So, the Jazz couldn't keep up the winning streak last night. I was really hoping they could pull it off, especially against a team that isn't that good. But, sadly, a couple things hurt them.
Two things, in particular hurt. Two things that have been enormous bugaboos all season:
2. Bench contributions
On the second game of a back-to-back set, you gotta have some help from the bench. The Jazz turned it over 6 times in the fourth quarter, and it's very possible this was related to the lack of bench help on the back-to-back. Fatigue brings mental mistakes.
You never know what would have happened if ...
But the Jazz will need to get some dependable bench contributions if they are going to make another step to contention.
Rotoworld has a recent article exploring the Jazz in terms of fantasy basketball. I'm personally not into fantasy, but I do like reading stuff about my team. Here's a few gems:
...the offense of the starting unit has been very good with a 106.5 offensive rating in those seven games. A lot of that has to do with Rodney Hood running the offense more. He actually leads the team in usage rate over those seven games while posting a tidy 58.7 true shooting percentage. One of those most unique things in the Utah offense right now is the Hood pick-and-rolls. He comes in at 85.8 percentile for PNR ball-handler scoring on the season, which many people wouldn't have saw coming ...
As you might expect, Gobert and coach Quin Snyder are welcoming the Hack-a-Tower. "I practice every day," he said (via Jody Genessy of the Deseret News). "I make 10 [straight] easily every day. Again, I’ve just got to think it’s easy." He added it just gives him points and he likes it. That’s the spirit, Rudy.
So the Jazz players are becoming both good in real life and to fantasize about.
Too Big Yo, indeed, I say (h/t to Moni for the pic).
Blog, Dancing with Noah, has an article about Karl Malone's 1990 statement/tantrum game against the Bucks in which he scored his career high 61 points. The catalyst was Steph Curry's latest masterpiece, a 51 point game off only 28 shots in 36 minutes. It's impressive, but it's not quite Mailman territory:
61 points off 26 shots in 33 minutes.
Think about those three numbers, just for a moment.
Karl Malone also grabbed 18 rebounds, had 2 assists, and collected 3 steals. And the Jazz beat the Bucks (a playoff team) by 48.
Relive the scoring here:
Last night's game wasn't a shining example, but in most ways the Jazz have been returning to the defensive team we learned to love at the end of last year. It's not surprising, I expect, to see the Jazz are among the best at defense in the paint ... both making it hard to make a shot and hard to get a shot off:
Opponent field goal percentage in the restricted area vs. attempts allowed per game. pic.twitter.com/13mQNuX0V9— Mika Honkasalo (@mhonkasalo) February 10, 2016
The Jazz recent winning streak put them back in the top-8 of the Western Conference and they are currently tied with Portland for 7th. NBA.com has a roundtable that asks whether the Jazz look like a team that's likely to make the playoffs. Many said they think so. The response that surprised me most was from David Aldridge:
As Jeff Weigand said in "The Insider," most certainly. And I’ll go you one better; I think Utah has a decent shot at getting home court in the first round now, with the injuries to the Clippers (Blake Griffin, Austin Rivers) and Memphis (Marc Gasol). The Jazz have a chance to be real good for a good long while.
Not all the contributors were this high on the Jazz, but it is fun to read about your team getting some national attention and respect. It's been a while.
And whether the Jazz can actually pull off what Aldridge describes ... getting Home Court advantage ... is unlikely, he's right that it's actually available if things go right. After all, with the Clippers missing such an important player (Austin Rivers) crazy stuff can happen.