The Jazz picked a fine time to start playing some defense.
The Jazz were clinging to a 101-99 lead with just about 6:30 remaining. That's when the Jazz put on the defensive clamps and got some turnovers, some forced, from the Warriors to put the game away. The Dubs would only score 1 point over the next 5 minutes. By the time their next field goal came, there was only 1:15 left and the Jazz had a 7-point lead.
Golden State had 5 turnovers in that period. That was fortunate for the Jazz as the Warriors were hot all night from the field. The Jazz matched their offensive output for most of the game. But the 25 Warrior turnovers did them in.
DUNKERS OF THE GAME
There were a lot of heroes last night for the Jazz. I stated in the game thread that almost everyone is playing up to or exceeding expectations. I can't think of any of the regulars that are playing subpar ball right now with the exception of Boozer. He'll get a pass for the next week or so or until he starts playing significantly more minutes. He's not in any danger of losing his starting job. This is pretty much pre-season for him again. I guess Miles has been down a bit, but even he's provided sparks for the Jazz over the last 12 games or so.
He doesn't come up much in most improved player talks, but he certainly has a case for it. His jumper wasn't falling last night but he still finished with 8/15 shooting and had 21 points & 9 rebounds. Fantastic game on the defensive end as well. His play makes me absolutely giddy for the Jazz down the stretch and into the playoffs.
Is there a superhero that quietly goes about his business but does big things? I was trying to think of a comparison but I'm not up on my superheroes as much as I should be. He was 7/11 from the field and three of those misses came from three-point land. He played only 26 minutes but had 23 points. He's had probably the most unassuming role over this stretch of wins. He puts up 20+ and is shooting lights out from behind the arc on almost every night. But you never see him in highlights or spoken of much in recaps. He has to be the most consistent player we've had along with Brewer for the last couple of months.
He's still getting the big minutes while Boozer gets up to speed. I imagine Sloan will still find a way to keep him on the floor even if Boozer is out there. They'll be able to go small in a lot of situations. His 17 & 6 helped pace the second unit and kept the Jazz from falling behind the run and gun Warriors.
He looks like he needs a haircut, but don't cut it now Kyle. Wait until June even if you have to go with the Mike Miller look. It's clearly the source of your resurgent shooting. He's nailing threes from all over the place lately. His 7/12 shooting (3/4 from downtown) kept GS at bay. He tied Millsap with 17 points. Deron's assist number always go up when Kyle hits those because most of them come from passes from the ninja.
I've loved his finishing at the basket lately. He's been able to slash to the basket, catch the rocket from Williams, and put it in. It's not always pretty, but if the end result is the same, then who cares? He finished with 12 points and did not get dunked on.
Man, what a night. His shooting was all over the place but fortunately he can take over the game in other ways, namely to the tune of 20 assists. He had several jaw-dropping passes that most mortals couldn't complete on NBA live, let alone in a professional game. My favorite came on a pick and roll with Millsap where we waited perfectly for both defenders to commit to guarding him, and then with a little hesitation move, Deron whipped a fastball in to a cutting Millsap off the dribble. That marks the fourth time in his career that he's had 20+ assists. I thought he was going to break his personal mark of 21 but he didn't have one over the last 5-6 minutes of the game. Chris Paul for comparison has 3 such games. John Stockton? 35. Good heavens.
STUFFED BY THE RIM
He had an off shooting night and played only 11 minutes. I won't bag on him though as he's earned a pass from his play the previous month or so. He wasn't able to be physical much with GS. Hopefully there's nothing more to his injuries that have bothered him.
He's struggled a bit over the last 6 games. Both Brewer and Korver have been logging minutes at the same time lately and that's forced him out a bit. With Ronnie's play and Korver getting hot, we could be seeing a lot more of this. He seems to play better when he has more minutes. I don't know if that any correlation or not, just a general observation. There could be nothing to it.
So now the Jazz have a couple of days off before two ginormous games against Houston and then Denver. I don't think it's too much to say that these two games could be a big decider in seedings for the playoffs. There's a lot more ball to be played after the games, but wins or losses will do a lot for psyche and momentum.
If you're a Jazz fan, you should be cautiously giddy going into the final month and a half of the season. I expect we haven't seen anything yet and there will be games that will absolutely kill you and games that make you name your next kid after Memo.
Buckle up, it's the law.