First of all, man, what a poor ending to a great comeback last night. The Utah Jazz looked down and out, but fought back behind some very solid defense by Rudy Gobert, and shot making by Gordon Hayward and occasionally Trey Burke. Rodney Hood is giving this team a lot of what they need on both sides of the ball as well, being tasked to defend Isaiah Thomas on one end of the floor, and then driving and making big shots on the other. Sadly, Tyler Zeller, one of the three best Zellers out there, scored a game winner. Yuck.
I missed the entire game, but we're not looking at this game as a loss -- but a learning process for a still developing team. A team that loses this game by 10+ points if they don't play together; but instead was a bad defensive rotation away from winning it, because of great team work.
As for me, well, I caught this game this morning -- but if you have been on the site you have seen that Diana And Yucca had you covered from the game preview, thread, and recap. Yucca is one of the most versatile people I've seen write on the internet, as he can do stats, write opinion pieces, draw diagrams to help educate and illustrate his points, and write like someone who actually knows what he is doing. Yucca is really the Andrei Kirilenko of this site. And Diana, well, I don't need to say much else besides she was my #1 "blogger draft pick" back when Basketball John asked us to help him out more at the site.
Also, it's Diana's birthday today! Happy Birthday sis!
Speaking of Andrei, Emmet Ryan of BallinEurope.com wrote about his return with CSKA Moscow here. It's likely that unless you are Yucca or Moni, you aren't more heavily invested in AK-47 than I am. But even in Europe it appears that his best days are solidly behind him. Ryan writes:
The return was a cameo, just 5 minutes and 2 points in a 75-81 loss to Fenerbahce, but it made the return real. The man who brought CSKA closer to a Euroleague title than any other time since their 2008 championship was back with the red army. That Andrei Kirilenko was at the peak of his powers, fresh off heavy usage in the NBA and en route to playing a huge role in Russia's bronze medal run at the 2012 Olympics.
This isn't the 2011/12 season but that goes multiple ways. Kirilenko may not be the same player but, if anything, this CSKA team looks even more capable of lifting the trophy in Madrid this May. While not sweeping opponents aside with the same gusto, this is a team which has looked extraordinarily competent. It's the least flawed outfit in Europe and one that doesn't look designed to throw away victories from near certain positions of success. Basically, this is a CSKA team that doesn't look like it's going to CSKA.
Where Kirilenko fits in to this line-up is the big question.
"Obviously AK is not the same guy who won Euroleague MVP and Best Defender honors in 2011/12. Just talk to Lionell Hollins who played him over 10 minutes on one lonely occasion this autumn in Brooklyn. The acclaimed Russian played a mere 55 games (including playoffs) for Jason Kidd a year ago. Time and injuries took their toll on Kirilenko's body and his recent track record proves that. His shape and ability to stay on the court are the biggest issues at hand. On the bright side, the European schedule isn't nearly as brutal as its NBA counterpart so Kirilenko will have a shot to shake off the rust in time for postseason," Timur Rustamov, reporter with Sport-Express told BallinEurope.
I still hold out hope that Andrei does well. He's one of my favorite players of all time,
Hindu prayer in my legislature gun to my head, he's easily Top 3.
His first game back highlights!
For the record, this is the same league where Kyrylo Fesenko won player of the month.
Obviously there's a lot of talk right now about Rudy Gobert, and it's for good reason. Traditionally the Jazz were all about the point guard and power forward. We get that. Outside of Mehmet Okur (or Al Jefferson), the centers on this team were all supposed to be defensive backbones and Gobert is following along in the footsteps of (chronologically) Otto Moore, Rich Kelley, James Hardy, Ben Poquette, Mark Eaton, Greg Ostertag, and others. Jazz bigs have been big. as of today Rudy Gobert sits amongst them. He now is 19th All-Time in blocks for the Jazz franchise.
Everyone on the list above him has played in at least double the games, or 2.5x the minutes. The main thing I love about this is that Gobert, despite being the whipping boy from the coaching staff last season (usually an "Alec Burks production"), he's beasting. This season he is averaging 2.3 bpg, and 3.6 blocks per 36 minutes. Do the math. He's supper efficient, and doesn't foul a lot, or at least he doesn't foul that much anymore. Per 100 possessions he gets 5.3 blocks this year and only 4.9 fouls called on him.
But more on Rudy later on today, we have some feel good stories about him to discuss!
Now that Enes Kanter is no longer around (and averaging 14.5 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 1.8 apg, and shooting 56.7% for OKC), perhaps we can get Memo to help our bigs out with their shooting? Well . . . you know . . . when he has a little more free time on his plate.
Right now I think this is the best photo on the internet, where Memo gets to spend a lot of quality time with his kids! But mark off some time to help your other kids, Derrick Favors, Rudy Gobert, and Grant Jerrett!
I'm a bad fan for saying this, but how do you get swept by the Boston Celtics? Now we've gone 180 degrees from worrying about a coin flip for the #5 pick in the draft to having that bitter taste in our collective mouths after losing to a team that just went out an signed Javale McGee . . . so bad.