The Utah Jazz - Where 20+ point leads don't mean quote what they used to.
Apparently the Jazz read the first part of my preview where I talked about building a double-digit lead and then switched off their laptops immediately and didn't read the "hold it" part. You can see, thanks to PopcornMachine.net, the lead slip away as the Knicks went on a 10-0, 5-0, and 8-2 run to take the lead in the fourth:
What exactly has been going on at halftime lately in the locker room? Has Twitter been brought up so much recently that everyone decided to look up what it was and got addicted? Is that all they're thinking about in the second half? What has led the Jazz to cough up 20-point leads? Forget about getting a timeout from Jerry to stop momentum:
The Jazz had blown a big lead against Phoenix only two nights earlier, but Sloan defended his decision not to call timeout. He said he would have ordered up the same play in a timeout as he did during the game.
"I don't call timeouts just because the score changed all the time," Sloan said. "Once in a while I will, but I think that's an important thing to learn is to how we do it. What am I going to tell them? A different play?"
What about just stopping another team's momentum?
"They should be able to stop that by running the same play," Sloan said. "We could come back and run the same play whether we use a timeout or not use a timeout. I don't like to use my timeouts just for that.
"That's like giving them a handful of candy. As soon as they eat it, they come back and want more. I don't play that with them all the time. I've never done it since I've been in coaching.
Delicious timeout candy. How about promising some candy if they hold a 20-point lead?
So what's causing these collapses? I have to agree with Jerry again as I said this in the game thread last night, "What the hell is this offense we're running? And who has Lee?" Here's what Jerry said,
We just kind of stood around and didn't execute the offense. There's a difference between moving on it and just kind of flopping around.
I think the Jazz have it all backwards. Normally, good defense leads to good offensive opportunities. The Jazz might be just the opposite of that. If the offense is clicking and they're hitting shots, it let's them get back on D and get set. But if they're out of sync, then they're getting beat on fast breaks and under more pressure to perform defensively. I don't know, I might just be pulling stuff out of my butt on this.
After just 7 first-half fouls, the Jazz had 18 hacks in the second half. I'll be your calculator and tell you that's 25 fouls. Surprisingly, the Jazz are now 2-0 when they have exactly 25 fouls.
I don't have any evidence for this either, I'll have to watch for it tonight against Portland. But could the rotations we what's causing the problem? The first half was pretty standard as far as the regular rotations go. The second half starts out the same of course, but due to some foul trouble, we saw a few lineups we don't normally see. Boozer seems to be in and out all the time now. This surprises me because Jerry has stated before that he likes to have players know when they're going to be playing so that they can be prepared. But there have been some pretty unseen lineups on the floor. If they're not used to playing with each other, it causes issues on the offensive end.
Once again, I'm complaining about a win, but I don't know of many that felt good about it. What worries me most about all of this is the team's mentality going into the last two weeks of the season. If you remember, two years ago the Jazz limped into the playoffs having a horrid finish. They ended up beating the Rockets and Warriors to go to the WCF. I don't see that happening this year (for starters, the W's aren't in the playoffs :) ), if they don't turn something around quick. It seems to be they're still waiting for things to gel since getting Boozer back.
I don't like it because we're at a hug disadvantage for tonight's game against Portland, more so than we would be normally. A blowout would not be surprising.
Let's look at the upside on all of this. Despite blowing huge leads against the Suns and the Knicks, the Jazz managed to muster up enough intestinal fortitude to rally back and get the win. How much more devastating would it have been had the Jazz lost these games? I think all of the fans would have been making vacation plans. So, it could have been a lot worst.
I was very impressed that the Jazz were able to come back from an 88-81 deficit against the Suns late in the game. They had the big shots, they got the breaks, and they took advantage. As much of a hero as Grant Hill was in PHX's win in PHX, he had chances to win the game for them in Utah and couldn't come through. His turnover late in the game wasn't completely his fault, but he's the one that was credited for it.
And for this game, the Jazz came up big late with a couple of forced turnovers late. The first came with 1:48 when Millsap tipped a pass and led it out to Ronnie for the dunk and a 107-100 lead. Then Boozer stripped the ball away from Arrington a short time later. The Jazz didn't make a bucket on the other end, but it chewed up some clock and prevented a score. It was free-throws from then on out where Korver sealed the deal. He did have his first miss in about 35 attempts though.
Some statistical highlights:
Deron Williams - Another 24 & 13 performance. He went cold in the second half but hit some big shots when the Jazz needed a score. He also played 42 minutes. When BK scores 2 points and 0 assists, you don't have a choice. Oh, wait, yes you do. Let's try Price.
- Carlos Boozer - In one of his better games since he came back, he had a DD at the half and finished with 21 & 11 with only one board in the second half. He looked like the normal Booze last night and all that comes with that.
- Ronnie B - Another 17 points and the highest +/- of the night with +12.
- Kyle Korver - At least one person finished reading my game preview. He stayed hot with 16 points, 4 boards, and 3 assists
- Paul Millsap - Got a lot of minutes due to Okur being in foul trouble and put in 12 & 7. The team keeps track of an unofficial stat in deflections, but they need to keep track of how many times Millsap gets pounded and doesn't get a call. He was hit in the head twice last night on shots and got nothing.
- David Lee - This is where stats confuse me. Maybe stats don't lie, but he was killing us last night with hustle and shots. Yet, if you look at his +/-, he was -13 for the game. He had 21 & 10.
- Larry Hughes was back in the ESA since his game-winning shot when he was with the Bulls. If only NY knew what they had, he would have played him for 48.
- When Deron is shooting free throws, there have been a ton of lane violations.
- How did NY only have 6 offensive boards? It seemed like they had that in two possessions alone that I can think of.
- I'll have to watch for this as well tonight, but when defending the high pick and roll, Boozer doesn't do near enough to slow down Deron's man. He covers him for a split second but just puts out his arm. He's gotten burned by his own man a lot on that play, but he's got to give Deron some time to recover from the screen.
- Okay, just reading more of my notes, Hughes probably didn't play because of a hard foul he had. I didn't hear the announcers with an update, but he came down on Millsap when Paul was shooting and came down with his foot stuck behind him and his leg got twisted. Could have been bad.
- LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson was in attendance and Steve Brown interviewed him. He was in a box instead of in the lower-bowl. It was funny because President Monson looked like he was trying to focus on the game during the whole interview. Then they talked about LHM for a bit with Brown saying something to the effect that Larry probably gets to check in on the Jazz from time to time. Just an awkward interview.
- After the interview, Booner said that Monson told him he was his favorite college basketball player.
- Just as I was getting ready to praise Boozer for a nice strip on D, he goes and gets beat by the 400 lb Curry on the next play. The same Curry that hasn't seen action all year.
- With 4:01 left, Millsap had a huge dunk. What impressed me was that he went up strong and got it instead of head faking or anticipating the foul. I want to see a lot more of this Millsap.