Last night Utah Jazz head coach was visited by three Christmas Ghosts, or alternatively his boss Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey, and was compelled to start Trey Burke, Alec Burks, Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter, and Derrick Favors tonight. I know. It's game 79 of the season. And it's the first time this group started in a game together.
Anyway, facing off against the playoff bound Portland Trail Blazers these young guys were in for a tough match. But they all stepped up and made life very hard on them. Utah won the first quarter 31 to 23, and made Portland have to play catch up all game long.
The Blazers got cooking in the second quarter, but Utah didn't collapse. The game was tied going into the 4th quarter, and then Damian Lillard woke up and starting making every shot from outside possible except for the Paul George ranged heat check that he took. Portland bumped the lead to 11 and never looked back.
It was one of the most exciting games of the season, particularly because it was our young guys running, pushing the pace, dunking, and playing defense. It was the Jazz we were expecting to see all season long. Better late than never? Is Tyrone Corbin going to get a ton of credit now for being bold and playing these young guys? Yes. It's going to look like he's a genius for trying these guys out, only after we've been pleading for him to do so for 40 games.
So what happens when the Jazz do what we say they should do, and it works out? Do we get any credibility? No. But we should be satisfied with the result -- our stubborn team finally figured out what we did months ago. I guess in a season of discovery that's one thing to feel less bitter about. The other thing we found out about was the new media spin about every major topic. Richard Jefferson is great for coming off the bench. Alec Burks needed to come off the bench and is having career highs in minutes (not like he couldn't have had that earlier in his career)? Rudy Gobert isn't a 7'2 tall cancer tumor anymore, and so on.
It's fun to listen to the Jazz PR do a 180 and have to say good things about the players they proclaimed as pariahs earlier on in the season. That's the closest we'll get to seeing them eat crow.
No negatives tonight, we played the right guys, they played well, they hung tough with a playoff team in the West, and we got the loss.
- Derrick Favors: 21 points, 8 rebounds, 1 assist
- Enes Kanter: 15 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 block
- Alec Burks: 16 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists
- Trey Burke: 14 points, 11 assists, 3 rebounds, 4/6 from downtown
- Gordon Hayward: 14 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds
- Rudy Gobert: 7 points, 6 rebounds, 1 block, in 11 minutes