It seems like ages ago, but it was only 26 games ago when the Utah Jazz, fresh off of beating the Detroit Pistons in impressive fashion, laid an egg in the Bankers Life Fieldhouse to the Indiana Pacers. Only, it wasn't the Indiana Pacers, it was a shell squad where they played only nine players, and started three guys you didn't even know were on their team. Frank Vogel's squad was hurt, tired, and vulnerable. But they shored things up by playing their style of game, and decapitating the Jazz attack. Gordon Hayward would fight through and score 30, but they did the thing the Jazz used to do -- shut everyone else down, because one man can't win a game by himself.
Utah should have won that game, heck, they should have won 4 out of 5 on that road trip. But they didn't. They were younger, less polished, less tested, and less experienced. Now, not even 30 games later we get a chance to see if the Jazz learned anything.
The Pacers just started a road trip, and played last night (and lost last night) to the Los Angeles Lakers 88-87. They are still very injured, missing tow starters and one of their key bench bigs. But the Jazz are also hurting. If Utah learned anything they will show some of it tonight, a hurt team can win home games to playing "their" style of game and sticking to a gameplan.
The Indy / Utah rivalry isn't a big one, despite the Jazz having one of the best players out of that state in recent years. In fact, they've only played each other 79 times total. That's it. The Jazz are one game behind, at 39-40 overall, but are a solid 26-13 at home. I'd love to see the Jazz even the score, in the big picture by getting that 40th win, and in the small picture of showing the growth and going 1-1 on the season.
Utah can do it. But Indy, with 13 wins, isn't a pushover. They are going to be tougher than the Timberwolves, that's for sure.
The Pacers are a mess without Paul George right now. And George Hill was shooting really well in a very small sample size. Without them they've had to go deep to their bench, where guys like Donald Sloan and Chris Copeland are playing big minutes, while guys like Solomon Hill and C.J. Watson are forced to start. Luis Scola is still Luis Scola. David West is having a quiet season where he has expanded his range. And Roy Hibbert proved to us all that he can still demolish a team if he's playing well.
C.J. Miles isn't having the season he was expected to, again. But maybe at this stage we should expect these seasons from him? I dunno, I still love that guy. Name the last Jazz guard to score 40 in a game. Here's a hint, it was C.J. Miles.
Yikes. If Trey Burke can't play Dante Exum will start, but that really makes our bench thin. Good thing we still have Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors (and Jeremy Evans) -- our 2010 Draft class guys will save us! Oh, and Rudy Gobert too. It's going to be fun to see how he gets called for fouls that Hibbert does not get called for. #GetBetter #BeBetter
- Almost everyone, but more specifically . . .
- Alec Burks (UTA) -- Out with a left shoulder rehab
- Enes Kanter (UTA) -- Out with a sprained right ankle
- Rodney Hood (UTA) -- Out with a left foot inflammation
- Patrick Christopher (UTA) -- Out with a dislocated right patella (knee cap)
- Trey Burke (UTA) -- Questionable, with an 'illness', and he did not participate in shoot around this morning
- Paul George (IND) -- We all remember that injury he sustained in the summer, sheesh
- George Hill (IND) -- Out with a left groin strain
- Ian Mahinmi (IND) -- Out with a torn left plantar fascia, yikes
- C.J. Watson (IND) -- Questionable with a sore left foot
- Damjan Rudez (IND) -- I have no idea, but he missed last game with an upper respiratory infection
C'Mon, you know it's Derrick Favors against Roy Hibbert. One really big guy, and then an even bigger guy. It's like the Cleganebowl up in here.
Indy clamps down on defense, slows the pace, and it's a bloody halfcourt war of attrition when our best one on one scorer (Alec Burks) is in a suit, and no one can draw a foul.
G-Time drops another 30, as the Jazz run (figuratively and literally) away with this game against a tired and injured team.
Hopefully the Jazz pass this cumulative chapter test and show that learned something from earlier in the season!
GO JAZZ GO!