Ed. This is the 'floating' Weekend Downbeat, usually on Saturday, but now on whatever day is not a game day. This is not Monday's Downbeat!
So the Utah Jazz are winning games right now. After starting the season with a chance to go .500 early in November the team slid to a 9 game losing streak that put quite the damper on both expectations and fan engagement. But this team took their punches, looked within themselves, and are responding to their coach and the challenges of the games. And it's a fun time in Jazzlan. They have won 6 of their last 10 games. The losses have come against the New Orleans Pelicans (road), Charlotte Hornets (road), Los Angeles Clippers (road), and the Atlanta Hawks, at home. The six wins were against the Miami Heat (road), Orlando Magic (road), Memphis Grizzlies (road), Philadelphia 76ers (home), Minnesota Timberwolves (home), and Minny again (road).
There are a few immediate take-aways here. The first is that, well, this team isn't intimidated by playing on the road. Previous Jazz teams just took road trips as vacations because they knew they'd win at least 33 games at home. This team isn't those teams. The second take-away is that, for the most part, this team is learning to take care of business. A 25 win team (last season) improves by beating the teams they are supposed to beat. And over the last 10 games the jazz did not have any 'let down' games.
In fact, they beat Memphis in Memphis. Of course, the Jazz have been a bit lucky too, facing teams without all of their starters. But, let's not forget that these last few games have all been without Alec Burks, the guy on our team who has a full swag meter at all times.
Beating teams consistently, and winning on the road, and winning with injuries. These are three things the team didn't do last year (or the year before...). And is yet another thing to smile about in Jazzland.
And another reason to smile is that we're welcoming back a Millsap into our life. No, it's not Paul Millsap, but his younger brother Elijah Millsap. Elijah's agency was kind enough to e-mail me a confirmation that he is going to sign a 10 day contract with the Jazz. (So thank you to Hazan Sports Management, Daniel Hazan, and Ronnie Levi.) This will bring the Jazz roster back up to 15 players.
Elijah 'Sap will be the third 'Sap to be a part of the Jazz organization -- Paul was drafted in the second round and play his way to be a starter, and after free agency, became an All-Star with the Atlanta Hawks. John Millsap, the eldest of the four Millsaps, played for the Utah Jazz twice in summer league (2007's RMR, and 2012 in Orlando).
The only Sap left would be Abraham Millsap . . . but there's time still. There's no real apples to apples comparison for these brothers, so I looked at their college stats. But each 'Sap is his own animal.
- John has played THE MOST international ball, with a number of teams in Central and South America. He has been on the radar of a number of teams, but for the most part NBA teams know what he's about.
- Paul is an All-Star in the NBA because of his tireless work ethic, even if he doesn't get the calls he should from the refs after all these years . . . smh
- Elijah has been mostly an NBA-DL player, but has played overseas as well. Immediately you see that he has very quick and active hands, and the best dribbling of the group
- I honestly don't know much about Abraham, but he's the shortest. So I guess he gets picked on.
But numbers are boring. I know. Here's some game footage instead:
NBA Summer League:
But more on this Millsap later on with a full post giving you all the straight dope.
You're going to have to visit the site to get the full image, and view the rest of the on-going Utah Jazz S/ash fiction style book covers. CHECK IT ALL OUT HERE! And Visit Jazzfanatical.Wordpress.com daily! If I could only read one Jazz site a day, it would be that one.
Somehow I don't think we're talking about Gordon Hayward enough. He's having a remarkable season, not just as a Jazzman, but for a wing player right now. He's near elite in his on court production (a combination of being 'the man' for a team, there are only 30 of those guys in the league, and being good). Right now Gordo is at 18.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 4.1 apg, and 1.2 spg. There are only two guys in franchise history who have done something like that, Karl Malone (did it four different times), and Pete Maravich (once, back in '74-75, with a 21.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 6.2 apg, 1.5 spg line). If you are keeping score at home, those are two Hall of Famers.
In the last decade of the NBA it's been a feat accomplished by a number of players:
- LeBron James (10 times)
- Kobe Bryant (8 times)
- Dwyane Wade (4 times)
- Russell Westbrook (3 times)
- Kevin Durant (2 times)
- Tracy McGrady (2 times)
- Caron Butler (2 times)
- Paul Pierce (2 times)
- Vince Carter (1 time)
- Tyreke Evans (1 time)
- Rudy Gay (1 time)
- James Harden (1 time)
- Andre Iguodala (1 time)
- Stephen Jackson (1 time)
Three point guards have all also accomplished the feat once each (Chris Paul, Stephen Curry, and Damian Lillard); but they aren't wing players, so that's not apples to apples. Putting a guy like Gordon in this company is nice, and a testament to his hard work.
No doubt by now you've heard about the sad news of Stuart Scott's passing.The longtime sportscaster and ESPN anchor lost a battle with appendix cancer last night. His legacy isn't going to be one of a man who fought and lost, but of someone who had inspired and entertained millions every night he was on camera. I, sadly, did not live in the United States my entire life, and did not grow up watching ESPN or Sportscenter. (After all, it's not like watching that would have been even useful to me, as they never would talk about the Utah Jazz) However, plenty of people all over the world were touched by Scott, and have express nothing but the fondest memories of him. Former players, agents, his own peers, and countless fans have had poignant things to say, and shared many great moments.
Here is Jazzmom Ronda Burke with the Throwback pic!
He just wasn't a big part of my life, but he will be missed. And cancer sucks.