14-5 in the first month of the '10-'11 season, 10-7 in '09-'10, and 11-7 in '08-'09.
Finally, a bit of a sartorial editorial (see what I did there?).
An open plea to Matt Harpring:
Matty, we love you as a loyal Jazzman, but damn, you have got to do something about those suits. You are a local celebrity on cable tv, and a good looking guy. There is no reason for those heinously ill-fitting suits. Get those thing to a tailor ASAP, or better yet, just start from scratch and completely revamp the wardrobe. If you need help, hit me up on Twitter: @prodigal_punk. Oh, and pass this on to Coach Ty, as well.
P.S. Moni, if you have a screenshot, feel free to throw it in here.