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Preview - Orlando Magic @ Utah Jazz

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So you know the episode of Friends - come one, you know you watch(ed) it - where they're watching Old Yeller only Phoebe's mom always shielded her from the ending?  Well, here I will do the same for you for last night's game,

[Scene: SLC Dunk Game Thread. clarkpojo enters to see moni, shums, RRR, and DanielleLovesKK cursing on the screen.]

clarkpojo: Hey. How's the game going?

shums: BBJ is making us watch the fourth quarter of this game.

clarkpojo: Why are you guys so upset? It's the Jazz.  They always play well against the Lakers.

DanielleLovesKK: What?

RRR: What’re you talkin’ about?

clarkpojo: C’mon, you know.  Jazz build a lead and play well against the Lakers.

RRR: Yeah but clark, what about the end?

clarkpojo: What? When the Jazz blow out the Lakers by 26?  How's that not awesome?

DanielleLovesKK: That’s not how it ended.

clarkpojo: Yu-huh. David Locke is telling me how well Boozer is playing and that they've got a ton of offensive rebounds.

moni: What about the part where they score only 6 points in the fourth quarter?

clarkpojo: No, with about 6:31 left in the third and the Jazz up by 8, Locke said to change the channel because things are about to get really boring for the Jazz because this game is over for the Lakers.  Then he would say, THE END.

RRR: Uh, clark, I don’t think Locke would want you to see what’s about to happen.

clarkpojo: What, what’s about to happen? [starts watching]  I thought the game was over. Hey, Memo, watcha doin’ with that ball? Oh no, no no Memo, pass the ball. No no no no, pass it back to Deron, he's your point guard, no, no no, the end, THE END. [hears shot clock violation from the TV]

Click on through for the rest of the preview

What's the official name for this week where we have the Lakers twice, the Spurs, and the Magic?  Hell week?  The Gauntlett?  David Stern's sick idea of a joke?

Whatever it is, it will be interesting to see how the Jazz come out on the other side.  They're 1-1 so far and could easily be 1-4 by the time it's over.

However, I don't think we'll see that kind of performance at home.

Saying they have their work cut out for them tonight is a bit of an understatement.  Orlando has the perfect blend of outside shooting, a dominant low-post player, and a couple of stars that can take over games if needed.  It's not too hard to see why they're one of the best teams in the league.

They're 5th and 6th in offensive and defensive efficiency respectively.  They do almost everything well.  While looking for an Achilles heel I did find something that they're not very good at and that's free-throw shooting.  They're at the bottom of the league in percentage with 69.6%  The biggest reason for that though is Dwight Howard.  He's shooting just 58% from the stripe.  He brings them down single-handily as he has attempted 221 FTs.  The next closest on the team is Vince Carter with 70.  Without Howard, the Magic shoot 74%.

So is that an effective game plan, hack-a-Howard?  Not really.  And it's hard anyway to foul him without getting a shot off anyway.  Maybe a little kryptonite would do the trick?  By the way, Shaq had dibs on the whole Superman thing a long time ago.

So what do the Jazz need to do to beat the Magic tonight?  Well, outside of the obvious playing well for 48 minutes, getting out to an early lead, etc., I decided to take a look at the Magic's four losses and there was a bit of a recurring theme.


  • Detroit - Howard was in foul trouble and fouled out with only 16 minutes played and had just two shot attempts.
  • Oklahoma City - Vince Carter was out.  Magic were cold
  • Cavs - LeBron and Mo Williams went off.  Howard was in foul trouble but still played 31 minutes.  He only had 3 shot attempts and also had 5 fouls.  Mainly LeBron and Mo going off though.
  • Miami - Howard limited to just 5 shots.  Had 5 fouls and 0 blocks.

A couple things stick out and that's foul trouble on Howard and Dwight only getting a few shots a game.  So how can you limit his shots?  It looks like the best way may be to double-team him and make him make a pass.  He has 69 turnovers on the season and is second among centers (Kaman has 72) in that category.

So step one, limit Howard's shots.  Make him pass and get good rotations.

Second, it appears that foul trouble will help out.  If he's on Memo, I hope #13 drives a lot.

Finally, the Magic are going to take a lot of threes.  You're going to have to live with those for the most part.  Where the Jazz do not want to give up points is in the paint and just outside of the paint.  You can live with them taking a lot of threes, you can't survive that and having them get open shots inside the arc.

On offense, we all know that the Jazz have to do and that's pass.  Stop standing around and waiting for things to happen.  The offense works.  We and everyone else knows it.

Should be a good game tonight.  But if we have another ending like last night, I think the old Yeller Ending might be a less painful thing to watch.