NBA Preseason 2013-2014, Game 3:
Los Angeles Clippers 106 - Utah Jazz 74
Okay, something happened. And it wasn't good. This was a playoff team making a statement in their efforts to ascend into the ranks of a playoff contender facing off against a team that doesn't even know who is going to be their lead scorer yet. There was a former Coach of the Year going up against a coach in the last year of his contract. Multiple All-Stars facing off against guys who had never started before. And the final score reflects all of that. I'm not going to pick on anyone here, no one played a flawless game.
Well, maybe the Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, who finished with 14 points off of 7 shots, 7 rebounds, and 6 blocks. He dominated our front court of Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter -- which makes sense because he's going into his 6th year in the NBA and has played over 8,000 career regular season and playoff minutes. (Needless to say, that's more than those two guys combined) Kanter is 21 and Favors is 22. There's a lot of room to grow.
That's probably the largest take-away from this game. We're a young team, there are going to be days like this. After all, we remember what it was like during the Stockton and Malone years when they went to the Western Conference Finals five times in seven years. Those teams used to beat the brains out of young teams with no experience. And that's exactly what happened here. We're young, and there's room to grow. As for these Clippers -- they'll never be as good as they are right now. Everyone is at their peak on that squad. This is their zenith.
Back to this game, though; it was an excellent exhibition of what a penetrating pass first point guard can do. Chris Paul was in complete control for the entire game, and finished with 6 points, 6 rebounds, 10 assists, and 2 steals. His back up Darren Collison finished with 9 points, 5 rebounds, 10 assists, and 2 steals. (As a side note, it's cool that after all these years they are on the same team again like they were with the New Orleans Hornets)
If you run an offensive system that takes the best of what your point guards can give you can get good results. The Jazz offensive system was non-existent in this game as we still seem to be running the #Alfense, except this time we get the ball into Enes Kanter or Derrick Favors with 6 seconds on the clock and expect a miracle. We're not using our guards to their best, and as a result, our bigs aren't thriving either.
The only players who had "good" games where the ones who have the capability to get their own shots off when a play breaks down: Alec Burks had 12 points, 3 steals, got to the line 4 times, made 1 three and did okay. John Lucas II had 9 points, shot 50 fg%, had zero assists, and 3 turn overs. Richard Jefferson had 13 points, made 2 threes, and pulled down 8 rebounds.
If your three most impressive players are these three players you are a lottery team. Gordon Hayward continues to struggle with his shot (he went 4/12 in this game), and finished with 9 points, 5 assists, and 4 rebounds. He does enough to stay on the floor but I presume being the #1 guy will be an adjustment for him as well. Kanters and Favors combined for 8 points and 11 rebounds. Favors, in particular, was hindered by 3 first half fouls.
In this game Tyrone Corbin got an extended look at Brian Cook, Scott Machado, Dominic McGuire, Mike Harris, and Justin Holiday. I'm not really sold on any of these guys, but Machado may be in the open court here as Trey Burke fractured his right index finger during the first half and sat out the second.
It wasn't a good game, but it's a good measuring stick. THIS is what a playoff team plays like. If we want to get there we know we have a lot of work to do.
The good thing is that the Jazz have nothing BUT time on their hands. There are three nights off and then the team hosts the Portland Trail Blazers. Then after that there is another break of three nights. This is like a second training camp, and cuts should be made. We have time. After all, we're not going to be a playoff contender until Trey Burke is in his ascension period. That's not going to happen for another 2 years, so we have nothing BUT time. The Clippers? They don't, as they have made the smart move to try to be contenders at the same time that LeBron James is at his peak. We learned from that mistake.