NBA Regular Season Game #28:
Utah Jazz 86 @ Orlando Magic 82
Remember when Shaq and Penny were a thing?
The Utah Jazz are now 13-12 All-Time in Orlando, which is pretty good for a team that is historically very poor on the road. The Jazz move to 4-11 as the visiting team this season, and now have 7 wins on the season. Tonight was an interesting match-up between two lottery teams that boast an interesting collection of veterans and younger players. It would have been a more compelling match-up had Orlando's best player actually been available to play, Arron Afflalo (Ay-Ay-Ron?) was out for "illiness" tonight. That is true because this season his game has been sick, as he's putting up a 22 / 5 / 4 / 1 line. As a Jazz fan you understand injuries happen, our squad started the season with 5 rotation players out.
You gotta take good fortune when it smiles on you.
And it did tonight, as the game -- still ridiculously close -- ended up being the side show to the main showdown between promising rookie guards Trey Burke and Victor Oladipo. Oladipo was taken #2 in the draft, and Burke #9 -- and both are in the running for Rookie of the Year. Cutting to the chase, they didn't match up directly against one another, but 'Dipo was playing like C3-P0 out there, and got absolutely destroyed by Trey in comparison. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
This game started out with the Jazz starting guards, Burke and Gordon Hayward, trying to erase the Miami Heat game from memory by draining shots early. Richard Jefferson and Marvin Williams got into the act as well, while Derrick Favors took control of the paint on defense. Utah took an early lead in the first quarter, but Orlando powered back. In reality, it was probably the hubris of the Jazz who had fallen in love with the jump shot. After a break of play the Jazz refocused, and went back to getting points in the paint. When Alec Burks and Enes Kanter came in we actually saw a little less ball movement, but players were making good shots near the rim. The good guys led by 7 after one.
In the second quarter it was the Trey and Alec show as swag met swish. Trey was unstoppable with his shooting and passing. Alec was doing it on the glass, and converting crazy AND-1 layups. For Orlando their offense wasn't working without their best player (duh), but Nikola Vucevic was doing damage all game long on offense and defense. He was a huge part of limiting the Jazz offensive rebounding opportunities in the first half. Vucevic would finish with 14 and 14, but his performance, solid throughout, did not rise to the occasion down the stretch.
At the half the Jazz were comfortably up 49-39.
As good teams are wont to do, the Magic made a number of adjustments and the Jazz started to turn the ball over repeatedly. I would say that a Diante Garrett - Alec Burks - Brandon Rush lineup isn't the best possible lineup if you are trying to win the game. The game flow agrees. And the Magic capitalized and made a game of it, and the Jazz lead was just 6 going into the final frame.
The fourth quarter was messy. Jazz turnovers, missed shots, silly fouls . . . and we still won. More important than just one regular season win is that Trey Burke played great, and destroyed anyone on him. Like I said in the preseason, he's my ROY.
- Trey Burke is amazing, and finished with 30 points (only needed 20 shots, and shot 60 fg%, and drilled 4 threes), 8 assists (4:1 Ast:TO ratio), 7 rebounds, and 1 steal. Victor, on the other hand, finished with 3 points (1-12 shooting), 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal and block each.
- Alec Burks, who didn't take a shot in the first quarter, was really hot during a critical period for the Jazz in the second quarter. We don't build up the lead we had without him. I will mention that Gordon Hayward, who didn't break out of his shooting funk quite yet, was quite the facilitator. Gordon had a 15 / 7 / 5 / 1 line. Alec had a 13 / 6 / 2 /1 line.
- You know what happens when you make free throws? You win close games. The Jazz went 12/15 for this game, that's 80%. Alec and Derrick Favors both went 4/5. Earlier this season you wouldn't have blinked if they went 2/5. Also Favors was beastmode all night finishing with 14 / 11 / 5 / 1.
- Some of the turn overs in this game were just awful. If one of your three D's this year is discipline, then that's a big red X there on the evaluation sheet. Utah had so few in the first half, but piled it on in the second. Not good.
- Besides Trey, Alec, Gordon, and Derrick -- no one really came to play or made positive contributions. Some guys did some nice things, but these were bad nights for most of these players.
- We beat Orlando, when their best player isn't in it, and their next best player goes 1-12. This is like the Denver game in that regard where we win based on some really crazy situations. While these are feel good wins, they may be mirages.
BUT TREY BURKE BABY! ROY!