I don't even know what to write.
Everything was on the line ... it was win and have a chance to go on or lose and go home. And the Jazz, of course, lost by double figures.
I was snarky in my preview about the minutes certain players would play, and I'm amused to see Corbin didn't let me down: Al with 40 minutes, Foye with 35, and Mo with 33. These were the top 3 guys in terms of both playing time and shots.
Yes ... with the entire season on the line, Randy Foye was Ty Corbin's #2 guy in terms of minutes played. You can't make this stuff up.
We all knew that we'd live or die this game via Al and Mo. Al Jefferson had a decent game: 22 points off 19 shots, plus 16 rebounds. But Mo ... well, we got #MoLo'ed again. 3-13; 2-5 FT's ... seriously. One thing about Mo, is he's ice at the line: 91% this year. And of course he goes 2-5. My favorite moment was in the closing minute, when Mo was doing his best to be the Hero, and he ran straight into Al and lost the ball about 4 different times, before somehow boinking it back to Al to put up a hurried shot that missed by about 5 feet.
That was tonight.
Randy put on a good CJ Miles impression: 1-9, 4-6 FT's. Yes, Randy is a career 86% FT shooter, so of course he missed two tonight.
When Randy and Mo go 4-22 ... well, you're gonna lose. It's that simple.
And Favors had a couple of horrific shots too. I'm surprised the backboard didn't shatter after one of his jumpers.
A lot of credit, of course, goes to Memphis. They are a ridiculously tough defensive team, and we saw it tonight. There were more ugly Jazz shots in the final seconds of the shot clock than I can remember in a long time. Nothing was easy. And tonight ... well, the only way it was going to turn out well was if it was easy.
It was a night both Mo and Derrick Favors led the team in assists. With 3.
It was a night we needed a dominant, aggressive Hayward. He got off 9 points via 8 shots.
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And still I don't know what to write. I can regurgitate facts and random things from the box score. But what do you say about a game like tonight's?
A glittering crown stamped "Failure" was given out where we all could see. There was Mo Williams, miserable on the bench, head down and in his hands. There was Al Jefferson, staring into space, leading the team out of the playoffs for the 6th time in 7 years. There was Marvin, once again surprising me mid-fourth quarter when I suddenly realized ... oh yeah. Marvin's on the team, and he's been on the court for five minutes now. Who knew? There was Paul Millsap, doing nothing, scrawling an emphatic exclamation point on what seemed like a season-long gunk: 2-7, 6 points.
I hate to say this about Paul. He had a decent year. He had some really impressive games (20 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists, 1 steal, 1 block — just a week ago). But nothing about his game ever felt right this year. I don't know why.
It's not fun that these guys failed. I have strong opinions about the team, about which players should matter—we all know this. But it's not fun to see guys who wanted the chance to be leaders, the main guys on a good team, and to then see them fail—and to see in their faces that they know that they failed.
And to see in Ty Corbin ... well, I'll be honest. I never have any idea what Coach Tyrone Corbin is thinking.
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And yet I also feel like we're in Storybrooke, and time will suddenly start moving forward again. The team's had its thumb planted firmly on Pause for two years now—no change, no progress, no future, no past. And starting tomorrow, we will finally hit Play. There's going to be a future again. There's going to be a goal beyond just hoping you accidentally turn out mediocre enough to be the worst playoff team in the NBA.
I won't ever look back at this game with fondness. Nor really with this season. But I won't look back in anger or frustration anymore.
Sadness for a team, a front office, a coaching staff, and a collection of very likeable guys who wanted nothing more than to be slightly relevant—and then, predictably—oh, so horrifying in its predictability—fail.