Weird thing about the game last night was that the Jazz were cruising at a comfortable 12-16 point altitude from the second quarter through about 5 minutes left in the game. There weren't any real runs by the Blazers until the last five minutes when they got as close as 8. There wasn't any panic mode that normally sets in that they were going to give it up.
Well, except for Brandon Roy, that guy scares the hell out of me. I still think Deron should have got the All-Star nod over him last year, but the guy is fantastic. He makes falling down shots look as easy as layups. His shot that he made to beat the shot clock (watch the highlights, I can't describe it), was as if he had practiced that 100 times a day. Although, did a Jazz man touch it? I thought it was a travel because he passed it to himself essentially. Even if it was, it was an incredible play. The Jazz had built up enough of a lead that when he got hot late, there wasn't enought time to have a comeback. But you never know with that team.
Thankfully, it was just a two-man show for the Blazers. Roy had 33 while Jazz-killer extrodinaire, LaMarcus Aldridge has 22. No one else showed up. Sergio and Rudy didn't have good games. And while Oden had 8 & 9, I wasn't impressed at all. It was a matchup problem for him, but Millsap owned him. Oden doesn't seem to be in good shape to start with. He was sucking for air at about 2 minutes into the second half. I think most rec or church league guys last longer than that. He's got a lot to improve on. Barkely gives him some advice,
My precap prediction came true. The Jazz had a ton of layups and dunks. That's the key that the offense is being ran right. You can plan for it, but when it's done right, it can't be stopped. It doesn't hurt when you have an all-world guard that can get you the ball underneath through 2 or 3 players' hands either.
One thing that doesn't require a fuly-healed ankle is passing. The passes Deron has made since he came back have been the best that I've seen from him in his career. He's made some more spectacular passes for sure. But every pass seems to be put in exactly the right place at the right time, perfectly avoiding defenders hands and finding a streaking player for a shot. These aren't just bounce passes from the chest. These are one-handed, left or right, off the dribble passes that have just the right touch. If I had a little more ambition, I would make a highlight reel of all of his dimes.
His shot still isn't falling, but he still finished with one of the three double-doubles on the night going for 14 & 11.
Memo was one of the other highlights. He scored 21 in the first half, hitting every three point shot he made (from the Basketball John song). He finished with 27 & 10.
Millsap had what's becoming his standard 17 & 12. He had only 4 fouls last night, but has still flirted with 6 for a while. Right now, fouls are the only issue I have with him taking over the starting position permanently. Unfortunately, we wouldn't have a Millsap-type backup should he get into foul trouble. Right now having Paul is a luxury as a backup to Boozer.
The Jazz benefited from Portland's poor shooting. They took 27 three-point shots and made only 6. Every time the Blazers would make a mini-run, they would miss a three. Those are the ones that they normally make that get them back in to games and start giving fans heart attacks. But not tonight.
In true Sloan fashion, here's my complaint about tonight's performance. I was a bit concerned that after dominating the Blazers in the first half, the Jazz coasted in the second. They could have put the game away in the third but let Portland hang around. They had to play a solid last 6 minutes to stave off Portland. They just seemed to lack a bit.
But who's complaining? They're tied with the Blazers now and own the 2-0 advantage in the season series. They're also 402 on the month. So far, so good.
And here's some more insight from the TNT announcers. You'll only find this on SLCDunk.com:
- The Jazz have fouled 530 times this year compared to 558 from opponents. Good trend. They weren't even in the penalty in the first quarter. Amazing.
- At the half, Portland had 6 assists. Deron had 7.
- No Kosta. That was a bit surprising. I guess the limited foul trouble from the starters kept him on the bench.
- Although he had 33, I thought the Jazz played pretty good D on Roy. They trapped him well.
- I've mentioned this before, but when the Jazz give up a lot on offense, it seems that they let teams get shots in rhythm. They allow them to take a couple steps to get in form or let them catch the ball where they're comfortable. On nights like tonight, they didn't allow that. The Blazers were making all kinds of awkward passes and shots because of the Jazz D. I hope this keeps up.
- Blazers Edge
- Ross Siler