I was supposed to have this season in review up about 3 months ago for Biased Fan and SLC Dunk. My wife has been loving that the season is over (even though she is a huge Jazz fan) and she has her husband back.
Here are my thoughts on Deron Williams.
Deron is not only the face of the Utah Jazz franchise, but he is one of the faces of the NBA. Despite a few slip ups during his rookie year, he has been a standup citizen as far as we have been told. He seems to like Utah, the fans, and the franchise. Despite his mediocre looks (the veneers really helped), there are hundreds of ladies in the ESA sporting D-Will jerseys. We also like that he is respectful yet has a great sense of humor when it comes to the prodominant religion in the state.
At the first of the season he was coming off a stellar performance in the 2007 playoffs. We all saw his first All-Star game coming along with much more respect in the D-Will vs. CP3 debate. The season started and he fell flat. Don't get me wrong, he wasn't terrible, but it wasn't the Deron we had seen in the playoffs. December came and his struggles continued. It seemed as though he was hesitant in establishing himself as the go-to-guy on the team. The part I wish he would have realized, is that as Deron goes, the team goes. The Jazz struggled mightily in December and found themselves in 3rd place in the Northwest division and out of the current playoff race.
Then the Jazz signed Kyle Korver. This made Deron realize that he could easily lose the Pink Jersey crown along with his title as "Most Admired Jazz Player" by the ladies. The fact that Gordon Giricek wasn't around to be his cancerous self helped as well. Deron began to pick up the pace and brought his points and assists back up to playoff performance. But it wasn't enough as he was passed over for the All-Star game. Instead, CP3 stole the show and had the entire nation hanging off his jock strap...except Deron. D-Will elevated his game to another level after the All-Star game and brought the Jazz into full stride. They were the hottest team in the NBA and they were being led by a fearless 3 year point guard who didn't ask anyone to give him respect. He would earn it on his own and force them to notice.
The playoffs came and Deron single handedly (due to the lack of production from his "side kick") helped the Jazz beat down Houston. Tracy McGrady tried his best to bring him down by asking how his name was pronounced (he would have known it had McGrady been asked to play for USA basketball, but he wasn't...because...he sucks), but it didn't phase our superstar. He led his team to victory and sent McBitchy packing for the second year in a row.
Then the Lakers rolled in. He struggled in games 1 and 2 by trying to get his team involved and put his success on the back burner. He quickly realized that he would need to man up and take over again. Even Kobe took notice of Deron's abilities. There was no other player I wanted taking the game tying shot in Game 6 than Deron Williams. Yeah, he missed. But he had officially solidified himself as an All-NBA player, and the future of this franchise. Every other player became expendable when it came to resigning D-Will.
Here's to hoping for many more YouTube compliations like the one below in the years to come.
Fellow Jazz bloggers Deron Williams Season Recaps:
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
I was supposed to have this season in review up about 3 months ago for Biased Fan and SLC Dunk. My wife has been loving that the season is over (even though she is a huge Jazz fan) and she has her husband back.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Found a great highlight real of D-Will on YouTube. Props to memoismoney who put it together. We apologize for the lack of postings but we are still in mourning. That's alright though, we can kick off the Off-Season right by securing D-Will for the next 20 years. Hell, *I'll pitch in out of my own pocket if I have to.*
*Booner's commitment to "pitch-in" subject to change and based on a two week, twenty dollar commitment. After two weeks, the Jazz are fully responsible for paying D-Will. At any point in time Booner can ask for the twenty dollars back. Side Effects may also include dizziness, dryness of mouth, stomach cramps, bleeding from ears....
Point is, don't blow it Jazz. SIGN HIM!
Sunday, May 18, 2008
So I have finally had the guts to watch a few recaps and read a few Internet sites about Game 6. I was there along with Booner and we had a great podcast all ready to put together. The only problem? The Jazz lost. Bye bye podcast.
The video isn't the greatest but I wanted people to get a feel for how loud the ESA was. It was a great basketball experience.
Then the ball tipped...
It was the first time as a Jazz fan that you could hear a pin drop in the stadium. The place had gone numb. We were watching a car wreck and couldn't do anything but let our jaws drop and shake our heads in disbelief. It was an eerie silence that almost never comes over a home crowd in the post season.
It was quickly becoming apparent that our Jazz weren't coming with any type of playoff intensity. It was if they thought the Lakers were going to just roll over and let the Jazz win so they could try and finish in LA. The Lake Show had different plans.
I have no complaints about the first half officiating. I felt like the Jazz played slow and out of sync. They put themselves into a really bad situation. It was nobodies fault but their own. They were shooting around 33% which won't win any game. Especially against a talented Lakers team who was shooting well over 50% by the end of the first half. When Deron was called for that foul on Fisher's three pointer, the place went ballistic. I could only see what the jumbo-tron was showing, and it didn't look like a foul. A post game phone call with my good Laker buddy Chad convinced me that there was some arm and body contact. Whatever. I'm fine with that.
The second half was mostly the same. The Jazz kept feeding the ball to Boozer, only to watch him get swatted by Gasodom. Boozer's body language showed that he wanted nothing more than to get out of the game and not be on that court. He fouled out in the 4th and got his wish. He played nervous, beaten, and slow. I don't know what is going on in his life, but I don't care. There was no reason he couldn't have left it all behind on that court. He had everyone on his side. 20,000 Jazz fans wanted nothing more than to see the Booze Hound break out and get his swagger back. Instead, he broke the heart of 19,500 people that night.
The last 3:00 of the game was a site to see. We had to fight back and the only option was to let the 3's rain down. They kept falling as the Jazz traded a 3 pointer for 2 foul shots. Not a bad strategy if only they had started with 3:30 left in the game. Time was not on their side. When AK threw up a three from the top of the key with 24 second left, I threw up in my mouth, only to see the soon-to-be Frenchman drop the ball and get us back in the game. Later when Fish was at the line, it was like watching a bad soap opera. The once hero turned villain was about to smother any hope in the ESA by knocking down two clutch free throws. If he hit them both, it would be a two possession game. The first snapped the net as it went through. The second hit off the front of the iron. What? Who wrote this ending? Millions of Lakers fans in unison put their hands above their head and screamed "noooooo" (probably a lot more rated R words that we don't allow on My Utah Jazz). The Jazz weren't supposed to have a chance at this point in the game. They had been down by as many as 17 in the second half. And there it was, a 3 point deficit with 11 seconds left.
The crowd was louder than any public event of any kind I have participated in. It was deafening (and I was on the 12th row of the upper bowl, I cannot imagine the sound on the court). Deron pushed the ball up court to Korver who planted and squared to the basket like he wanted the shot, only to pass it off to Memo who was trailing him and pulled up about 12 inched behind the three point line. His shot clanked off the front of the rim. An offensive rebound got the ball back to Deron giving him a chance to silence all the critics and tie the game. His shot was off to the left as well. The final horn sounded. Immediately the ESA started pumping "Stop and Stare" by OneRepubic into the speakers. How poetic. That was all we could do. Stop and stare as a promising season come to end.
As the crowd gave our Jazz a standing ovation as they went to the exit portal for the last time this season, I realized that despite my homer love, my blind eyed views, my inability to accept that another team was truly better than the Jazz, the Lakers were a better team than us for this series. The Jazz never fully got their offense into the form that we had seen all season. The only player in my eyes who gave the series the respect it deserved was Deron Williams. He proved that he is a superstar in this league and any team he plays with will have a chance to win despite anyone else on the court.
Keys to the Lakers winning the series:
Derek Fisher. He is a savvy veteran who learned the Jazz system well when he played for the Jazz. It seemed as if he knew when and where the Jazz wanted the ball. His help defense was spectacular throughout the entire series. His story gave unnecessary ammunition to his teammates as they felt like they were seeking revenge for the treatment of their fellow Laker. He shot a great percentage from outside and stayed out of foul trouble in every Laker victory.
Gasodom. These two sucked the life out of Boozer. They gave him no respect and wanted to prove that he would have to earn every rebound and every layup. Nothing would come uncontested. They had Boozer demoralized to a point of no return after game 2. Anyone who says Boozer found himself and broke through in game 4 is wrong. He was lucky that game. The Lakers interior defense smothered anything the Jazz wanted to do inside. There were 8 feet in the paint every time Boozer touched the ball.
Matt Harpring. Great guy. Great leader. Too bad he just doesn't know when to stop shooting the ball. His ill advised baseline jumpers and missed layups cost the Jazz a lot of momentum in LA. He could have gotten under the skin of Kobe but never did so. He played old, tired, and sore.
That's it. I'm not putting Kobe in there because I think he played exactly how we all expected him to play. He was dominating. As an MVP should be.
Congratulations Los Angeles Lakers, you won the series fair and square. You proved you wanted this series more than the Jazz did. You didn't have any visa problems to worry about. You were in it for the long haul.
To all Laker fans: Thanks for stopping by and reading our blog. I really mean it. You brought a lot of fight and spitfire with you and were able to get under Jazz fans skin on occasion. You made the series fun for us. This is what being a fan of the NBA is all about. We do have one thing in common. We love this game. We love our teams. We are what makes being an NBA fan great. When the season is over, we are all the same. We're all homers for our team. We all think the refs are out to get us. We all think that we are superior to anyone and anything in an opposing uniform. I look forward to next year's postseason as the Lakers and Jazz solidify themselves as the NEW Western Conference Powerhouses.
Friday, May 16, 2008
Tonight's game has blow out written all over it and it better be the Jazz laying it on hard and heavy. This game will be decided for the Jazz in the first 5 minutes. If they come out flat and get knocked around early look for AK to be on the bench with his BlackBerry booking that trip to France for the summer. (Is there anyone who cares less about his team in the NBA than AK? I hope Deron kicked him in the head when he got back.) And subsequently look for Kevin O'Connor on his BlackBerry trying to trade AK for a bucket of chicken wings. On the other hand, if the Jazz come out like wild dogs and are the more aggressive team look out. The Lakers know that they have one more game at home and that they have owned the Jazz there all season so if they get down big look for the white flag.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Feel free to listen to my two interviews with Steve Mason of ESPN 710 AM Los Angeles.
The first interview took place before Game 2. Yeah, my prediction was a little off.
The second interview took place before Game 5.
Thanks to Steve and Drew from ESPN 710 AM for giving me the opportunity.
This is the big one tonight fellas and don't believe anyone in LA that says they are not nervous about tonight's game. I will give them a certain level of confidence, but deep down they have to be worried. After all of the "Sweep" talk from Laker fans they have to be experiencing a little rectal puckering for the rest of this series. So let me say this with a certain confidence, if the Jazz can sneak out a win tonight this series is all but over in 6. Here are my keys to tonight's game for a Jazz victory.
1 - Exploit the back injury. I am not saying that we should go out and try to hurt Kobe, but we are idiots if we don't body him up hard when the have the ball and run him in circles when he is on D. I want to see Brewer just running and cutting with no real purpose except to get Kobe to keep changing direction and twisting that back.
2 - Get Fisher into foul trouble early again. This may be next to impossible in LA, but Derron needs to do what ever it takes to get Farmar into the game early.
3 -Don't slow down. This game needs to become a physical track meet. The Jazz need to push the ball up the court and then go with authority to the hole. I still don't think that the Lakers interior defense is an better than average when the other team is attacking. If you slow it down and play the Charles Barkley 10 dribbles and then a shot offense they can be effective so keep the pressure on.
4 - Last, but not least, keep the Lakers to 35 or fewer free throws. Try playing some D with your feet instead of your hands and when you foul don't let them get a shot up.
I wanted to do a quick update on the match ups as well now that we are 4 games into this thing as a follow up to my series preview.
PG - Williams finally realized in the second half of game 2 that Fisher was his backup last year and took control of this one. The advantage for the Jazz is growing as the series progresses.
SG - Kobe owns this match-up regardless of who is guarding him.
SF - Kirilenko is pretty much destroying Radmanovic here so I would give him a pretty big edge
PF - Boozer vs. Odom, before the series I said that Boozer would own this match-up against any of the Laker bigs, but Phil is deploying double and triple teams on Booz limiting his scoring, but Booz is still hitting the boards and playing decent D. I would call this match-up even right now.
C - Before the Series I said that Gasol had a slight advantage over Okur, but now, I think Okur has the slight advantage. He is rebounding better, more consistent with his scoring and not as turnover prone. Overall Okur has been a positive factor for the Jazz in 3 of the 4 games and Gasol has been positive for the Lakers in only 2.
Bench - Price has been waaaaayyyyy better than Farmar even with very limited minutes. Vujacic and Kover have played to a dead tie in my opinion. Harpring and Walton have been very close in their production as well as have Millsap and Turriaf. Add it all up and the Jazz have a slight advantage on the bench because Farmar is scared.
So as I see it the Jazz have a slight advantage in the matchups, but the games are so close because Kobe is that much better for the Lakers. D-Will is on his way to having that type of advantage for the Jazz, but not quite Kobe leve yet which brings us to back to the back. If Kobe can not be 85% for the Lakers they are in trouble. As for a prediction - The homer in me says Jazz by 12 tonight, the realistic side in me says this game is 50/50 so lets split in the middle and say Jazz by 6, 105-99.
"Okay, I finally get why Deron Williams has it in for Chris Paul. That rivalry not about draft proximity, or proving that his game is every bit as praiseworthy as Paul's wizardry. Over these last two games, I've come to realize what a scalding bad-ass Williams is. He's not just a big PG, or a guy who makes a good first pass, or a meat-and-potatoes offensive cog in Sloan's new machine. "
MUJ: I love that FreeDarko is coming around to see what a killer instinct Deron has. Watch him go to the rim, get hacked without a whistle, and his eyes turn blood red. The next time he brings the ball up the floor, you can guarantee he is looking to facial/posterize/anihalate first, and pass second. That is the attitude that the Jazz need. The guy is tough as nails. I know AI is known for playing through injuries, but how about D.Will? He is definetely a starter on the All Tough-As-Nails team.
"Williams is positively Paul-ian. He's got that Jordan-esque, Kobe-esque indignation and will to destroy that people jock so hard in Paul. When he's pissed, or increasingly, whenever he decides the game belongs to him, Williams does shit on offense that's every bit as phenomenal as CP3's streaking drives. As a passer, too, he gets more and more brazen as these playoffs go on, making plays with little or no regard to the logical order of that line-up."
MUJ: I couldn't agree more about the brazen passes D.Will has been making. He is coming up with stuff that we never saw last year. He is beginning to see lanes that only a select few special PG's in the history of the game have seen. Like Kobe, get him pissed off and watch how he puts his game into 6th gear and becomes almost untouchable. He may not show a lot of emotion off the court, but when an intese situation arises, you can feel his intesity through his TV. Watching him in person is what it may take for some non-believers to believe. Ask Matt at HP.
"The bottom line of it is not that Williams detests being second best, though that's part of it. He also can't stand that Paul's seen as a transcendent talent, while because of his size and system he's denied that superstar aura. For too long, Williams was seen as having a natural advantage over Paul, and also inhabiting a controlled situation that supposedly played to his strengths.
He had it better, and yet was best when limited. No more, no more. Williams seems to be moving faster, feeling more, and going for the jugular now, like he's out to prove that Paul's not the only one on the fast track to immortality. I joked about this on Deadspin, but now I'm convinced it's for real.
It's almost enough to make me want to see Hornets/Jazz in the next round, even though, on a sentimental level, I'd prefer to see Kobe and Odom advance."
MUJ: Great post. I think D.Will is the first Jazz player in a long time...like forever, to have that killer instinct. He does not settle for 2nd best. I think we're going to see a fired up D.Will tonight as he proves that he wan force his will on the road against even the best teams.Here is the post in its entireeyFreeDarko.com
Just wanted to give you guys a heads up that I will be on ESPN Radio 710 Los Angeles for The Steve Mason Show today at 3:00pm PST/4:00 pm MST.
You can listen to the interview here. (Click on listen live from the ESPN site).
Let's sneak one out of LA and come home to seal the deal! WCF here we come!
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Friday, May 9, 2008
The Dynamic Duo brought it full force tonight. This is just what the Jazz needed. Carlos Boozer went to the rim with a step he hasn't had the entire post season. Booze pulls down nearly 60% of the Jazz rebounds. And most importantly, he brought it in the last 3 minutes. The 6 straight points by the Booze Hound proved to be the game winning sequence. Gasol looked horrible...and he played bad too. Boozer dominated the paint like he has been doing all season.
Deron Williams was a warrior tonight. The guy gets NO calls when he goes to the rim. Basically breaks his wrist, and still dishes out 12 assists to go along with his 18 points. He is 1st team All-NBA 4th quarter team. We'll gladly take Fishers 6.5 MM and pass it on to Deron. He deserves every penny. He is THE toughest point guard in the NBA.
The fans were out in force tonight. The crowd was electric tonight. And thank goodness Larry dropped the white tees and went back to the TRUE BLUE tees. The boo birds weren't nearly as bad as I thought they would be. I think everyone was too star struck after seeing American Idol winner (another prediction) David Archuletta lay down the National Anthem. What a great day for Utah.
It was interesting to watch the Mamba try and bring the Lake Show back himself. Looked like the old Kobe to me. It will be interesting to see if the Lakers begin to unravel if they lose game 4 (Yes, that's a prediction). This series will be 2-2 going back to Staples. Too bad Lakers fans will keep posting "SWEEP!!!!" and "Get out 'da brooms!!!" on every blog out there. Thanks California education system.
This Lakers team is going to be tested for the first time this season. I can't wait to see how they respond after the momentum of the series shifts into Utah's favor. I'm drunk with Jazz right now.
Final Score: Jazz 104, Lakers 65, Kobe 34
The guy in the brown shirt pulls the steal of the century when he uses the two finger pinch and ganks Deron's towel right off his back. Deron never had a clue.
Thanks to Basketball John for the picture.
Thursday, May 8, 2008
What's up sports fans. I was sure that the Jazz were going to play with some intensity in Game 2 and come out with a split in LA. Then I woke up. Reality sucks. There is a topic looming out in cyberspace that I want to address.
The Derek Fisher Story as per the LA Times
Wow now that is some intense writing. Put me on the record as saying that Derek Fisher is an amazing father and person. He has played out his career almost without a flaw. Almost. As a soon to be father I can't imagine the sleepless nights and anxiety filled doctor visits that Fish has had to endure. It's something you wouldn't wish on your own enemy. Even a Laker.
Fish did some amazing things for the Jazz organization and matured one of the best young point guards in the league. His mentorship to Deron Williams was invaluable. He taught him how to deal with the media, how to deal with a tough coach, and how to become a leader. Jazz fans should be very grateful for what he turned D-Will into. He also provided us with a Jazz moment that will live in infamy. When I hear the replay of him entering the game after coming straight from the airport, the fans going nuts, there was electricity in the air. I still get goosebumps when he hits that three and the ESA erupts. One of the greatest Jazz moments...no...one of the greatest NBA moments in the past decade. He showed us that the NBA has a human side.
If that video doesn't capture the feeling that night. This home video will.
Thanks D.Fish for an amazing night.
That being said, Laker fans need to back off Jazz fans for the booing of Fish in SLC. I wasn't at the Staples Center when Golden State returned for the first time after Fisher left for the big contract. I am not sure how the crowd reacted. I'm told by Lakers fans that there was a tribute video and standing ovation. Good for you guys. He played there 8 seasons and deserved it. But you certainly weren't cheering for him. Because if you were, you were cheering for the opposing team.
You weren't booing the man who hit 0.4.
You weren't booing the man who helped bring rings to the City of Los Angeles. You were booing the man in the other jersey. The man who left to Oakland for a bigger paycheck and a chance to start. You were booing a Golden State Warrior.
Put yourselves in a Utah Jazz fans' shoes. Fisher had brought you to the highest of highs, only to leave to your rival. Utah embraced Derek Fisher. Fans adored him. He was the perfect fit into "the Jazz system". It was perfect.
Just weeks after the Jazz season ended against the Spurs, a press conference was held. Was Derek Fisher going to retire and commit all his time to his ailing daughter? That is what we all figured would happen. Instead, Larry Miller and the Jazz brass took the highest road you can in professional sports. They let a man who signed by the X on a contract walk away from his own signature. Without a second thought. He turned down 6.5 million dollars to do so. He needed to be closer to proper health care for his daughter Tatum who would require numerous visits to a cancer center in New York.
Where would he go? Knicks? Sixers? Nets? Lakers? Heat? Wait. Did you just say Lakers? Sounded fishy the moment you read it. Didn't it? It did to me and countless other Jazz fans. We knew Derek Fisher loved LA. It was his home for the majority of his career. What a slap in the face to have him choose his old town over his "new" town. It hurt. It hurt bad.
It's hurt like the girl who you took to the dance in high school, only to have her dance a few quick dances with you as she stared at the door waiting for the football stud to walk in the door. And when he did? Boom. She was gone.
So when you saw her at school on Monday and you give her the cold shoulder, she shouldn't be surprised. No matter what the relationship you had with her, the boiling blood running through your veins would take time to simmer down. But it would pass.
And so it was with Derek Fisher. The blood was still boiling in Jazz fans veins when Fisher returned for the first time. We booed him. And goodness, we booed him BAD. Like nothing he had ever seen. It felt good too. Let it all out Jazz fans.
And so it was. Lakers fans need to chill out. LA Times writers need to get over it. Don't expect Fisher to get booed the way he did on his initial return. Our blood has simmered down. Yes, we've grown up. But be warned that he will get booed, so will Kobe, Gasol, Phil and the rest of the dark side. The story in the LA Times was emotional and well written. But stop ragging on Jazz fans for booing. The guy is in a Lakers uniform for heavens sake. We don't like the Lakers. We didn't like Karl Malone as a Laker. Derek Fisher is no different. We loved what he did for us as a Jazz man, but his success as a Laker means nothing to us.
So bring out the Boo Birds on Friday and let's remind the Lakers that we are the most vicious crowd in the NBA. Let's remind them that this series will be tied 2-2 the next time they step foot on the shiny Staples Center floor. Let's remind them that the Utah Jazz are not done and will not go away without a fight.
This was an email I received from one of our long time favorite readers MoneyMan Memo. Great stuff MM, thanks for the email.
However, I do have a story to share. I flew out of LAX on Thursday morning, and guess who I spotted in the airport? Doug Collins, sitting and reading the LA Times with a cup of Starbucks. He looks a lot older in person than on TV, so it took me a few takes to be convinced that it was actually him. I introduced myself as a fan of his (I am actually a big fan of his broadcast work), and of course as a huge Jazz fan. I then asked him about his thoughts on last night's game and the whole Jazz-Lakers series. We chatted for about 10 min, and he was incredibly nice and just as insightful as he is on television.
Topics we discussed:
Boozer: This is the first topic that Doug brought up when I asked about the Jazz performance in this series. He truly believes that Boozer's back is bothering him more than he is admitting, and the Jazz cannot win the series unless he gets healthy. We talked about him being subpar even during the Rockets series, and Doug pointed out that his performance begin suffering even during the last 7 games of the regular season. He said Boozer is getting treatment for his back after every game and said he asked Boozer about it last night after the game, but he wouldn't say it's an issue. I have to agree with Doug - Boozer has not looked as aggressive, and it looks strained/painful for him to even take jumpshots.
Lakers offense: Doug's comment - they are looking very very good. They are too quick for the Jazz to handle.
Jazz defense: I asked him about the Jazz fouls and why he felt there were still so many in Game 2, even after Game 1's postgame comments by both sides (my reasons for asking were that I really thought the Lakers were getting the benefit of the doubt a little too much in Game 2). He made an interesting point. First, the Lakers are very quick on offense (ball movement), in particular Odom. Also, Gasol moves very well without the ball. However, it was his opinion that the Jazz are getting called for a lot of fouls because they are playing defense with their hands out in the front of them instead of having them by their sides and moving their bodies. This makes it hard for the refs not to call a foul. Maybe that's just how Sloan and the coaching staff want them to do it - as far as I can remember, the Jazz have always done it that way and it's largely why they are known to be physical.
Lakers defense: Doug's take: Odom and Gasol's length are giving the Jazz big problems. Also, he said the Lakers are not defending the outside shot for any Jazz player except for Korver. They are keeping one foot in the paint on defense at all times to stifle the Jazz offensive sets, which are predicated on getting layups. I thought this was a good observation and an important one that Boozer brought up as well in his postgame interviews - the Jazz need to make some outside shots to keep the Laker defense honest and then they can go inside.
Comparison between Jazz-Bulls ~10 years ago and Jazz-Lakers today: He said he spoke with Phil Jackson about this. I was more interested in asking Doug about what Utah could do this time around against Phil's team to actually win, but we only got around to making the obvious comparisons. Jordan-Kobe, Kerr-Fisher, Odom-Pippen (although Doug said that while Phil tried to get him to play Pippen's role, it didn't fit for Odom). Stockton-Williams, BryonRussell-Brewer, Shandon-AK, AntoineCarr-Millsap, Malone-Boozer, Horny-Korver, Eisley-Price, and the only big deviation being Okur being completely different from Ostertag.
Doug's next broadcast is on Monday night in Cleveland for Game 4 of the Celts-Cavs series.
Thanks to Doug Collins for being kind enough to stop reading his paper and chat with a bleary-eyed commoner like myself early on a Thursday morning in the airport. He even remembered my name at the end of our talk. Go Jazz for Game 3 - I'll be praying for Boozer's back (and mental resolve) to improve.
"Utah Sucks! Utah Sucks." That was the sound coming from the Staples Center Crowd with three minutes to go in last nights Game Two loss to the Lakers. A frustrating end to a frustrating game. Similar to Game One, the Jazz played from behind nearly the entire game, only leading 13-12 in the first quarter. The Jazz were out-played and out-hustled by the dominating Lakers.
The Jazz-Homer inside of me wants to complain about the free throw discrepancy. (13-16 for Utah 35-43 for L.A.) I'm not going to though. I could go on a ten minute rant about how easy it was for Kobe and Gasol to get a foul called. (Throw your arms around and scream and chances are you are going to get a whistle.)
I could just as easily go on about how frustrating it is to watch Boozer struggle night in and night out. Are you hurt Boozer? Just in a slump? Or does L.A.'s size intimidate you that much?
When all is said and done, the Lakers are a better team. That's all it is. I want the Jazz to win, I want to think they can come back from a 2 game deficit. In reality, however, the Lakers are the #1 seed for a reason and you cannot argue that. They are bigger, faster and collectively speaking, they seem to want it more.
Don't get me wrong Jazz-fans. I am not selling out. I would not do that. You better believe I will be True-Blue tomorrow night and every night the Jazz play. In fact, I hope I eat my words and a miracle does take place. Hey, like C.B. mentioned to me last night. We were down 0-2 to Houston last year and pulled it off. I'm simply trying to convince myself that it is not a huge upset if the Lakers beat us. They are supposed to. Let's just don't go down easy.
So, to the Spoiled L.A. Fans, cheering for their All-Star Team and screaming and yelling "Utah Sucks, Utah Sucks." That's fine, go right ahead. I would not expect any less of you. But to all of the Jazz fans at the E.S.A. tomorrow night or sitting in their living rooms, let's give 'em hell!
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Just wanted to give you guys a heads up that I will be on ESPN Radio 710 Los Angeles for The Steve Mason Show today at 3:00pm PST/4:00 pm MST.
You can listen to the interview here.
Let's sneak one out of LA and come home to seal the deal! WCF here we come!
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
First things first. Congrats to Kobe on winning the MVP award today, he was as worthy as anyone else this year. He was not my pick as I am on the record as saying the KG was more valuable to his team, but Kobe is right there and I have no problems with him winning it this year. Quick question for you LA fans - Before Pau came on board it seems to me that Kobe was not getting the MVP love that he was at the end of the season. Is it possible that Pau may be just as valuable to this team as Kobe is considering the tear you went on with him in the lineup? (Now I am going to go throw up and gargle with bleach for saying something nice about the Lakers. Believe me, it took all the good mojo in me to write a positive comment for Kobe and his crew of misfits.)
On to the give and take with Brian. Before the series started we agreed to give a 3 ways to beat the Lakers and 3 ways to beat the Jazz give and take. Below is Brian's response on how to beat the Lakers and how to lose to the Lakers, its kind of long, but very well thought out and informative I thought. My responses on how to beat the Jazz and how to lose to the Jazz should be up on his site http://www.sportshubla.com/ shortly so check it out. I will post my responses here tomorrow as a preview to game 2 so stay tuned for that. Thanks to Brian for being willing to do it and for sending over all his Laker homers to our humble little site.
Three Ways to Beat to the Lakers:
1) Make them shoot jumpers.
The Lakers are more than willing to take (sixth in the NBA in 3 point attempts) and are plenty able to make (sixth in 3 point percentage) shots from distance. They’ve had games where they shoot themselves to a nice win. But while it pays off from time to time, the Lakers are never a better offensive squad when they’re chucking triples like the Warriors on a bender. Fans are still bitter over a late season, 114-111 loss to the Grizzlies in which the Lakers completely obliterated the franchise record with 45 attempts from beyond the arc. 45. In four quarters. Seriously. When LA becomes content taking open looks from the perimeter, it plays against their greatest strengths- penetration, post play, ball movement- and to one of their greatest weaknesses- namely transition D.
Denver lacked the defensive discipline to keep the Lakers on the outside, and to be honest, when they’re going well LA doesn’t settle. The Nuggets tried to zone, but the Lakers were able to find holes inside, and once that happened it was basically a jailbreak towards the Denver hoop. But well placed, zones can throw off the Lakers attack enough to give the opposition a few minutes of empty trips to work with.
It’s not simply a question of packing the paint, but of closing off entry passes, and defenders sticking their man off the ball. And…
2) Get Physical.
Another area in which the Nuggets failed, but where the Jazz could thrive (just ask the Rockets and their video staff, right?). The line on the Lakers, and especially Pau Gasol, is that some of the rough stuff can bother them. There was certainly a stretch where teams were very physical with players in the post, and it seemed to alter their game pretty significantly. Some of that manifested itself in T’s, particularly from Kobe, who spent the second half of the season riding refs like Red Pollard on Seabiscuit. That’s less likely to happen in the playoffs, but physical play would still have the benefit of tossing off the timing and flow that makes the Lakers offense so difficult to handle, as well as creating some frustration.
The Jazz certainly have the horses to make this happen, and frankly I’d be shocked if they didn’t make an effort to throw some bodies around, given what they’ve done this year and in the first round. Boozer, Millsap, Harpring, Williams, and so on. The Lakers thrive in space. Don’t give them any.
3) Don’t Stand Still.
One reason the Lakers were so successful against the Nuggets (aside from their Chernobyl-esque ability to melt down) is that once the Lakers shut down Denver’s running game through quality inside play and good work cutting off outlet passes, the Nuggets had no halfcourt answer besides isos from AI and ‘Melo. There was zero ball movement, in part because there wasn’t any player movement, either. In four games, the Nuggets managed only 74 assists, which is shocking considering how much they run, and how many possessions they generate.
One reason I like the Jazz as a team is, similar to the Lakers, they run an offense predicated on motion. They back cut, they screen and roll, they set picks away from the ball. All of these things give LA’s defense problems. Certainly the Jazz have had success against the Lakers in the past by running them ragged in the half court. Even better for Utah, if they can push pace, they’ll be able to take advantage of the aforementioned weakness in transition defense.
Three Ways to Lose to the Lakers:
1) Over Play Kobe.
There was a time when tossing bodies at Kobe would only get him to a) try and shoot over them or b) try to dribble through them. No more. The Lakers have far too many weapons to go with the “anyone but Kobe can beat us” strategy. Over the last two seasons, Bryant has become far more willing to pass out of doubles and find the open man, and now that the Lakers have open men worth finding, the strategy has paid big dividends. Teams that tried to force the ball out of his hands via hard double and triple teams consistently paid with open looks from the other four guys on the floor, as Kobe would trap defenders in no-man’s land. Moreover, with guys like Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Luke Walton, Jordan Farmar, etc., the Lakers have too many outstanding passers to make that work. You can’t let those guys play four on three or three on two.
In the end, it’s the worst of both worlds. Rarely does the double work, and the result- getting the ball out of Kobe’s hands- generally results in the Lakers getting an easier look than Bryant probably would been able to generate himself, had the D played him straight. The Jazz have some solid individual defenders in Ronnie Brewer and AK-47. Use ‘em.
Along those lines…
2) Ignore the Supporting Cast.
I’m not talking just Gasol or Odom. I mean everyone down the line. The more players the Lakers can get into double figures, the more likely they are to win. Kobe is going to get his points, and in the triangle, Gasol is a genuine force. Those are givens. But when the supporting guys go off, it’s trouble. Just ask George Karl about Luke Walton.
When Sasha Vujacic gets nine, Vlad Radmanovic pours in 10, Fish gets his 14, and Farmar gets 11 (I’m just tossing numbers, of course) the Lakers are almost impossible to beat. Kobe can attract so much attention on the offensive end, but teams have to recognize that the Lakers are dominant when they get balance, and that Kobe will play in a way to make it happen. He’ll still take shots that aren’t quality, but the number of CIFSPG (Cringe Inducing Forced Shots Per Game) Bryant hoists has gone down considerably. If the defense gives him 18 looks, that’s what he’ll take. But if that’s the case, he’s likely to have set up his teammates for a lot of great shots, and LA is likely to have piled up points.
3) Let Them Get Comfortable in the Paint.
Everything the Lakers do well is predicated on getting the ball inside. Their offense is built around it, as is their defensive stability. When it doesn’t happen, things tend to get pretty wonky. Of course, keeping them out of the lane is easier said than done. Kobe can penetrate against almost any defender, and between LO and Gasol, they have a ton of length to exploit. Among the reserves, Farmar is extremely quick off the dribble, and loves to attack the rim. Walton is very comfortable posting up.
Odom in particular has become almost impossible to defend since the arrival of Gasol. The worry was that the move would leave him shooting more jumpers, but instead it’s been just the opposite. His entire game seems to exist around the rack, whether in transition, positing up, or attacking off the dribble. As a result, when he is taking jumpers, they’re going up with more confidence. After posting shooting percentages of 49%, 49%, and 41% over the first three months, Odom has gone crazy in the second half. 62.3% in February, 55% in March (when Gasol missed some games) and 63.4% in April.
Once the Lakers can get the ball inside, their ball and player movement makes them tough to stop. All of their big players can shoot or distribute from inside. They’re a great drive and kick team. They slide off screens very well and move to the hoop. If they can get comfortable there, Utah is in trouble.
Monday, May 5, 2008
I was asked to participate in a playoff podcast by Ryan at Hoops Addict. You can hear the podcast, which was picked up by USA Today and NBA.com, here.
(CB Jack: I was completely sarcastic with my Chris Mihm comment, I don't think Ryan caught that. lol)
Kurt from Forum Blue and Gold also participated for all you Lakers fans. Ryan did a great job. As Booner would say, sorry if I sounded like Debbie Downer, but we held the call right after the Jazz had lost.
Boozers Hammy was right on the money with his post below. I can't say that the Lakers really won this game, but more that the Jazz lost it. If Matt Harpring would have pulled himself out of the game we could be up 1-0. He played horrible. Between his play, Kyle Korvers inability to his anything outside of a free throw, and CJ Miles committing the worst foul in NBA history, the Jazz were right in this game. I believe I counted 6 straight possessions where KK and Harp screwed the pooch and missed 15 foot jumpers and layups.
The officiating crew was poor at best. Both teams have to agree that the calls were extremely inconsistent. Touch fouls, followed by no calls. I know it's the playoffs and games need to be played out, but I just want to see consistency...on both ends of the floor.
From Forum Blue and Gold: To Utah fans complaining about Phil complaining about the refs: Welcome to playoff basketball. You can influence the refs through the media, every coach knows this and does this.
CB Jack's take: Apparently Jerry Sloan missed the memo because I've never seen him use the media as vehicle for complaining about officiating.
More Random Jazz/Lakers links I find throughout the day:
-Awesome recap by SportsHubLA
-Forum Blue and Gold breaks down Game 1
-Tim Buckley of the DesNews thinks the Jazz went cold....really? Harpring included?
-Matt at HP has his Lakers gold glasses on...
-MSNBC looks at Kobe vs. Jazz
I wanted to write a love to note to Kobe after game one because he is the most awesome player to ever put a basketball jersey on. His game one highlights include badly missing 3 shots in a row in the fourth quarter when the Jazz were finally playing as a real team and not turning the ball over every other possession like they did in the first half. He also was able to get the foul line at will by screaming like a little bitch if any Jazz player even looked at him wrong. I am sure that all of you Laker fans will try and tell me that Kobe deserved to go the line 23 times and if you do, you give up your right to ever call another fan from another team a homer. 50% of the fouls called on Kobe are complete crap as it was with MJ, Magic, Bird, Malone and any other superstar. Lets see here, the Jazz shoot 30 free throws as a team and the Lakers shoot 46, that seems like calls were fair both ways. (I do agree with Phil Jackson however that the officiating was a little wishy-washy at best, but it is not why the Jazz lost the game.) Back to Kobe, he played great defense on our worst offensive player all night holding Ronnie Brewer to 11 points. All in all he was just awesome, in fact I would dare say that he was the best player on the floor yesterday, something I am sure that none of us irrational fans were expecting.
On to the real issues of the game.
1 - Carlos Boozer needs to pull his head out of his butt and play some ball. 7 turnovers is not acceptable Carlos, neither is the 6-14 shooting.
2 - Deron's shot was off and that should get better, but did you realize he was 1 assist and 1 rebound away from a triple-double. Not too bad for an off night.
3 - Matt Harpring needs to stop shooting the basketball. Ugh!
4 - For the love of everything holy lets make a damn shot. 38% shooting for the game? Really? At least we rebounded all of those missed shots. We had 22 more shot attempts than the Lakers due to the work on the offensive glass, if they can keep that up around 15 for game two and get the shooting percentage up to 45% the Jazz win the game. (Note to Lakers players, feel free to box out on the glass, from what I saw in game one you are really bad rebounders. I would like to point out that I did mention Okur would own the glass against softy Pau.)
Game 2 is all about adjustments so lets see if the Jazz can adjust their shooting stroke and make a series out of this. They need a full 4 quarters of execution, not the 3 that we got yesterday.
Saturday, May 3, 2008
(CB Jack posting while listening to the Braveheart soundtrack)
Jazz fans, please play the file below while reading this post.
We are heading straight for the enemy. There is no other way to face the battle that will ensue in the coming weeks. Children, women, men, anyone who can type must be given a computer and access to My Utah Jazz. Our enemy is big. I dare call them the biggest fan base in the entire NBA. We will be outnumbered. We will be belittled. We will be made fun of. But does it matter? No. We are Jazz fans.
We are the most fierce, vicious, fanatic fan base in the entire NBA. We are the 6th man to our team. We are an extension of the players we see on the court. That means we must put our views of Sloan, AK, and CJ Miles aside. We must unite as one. All Jazz bloggers, commenters and readers must come together and defend our boys in Blue. We knew the path to the Larry O'Brien trophy wouldn't be an easy one. Especially out west. But the 2nd round will present the toughest opponent out there. We cannot go down without a fight.
The anonymous Lakers fans will come and go. Kobe will change his number again and again. 200 more coaching changes can come and go. But what will remain? Our faithfulness to our team will remain. The Utah Jazz having the best homecourt advantage in the NBA will remain. The Utah Jazz having the smallest, most united fan base in the NBA will remain.
There was something I have been hiding up my sleeve. Something I didn't want to have to pull out until the NBA Finals. But with the current circumstances, I have no choice...
My Utah Jazz will be put on the back burner for a few weeks. The time has come for us to unite, and become OUR Utah Jazz. The name on the site has been changed. We will let the True Blue in each of us come out during this series. We will do whatever it takes to defend D-Will, Boozer, and the rest of our warriors on every Lakers Blog, every LA newspaper. We will push the Utah Jazz to victory. So bring on the "Mamba", bring on "In Pau We Trust", and bring on Phil and his rings.
We are Our Utah Jazz. We will not be silenced. We will not lose.
One Team. OUR Dream.
The Jazz took care of business last night at home as predicted and now it's time to shift gears into full blown Kobe hating mode. A few final thoughts on the Rockets though as we bid them yet another season ending farewell.
1- Tracy McGrady is never going to be a clutch playoff winner. It's just not in his DNA, remember he is related to Vince Carter. Enough of the "superstar" label for this guy.
2- The Scola, Landry, Hayes combo is really quite good. Those three were always playing hard and not afraid of the dirty work. All of them would look really good in Jazz Blue.
3- Rick Adelman is still a first class whiner and that rubs off on his team. The Rockets really need a no excuses, hard nosed coach that does not allow his players to make excuses. Someone like Jerry Sloan.
Moving onto the Lakers, this series is going to look completely different than the one we just saw with the Rockets. Final scores are going to be in the 110 -115 range every night as both team want to push the tempo more. Hopefully the Jazz can keep some of the defensive aggressiveness that they displayed against the Rockets. Look for Boozer to be much more effective as the Lakers interior defense is poor at best. Here is my opinion on how the Jazz stack up to the Lakers, position by position.
PG: Williams vs. Fisher - Advantage Williams, big. Deron is playing MVP caliber ball right and now Fish just can't hang with him.
SG: Kobe vs. Brewer - Advantage Kobe, big. I am pretty sure that Kobe will score a few points in fourth quarter.
SF: Kirilenko vs. Odom - Push. Both guys play a similar all around game with AK being a bigger factor on defense for the Jazz and Odom being a bigger factor offensively for the Lakers.
PF: Boozer vs. Radmanovic - Advantage Boozer, big. Seriously, what are the Lakers going to do with Boozer. Who on this team is going to defend him down low?
C: Okur vs. Gasol - Advantage Gasol, very small. Pau is going to end up scoring more than Okur in this series, but look for Okur to own the glass against him.
Bench: Harpring, Milsap, Korver and Price vs. Farmar, Walton, Vujacic and Turiaf - Push. These are the best two bench units in the playoffs and they are very similar in style. Both teams have the hustling big guy, the sharp shooter, and the athletic streaky point guard.
My prediction for the series is the Jazz in 6, if it goes 7 I don't know if we can win that one on the road. The Jazz should win game 1 because the Lakers are going to be a bit rusty with the long layoff and all of the Kobe for MVP hoopla. After that all they need to do is hold down home court.
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Are you ready to have 20,000 lunaticts screaming at you? Are you ready to get hit in the face? Are you ready to take your game to a higher level in the most hostile environment in the NBA?
Here's the deal, the Utah Jazz are going to the second round of the playoffs. Mark it down, check it off on your things that are already done list, block out 3 hours on Sunday afternoon for game one in LA and put some money aside for tickets to game three against the Lakers back here in SLC. The Rockets are going to be sent home crying once again at the hands of the Utah Jazz. That is the natural order of things in the universe. The Utah Jazz beat the Rockets in the playoffs, it goes together like peanut butter and jelly, or green jello and carrots or Roger Clemens / Karl Malone and underage girls. The Jazz have won the last 3 playoff series with the Rockets and 4 of 6 overall. Mark this one down to make it 4 in a row and 5 of 7.
AP Salt Lake City, Utah: The Utah Jazz suffered a blow to their team when Andrei Kirilenko woke up and realized he only had one leg.
As the above picture suggests, the team didn't know he only had one leg until after the game."I just play like, you know, leg uh oh...and eh...we give our best efforts but, dey wanted it more. but i mean it's like, you know, i have only one leg so." said Andrei in an interview with CB Jack Thursday. "What hell is Mia Utah Jazz blogg? Is kina like World of Warcraft?". Yes Andrei, it's kind of like that.
Jerry Sloan didn't sound concerned about the fact he would have to play with only 9 legs on the court. When asked about the disadvantage Sloan replied "I just said to him, hey, we played without legs for years. They [Stockton and Malone] always came to play, missing legs or not. He'll have to figure out how to overcome it. I can't go out there an play for him".
Meanwhile Rockets players are feeling confident about their new advantage.
"If they don't think I can hit those shots, and put a one legged man on me, that's fine. I'll just keep hitting the open shot all day" said Rockets F Shane Battier.
"It's my fault AK don't got no leg man. It's my fault. I just think he should be out there in crunch time situations, but I'm only a superstar, what do I know." added Rockets G Treysee McTeary.
Jazz players will try and win the game, despite being out legged. "I just stay hungry you know, and my teammates feed me da ball" Memo Okur suggested (again).
"Ah mayn, AK is great. He's such a vital part of this team. I mean, he plays better D than I do and i got two of them legs." smiled Carlos Boozer showing off his pearly whites.
Thanks to reader Mark who contributed to this story.
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My Utah Jazz