NBA Regular Season 2012-2013, Game 77:
New Orleans Hornets 83 at Utah Jazz 95
Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice . . .
WE DEET IT!
I was worried in this game. Not just because we're capable of losing to any team at home this year. And no, not just because we lost a game to the Hornets at the end of last season either. No, I was worried during this game because, well, we weren't playing very well. The Hornets were up by 7 after we started off sluggish, and finished the quarter with that margin. Of course, our bench unit of (no joke, a lineup Tyrone Corbin wouldn't have even tried in preseason) Jamaal Tinsley, Alec Burks, DeMarre Carroll, Paul Millsap, and Derrick Favors brought us back. They played really well, and kudos to Corbin, who kept them in instead of going to his safety blanket and pacifier. (Al Jefferson and Mo Williams respectively)
It worked out great. And We were up by 2 points at halftime.
Then I started to get worried again because Grevis Vasquez scored 8 straight points in the third quarter and the game was less than secure. Vasquez makes our guards look stupid, for whatever reason we play him for the pass (maybe because he's a great assists guy), so we give him room to drive or call his own number. He's smart enough to know when to do that, as we saw earlier on this year when he hit a game winner against us, off the dribble.
Thankfully the team held it together and blew the game "open" in the fourth. The Jazz cruised to a 95-83 victory and the big difference was effort. These guys came out and played hard. They dove for lose balls. They were poking on defense. They were playing a little more physical and with so much more urgency. The leader for our team when it comes to this type of game is DeMarre Carroll. Carroll took Marvin Williams' minutes tonight, and responded with 6 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, and a made three. He was +21 in +/-, whatever that is. He also played 26 minutes after taking a hard fall on defense. This is key because both Jamaal Tinsley (3 points, 7 assists, 1 deep three), and Alec Burks (3 points, 1 assists, 1 three) had to leave the game early due to injuries that will be evaluated. Burks hurt (sprain, we think) his ankle. Tinsley hurt his back. They were both over +15 in +/- as well. Rounding out our bench was Favors who finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds, 6 blocks, and 3 bad foul calls (out of his 4). He was +19, and really, out bench showed up tonight.
It wasn't just all the, though, our starters took care of business late, Randy Foye went 2/7 from downtown, Big Al finished with 14 and 5 (mostly jump shots), Paul Millsap had 20/10/7/1/1, and made a huge three with the clock going down. And Gordon Hayward led everyone with 23 points, and 5 made threes, to go along with 2 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 steal.
Everyone showed up tonight and played patient on offense, and made the extra pass. Everyone is going to have to show up for the next 5 games as we're already down Enes Kanter and Kevin Murphy. We could be without Burks and Tinsley now. Our strength this year has been our bench. They're turning into a M*A*S*H unit now; it's time for our starters to start tanking care of business more often.
We're going to need it for our playoff push.