These are the five guys who made sweet sweet music against the Golden State Warriors.
Gordon Hayward: Starts things off with his solid shooting, he was taking and making jumpers last night and finished with 18 points and 54.5 fg%. He also got to the line 6 times (and missed one that would have given the Jazz breathing room – but let’s not forget that he made one to get the lead, and the win), had 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, and once again returned to form with a 4:1 assist to turn over ratio. (Best on the team this season) His points per shot were a stellar 1.64 – which is what we should be used to because he doesn’t take a lot of unnecessary shots and was quite efficient last year: 1.32 points per shot as a rookie. He did a little bit of everything and had a nice bounce back game from 5 point, 29 fg% showing the night before against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Raja Bell: Speaking of bounce backs, Bell only had 3 points last game and 17 all season long before playing against the Warriors. Bell made his first shot, and shot the ball all game long with confidence, which translated to more time on the floor (24 – the most since the first game of the season), and bulldog on the ball defense in crunch time. He would finish with 9 points (50% shooting), 3 assists, and 2 rebounds; but his contributions were greater than just the boxscore can show. If this game was played a few weeks ago Monta Ellis gets what he wants on those last few crucial possessions. Last night? He got vintage Raja Bell, all that was missing was the clothesline. Bravo Raja, and thank you for showing up like we know you can. This was your first Quintet of the season.
Al Jefferson: Big Al remains a fixture here, for the good times and the bad times. During the game he was either destroying Kwame Brown, or taking crazy shots that would miss, because of solid defense by Kwame Brown. Al finished with 15 points (on 15 shots – he only made 6), 8 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 block, 1 assist, and only one foul. He got to the line 4 times, and made 3 of them; which is crucial in a one point victory. He still took some highly contested shots, and made them. After which he passed out of high congestion to our guards, who would then miss. In a way, negative reinforcement against passing out. He’s still the engine that drives our Jazz machine.
Derrick Favors: But it is not like we don’t have newer, more efficient engines that we could plug in, in the future. Favors is a great example as he had a double double in 26 minutes (12 and 10), and he added 2 blocks to boot. He got to the line more than Al, and shot a higher ft% than Al; which is statistically significant. (Favors isn’t a great FT shooter right now) His 1.33 points per shot value is, well, a whole one third better than Jefferson’s 1.00. When Favors and Enes Kanter were on the floor they were owning the paint. Kanter deserves mention as well, he played only 14 minutes but had 6 points and 7 rebounds. Surely he would have had a double double if he played more time.
Paul Millsap: There was more time on the floor for the younger guys because Millsap was saddled with foul trouble. They were calling things on ‘Sap that they wouldn’t have even called on Kyrylo Fesenko. He played 22 minutes, and had yet another poor shooting night (4/12). He finished with 9 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and 1 steal. Low minutes, low score, poor efficiency? Why is Millsap part of the Quintet for last game? Didn’t Devin Harris have 6 points and 8 assists? Well, I can’t in good conscience give Harris the nod when his virtual analog Monta Ellis goes off for 32 points and 6 assists. They are like the same type of player, but Harris is playing significantly passive. It’s like he’s not playing his game. But that’s a topic for another post – Millsap makes it because he was making big plays when he was on the floor, and the Jazz were playing their best. He was a +18 in +/- when he was on the court, best on the team. By the very same metric, Derrick Favors was a -17, worst on the team. Millsap was playing great in crunch time, making shots for himself, getting the offensive rebound, and making plays for others to score. David Lee had a great game, but played 20 more minutes than Millsap. Millsap was making plays in crunch time to help his team win the game. And he has done so in all of our wins.