A Jazz Playoff Push is now in Utah in stable, but critical condition after being found down in an empty hotel room in Memphis. Medical responders were first on the scene and performed CPR and stabilized the playoff push enough to bring it back to Utah, where it will continue to receive treatment. Police investigators had no comment at this time and no further details on whether foul play was involved. Updates to follow.
That really was a crazy basketball game. It was nothing like the overtime game in Atlanta, where both teams were just trying to survive each other. The Dallas game had putback dunks, clutch 3 pointers, an intense crowd and a game that was very important for both teams. Paul Millsap had a putback dunk to send it to overtime. Devin Harris had a couple clutch three point plays/shots. And Derrick Favors fouled out with 5 personals. Demarre Carrol became Gerald Henderson for a night. Al Jefferson set the all-time Jazz record for rebounds (Mark Eaton grabbed 25 rebounds twice) with 26, also putting in the 40th best regular season rebounding performance of all time. The Jazz hit a season high number of 3 point shots.
And there was this strange exchange between Gordon Hayward and Delonte West:
[Ed. Note: Had to remove a pic of Hayward attempting to block a West layup attempt]
Such an awkward shot block attempt. I mean, they almost bump into each other in the air.
We are now halfway through with this downbeat. Here is your halftime entertainment:
I was reading ESPN fan chats this past weekend and there were 3 questions about the Jazz that I wanted to address:
This is how I feel about coach Corbin. He has made some mistakes, mostly little ones. Jazz fans are super critical, as I have been at times. In the end, he is a rookie and deserves development time, just like any of our young guys do. I think he is learning and I think he has the potential to be very very good. I hope he's around for a long time.
A couple of things here. I think with 30 minutes a night, Derrick Favors could make the NBA all-defensive team here. The more I watch him, the more I think he is going to become Tyson Chandler with slightly better offensive skills, which would be a very very good player.
Secondly, there aren't many NBA experts who don't think the Jazz won't make a trade to free up a starting role for Favors next year. I obviously agree with them, but this is the Jazz we are talking about. They don't do things just because conventional wisdom suggests they should.
This is the great philosophical question for the Jazz this year. I started out the season completely disagreeing with John Hollinger's take, but over the course of the season, I have certainly seen the value in that philosophy, to compete for the playoffs. I still disagree to some point with the idea. I think you challenge for the playoffs or try to make the playoffs with what you have, but you don't sacrifice the future just to make the playoffs. And I also think there is little to be learned by getting killed in the first round of the playoffs with a shortened rotation. But at the same time, you can't advance in the playoffs without getting there first and strange things can happen. The nice thing, that many have brought up before, is that the Jazz will either make the playoffs, or else have a lottery pick. It's a win-win sort of.
I thought David Locke made one of his more insightful realizations on the season in his Tip Off yesterday morning. He mentioned that 15 of the 16 playoff teams this year are in the top 16 best defensive teams. That number has changed to 14 teams, since last night with Phoenix moving past Houston, but the point remains. You almost guarantee a playoff spot this year by being a better than average defensive team. In contrast, only 11 playoff teams are found in the top 16 teams in offensive production. The Jazz are currently the 10th best offensive team in the NBA, but the 8th worst defensive team. The Jazz will only become serious playoff contenders when they start to defend more seriously. We can, and should debate, exactly how they can do that further, but they need to improve their defensive production. Notice how I didn't say effort.
They are all big games from here. The Jazz playoff hopes are barely alive, but improving quickly.