In the immortal words of Al Jefferson: "You act like you're g-- d---- surprised?". The reality is that we shouldn't be surprised by these two games, or by anything this team does, really. Win at Denver, lose at home to Toronto. Come out strong in the first game of a b2b2b and get a good win in Memphis, then lay a stinker like last night. Once we all stop expecting things from this team, I think we will all be able to enjoy the experience much more. I mean we all kind of saw this coming. I know I did. I'm not saying I have the power of prophecy, but you can call me Punkstradamus:
Many Jazz fans on Twitter and here on SLC Dunk have made the "Jekyll and Hyde" comparison because its completely appropriate for this Jazz team. These two games are proof of that; they couldn't have been more different. From tip to the final buzzer they were polar opposites. In the Grizzlies game the Jazz pounced on the Tams early with good shooting, active defense, and fantastic offensive execution. Last night it was lackadaisical passes, minimal defensive effort, and lazy offensive motion. The Sunday game we saw the starters make all the plays after the bench allowed the opponent back in the game. In the Hornets game the starters dug a 20 point hole for the bench to play their way out of.
All the while, as Clark pointed out in Monday's somber DB, and along with many others, continues to ask: What is the Jazz FO really thinking? Have they been able to do what most of us fans have avoided and continue to drink the Kool-Aid to a point that they can't see this team for what it is? Most of us see this team as a .500 team, at our most optimistic, but the continued rah-rah of the Jazz brass is disappointing. Perhaps the best assessment is that they are following a very Taoist philosophy of "We shall see". We shall see what this team is capable of. We shall see how the young players are progressing. We shall see what opportunities present themselves at the trade deadline. We shall see how bad the Warriors are this year.
With that slight derailment from the main topic of discourse, we will follow a similar philosophical approach and concentrate on the good things we have seen from these two games:
-Gordon Hayward has been playing with much more confidence (to Yucca Man's delight). Since his poor outing against the Blazers two weeks ago he has been one of the bright spots in a rough stretch with the Memphis game being one of his best. It cannot be stated enough how good his defense has been. He made life hell for Granger and Gay had a pretty poor outing because Hayward didn't back down from either of them.
-Free at last. Last night Alec Burks entered the game with about 1:30 left in the 3rd quarter and played very well. He shot just 1-3, but his 10 rebounds gave him an admiral 1.13 PPP (points per possession). Compared to the abysmal play of Josh Howard, he has definitely earned more minutes.
-Kanter was great. He struggled defending Kaman, but so did everyone else. His rebounding was amazing as usual, but the biggest positive is that he is getting better at finishing. He had a couple of misses right on the basket, two after great moves where he just didn't make up his mind what to do with it, and a couple that were probably fouls.
-Favors was a lacking in rebounding but he had a couple of great post moves, including one on the left side where Kaman shoved him after he made his move, and he managed to jump from behind the backboard and throw it in off the glass.
The biggest indicator was how they were all able to come together with Earl and play their hearts out to try to get the win. This was good because one, it showed they have fight, and two, because it showed that they can bounce back after a poor showing in Memphis.
Sorry, I don't have the graphic or the skills to make it, and Amar is in laptop purgatory so I'll just say it: It was the group mentioned above, along with Earl. They gave us all that glimmer of hope for a miraculous comeback and almost came away with it.
Not much time for lamentation because its off to Thunderland for a game in about 3 1/2 hours. Just remember nothing should surprise us.
*I don't even want to try to make any edits to this. I apologize if it seems disjointed, but I have a sinus infection cold thing that is making my head feel like I'm under 25 ft of water.