Whether the Jazz make the playoffs or not, it will be games like that will determine if the Jazz do get in.
Take away any NBA team's top three players and they'd most likely be in a world of hurt. The Celtics without KG, Pierce, and Allen? Orlando without Dwight, Jameer, and Lewis? No doubt the Jazz are hurting, but games like this remind me of the 2003-04 team that played as a team and won 42 games. It takes everyone playing well to have a chance instead of relying on just 3-4 players.
When Jarron Collins goes 3-4 for 6 points and is instrumental in the Jazz pulling away from the Bobcats in the third, maybe you should just throw in the towell if you're the opposing team because nothing is going your way at that point. And if Collins is making jumpers from the top of the key, just sub out and go on to the next game. He also had an agile play where he caught the ball in the lane, made a move, and made a fall-away jumper. You're screwed if that's happening. Just give up.
The game certainly didn't start out as hoped for the Jazz. They got behind, again, before a small rally of sorts midway through the first to tie it up. The Bobcats though went on a mini run of their own to lead 24-19 after the first. They were hitting everything they threw up in the first half. They shot 60% on 22/37 shooting in the first half. The Jazz on the other hand shot just 44% (16/36) and yet trailed only 51-49 going into the half. Why? Because they started driving to the basket and got a ton a foul calls. They had 22 attempts to Charlotte's 8.
This doesn't take a lot of insight to recognize, but I think this might be the key stat for the season. When the Jazz go to the line at least 30 times a game, they're 13-3including 4-2 on the road. Once again, it doesn't take any keen intellect to know that when you have more attempts at points, you have a increased chance of winning. I would love to see the Jazz drive to the hoop as much as they did last night.
The story of this game I thought was Ronnie Brewer. He seemed to have matured a lot in this game. He started to turn things on late in the second quarter and that carried over in to the third when he scored 10 of his 21 points. He was hitting his jumpers and taking it to the hole all night. The only downside to his game was that he only made 8 of his 14 attempts. The moment that hit me was right after Millsap had been raked across the face, again, by Juwan Howard, Brewer exchange pleasantries with Howard about it. Ronnie ended up with a T but you could see that he had assumed a leadership position on the floor and took things upon him. I loved this mainly because I've thought that the Jazz have been lacking a physical and mental toughness this year. It was a great change to see.
The other Ronnie, Ronnie P, also had a good game. He shot well, 5/10, including making the front end of a 2 for 1 at the end of the second quarter. He finished with 12 points, 3 assists, and 3 steals. He also had three turnovers where he probably was trying to do too much and got caught in the air with nowhere to go. I was most impressed with his hustle. He was going after loose balls, jumping for passes, and at one point attempted to block one of Emeka Okafor's baby hook shots. He down from guarding his man, and as Okafor turned to shoot, Price timed it perfect and skied for the block attempt. Okafor's shot was over Price's leap, but it showed great energy on Price's part. It looks like that Price and Knight will be alternating quarters so there's no reason why Price shouldn't be able to go all out for both of his stints.
Memo had the quietest 22 points that I've seen in a while. He knocked down both of his three point shots and was also driving to the basket all night. Memo really loves those running, off-balance, hanging, bank shots with the AND-1 normally on the end. We need this Memo every night. I also noticed that when Memo gets called for a travel or some other type of turnover, he has this little hitch that he does with his left shoulder. He'll throw the ball back to the ref and give a little Rain Man-type movement. Def, definitely a travel.
Matt Hapring must have felt sleighted by getting cut so early in the recent SLCDunk.com polls. He has been playing great lately and put up another 10 points on 5/6 shooting. Korver added 8... rebounds to lead the team and 9 points. Millsap had a quiet 14 & 4 while being limited by foul trouble. Brevin Knight led the team well and dished out 7 assists, but he should stop shooting.. now. He is now 0 for his last 15. Shooters break out of slumps by shooting, but you are no shooter. And we only saw the Kouf for 4 minutes. What's up with that?
The Jazz pulled away in the third and put it away in the fourth because of defense. Charlotte started settling for jumpers and the Jazz were able to grab the rebounds. Simple as that. The Jazz had an opportunity to go up ten to end the third but a steal and a layup by the Bobcats cut their lead to 76-70. The Jazz clamped down to start the fourth. Charlotte didn't score their 8th point until 6 minutes to go in the quarter. By that time, the game was all but over.
A bigger game comes up Thursday night when the Jirk and the Mavs roll into town again. While it will be a big game, a win or loss against Charlotte counts just as much as a win/loss against Dallas. The only difference is that the Mavs are above the Jazz in the standings and a head-to-head counts for a little more that way. We'll have to have a great team game again and not get behind early.
- Bolerisms & Boonerisms:
Boler: - "If you remember, Deron was injured..."
Booner - "You don't want to give up layups for the most part."
Boler (describing a nice pass by Charlotte) - "On the needle, on the thread."
The next Toyota Tundra tough question should be, "Boler, what do you mean by a skip pass?"
- Why can't the Jazz defend the pick and roll?
- I hate, hate when the offensive players jump into a defender. It should only be called a defensive foul if the shot would be a reasonable shot. So if a defender falls for a head fake and comes down on top of the shooter, fine. But when the offensive player throws his body into the defender, it's an offensive foul. Maybe there's too much grey area.
- I also hate refs that make a call that are in no position to even see the play clearly. The Bobcats' Singletary was trying to draw a foul on Knight by head faking on the perimeter. He tried to leap into Knight and when there was no contact, Singeltary had to double-clutch to get off the attempt. Because of that action, the ref under the basket, called a foul on Knight. First, Collins and his man were inbetween the ref and the play. The ref even had to look around Collins after the whistle to see who had made the supposed foul. He just reacted based on Singletary's move. Second, there were two other refs that actually had a good view of the play and didn't call anything. Refs that are out of position make calls like this all the time. Drives me nuts. You'll have to be satisfied with my illustration as I couldn't get a screenshot of it.