Well, we finally have a definitive answer to the eternal question, "Who's better in head-to-head matchups, Deron Williams or Chris Paul?"
The answer is unequivically Paul.
Paul Millsap that is.
For once the game wasn't about the PG matchup. Sure, CP got his and Deron, apparently fighting a cold or the flu, had some great crossovers against Chris. Mansap though stole the show in an otherwise great team win.
In what could be his best game of the year, Millsap flat out dominated. On the way to his 27 & 14, he made it look ridiculously easy. Going up for one-handed rebounds while the other arm was being held by a defender was the norm.
The Man has simply put together 19 straight double-doubles, much to Boler & Booner's delight. As a starter this year, he's averaging 19 & 12 and as Jerry Sloan said, he gets better with each game.
He's not going to get voted in to the All-Star game by fans obviously, but you know every coach in the league salivates over the guy and covets him. Should he continue to put up the numbers he has been for the rest of the month, and there's no reason why he shouldn't, he could get some serious consideration.
Millsap's output notwithstanding, this was another great team win with contributions from everyone. Instead of looking at the individual stats of everyone, let's compare the team totals (click for bigger):
This game started out dissapointingly simliar to seemingly almost every other Jazz game this year. Utah got off to a bad start, letting NOLA build a 20-11 lead at one point in the first quarter. After a timeout, the Jazz were able to slowly narrow the gap and finshed the first quarter being down just 4, 33-29. Can Sloan just start calling a timeout on the first Jazz possession and be done with it so that we can get a good start?
In the second quarter, the Jazz simply wore out the Hornets. They beat them for every rebound, every loose ball, every cup of Gatorade (or Vitamin Water or Powerade depending on their endorsements), every towel, and groupie. Outside of CP3, nobody else for NO could hit a shot. They managed just two field goals in the second and didn't score their first until the three-minute mark. The only thing that kept it even remotely close then were free throws.
The Jazz put it away in the third, something you'd like to be able to say for every game. David West started out hot but didn't hit a field goal after the first quarter. He didn't even score in the second half. Most of the starters sat out the fourth quarter.
We'll get to do it all again next month in a weird case of deja vu. The Hornets will play at the Lakers on February 20th. They'll then make the return trip to the ESA on the 21st for another back-to-back. The only difference will be that it's not at the end of a four-game road trip. Sucks for the Hornets, good for us. We only have one game at their place this year and that's on April 5th.
The best part of the 116-90 shellacking was that the dominating performance by Millsap and the Jazz overshadowed CP3's statistically great game. It also proved some of my points in the preview that the Jazz are going to be a great, great team once Boozer comes back.
I've had a few quests as a blogger. One was to take 8>3 mainstream. That's gaining some momentum. I just got an email from Ryne at SLAM that he's going to be wearing his 8>3 shirt today at the SLAM offices. Awesome.
I've had some smaller quests, but I think my next one is going to be to somehow convince Jazz management and ownership to pay the luxury tax to keep everyone together. I'm not an expert at all on this, but I know that AK's contract only has two more years on it after this season. Couldn't the Jazz sign everyone and pay the tax for two measley years? Granted, it's millions of dollars of measley, but wouldn't it be worth it? I would think that the Jazz would have a very good chance at winning the title in that time. If they did, the windfall from a championship would cover that, wouldn't it?
I'm not sure what the salary situation would be past those two years, but there's got to be something that works. Any ideas on how to get this moving? This has to happen.
Let me know what you think.