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Utah Jazz Even Pre-Season Series Against Portland Trail Blazers

Once the whistles stopped blowing and the teams started playing, it was a fun game to watch. There was a lot better effort from the Jazz this time around, especially from the starters. Speaking of which, the Jazz made a couple of changes to the starting lineup which may have been the difference. Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors got the nod ahead of CJ Miles and Mehmet Okur.

Overall, the Jazz played much better this time around but given their first pre-season game, there wasn't much they couldn't improve upon. Their defensive rotations were better, rebounding continued to be a strong point, and an early nine-point deficit wasn't a permanent grave.

It seems as though Tyrone Corbin may have decided on his starters and rotations. I was a bit surprised to see most of the starters with ice on their knees for the entire fourth quarter. On the other side, Nate McMillan elected to keep all of his starters in and made a push at the end of the game to win with trapping and even subbing in Gerald Wallace with just under two minutes to play. The Jazz held off a furious self-inflicted rally to come away with the win over the Blazers.

Player observations after the jump.

  • Al Jefferson with a quiet 15 & 9 on the night though it did take 16 shots to get there. Nearly every game I look at the box score thinking Al has 8-10 points only to find that he has close to 20 late. Great rebounding from him tonight.
  • CJ Miles had a great first half with 15 points on 8 shots but took some ill-advised shots late that let Portland back into things.
  • It wasn't Gordon Hayward's night. Both he and Derrick Favors got three quick fouls in the first quarter. As a result, they both sat the rest of the half and didn't do much. Hayward came back in to start the third and played about 6 minutes until he picked up his fifth. He fouled at late in the fourth.
  • When Favors got to sniff the floor, he was a force once again. 7 & 6 for him in 18 minutes.
  • Alec Burks will get some shots to fall. He had a couple of nice looks including a nice clutch reverse with the left hand that rimmed out. I'm impressed with his play though.
  • We saw the first of Jamaal Tinsley. No sooner as I had said that his contract had become guaranteed because of his play, he turned the ball over late twice in crucial situations. As always, the jink is powerful. He'll start making those and get a lot of confidence.
  • Josh Howard brought something to the team that they have never had, namely a shot creator and maker. He bailed them out a couple of times late and kept the Blazers at bay. He did miss two crucial free throws late. I think fans will start to like him.
  • Enes Kanter. All he does is rebound.
Overall, a good bounce-back game at home. It was good to see the second and third stringers in against the Blazers starters to get some experience in a meaningless game (did anyone tell that to McMillan?). They didn't handle it the best but were still able to make the W stick.

Of course the story of the night was the annhilation of Gerald Wallace by Jeremy Evans. It should be no surprise that the dunk of the year was called off by a foul call. There are two rules at play here. One, and the reason for the offensive foul call, is this one,
An offensive foul should never be called if the contact is with a secondary defensive player who has established a defensive position within a designated "restricted area" near the basket for the purpose of drawing an offensive foul.
On replays, Wallace was outside of the restricted area. However, you also have this rule,
A defensive player is not permitted to move into the path of an offensive play-er once he has started his shooting motion.

From this still, you can see that Evans is going to into his shooting motion here,


Wallace is still in the restricted area and begins to move into place to take the charge. Evans is at the point of no return here. There's no way for him to stop.

Here he in in shooting motion with Wallace still getting into position


Wallace's back foot is still in the restricted area and isn't set while Evans is clearly in his shooting motion.


Wallace barely gets set here as Evans is completely airborne.

I don't know how you call this in real-time. There have been plenty of dunks similar to this that don't get called for fouls either way. Sometimes Evans gets called for fouls simply because he's tall or he jumps over everyone. He's a hard guy to call unless you're familiar with his style of play.

Here's the full thing in real-time along with a hi-res photo of the dunk.

We start for realsies a week from today.