10 November 2010

Jazz vs. the state of Florida

Other than being a huge comeback, the Utah Jazz-Orlando Magic contest was quite different from the Jazz's game with the Miami Heat last night.

1) The Jazz played fairly well against the Magic. There a lot of turnover, but Utah had energy and effort. The Magic simply could not miss in the second quarter and most of the third quarter. When the Jazz made their comeback and started sinking shots, the reaction was "finally," or something similar.

The comeback against the Heat was the return-from-the-dead type. Utah spent the better part of three quarters getting hammered. They worked their way back into the game by chipping away at the lead.

2) The comebacks were different. The Jazz were all but completely dead in Miami, and they slowly dug their way out of their own grave, kind of like this:

In Orlando, the Jazz made up ground quickly with a 24-2 run at the end of the third and beginning of the fourth quarter.

3) Whereas the Miami comeback was mostly due to Paul Millsap and Deron Williams, the Orlando revival was a team creation. Yes, Williams could not miss, but Kyrylo Fesenko, Millsap, Al Jefferson, Roger Bell and Andrei Kirilenko all made important contributions.

* * * * *

Yeah, that's right, Florida.

Duh, EVERYONE knows Millsap can sink the three

Why not Paul Millsap, why not tonight? -- Matt Harpring

How incredible was Paul Millsap last night against the Miami Heat? Well, can you remember a Jazz player having a game as incredible as that? Here's the thing: as unreal as his one-man comeback show at the end of regulation was, Millsap was great the entire night; his 3-point barrage was just the apex of a stunning performance.

Anyway, Millsap's showing goes down as one of the best in Utah Jazz history. There aren't many that compare. The only performances I can remember in the class with Millsap's were by Karl Malone: his 61-point night against the Milwaukee Bucks in 1990, and when he scored 42 on the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1997 playoffs.

* * * * *
Other thoughts on last night's Jazz win:

Remember when Chris Webber used to have quiet 20-10s? You'd watch the entire game, then be shocked when the play-by-play announcer would say Webber had 20+ points and 10+ boards. The reason for your jaw-drop was Webber not seeming to impact the game at all. Well, the same felt true about LeBron James' triple-double last night … Speaking of Chris Webber, isn't Paul Millsap's game resembling Webber's more and more? I mean this in a complementary way -- not all of Webber's 20-10s were worthless. … What was the common factor in last night's game and the Jazz-Cavs game in January -- you know, the Sundiata game? The obvious answer is LeBron James, which is correct, but there was another similarity between these two games: Deron Williams had to leave the game early (fouled out last night, injured in Cavs game), and somehow Ronnie Price ran an effective point and helped the Jazz win. … DWILL gets all Nashian (Nashty?) when setting up a hot three-point shooter at the end of the game. Williams will penetrate to the top of the key to draw the defense to him, jump in the air, then contort his body and nicely set up the shooter for a good look. He usually does this with Okur, but last night it was Millsap. … Great work by SLC Dunk in compiling stories from around the country regarding Millsap and the Jazz.

* * * * *
It looks like Jerry Sloan will be around for at least one more year. Sometimes I wonder if Jeff Van Gundy is just biding his time on those NBA broadcasts, waiting for the Jazz gig to open up. Utah fans and the Jazz organization likes JVG's kind of hoops, and the job would provide a stability unlike he and his brother have experienced in their NBA coaching careers.

In honor of Sloan, here is another song that references the Utah Jazz:

Drake ft. Lil Wayne -- Miss Me

"Young Money's Jerry Sloan, I turn every stone"
(The lyrics before and after this line are a little bit naughty.)

09 November 2010

Millsap at SF----->The Commercial

When in a crunch, one can find out the strength and quality of themselves or an entity to which they belong. Four observations from the last few minutes of the Jazz-Clippers double-OT game on Saturday:

1) For all his shortcomings in the last 20-30 seconds of a game, Deron Williams is one of the best at taking the ball the length of the floor during a game's last moments and making a play happen. Steve Nash is probably the only other point guard who could consistently do this like Williams does it.

2) Paul Millsap has played like a grown man this season. He seems to find different ways to be an effective offensive contributor every single game.

Here's the question: Could Millsap start at small forward? His game is becoming increasingly better, to the extent that he is playing more and more like a small forward, but without losing his power forward skill set (though he does drive to the hoop more like a small forward). His mid-range jump shot has become reliable, much more trustworthy than any shot attempt by Andrei Kirilenko or CJ Miles.

The question is how would Millsap do on defense against the quicker kind?

The first retort to that question is, how would the quicker kind defend him? See, mismatches often go two ways, with a consideration given to the talent involved. Millsap has talent enough to take advantage of being guarded by a slighter-framed fellow. Furthering the question, how would Millsap's advantage stack up against the advantage of the quicker player? The answer to this sub-question can only truly be answered in a game-by-game instance, so the original question is the type to ponder in a macro sense.

To start, Millsap is no slouch athletically. He might not be as nimble as a prototypical small forward, but he is by no means slow. Also, Millsap could use his thicker body to punish his SF adversary on both offense and defense. By the end of the game, his opponent might be worn down and ragged, unable to attack the hoop with much zeal. In fact, Millsap should be quick enough to stay in front of his man most times, thereby turning his SF foe into a jump shooter. With the defensive rules in the NBA, making a defensive impact most of the time, or perhaps only half of the time, is fairly good defense.

Overall, I think opposing SFs would get by Millsap as much as they proceed past Kirilenko and Miles. AK might be better at recovering and blocking the shot, but again, Millsap is no slouch at this himself. It should also be noted that Millsap's lack of size is a defensive detriment against most power forwards. At either forward spot Millsap is going to give up something. He might actually give up less as a small forward.

The power advantage the Jazz would have starting Millsap at SF and Jefferson at PF should be taken into account. Much to Millsap's credit, in fact most of the credit be unto him, these two power players have been able to play well together. Millsap's feel for the game and somewhat reliable jumpshot have given Jefferson room to maneuver in the low post.

The Jazz would set a nasty tone each game with a starting a frontcourt of Millsap, Jefferson and Elson, especially alongside physical guards Williams and Roger Bell. When Mehmet Okur heals and returns, he doesn't necessarily have to start. Jerry Sloan likes to have a scorer in the second unit, and Okur could fit that role nicely. Or Sloan could put Okur in the starting lineup alongside Jefferson and Millsap. Memo's added outside shooting would leave the paint open for Millsap and Jefferson, as well as Williams' penetrations.

Which brings up one more concern about moving Millsap to SF: he's no 3-point shooter. Yes, but Kirilenko isn't consistent enough with his treys to force the defense to spread their efforts. In fact, it seems Millsap's jumper and ability to attack the hoop would better keep the defense from crowding the basket than what Kirilenko brings.

I gave the argument for Millsap starting at small forward, because it seems the natural inclination is to say it wouldn't quite work. Back the argument up or tear it apart.

3) Jefferson's blocking Chris Kaman's shots in overtime is an element the Jazz's defense didn't often posses with Okur and Carlos Boozer on the court.

4) There is a lot to complain about with Kirilenko. One thing I noticed for the first time on Saturday was he always gets up after getting knocked down. Well, except this time:

* * * * *
Since the Jazz playing the Miami Heat tonight, here are some interesting reads dedicated to LeBron James' new commercial.

Michael Weinreb: On LeBron, Nike, and the Deconstruction of America

Jason Whitlock: LeBron's Nike ad: Just do ... whatever

Bethelhem Shoals: LeBron James' Nike Commercial Asks 'What Should I Do?'

Kevin Blackistone: Quoting Cassius Clay, LeBron Rings Hollow

04 November 2010

Deron Williams wigs, Sloan'd forgives

“It’s going to be a different team for us this year,” Williams, 26, said.
“Things aren’t going to come as easy as they have in the past. It’s part of my
job to keep the team together and keep the team focused.”

When I saw Deron Williams wig out at Gordon Hayward and read his panic (which he insists was not panic) about getting drubbed in the first two games, my initial reactions were: this is exactly what prevents Williams from being a great point guard/player, what makes Steve Nash so superior, what keeps the Jazz from making progress against the Lakers.

A few days later, my thoughts continued: this is what happens when you hand your team over to a player who has never been The Man before. Yeah, my thinking went on, he's totally inexperienced at being the "undisputed leader" of a team.

At The Colony High School in Texas, Williams was purportedly overshadowed by teammate Bracey Wright, a smooth shooter with a nice game who went on to play at Indiana University and lead the Big 10 Conference in scoring his junior year. Wright was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves (in the same draft the Jazz took Williams), but played only 26 total games before moving overseas to hoop. (Wright's problem was being a shooting guard who was only 6-foot-3.)

When the University of Illinois made their run to the 2005 NCAA Championship Game, Williams took a backseat to Dee Brown for most of the season. As the season went on, it was evident Williams had the best pro potential, and the buzz got busier after he hit this shot:

Then Williams arrived in Utah with Matt Harpring and Andrei Kirilenko having been good Jazz for three and four years, respectively, and Carlos Boozer as young, up-and-comer who had been with the team for a year. Through he became the best player on the Jazz, Williams hasn't been an assertive leader until this season. In fact, if he were a Ninja Turtle, Williams has been more Raphael than Leonardo.

As my brain turned it over more and more, my opinion began to change. Is it proper to expect perfection from a fellow in a brand new situation, especially this early in the endeavor? No it isn't, I concluded.

He deserves some slack for panicking, and there was nothing wrong with yelling at Hayward, except Williams did it as he walked by instead of doing it face-to-face (but again, he's new at being the alphaperson). What Williams is deserving of critique, and constant ridicule, for is throwing the ball at Hayward -- that was a middle school temple tantrum.

“Everything’s a process,” Millsap said. “Everybody don’t come in just
knowing everything. So he’s been listening. He’s been able to get guys around
him, as far as coaches and players, throughout the years. Deron’s been working
hard to get where he’s at.”

“I think he’s made a lot of strides from where he started,” Sloan said. “The
experience that he has, knowledge, all that stuff — he’s a terrific player. I
think the experiences that you have over the years puts you in a position to be
able to do those things; to be a leader; have the responsibility to get other
players to play better. That’s the bottom line. That’s what leadership’s

--Quotes from The Salt Lake Tribune

* * * * *

With only four games played and so many new players, it is hard to glean anything about the 2010-11 Utah Jazz from the first week of the season. They haven't even been in a close game yet. One can, however, make observations about each player and what role they might have on the team.

RAJA BELL: The Jazz's best player the first two games. It appeared he was trying to will the team out of its funk. Oddly, he hardly played in Sunday's win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. I wonder if Jerry Sloan will avoid forcing Bell's minutes if Utah is getting good play from Calvin and Kirilenko. Bell is older and coming off an injury. If he isn't needed, he might as well be preserved for when he is.

FRANCISO ELSON: Still seems lost on offense, but he will come in handy when the Jazz face the better teams in the West. Elson won't mind mixing it up, or starting the mix-ups, with the likes of the Lakers, Nuggets and Spurs. He shoots jumpers with confidence.

JEREMY EVANS: Like everyone else does, I find Evans impressive. He puts his athleticism to use by attacking the hoop and aggressively seeking rebounds.

KYRYLO FESENKO: Getting better. His most valuable contributions have been the times he has altered shots, or blocked shots as a help defender. He still loves the in-game promotions.

GORDON HAYWARD: Has shown hustle and smarts. Better yet, he has shown he can score in a lot of different ways, so long as he isn't shooting a three-pointer. If the Jazz get hit with injuries and Hayward has to play 30 minutes a game, his scoring average could reach 13 to 15 ppg. Hayward probably isn't a star, but he should be a valuable role player who scores when needed to score.

AL JEFFERSON: He might be lost within the offense, but he's right at home under the hoop. Like Boozer, he follows his misses. Unlike Boozer, he is able to follow the shot with a combination of power and a soft touch.

ANDREI KIRILENKO: Somehow, he looks more lost than ever on offense. His defense on Kevin Durant was terrific in the third game. His entire game was terrible in the first two contests. AK is Utah's version of JR Smith -- he'll either light it up, or hold the Jazz down.

CJ MILES: Overcame downright failure quicker than he usually does, which could be a good sign. Like Kirilenko, you can't expect anything from him, game in and game out. Hopefully he will show up at opportune times for the Jazz, scoring when the rest of the players are struggling. Sunk three huge 3-pointers against Toronto.

PAUL MILLSAP: Playing exactly like the Jazz need him to. He might not big enough or fast enough to be a go-to scorer, but he forces defenses to keep an eye on him the entire time. He'll either get his points, or open up the lane for his teammates. His jumper keeps improving.

RONNIE PRICE: Finds himself as the Jazz's third-best point guard once again. Might prove valuable at shooting guard against teams with a small backcourt. Could form a good fight-starting duo with Elson.

EARL WATSON: He has been much better than Jason Hart and Brevin Knight were their first month in the Jazz system. Runs the offense well and can hit a mid-range jumper.

DERON WILLIAMS: Nice game against the Thunder. We kind of know what we get from Williams. He needs to control the tempo and maintain order in the midst of chaos.

* * * * *

21 October 2010

Goodbye Mr. Gaines

Sundianatello Gaines was cut by the Utah Jazz today. Last year he was responsible for one of the most exciting wins in Jazz history, and as far as I know he's the only Ninja Turtle to ever don an NBA uniform.

27 May 2010

Hey, D-Will, drop the B.A.

My friend Jordan just e-mailed me about a run-in he had this afternoon with the Deron Williams:

"So I just ran into Deron Williams at Foothill Village while I was at lunch. I was approaching my car as he was getting into his (we had parked right next to each other). As I got to my car, I absent-mindedly waved to him, as if he would recognize me. He made eye contact, but no return gesture—not even a courtesy wave back.

I understand DWILL isn’t the friendliest guy, but I still felt like such a loser."

He asked that DWILL be left in all caps. Done.

To answer your first question: Yes, it was an Escalade.

But, surprisingly, it isn't black or off-white. In Jordan's own words:

"It’s a weird maroon color with black 22s and lo-pros. Plus those weird bluish halogen headlights."

Jordan continues: "When I pulled up next to it, I thought to myself, 'that is a hideous car.' Then when I saw that a young guy was driving it, I muttered under my breath, 'what a jerk.' It was after all of this that I recognized it was DWILL and made my friendly gesture."

Seriously, DWILL, you'd be a whole lot prettier if you'd smile once in a while. Rockabye.

18 May 2010

There is only one good outcome from tonight's lottery

The 2010 NBA Draft is short on greatness but seems loaded with role players. If they Jazz don't get the #1 pick, they might as well pick 20th, or even 30th.

Evan Turner is a really nice player, but probably not nice enough to be a team's star player. I really like that he spent three years playing college hoops, but he only seemed a little better than everyone else, not head-and-shoulders above them. He would be an excellent fit on the Jazz, but if they get the number two pick, Utah could likely get much more in a trade than they would out of Turner.

Even John Wall is suspect. If he can't handle not getting enough cuddle time with John Calipari, then he will have trouble with the put-out of Jerry Sloan.

If the Jazz draw anything above #9, they should trade it.

I predict the Philadelphia 76ers will win the #1 spot.

11 May 2010

2009-2010: In Memorium

"Not like this. Not like this."

Those were my thoughts in the closing seconds of Game 4 of the Lakers series, when I saw Sundianatello Gaines, Othyus "Johnny Highpants" Jeffers, and Kosta Hufflepuff Koufos stripping off their warm-ups to get into the game. Thus would end Utah's 2009-2010 campaign.

Not like this.

That's not how I wanted the team to go down. Before the start of the game I wanted to be hopeful. I wanted to think they could at least give the home fans one victory before ultimately falling to the Lakers. My hopes were realistic. I didn't have any fantasies of the 2004 Red Sox. I knew that the Jazz weren't coming out of the series. Going into Game 4 I looked at the Jazz like a sick ol' hound settin' by the fire, each breath a wheez, each movement a symphony of creaky bones. You don't want that old dog to go, but you know that it's his time.

Jim Rome said it after Game 1. To paraphrase: "The Jazz are going to work. They're going to battle. They're going to give you toughness, and heart, and they're going to play as hard as they can for the full 48 minutes. But in the end, they just don't match up. They don't have what it takes to beat the Lakers." I knew, deep down inside, that Rome was right. I wasn't without hope, but my expectations were realistic.

Still... not like this.

But what's done is done. Despite my plea, yes, in fact, exactly like this. And now it's over, and it's time to move on.

The 2009-2010 season was a special one for me. Oddly enough I actually missed the first game of the season, choosing instead to honor an ill-timed commitment to a group of new friends. Those people have since become much better friends and I'm actually glad I hung out with them that night. The Jazz lost badly to the Denver Nuggets. Lee texted me early on to tell me of an awesome jam by Memo (or could it have been Fes?) and I was bummed that I missed it. But after hearing of the final score I was confused... the Jazz are supposed to be great this season. How did they lose the opener to Denver? Denver's window is closed, right?

I mentioned that first game, hanging out with new friends. But from that point forward I was there every step of the way with my two best friends and Jazz viewing companions. Together we watched, I dunno, 80% of the games this season? I couldn't be happier with how it turned out. This season had some great moments. Some of the greatest in Jazz history, and they just wouldn't have been the same if I was only watching the nightly highlights or reading about the games in the paper. To me, the essence of the Jazz are Jerry Sloan, Ron Boone, and my crew. Wouldn't have it any other way.

What moments this season had!

- Eric Maynor and Wesley Matthews getting minutes early in the season - when the season looked like it may turn out to be a disaster - and showing that yes, those kids can play.

- Inexplicably, Eric Maynor was traded early in the season. I thought it was a joke at first. A prank. I was so angry. Devastated even. I considered boycotting the Jazz for the rest of the season. I felt betrayed. Worked out in the end, I suppose.

- Things turning around in December, the Jazz playing with fire, with passion, with fluid skill.

- Early on, they beat San Antonio. Then they beat San Antonio again. They beat San Antonio at home. They beat San Antonio FOUR TIMES.

- The green retro unis, debuting in an otherwise nondescript game against Indiana. Those uniforms. Oh those uniforms. When I see them I'm still stunned by their beauty, their classic simplicity. Those were easily the best uniforms in basketball this season.

- Phoenix is maybe the best team in the NBA at the moments, and they gave us a drubbing in the last regular season game that remains my personal worst live sporting experience of all time. But we had dramatic come from behind wins against them twice this season, wins that made you believe anything was possible.

- A late Sunday night, double-overtime win against the Trailblazers, another improbable come from behind win. The best game of the season, I dare say.

- Other great things about this season:

- Wesley Matthews, obviously.

- David Locke doing the radio play-by-play. He's not trying to fill Hot Rod's shoes, which is the wise move. He can make any game sound like a thriller, and maybe sometimes goes too far with the excitement but hey, it's radio. You gotta make it more exciting to make up for the lack of movin' pic-a-tures.

- speaking of, I listened to 1320 k-fan practically all day for the entire season. I'd turn it on in the morning at work and let it go all day long. 1320 has a really strong line-up right now.

- This season, more than any in recent memory, showed us why Jerry Sloan is a great coach. Suffer no delusions: he IS a great coach. Any of the tired old arguments against him don't mean a thing. "He doesn't play young players," "He doesn't let the team have fun," "He doesn't allow slam dunks," "He's never won a championship." The only one of those that's even true is the last one, but you know, a lot of great coaches and players have never won a championship. It's hard and rare to win a championship. That's why it's called a championship. There was a game where David Locke pointed to the players on the floor, during a game in which the Jazz were winning handily, and pointed out: "2nd round, 2nd round, 2nd round, undrafted, undrafted." Can you think of any other coach that could accomplish so much with that kind of roster?

- CJ Miles's tweets. I love this man. His twitter comments can sometimes be inexplicable, baffling, ridiculous, but more than anything they remind that he's a human, he's a kid, he's doing what he loves.

- Speaking of, CJ Miles played so well in the playoffs. His potential is finally becoming true skill. I'm proud of my boy.

- Gotta give a shout-out to number 1 Jazz fan and Sloan'd Blog's official mascot, Pail Millsap aka my brother Mikey. I enjoyed our late night Jazz talks, even when they went on for way to long. Follow him on twitter at @realmsampson.

- Seriously, those green uniforms.

- Oh yeah, this too.

This season I got more enjoyment out of the Jazz than I can ever remember. I cared more about the team than I ever have in my whole life (and I've always cared about the Jazz) and I suffered the heartache with the rest of you, but I'm glad I was there for it. I'm thankful for my Utah Jazz.

Now I'm exhausted. Wake me for the draft.

10 May 2010

Are you a man or a mouse?

From today's Salt Lake Tribune (Ross Siler):

"Sloan talked about resisting the urge to quit after Saturday's loss, saying of his players, "I'd really be disappointed in them as people if they did that and didn't come and play as hard as they can."

For the record and what it's worth, the Jazz are 2-0 against the Lakers on May 10th, and both victories were a little on the improbable side.

So, there's that. Will we be talking draft or Game 5 in the next few days?

30 April 2010

There's pride at ESA

I'm not too bummed the Utah Jazz lost Game 5 on Wednesday. They had a three-games-to-one lead in the series, and were playing on the Denver Nuggets' home floor. It's a tough spot, and Utah had already done their lower-seed duty and stolen a game at the Pepsi Center. With Game 6 being at ESA in Salt Lake City, the Jazz didn't need to win the 5th game.

I also figured the Nuggets would give it one last try before summer vacation. Unless the Jazz jumped all over them in the first quarter, Denver probably wouldn't be inclined to bro-hug the season goodbye. Carmelo Anthony wanted to envelop his head with a headband at least once more. Chauncey Billups wasn't ready to stop lubricating his entire body, even if the KY purchases are adding up (as they often do towards the end of the long season). JR Smith needed a few more days of freedom before orchestrating his next run-in with officers of the law. Arron Afflalo would like a little more time to work on getting his personality in offseason shape so he can further maximize the benefits of being one of the most handsome fellows in the NBA.

I knew there was too much at stake for the Nuggets to simply bow down to His Majesty (Sloan), but what the earth was that fourth quarter? Deron Williams took the first path he saw to the basket--EVERY SINGLE TIME. Well, almost. When he did let other Jazz touch the oversized-inside-out cantaloupe (a basketball is not a pumpkin), they did their best to get quick, unwise shots off (Kyle Korver, CJ Miles) or miss (Paul Millsap, even Carlos Boozer a few times).

Utah fell apart mentally and physically after hanging in the game in the 3rd quarter, despite the Nuggets best efforts. Williams was sucking air (along with sucking it up). Boozer let himself get lost. Matthews, Korver and Miles weren't taking turns screwing up. Millsap kept missing lay-ups.

Game 5 reminded me of the 3rd quarter of the 26 March loss to the Indiana Pacers, which I was listening to the on 1320 KFAN. Jazz play-by-play announcer David Locke was making a rook mistake and not announcing the time left in the game. It is an intangible that will come more natural next year. Anyway, he was all but declaring the game over, Jazz win. I honestly thought the game was in the final three or four minutes. I think he called Williams the "king of the world" once. Slowly the Pacers slimmed the lead. No worries from him, so no fear grew within me. I think I heard him start winding up his wires, Urbanspooning on his smart phone for a place to eat after the game, and Googling the lyrics to Ke$ha's "Tik Tok" for new phrases to use in his play-by-play.

(My favorites: "got up like P. Diddy" after a dunk, "Don't stop, make it pop" and "D-Will blow my speakers up" when Williams does anything good [these line would be further enhanced if preceded with the word "please"], and "Tick, tock on the clock, but the party won't stop" when the Jazzmen have a nice little run going)*.

It turned out that the game was only in the 3rd quarter. Indiana kept chopping down Utah's lead, then, Timber. By the time I arrived home, the Jazz were down by double digits, and it never got any better. The Pacers won, 122-106.

The Jazz up three games to one is similar. A lot of people were calling the series over. Even after the loss, people aren't worried. Salt Lake Tribune columnist Kurt Kragthorpe wrote the next day that "winning was basically optional" for the Jazz. Rather than worry about the Nuggets putting the Jazz in a Game 6 that is Game-7-like, like he did in today's paper, I think Kragthorpe was too busy "talking about everybody getting crunk, crunk." (Ke$ha, again)

True, the Jazz could afford to lose Game 5, but they played like a team that knew they didn't have to win. I'm sure they wanted to win, but the didn't seem ready to grind for a win. This is what irked me.

Every single playoff game is important. Trust me, I'm a Yankees fan. If Game 4 wasn't blown in 2004, then Game 5, Game 6 and Game 7 never happen. Curt Schilling never uses the clubhouse ketchup as a dramatic device. Bill Simmons never parlays that win into thinking he is the world's absolute expert on everything, and the first two chapters of his Book of Basketball probably aren't written in a way that makes me like Larry Bird a little bit less.

What if JR Smith and Carmelo Anthony are white hot grease fires of pure entertainment and can't miss tonight? Even if all Jazzmen play well, they'll probably lose by double digits.

What if Nene-less Nuggets are better suited to beat Utah? With him out, the Denver lineup gets long and lean. Although I still don't understand it, Mr. Boozer and Killsap have a hard time with tall, thin dudes. As good as everyone makes Andrew Bynum out to be, the Jazz do better against the Los Angeles Lakers when he is in the lineup, which he rarely is (I'm 50/50 that Phil Jackson makes up Bynum injuries when the Lakers play the Jazz). (Best case scenario, the Nene-less Nuggets will be a good warm-up for Booze and Kill's 2nd-round match-up with L.A.)

With Buh-Buh-Buh-Billups, Melo and Smith, Denver is always a threat to play so well that they are unbeatable. The Jazz cannot assume they will win just because of how tough it is to play at ESA. If they do, this series might end up like that Indiana game in late-March.

* = Despite his weird dedication to downplaying Big Impact's good performances, I like Lockheim. I believe he raised the standards of a set-in-their-ways SLC media. His play-by-play has improved throughout the season. It's so odd not hearing Hot Rod Hundley, but Locke should be pretty good once he finds his voice. The Lady GaGa on Boozer's block, then slam vs. the Celtics was deplorable, though.


Speaking of JR Smith, Denver Post columnist Mark Kiszla wrote this after the Nuggets Game 5 win:

Now here is one small, revealing scene that tells you that Denver might be as sweet as a Twinkie, but also full of fluff at its core.

It was halftime of Game 3 in Utah, with the Jazz on the way to a 2-1 lead in the series. J.R. Smith emerged from the visitors' locker room and began warming up his shooting arm, as players have done since the NBA's infancy.

But here's what was odd: Smith decided he would practice bouncing the ball in the basket. Not just once or twice. In a stunt indicating he might have a promising future as a team mascot dressed in a goofy, furry suit, Smith pounded the ball off the floor toward the rim at least a dozen times.

On the Utah bench, veteran coach Jerry Sloan and his Jazz assistants could barely suppress laughter as Smith made a joke of the warm-ups. This childish display did not go unnoticed by a Nuggets official, and it made him fume with anger.

So go ahead and scream your fool head off in appreciation for the thunder dunk by Smith in the fourth quarter, a slam that rattled the rim and stamped the exclamation point on Denver's victory in Game 5.

Smith represents exactly what these Nuggets are: fool's gold.

Beautiful. I think Kiszla just made JR Smith's list of things to do in the offseason.

29 April 2010

to take away some of the sting of tonight's loss

(via slwn3d correspondent Pail Millsap. Follow him on twitter at @realmsampson)

23 April 2010

Jazz must take advantage of the homecourt advantage shift

In an article about the NHL playoffs, E.J. Hradek wrote that since 1998 each Stanley Cup-winning starting goalie had a save percentage of at least 90%. "You don't build a percentage like that just by making all the routine stops," Hradek wrote. "You build it by also coming through with the spectacular save at the critical moment."

The Utah Jazz did the spectacular by stealing homecourt advantage away from the Denver Nuggets on Monday. Really, it was spectacular. First, the Jazz won in Denver, which has been a struggle for them. Second, they didn't wait until the series was out of hand to start fighting back, like they have in the last few playoff rounds.

Now, they head back home to what might seem like the routine: Win two games at home. But it isn't routine, and if Utah considers it that way, they will probably find themselves on the business end of the Nuggets pulling off "the spectacular". That is, retaking the favorable homecourt circumstance.

Winning Game 2 in Denver was an impressive feat, and it was indeed spectacular, but it gets canceled out if Denver gets all spectacular in Game 3 or 4.

The Jazz need to realize a few things. One, the ESA (I abbreviate because Energy Solutions hates it) hasn't been the Impenetrable Fortress that Larry Built like it has been the last few seasons. Two, Denver won in ESA without Carmelo Anthony and without Chauncey Billups. It was one of the two biggest WTF losses the Jazz had this season. The other was to the Bryant-less Lakers on 10 February.

Utah must protect Larry's house. (I use that phase in mockery. Under Armor has yet to become anything other than Douchebagwear. Click, clack.) Here are three factors to doing so, and thereby adding a capital 's' to the spectacular they have already done.

Replacing Okur

A lot about Okur won't be replaced. Namely, his shooting and the gumption to mock Kobe Bryant.

But without him, the Jazz can clog the middle a little bit with Fesenko and sometimes Koufos, or they can put Carlos Boozer and Paul Millsap on the floor at the same time for large chunks of time. These two can be an effective tandem the more Boozer's injury heals and if Millsap starts making free throws.

By the way, I hate that NBA teams can go from Monday to Friday without playing, but it has to be a good thing for the Jazz this year on account of Mr. Boozer and other dinged Jazz having three days to take it a little easier.

CJ Miles and Kyle Korver need to continue to make huge plays on offense, and Miles needs to continue to irritate Carmelo Anthony.

Breaking the press

I was going to make what I felt was an astute observation, but I caught part of 1320 KFAN's Locked on Sports Rewind yesterday wherein David Locke made the same point, only he also had statistics to back it up. Anyway, the press by Denver on Monday was genius. A few days later, I remembered that George Karl did the same thing to John Stockton when Karl was the Seattle Supersonics coach.

There was really only one point guard who was in Stockton's league in the 1990s, Gary Payton. He and Stockton had some good head-to-head playoff and regular season matchups. What made playing Seattle even more difficult for the Jazz (along with Detlef Schrempf out-classing Bryon Russell), was an incredible 3/4-court press. It almost always killed the momentum of the Utah's offense. Stockton would have to attack the press to make two player commit to defending him, then dribble backwards to reset the offense and find someone to pass the ball to or an open spot to penetrate in order to get the ball across halfcourt. A lot of time it was fun to watch Stockton break the press down, but it was also a difficult watch because there were times where the press was impossible to break. The only team against whom Stockton didn't control the pace of play was the Supersonics.

I'm getting kind of confident that my Nuggets-in-six prediction is going to be incorrect.

17 April 2010

Don't worry, tired Jazz, the postseason will be short

I keep assuming the Utah Jazz are going to defeat the Denver Nuggets in the playoff series that starts tonight. It is dumb. First, I was assuming the Jazz would beat the Los Angeles Lakers a few weeks ago--on the road. Second, when I think about what wins a playoff matchup, the Jazz don't really have any edges over the Nuggs, besides coaching.

Elite Player in the Series

Carmelo Anthony. This isn't even close. Anthony averaged 28.2 points per game against the entire NBA this season and 33.5 against the Jazz (in two games). Worse yet, Utah has not shown any ability to control this man. I forgot, does he still wear a headband? I seem to remember him ending that fashion practice. If he has stopped, I like him 20 percent more than if he still wears it.


Edge: Nuggets

Kenyon Martin has been hurt recently, and but is back. He might be slowed a bit, but his anger is the most important thing he brings to the Denver squadron.
The Jazz are still missing Andrei Kirilenko. Their best player, Carlos Boozer, is back but hurting. Mehmet Okur has been playing hurt recently. Deron Williams is probably ailing too. His ball handling, passing and decision making have been to sketchy over the last 10 games for nothing to be wrong with him. Then again, maybe he is just really sad that Ronnie Brewer is no longer a Jazz.


Edge: Neither. Both were 6-4 over the final 10 games. The Jazz only played good in one of those games, versus Oklahoma City. Even in that game, though, the defense was non-existent.


Edge: Denver.

Denver has Chauncey Billups, the Jazz kind of have Boozer, and sometimes Williams. Wesley Matthews will probably take his place as the Utah's leader sometime next season, but he is still a rookie and I think Williams would hate a rookie telling him to sack up a bit.


Edge: Denver

Martin, Nene, Chris Anderson and Billups are tougher than Boozer, Matthews, Williams, Paul Millsap and Ronnie Price. I wish this were closer than it is. Maybe Matthews will inspire his teammates. Matthews is good Jazz.


Edge: Nuggets

The Jazz aren't as nonathletic as most think, but they don't stack up with Anthony, Anderson, Martin, JR Smith and Nene


Edge: Denver

The Jazz have Okur, Kyle Korver, Williams, Matthews and Calvin Miles. All can be good shooters, but none are automatic. For Denver, Anthony won't be stopped. Then there is JR Smith. Which brings us to....

The Wildcard

Edge: Denver

This could also be the ticking time bomb. JR Smith can light any team up. He will probably win one game by himself this series.


Edge: Utah

Jerry Sloan versus an interim coach is not even fair. Hopefully Adrian Dantley will blow a close game.

See what I mean? The Jazz are toast.

Denver also has homecourt. Utah is a better road team, but they have been terrible in Denver.

Prediction: Denver in 6

For the Jazz to win this series:

1)Someone needs to catch fire. This is unlikely. Utah's offense has been pretty bad lately.
2)Boozer's injury can't be a factor. He needs to be able to extend on his post shots.
3)The Jazz be scared in the playoffs like the have been the last two years. They have a tendency to avoid making passes that involve even the slightest risk. So, they never make a pass into the post, or a pass off penetration.
4)Matthews needs to guard Anthony, and do a good job. Kirilenko wouldn't stop Anthony, so maybe it is a good thing he is out for the series. It might force Matthews to defend Anthony. Matthews is a much better on-the-ball defender than Kirilenko.
5) Someone needs to start a fight in one of the first two games. I nominate Kyle Korver, but it will probably be Price.

I'm still assuming victory, but I know that I am just being an (J)azz.

02 April 2010

Maybe the loss to the Lakers wasn't all THAT bad?

Maybe I'm just making lemonade, but that loss to the Los Angeles Lakers right before the All-Star break might have been a good thing for the Utah Jazz in their (one-sided, little-brother) rivalry with the Lakers.

It was Wednesday, February 10, year of our Lord 2010. It had been one of those days, and I considered skipping the Jazz-Lakers game because a) the Jazz were at home, b) Kobe Bryant was out with an injury, and c) the Jazz were playing the best basketball the franchise has seen since Malone and Stockton were around. This game was going to not only be a blow-out, but one where Jazz fans proclaimed an end to the Lakers' domination of the Utah team. Nothing about this game was going to be good or worthwhile. I didn't really want to be a part of it.

The Lakers started hot, and game got out of hand early. For most of the game, the Jazz seemed like they were a nice run away from being within striking distance of the Lakers. The run never happened. In fact, the Utah never even got started, and Los Angeles outscored the Jazz in every quarter but the fourth--when the game was over. Utah had quarters of 18, 23, 16 and 24 points. The final: Lakers 96, Jazz 81.

This loss was very disheartening. The Jazz not only had their nine-game winning streak halted, they also lost a game that wasn't expected to be close. It was a terrible loss, but maybe something good will come of it. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.

Since the Boozer-Okur-Williams era started, Bryant has been considered the only reason Utah has been unable to beat the Lakers. Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol are good, but not particularly terrifying fellows to face. Derek Fisher is nobody's All-Star (except Deron Williams'). Ron Artest is showing how hard it is for a star player to down-shift to a role player. Andrew Bynum has “potential”.

Bryant is the best player in the NBA, and it isn't even close. Kevin Durant isn't quite ready to supplant him. One of the drawbacks to having a great player like Bryant is his teammates' tendency to sit back and watch him make all the plays. The Lakers don't seem to have this problem.

When facing a player as great as Bryant, the other team can fall into the same trap as his own teammates. The opponents sometimes spend so much of their attention watching the defense of the player assigned to Bryant, waiting for the defender to mess up, so they can try to help out. This is a horrible way to play defense. In football, a defense sets up a bit of a wall. To make offensive progress, the offense needs to weaken the wall and go through it, or find a way around it. Defense in basketball is similar, though less literally. A defense needs to be ready for Bryant to beat his man, but when they focus their brain on it they, as a whole, become less firm, more movable.

This misguided focus comes from fear. Fear cannot play defense, and it also affects offense. “If we don't score here, the other team will score, and our deficit will get larger (or our lead, should we be so lucky, will get smaller).”

Kobe Bryant gets in the Jazz's head when the Lakers are on offense, and he stays when the Jazz are on offense. Even when he is on the bench, Utah feels the pressure to make something happen during that small window of time.

So, what might the Jazz have learned by losing without this fear? Well, hopefully that they were letting Kobe beat him a lot more than he actually was.

By giving so much attention to how Bryant was being guarded, Utah essentially made his main defender their star player. In past years, this was BruBru, who the Jazz just traded for a second round draft pick. Not a star player.

Now that they know Los Angeles can wipe the floor with them without Eagle County's favorite tourist, the rest of the Jazz players should now realize that they all have their own challenges to face. Bryant will be dealt with when he needs to be.

Mr. Boozer needs to realize that length shouldn't be so hard for power to dominate. There are many “long” NBA players who never became more than bench players because they kept getting over-powered by stronger, usually smaller players.

Williams can't let his respect for Fisher shrink the talent gap between the two players. Fisher has never been a good player. He is average. He was they one who was left open on the Shaq-Kobe Lakers teams. He was the veteran on a bad Warriors team. He was the fellow who missed every single shot he took in a Jazz uniform, save for a few in the playoff series against the Golden State. Even his leadership gets overrated. Remember the long losing streaks the Jazz had at the end of the season when he was in Utah? Larry Miller had to point out that they “sucked.” The best thing he did for the Jazz was to leave them and let them give a real shooting guard a shot.

Each Jazz needs to simplify his role. They have to stop (mentally) defending Bryant when they are on offense. On defense, they need to stop thinking that Bryant is their problem. Calvin Miles or Andrei Kirilenko need to focus on Artest. Williams only has to stop Fisher, or Dry Farmar. Mr. Boozer and Okur need only pay heed to Gasol or Odom or Bynum. Ronnie Price should be deciding which Laker player he wants to start a fight with, and nothing more. On offense, they need to work towards outscoring these players, which most of them should be able to do.

Utah now knows that perhaps they had their match-up with the Lakers all twisted. It isn't if-we-can-stop-Bryant-we-should-win, it is now we-need-to-outplay-the-other-players-first-then-work-on-Kobe. This can make a difference. The Jazz have the offensive firepower to compete with the Lakers, but none of them can outscore Bryant individually.

Or it could have been a terrible loss and the Jazz are in more trouble with the Lakers than they ever have been. Like I said, I might be making lemonade.

Enjoy this:

30 March 2010

Carlos Boozer's awkward attempt at the hip-hop

What the earth is Boozer saying to the New York Post?

"I love D'Antoni, he's the dope," Boozer said. "Spending time with him in the Olympics, his offensive mindset is unbelievable. He's got the best plays I've ever been around -- on a whim. It's like rappers when they come out on the top of the dome with quotes. He's got plays in the back of his head with plays for that moment."

I'm no square. I listen to a good amount of hip-hop. But I got Boozer's words all twisted. The one thing I do get is that he things D'Antoni has the best offensive plays Boozer has seen, or "been around," as he so uneloquently put it.

1) Really? The best? Like, the best besides the team you are on right now?
2) Really? The best? Like, the best at not having actual plays?
3) Why would anyone want to play for a D'Antoni team without Steve Nash involved? Sure, the high numbers will get you a fatty check, but after a few years, players in this type of system always seem to be called out as a fraud. "Sure, he's getting those numbers, but it's based on the system he is in." Playing for the Suns or Knicks is like playing for Texas Tech's football team (back when Mike Leach was the coach). Nobody respects your performance after awhile. Ask Amare Stoudemire. Even the Suns, his own team, thinks he is a fraud.

Plus, you never win in the playoffs when you are with D'Antoni.

Why does Mr. Boozer talk like this with the New York Post, but not with the local media? Actually, "Mr. Boozer" is New York Times-style, not New York Post-style. I am hereby naming Boozer's Post persona, "Boozah". I understand this nickname is about as original Boozah calling D'Antoni "the dope". That's kind of the point.

I am, however, feeling this quote from the same article:
Boozer walked out the arena yesterday's morning shootaround wearing a Yankees ballcap --
the same fashion statement of James. "I'm a Yankees fan," Boozer said.

Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/knicks/boozer_intrigued_by_possibility_URPzYYgZj0KxHtmrZsmYuM#ixzz0jgPn3c7B

Good job, Mr. Boozer.

I like Jay-Z, but this song is better without him:

The latest Alicia Keys album (The Element of Freedom) is so good, and holds the distinction as the only R&B album I own.

03 March 2010

Sundiata Gaines set the mood

Text message from B during a conversation about babies and their names: "I predict that we're going to see a huge spike in birth rates around Sept. 15. Nine months after Sundiata Gaines hit that shot."

RE: Williams----->Small changes, big pay-off

In the post before last, superstar reader Holdinator wrote:

"This summer will be a lot more interesting for the Jazz than last summer, and I'm not sure I think that's a good thing. It's so fascinating to me that the best thing the Jazz did this past summer was sign Wes Matthews. They don't have either of their draft picks, but they have this rookie free agent starting for them, and doing a decent job.

I'm looking for some consistency from Deron. Last night's game against the Clippers was awful. It was almost an identical performance to the Kings game, and that makes me nervous."

I respond to the second paragraph first, then the first, second:

When he went to the free throw line last night, I knew Defense Williams would miss one. I wasn't prepared for him to miss both.

I started paying close attention to his last-second(-ish) shooting last year. He never makes them, and they seem to miss the exactly same way every time: bounce off the right front of the rim, ricochet off the backboard, hit the rim somewhere and then go to a rebounder. A person would think that he would make finally make one, but his time has not yet come.

I know that he hit one against the Cavs a few years back, but I can't think of any others. He also hit a clutch shot in the last minute of the playoff win last year. Perhaps he was due. I was hoping that meant he had gotten over whatever mental block was affecting him, but alas, he has not. Karl Malone is known by even Jazz fans as a choker for missing two free throws.

Defense Williams is generally good at making passes in crunch-time, but has also made some terrible ones. Remember on New Year's Eve when he passed the ball to Ronnie Price? I'm not confident in Williams in the waning seconds, but Price is even worse.

Williams also had that flop on Kaman's perfectly fine screen. Sure, Baron Davis probably would have still scored, but you can't just let your man go free to the hoop like that when you are down by more than one possession.

Not Defense Williams' finest moments. Some of his worst, in fact.

A lot of Jazz fans seem to think the Jazz need to "blow up" the roster every time they have a terrible stretch. This is stupid. Well, I guess I need to know what they mean by "blow up". If they mean get different role players, then I guess I can get behind the "blow up". But that is like a pretty weak explosion. If they mean get rid of Boozer, Williams or Okur (if just for the heck of it), then it is a stupid idea. Getting players as good as Boozer and Williams isn't easy--especially a big man like Boozer. You might as well blow up the Delta Center if you are going to be that hardcore about making a change. It is way too drastic.

If you are a fan pyro, the best to hope for is holding on to Boozer and Williams, probably Okur too, and tweak things here and there. Because of how vital and awesome I think Matthews is, I think he should be held onto at all costs.

This speaks to your point about their best offseason move being the discovery and signing of Wesley Matthews. A little move can make a huge difference.

It also makes me excited to see what the next little move is. (see: the post before last)


How about another track that references a Jazz player?

At 2:07:

It’s like that [fellow] Jordan, I’m Scottie Pippen
It’s like Magic, Worthy
Parish, Bird be
Stockton, Malone ish

27 February 2010

Sundiata Gaines changed my life

Sundiata Gaines has made the signing of a 13th players a suddenly exciting thing. See, there the Utah Jazz were going toe-to-toe with the Cleve Cavs, getting punched and returning in kind. Then Deron Williams went down in the second quarter...uh, I'll just let the Turks take it from here (translated from Turkish to English, thanks to Microsoft Windows):

nbdlin idaho wearing uniform utah jazz'shortages on the following guard played in the nba was a chance finding. The 10-day contracts signed during the first 4 in the first game of spades, although output and 5 assists a game multiplier göza although many also did not exhibit. 2. 10-day contract was signed yesterday and the same evening the match played in cleveland williams deron also injured in last second field at the last second quarter and the game was earned.

it was a chance to smile said:

1. deron williams was injured
2. 2 issues were front and 15 seconds before parker cleveland missed free throw 1
3. 6 seconds into the back of the pot before Korver very difficult to withdraw from the obligation found şutla basket
4. Ilgauskas has missed free throw 1
5. normally had to throw korver'ın last second shot, but when it comes compression price'a ronnie gave him the ball the compression came gaines'e was passed. nba career attempt in the 4th quarter before Gaines hit us in the face at the quarter and sent Parker's hand and gave the match.

I watched the video again and realized two things:
1) That Mo Williams looked back (like Lot's wife) at the celebration, and smiled. Either he appreciated the moment or he longed for the days when he wasn't playing in Cleve or Milwaukee.
2) How controversial this shot was. I suggest you read the comments. If salty language offends, I advise that you click "Options" next to "Text Comments" and click the 'Hide objectionable words' box.

Anyway, I've been following the names being thrown around to replace Ronnie Brewer's spot on the Utah Jazz roster. One name that was mentioned was Brian Cardinal. He was only brought as a player that is available, not necessarily someone the Jazz would pursue. I did some research on him, since I haven't heard much of him since he was in Memphis. I learned that before getting bought out by the Knicks (I think), Brian Cardinal was making $6.7MIL this year.

Cardinal is not a worthless player by any means. He hustles and can shoot from the outside. A poor man's Matt Harpring perhaps. But, $6.7 million? It's ridiculous.

Hustle players like Cardinal are critical components of good NBA teams, but a team cannot over-pay for a hustle player. You cannot over-pay for any role player. They are crucial, but also expendable.

Look at what Kevin O'Connor did to Ronnie Brewer. BruBru will be a free agent after this season. He makes $2.7MIL this year. Not bad, maybe even a steal. But, he'll expect bigger paychecks. In a typical free agent year, Brewer shouldn't get more than $4.5MIL per year. A player who has been a starter for three years on a good team might take offense to an offer like that. If so, the Jazz could get a nice burn in by saying, "It's about time you get offensive."

This isn't a normal free agent year, though. The Jazz have choices to make, the biggest being how to clear salary so they can re-sign Carlos Boozer. Utah can't even offer $4.5MIL per to Brewer. As awesome has he has played since the year turned, he offers nothing that isn't replaceable. So, the Jazz made a great trade that will bring a future 1st-round pick--or money since people have gotten wise to KOC's plan of waiting for another team's draft pick to turn into a lottery position (a GM can pull a ruse like this when he knows he has job security and will be around to reap the benefit). Essentially, the Jazz got something for nothing.

Unless Boozer hates playing here so much that he wants to take a pay cut, he should be back next season. Considering his recent statements about hoping the Jazz are “aggressive” in bringing him back, Boozer seems to want to be a Jazz for a few years longer or he wants to get the largest amount of money possible. Either way, it appears re-signing Boozer is up to the Jazz

More money probably needs to be freed up, though. First, Kyle Korver might not be back, especially if the Jazz use the Knick's pick to get a swingman. But, they'll need to replace him in some way. Also, Wesley Matthews needs to be re-signed. Decisions need to be made about Kryrylo Fesenko and Gaines, who will both free agents. Korver would also need to be replaced in some (relatively cheap) way.

Andrei Kirilenko and Mehmet Okur seem like the the most likely to be traded. Probably not Okur, unless the Jazz draft a center and feel comfortable with Fesenko and Kosta Koufos being the veteran big men. Then again, Boozer could also spend more time at center.

I think it should be Kirilenko. He has played so well, and his contract will be expiring after next season. Unlike last offseason, he is tradeable. AK knows he will be taking a pay-cut after next season, but how will he feel when he is offered maybe as low as a third of what he is getting paid now? Likely it will be closer to half of his current pay rate, but there is a chance he goes from a max player to a borderline mid-level exception player. It is really hard for a contributing player to take a large pay-cut from their current team. It is even harder for their agent to be convinced.

Even though he is playing his best basketball ever, the Jazz should probably pull the trigger on a trade involving AK, if they can find a buyer (I know, big “if”). Otherwise, they risk getting nothing for him.

Some people think Millsap is the tradebait. I thought so too earlier in the season. But, Millsap can do almost everything AK can, and only makes $6.2MIL, $6.7MIL and $7.2MIL in the next three years. Barring injury, massive weight gain or a sulking about not starting de-motivating him, Killsap (new nickname update below) is a bargain. Well, he will be a bargain. Right now he is kind of a rip-off.

Then again, if the Jazz break out of this funk they seem to be in, finish the season strong and make a nice playoff run, Greg Miller and Randy Rigby might be willing to shell out some luxury tax to see if this team can win a championship in 2010-11.


This blog died for a few weeks because B had a cold, then passed it my way. It should finish the season strong, though.

Holdinator made an interesting observation during the All-Star Game.

"The one thought I had during the game was that the East players seem to like each other, whereas the West players all kind of hate each other. Maybe that's because the West is really competitive and everyone in the East wants LeBron to win the title."

I didn't catch it myself, but it gives me a reason to watch next year's All-Star game. It's probably true.


Nickname update:

Paul Millsap = Killsap. This comes from Sloan'd promoter/mascot Mike S, who is known my some as Pail Millsap. Anyway, Pail sometimes plays video games with CJ Miles, Ronnie Brewer (R.I.P.) and Paul Millsap. Pail reports that BruBru (R.I.P.) and Miles are talkative, but Millsap rarely says anything. I concluded that he is focused on destroying enemies. Hence, Killsap.

Deron Williams = Defense Williams. This came after Deron's near shut-down of Brandon Roy at the end of last Sunday's epic comeback against the Portland Trailblazers.

Kryrylo Fesenko = Big Impact. My brother told me his friend bestowed this moniker on Fesenko in the preseason. It rings so true.

19 February 2010

Aw, little BruBru...

I was fine with the trade until I saw this face in a Memphis Grizzlies practice uniform.

B wrote this text message to me yesterday: "Well, you're free now Ronnie Brewer. Go. Just go! You're free!"

14 February 2010

LIVEBLOG: NBA All Star Game 2010

Okay, I'm going to try this, but I don't know if I can stick it through to the end. I've taken ill and feel like I need to trade in my head for a new, non-dizzy head. I'm going to do my best though. If this blog goes silent before the game is over, avenge me.

• We're outside Cowboy Stadium with Ernie, Charles, Kenny, and the "U.S. Army." I hope Charles realize that there are more guys in the Army than just that.

• Ernie won't stop talking about the Thunderbird jets that will soon be flying over. They finally do after he says "Thunderbirds" for the magic 12th time. It's not very impressive. Not the jets' fault, jets are always cool, just bad camera work.

• Everyone is chanting USA! USA! because they think they're at the Olympics.

• So there are going to be 95,000 people here. I don't think I'd want to be one of those 95,000. That doesn't sound enjoyable at all. Maybe if it was my team, and we were all rooting for a Cowboy victory, but an All-Star game where no one cares about the victor, I don't know.

• I'm being excessively negative so far. And It's going to continue.

• We're treated to a performance by a band called One Republic (I think). I want to criticize them but I don't think there's any way to do it without sounding like an old man. The last time I listed to modern alternative rock radio was about five years ago, and at the time all the music sounded like this. So I guess we haven't made much progress.

• Someone needs to tell me if this band is actually famous, or if they're just being pushed by a record label that has a deal with TNT. If they are famous, good for them.

• When the All-Star game was in SLC we had Boyz II Men. Now those kids had talent!

• Okay enough of the pre-game show. I'll rejoin you at tip off.

• Oh okay, the pre-show team is joined by McLovin'. Why wouldn't they be? Oh I see. He did some little comedy bits for TNT. They're very funny (not very funny).

• They keep showing clips from Superbad. Maybe during the half-time show they'll talk about Austin Powers.

• The Dwight Howard/Shaq Superman nickname controversy might be the dumbest thing in all of sports.

• TNT is having technical problems tonight. They keep showing about one second of a commercial, then one second of another, so on.

• Yeah, TNT is a wreck tonight. The Sager/Nash interview was extra awkward because they had to start it twice. The camera was on the whole time Craig!

• The Charles Barkley Taco Bell Rap gets worse and worse every time. If you're my age, around 30ish, you probably had an assembly in elementary school where the Principal, that old square, got up and did a little rap about school pride. And the kids laughed and laughed. I guarantee that was better than Barkley's rap.

• Now Usher is pretending to sing. I feel like this excessive (even by big ticket sports standards) introduction is a direct result of Avatar's success. Doesn't it kind of feel like the NBA is saying "We don't have enough faith in our own product to let it be carried by it's own merits. "

• It's hard to tell with this music and the cavernous venue, but it sounds like every one of the Eastern reserves is getting booed. Maybe F-16s are just flying over head.

• Wait we're really doing another Usher song? There's not going to even be a game tonight is there?

• Chris Paul is on a crutch and is walking like C3PO.

• Here comes Deron... any second now...

• Making his first appearance in the NBA all-star game, local High School star, from the Utah Jazz, Deron Williams!

• No joke, Deron got the quietest applause of anyone. I'm sorry buddy.

• More Usher.

• Gretchen Wilson is singing the National Anthem, but there's no reason we can't just pretend it's Boyz II Men.

• Dirk Nowitski welcomes everyone to Dallas because THEY'RE HASN'T BEEN ENOUGH POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE YET!

• Now that the game is under way I don't know what I'm supposed to talk about.

• The organ player in the stadium hasn't stopped the entire game. Amateur.

• Seriously now that I've said that it's all I can hear. It's like I'm watching a carnival. The musical director for this game does not understand the purpose of the organ. It is not supposed to go during every second of the game.

• We got a twenty second break before it fired up again. This is killing me. I'm considering boycotting the NBA.

• Dwight Howard hits a three pointer while nine other guys stand around and watch.

• He takes another three after bringing the ball up like a point guard. THE ORGAN IS STILL GOING.

• Deron is in. I hope he does something awesome.

• Deron dishes to Dirk, missed jump shot. No one even tried to grab the rebound.

• Text from my friend Bryan: "This whole thing looks like it's being played in another country." He's right.

• Deron awesome dunk!

• Deron awesome steal awesome pass to Billups awesome dunk!

• It think Deron wants to get a triple double.

• I wish Boozer were playing. Think how great "AND ONE!" would sound echoing off the walls of this stadium.

• Deron! He did not come here to be polite.

• So we're stopping the game in the middle of the 2nd quarter so Derek Fisher can... sing? Oh he's talking about the children. That's a good cause, no doubt about it, but this is weird.

• Mike: "Great, now Deron is going to start playing like crap because he knows Fisher is here."

• Chris Kaman, bless his heart. I wish it was Boozer out there.

• I don't want Carmelo to get the MVP.

• Halftime. I'm going to go eat something.

• Shakira at the halftime show. Her outfit is based on this:

• Again, I'll sound like a fuddy-duddy, but this music is really bad. Not just that it's not my thing, but it's not even anything. There's no hook.

• This performance is very ass-centric.

• Alright, let's get Alicia Keys in here to class things up. Wait, that's not Alicia Keys!

• Now they're announcing the players for Team USA for this summer's FIBA tournament. Can we just get back to the game? We already like the NBA, that's why we're watching this. You don't have to keep trying to convince us to get excited about basketball.

• Guys, the second half is never going to start.

• I swear the half-time was forty-five minutes long. I'm not exaggerating for comic effect, I really think it was that long.

• Dwight Howard hammadunk!

• DWIGHT HOWARD HAMMADUNK! That second one was pretty dope. I'd rather see something like that than the silly spin moves that the dunk contesteers tried to pull last night.

• Lebron with two crazy dunks in a row.

• Amare Stoudamire goaltends. That is so embarrassing.

• Deron with a three. He's going to bring the West back into this.

• but not by passing it to guys on the other team.

• Kobe Bryant takes "dis-interested" to a whole new level in this interview with Sager.

• Deron with a steal and an easy layup, after missing a long three.

• Kevin Durant with a long three at the buzzer. At the end of the second and the first their weren't any buzzer beating attempts. No one was watching the clock.

•LEE here. Pardon me, but I need to interject. I want a Sprite so bad right now, and I admit that I rap much better under the influence of Lymon, but this:
Last name: Ever
First name: Greatest
is terrible. COME ON.

• B. back in da house. I didn't know both Lee and I could do this at the same time from our separate locations. This implications of this are staggering.

• I like that Deron is getting his looks, but still being a playmaker out there. That's what at true all-star does.

• Well great now I want a Sprite. I do have a lemon-lime Gatorade here with me right now so that's close.

• Dwyane Wade picks Deron's pocket.

• I want the West to win but I don't want Carmelo to have anything to do with it.

• Big night for the 2003 draft class. Lebron, Carmelo, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosch are all bringing it tonight.

• Deron won't be MVP, but he's a shoe-in for Subway Sub of the Game.

• Tied up with less than a minute left. If this was a real game and not the all-star game this would be really exciting.

• Wince, Deron turns it over, losing the game for the West. Then he fouls and Dirk Nowitski flips out.I think it's because Deron wants to win it on a buzzer-beating three, like Gaines.

• Deron says "my bad" to every man on the bench.

• Dwight Howard fouls Nowitski? Is this thing fixed?

• Oy. Two point lead for the East, five seconds left, West's ball. They're going to give it to Dirk who will take a three that will clunk off the front of the iron.

• Nope, Carmelo airballs it. Fitting that Carmelo would do something lame.

• And the crowd goes mild!

• Alright that was fun. I'm done here. Goodnight everybody and thanks for reading!

13 February 2010

I will say, though, that B should live blog tomorrow's game.

What time is it? Slam time. Uhhn.

If I made the dosh that Boozer makes, I would go to Cabo this weekend too. Have you ever been to Mexico? I was there a year ago this month, and my only beef with the place is the corrupt cops who tried to drain my savings and the unrelenting revenge that Montezuma exacted on my bowels. It's a pretty place. I bet Boozer will see even more amazing views of it than I saw, on account of him probably staying at one of those resort places with a huge entrance.

I mean, what is keeping me here? There are no Jazz games and the All-Star game is okay, I guess, but I can't remember the last time I watch a big portion of one them. Last year I watched True Hollywood Story: Mario Lopez and True Hollywood Story: The Kardashians during the game. By the way, Mario Lopez is a lame piece of junk. I think I watched a total of two minutes of the game. Baseball is the only All-Star game I can get into.

Will I watch tomorrow on account of Deron Williams playing? Maybe. It's Valentine's Day, and the game probably isn't worth even asking about. If me and my woman aren't doing anything, then I might tune in. But remember how disheartening it was when Malone and Stockton played in All-Star games? All the other players were like, "Yo, these here fellas is wiggity." I wonder if it would be even worse to see a Jazz play along with the shenanigans like Williams likely will.

I will be watching the Slam Dunk contest, though, and only a small fraction of the reason is it being sponsored by my favorite drink of the last six months, Sprite (I just remembered I left a full cup of it in the car last night--score). See, I don't like dunks most of the time. But when they're awesome, I love them, and I watch the Sprite contest knowing that maybe one or two slams will really rock me. I also tune in knowing that I might be left unrocked. But the rocking, or potential thereof, is worth the gamble.

I also hate all of the NBA players piled upon each other on the sidelines watching the dunk contest. To quote myself a few weeks ago:

Players should be banned from watching the Dunk Contest from the front row. They try to steal camera time from the actual dunkers by straight freaking after everything. You know, they put their clenched fist to their mouth as they smile, as if to say, "No he didn't." But he did, doofus. Not only did he, but almost anyone can do that dunk. Are you drunk? Stoned? LeBron James took this to the next level last year when he vowed to compete with Dwight Howard in the next dunk contest (this year's). To no one's surprise, he isn't in this year's contest.

Sprite should sponsor this blog. Don't even get me started on the flavor story of that liquid. I have a feeling that Nate Robinson is going to suck in the contest tonight, but it would be cool if he did a dunk called "Lymon" where he dresses in green and yellow, does a normal two-handed jam, then urinates on LeBron James.

We've been trying to keep track of the best dunks of the season by the Jazz. We will select a winner after the season. Let us know if we are missing any.

The dunks:

Here is one we forgot to post, probably due to the huge shadow of Sundiata Gaines.

More dunk stuff.
These are my two favorite dunks in the history of earth:



Vince Carter is the best dunker ever. No question about it.

Watch the Rex Chapman dunk at :20 and the Shawn Kemp dunk at 2:00

One of the most underrated dunks (because I hadn't even heard of it until last year):

Darrell Griffith's #35 would be the coolest Jazz uniform to own.

B would be disappointed if I left out this one:

My woman might be disappointed if I didn't include the Human Highlight Film:

In honor of the Olympics, this Canadian kid, Henry Bekkering can go off:

I read once that he was also a kicker on the football team.