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NBA All-Star 2016: Utah Jazz don't have any stars but Jazzfans should still pay attention this weekend - Downbeat #1841

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Reasons to watch this weekend, and what the rest of the league has to watch out for with the Utah Jazz

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The Utah Jazz are on a roll, and are playing great defense right now. They need to keep it up and can't take their foot off the gas pedal right now with the opportunities they have. The All-Star Break is approaching, but that's no need to slow down. In a way, it gives the Jazz a chance to rest more because -- as always -- they don't have any All-Stars on their team. Today we take a look at some of our best players and what they are doing right now. We look at what's going to be happening in Toronto this weekend, and as always because we continue to live in the past, go over that Karl Malone / A.C. Green thing all over again.

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The Utah Jazz defeated the Dallas Mavericks last night in overtime, 121-119. Please accept this late recap. The Jazz are now above .500 for the first time in a very, very loooo-ooong time. We charted it out here, and it's even more spectacular when you recognize that Utah doggy paddled their way for a few months without four of their top six players -- barely keeping their head above water, yet somehow not drowning. I think we have Gordon Hayward to really thank for that. Hayward and wingmate Rodney Hood have been tremendous of late, helping this team go for seven straight wins. For a look at the top win streaks over the last decade, and how this streak compares, I got you covered. But what I'm really interested in is . . . overtime!

I think all of us are still suffering from a bit of shell shock from that 4 OT game where our head coach decided not to make any substitutions until people started fouling out. Overtime is tricky because you're not game planning for endless overtimes. And similarly, overtime can be hard to manage during the course of a season. So far in 2015-2016 the Jazz have played in seven overtime games, and eight total overtime periods. The record is now 4-3 in these games, with 4 period wins, 3 period losses, and 1 period tie. (Fun fact: because of #defense one of these overtime games finished with the final score of 92-87 -- it was against the Memphis Grizzlies)

Last night Gordon Hayward played 45/53 total minutes in the game. Rodney Hood played 43 minutes, with Rudy Gobert at 37 and Derrick Favors at 35 not very far behind. Probably one of the things to save Raul Neto was all of his foul trouble (he would foul out against Dallas). I'm bringing up their numbers because I do worry about fatigue. The Jazz know this is the last game before the break and I hope they aren't just going to 'overlook' New Orleans. It's an important game for both clubs, and an important game to finish. I just hope that our main guys aren't too spent to get the job done on the second night of a back to back.

So far this season the first game after an OT game has gone as: L, L, L, L, W, W, and to be determined. A lot of those L's were in games where the team was without 3 or more key players. Only one was the second night of a back-to-back when the first night went to OT. And that was a loss. But that was also a game against the San Antonio Spurs after taking the Oklahoma City Thunder to OT.

What will happen tonight? Hopefully a solid performance by the Jazz, and one that does not go to OT. Stay focused, finish this week off and keep the streak going!

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Gordon Hayward + Emotion = Awesome

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Mike Gallagher of RotoWorld sees G-Time flexing there, and he wrote a very reasonable and objective piece about our club and their defense, their emerging offense, and some of the players we love to root for. Check it out here.

We always talk about offense, but how about some defense? The Jazz have been locking people down with a six-game win streak and look like they'll be able to climb up the standings after the break. They also haven't allowed a team to score 100 points since Derrick Favors returned seven games ago.

In fact, the Jazz are first in defensive rating since Favors returned at 92.9 while they're at a 9.9 net rating in that span — that ranks fourth. They allowed a league low in makes at the rim in that span while they also rank in the top three for right corner, left corner and above-the-break 3s allowed in those seven games. No shots at the bucket and cutting down 3s is a good formula on D, right?

While defense has been the key, 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.

- Mike Gallagher, RotoWorld.com, 2016

It's worth it guys, so go ahead and read it!

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If you did not notice, the All-Star Game is coming up, but for us Jazz fans who no longer get to enjoy having an All-Star, this means it's the All-Star Weekend that we pay attention to. Raul Neto, Trey Lyles, and stellar Rodney Hood will be there. They will be participating in the BBVA Rising Stars competition. But they aren't the only Jazzmen who will be up in Toronto this weekend. Another familiar face will be current second 10-Day contract holder Erick Green. He'll be in the NBADL All-Star game. (He's not the first (nor last) guy to do that for us, we can't forget Morris Almond and Kyrylo Fesenko doing that feat as rookies.)

I wish all of our guys the best, and please don't anyone get hurt. (Jimmy Butler *is* hurt, and the NBA is replacing him with Chicago Bulls bigman Pau Gasol this year in the All-Star Game.) (Pau's brother Marc Gasol appears to be done for the season too. Yikes.)

Speaking of Toronto and the NBADL and the All-Star Weekend . . . non-Jazzman Myck Kabongo had a few things to say about returning to his home and native land.

It's a good read if you are interested to see what he has to say, in his own words. It details his personal journey from being an African refugee to just what this game means to this modern era of Canadian sports fan. And seeing how we're talking about Toronto, and this game, this is truly a must watch video.

Man, Vince Carter had more hops than almost all of our wing players put together.

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Oh, and because this may be my last Downbeat before the All-Star game, let's remember that while the game may not mean much to us fans -- especially if we don't have a horse in the race, the game really does mean a lot to the players. Well, maybe not the game itself, but the recognition of being named an All-Star is a big deal. (And not just for contract negotiations, either!) We don't need to look too far back in history to see that players  do give a hoot. After A.C. Green (and the Lakers fans) stole his starting spot the Mailman delivered 61 points shortly thereafter.

That's not the only time an under-deserving player got on the All-Star team though. Phil Watson posted a *slideshow* of the 25 least deserving All-Stars over at HoopsHabit. Obviously, the main target here is Kobe Bryant . . .

. . . yet somehow A.C. didn't make the cut. But to go over that Karl Malone explosion, the season stats for the power forwards, and the awful voting results -- I detailed it all over here a few years ago: "You know how I know that your fanbase wrecks All-Star voting".