Tag:Deron Williams
Posted on: November 30, 2010 12:28 pm
Edited on: November 30, 2010 1:35 pm
 

Westbrook gets the best of CP3 in big PG showdown

Posted by Royce Young

OKLAHOMA CITY -- NBA fans, probably more than any other group, love to debate and argue. Mostly about who is the best at this position, who is the best overall, or if you're a Laker fan, you just yell "KOBE KOBE KOBE" when asked about anything.

Kobe or LeBron used to dominate every message board and comment section, but really, 2010-11 has become the season of the Great Point Guard. At the beginning of the year, it was Rajon Rondo with all those history-making assists. Then it was Chris Paul again as he led his Hornets to a surprising start. Then of course there's Deron Williams, who is consistently excellent. Oh yeah, Derrick Rose who wows us with his up-and-unders, plus is carrying the Bulls to one of their best starts in years.

Everyone has a favorite in the race, but the lineup is pretty well settled. Those four really make up the current pantheon of great point men in the league. But there's another player that's standing at the door, asking for an invitation to the club.

I think it's time to start talking about Russell Westbrook.

Monday night in Oklahoma City, we were treated to a duel between Westbrook and Paul and by the end of the game, we were getting exactly what we wanted. Both players were going right after each other, trying to put their team on their back. Everyone expected Paul to have the edge. But it was Westbrook who came out on top.

In the fourth quarter, Westbrook scored 12 of his 25 points, while going a perfect 4-4 from the field. He also finished with 11 assists, five rebounds and five steals. He hit the game-clinching shot too, a 3-pointer right in the face of Paul with 1:38 left that put OKC up 88-81. Westbrook took over the game entirely, and did it against maybe the best player in the league at his position.

"It's the new Russell man," Kevin Durant said after the game. "He’s just taking over games and controlling games. That’s what we need for us to win.”

It's true. While Durant is Oklahoma City's de facto best player, Westbrook has probably been the team's MVP in the opening month. While Durant has struggled shooting the ball, Westbrook has found a way to pick up the slack, scoring in bunches all while running a fluent point guard. He's the team's unquestioned emotional spark and Westbrook has developed a knack for the dramatic in big moments.

Westbrook was so terrific in the game that his eight turnovers almost went unnoticed until you looked at the box score. It's true - Westbrook was out of control at times and four of those turnovers were completely unforced. But it speaks to something when a guy can shake that off and still put up the effort he did against one of the best defending guards in the league.

"Russell made big plays for us, which was helpful in getting the victory," said Thunder forward Jeff Green. "That's what Russell does. He's been doing it all season for us. Russell has been playing big all year and hopefully, will continue."

Here's a fun fact: Westbrook is one of two players averaging over 20 points, five assists and five rebounds a game. The other guy sharing that honor is LeBron James. Actually though, save rebounds where James hold a slim edge, Westbrook is averaging more points and assists than the reigning two-time MVP.

In head-to-head matchups with the game's other elite point guards (Williams, Paul, Rondo and Rose), Westbrook is averaging 24.0 points, 7.5 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game. Plus, his team is 4-2.

The West is stacked with Steve Nash, Paul, Williams and Jason Kidd so getting an invitation to the All-Star Game won't be easy. But Westbrook's putting together a nice early campaign and he's got the attention of opposing coaches.

"He's an All-Star," said New Orleans head coach Monty Williams. "He probably won't get the votes unless [the commissioner] puts him in the game. But that guy is playing at a level that you scout for him about 10-15 minutes of your practice because of his pick-and-roll, how he's shooting the ball now, and he gets to the free throw line about 10 times a game. If you said that and just left the name blank, you'd say that's an All-Star."

Funny to think about this time last season people were still wondering if Westbrook was really even a point guard. Now the question is, is if he one of the best in the game. Right now, it's kind of hard to argue against it.
Posted on: November 14, 2010 12:51 am
Edited on: August 14, 2011 8:43 pm
 

Utah Jazz come back for fifth win in a week

The Utah Jazz completed five straight double-digit come-from-behind victories in one week. Posted by Ben Golliverderon-williams-jazz 

It's been one heck of a week for the Utah Jazz, who played five games in seven days and managed to win every single one of them. A 5-0 week is always special, but you won't find many like this in the NBA. Let's break it down for a minute. The Jazz defeated the Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat, Orlando Magic, Atlanta Hawks and Charlotte Bobcats.  The Jazz defeated the Clippers at home and then reeled off four straight road victories. In the Heat, Magic and Hawks you have three surefire playoff teams, and the Bobcats should be in contention as well when all is said and done. Adding a degree of difficulty, the wins over Miami and Orlando came on a back-to-back, as did the victories over Atlanta and Charlotte. Ridiculous. To make the feat even more impressive, none of the five games was a runaway victory that would have allowed the Jazz some time to rest their key players. On the contrary, the Jazz edged the Clippers by two points in double-overtime, squeaked past the Heat by two points in overtime, pulled away from the Magic at the end for a 10 point win, slipped past the Hawks by four points and topped the Bobcats by a single point. Add it all up and that's a average margin of victory of just 3.8 points. But, wait, there's more. All five victories came in come-from-behind fashion. Double-digit come-from-behind fashion.
  • The Clippers led the Jazz by 18 points before Utah came back.
  • The Heat led the Jazz by 22 points before Utah came back.
  • The Magic led the Jazz by 18 points before Utah came back. 
  • The Hawks led the Jazz by 11 points before Utah came back.
  • The Bobcats led the Jazz by 19 points before Utah came back.
That's just insane. Utah Jazz all star point guard Deron Williams joked to the Salt Lake Tribune that the comebacks were all part of the plan.
And Utah’s confidence is so high after five consecutive comebacks that Williams answered the first question during his postgame interview by joking about his team’s recent penchant for late-game heroics after climbing out of deep, early holes.
“It’s just what we like to do. It’s our plan,” Williams said. “Just let teams get up us on 20 and then come back on ‘em.”
Yuk away, Deron. You earned it with that week. To celebrate, the Jazz get a single day off on Sunday before hosting MVP candidate Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder, winners of three of their last four, in Utah on Monday night.
Posted on: November 12, 2010 10:06 pm
 

Jazz knock off another East beast, top Hawks

Jazz topple Atlanta for their third road trip against Eastern powerhouse. Posted by Matt Moore

Three road games against three of the top teams in the East. Heat. Magic. Hawks.

Three wins for the Utah Jazz who every day look more and more like a Western Conference contender. Down multiple possessions with under four minutes to go, the Jazz did what they've done consistently this season. Keep coming, take the lead, keep the lead, get the win, this time over the Hawks 90-86 (GameTracker ). Deron Williams at one point scored 11 straight points for the Jazz on his way to 24 points, 5 rebounds, and 10 assists. That's how they roll. Of particular note in the first half, Williams crossed over two Hawks, split the lane and jammed it. With time closing in the first quarter, the Hawks freaked out trying to prevent Williams from getting an assist and in doing so, left him wide open at the arc. Kaboom.

Paul Milsap only had 11 and 6, but this was an Al Jefferson night. Jefferson looked very much like he was starting to fit in with the team, especially with Williams on the pick and roll, on his way to 15 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 assists. His passing was superb, getting it inside to Milsap, and out for mid-range J's.

Despite all that the Hawks led for much of the second half behind an other-worldly performance from Josh Smith. 20 points, 13 rebounds, 2 blocks for JSmoove, and he was working it in the post and getting to the line. The Hawks shot 49% from the field and still lost. A tough loss, but that's how the Jazz operate. Silent but deadly, the Beasts of the East, in the Western Conference.

The Jazz have so much movement on their offense and while teams in the past few years may have had more perceived talent, Utah has a set of players that right now are playing tremendously well together. Kyrylo Fesenko had 5 assists. Because that makes sense in this world. You've got to think Jerry Sloan is an early coach of the year candidate. The Jazz finish their road trip tomorrow for their fourth game in five nights against the Bobcats.

Oh, and on November 24th, the Jazz travel to New Orleans. You know, if you're interested.
Posted on: November 11, 2010 10:25 am
Edited on: August 14, 2011 8:41 pm
 

Game Changer 11.11.10: Wall 3D's Rockets

Michael Beasley Nets a career high, John Wall gets his first career triple-double and finishes a sick alley oop, a giant Sonny Weems head makes an appearance in Toronto, Elton Brandon re-emerges, plus plenty of audio and video from Oklahoma City vs. Philly. Posted by Ben Golliver

Each game is made up of elements which help formulate the outcome. Monday through Friday, we'll bring you the elements from the night before's games in our own specialized version of the game recaps. It's not everything that happened, but it's an insight into what lead to the results you'll see in the box scores. This is the Game Changer. 

THE BIG ONE: JOHN WALL GETS HISTORIC ON THE Rockets

Wednesday was an historic, high-flying night for Washington Wizards rookie point guard John Wall, and he was all over the court on the way to his first career triple-double in a 98-91 Wizards win over the Houston Rockets in D.C.  Wall's top end speed is among the best in the league, and against the Rockets, who are dealing with absences and injuries in their backcourt, he was often a blur, racing out in transition and leaping into passing lanes. It was a hyperactive but still controlled performance for Wall, who finished with just one turnover on the evening and looked more comfortable shooting from range than he has all season.  For Houston, it was a tough night all around, as the Rockets lost Yao Ming during the first half due to a leg injury .  Yao or no Yao, the Rockets and they had no answer for Wall, who joined some elite NBA company by registering his 19 point, 10 rebound, 13 assist triple-double in just his sixth NBA game. Take a look at the chart to see how he stacks up to some of the league's all-time greats. john-wall-graphic And we'd be lacking in our Wizards/Rockets coverage if we didn't link up this video of Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas tossing a soft alley oop to Wall, who finished acrobatically with one hand. Too sick.

GO-GO-GADGET LINES OF THE NIGHT:

Michael Beasley:  42 points, nine rebounds, two assists, 1 steal on 17-31 shooting in 41 minutes in a road win for Minnesota over the Sacramento Kings. The 42 points were a career-high for Beasley.

Honorable mention to...


John Wall:
  19 points, 10 rebounds, 13 assists, six steals, one block on 8-16 shooting in 42 minutes in a home win for Washington over the Houston Rockets. Deron Williams: 30 points, five rebounds, 14 assists on 8-19 shooting in 42 minutes in a road win for the Utah Jazz at the Orlando Magic. 

Kris Humphries: 13 points, 18 rebounds, three assists, one steal, two blocks on 6-12 shooting in 40 minutes in a road win for the New Jersey Nets at the Cleveland Cavaliers.

TURN BACK THE BRAND:

By Royce Young

OKLAHOMA CITY -- At one point, I had to look at my watch. I could've sworn it was 2005. There was Elton Brand, slender, fit, healthy and playing excellent basketball. It was like seeing an old dog get up and remember some of the tricks you taught it as a puppy.

Brand had his mid-range jumper working, was aggressive on the glass, posted up and defended the paint. Most people have sort of forgotten what an absolute force Brand was in the past, but with his start to 2010, folks are getting a refresher.

Against Oklahoma City, Brand put up a smooth 17 points and nine rebounds. On the season, he's averaging 18.4 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. And for a rebuilding team where he's a big focus for opponents.

In the offseason, it's crazy to think Brand was going to be given away for next to nothing. The Sixers wanted to dump his massive contract, get some picks and young players back and go from there. At no point did it seem realistic that Brand could be part of that building. He seems happy being on this young squad.

"I can see us getting better," Brand said after the close loss to the Thunder. "We need to grow and have this translate into victories which it will. That's a sign of us getting better; us closing these games."

This is the first time really since Brand has been in Philly that he's completely healthy and in shape. And when he has those two things working, his basketballing abilities really come out. He's not one of the premier power forwards any longer, but probably 20 other teams would enjoy having his services. (But not his huge contract.)

The question is if Brand can sustain this for a full 82. It's not that he's over-the-hill (he's 31) or that he has a ton of mileage on him. It's that his recent history has held him back and makes one wonder if he's got it in him to keep going. Character has never been an issue for Brand so even if the Sixers stink - which they will - he's going to go hard.

Brand almost looks like he's from another era. It just doesn't seem like he fits on the floor, especially in a game featuring the young Thunder against the pups of the Sixers. But Brand is throwing back to an earlier time, playing like that former self that fits right alongside these up-and-comers. And the old man showed the kids a thing or two Wednesday in Oklahoma City.

DON'T MISS:

 

WHIMSY:

Toronto Raptors fans hold up a giant version of guard Sonny Weems' head. 

sonny-weems

 

AUDIO/VIDEO GALORE:

Here's some video of Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, who had a huge night with 31 points, five rebounds, and 12 assists, talking about his team's 109-103 win over the Philadelphia 76ers.



And here's audio of Philadelphia 76ers coach Doug Collins breaking down the game from the losing side.

ONE FINAL THOUGHT:

During his career-high scoring night on Wednesday, Minnesota Timberwolves forward Michael Beasley was wearing his NBA head band upside down , violating the league's new mandate. Will he be fined by the league office?

Follow F&R on Twitter at @CBSSportsNBA and check out our RSS feed . This has been your daily edition of the Game Changer.
Posted on: November 11, 2010 12:51 am
 

Jazz: Giant killers or smoke and mirrors?

Do wins over the Heat and Magic on a back-to-back road trip make the Jazz giant killers or simply masters of parlor tricks they can't rely on? Survey says: Jazz fans don't care. Posted by Matt Moore

Jazz Giant Killer's Or Lucky Strikes?

You'd think that knocking off two of the best teams in the East, championship contenders both, on back to back nights, on the road, would clear up the angle of who the Jazz are. You'd think that surviving a LeBron James triple-double, a 39 point outburst from Dwyane Wade, and a 20 point night from Vince Carter would give the Jazz an air of invincibility.

But it wouldn't be the Jazz if the didn't leave just the slightest hint of doubt in the minds of neutral observers, enough to plant seeds of skeptical criticism and enabling Jazz fans to rally behind their team as the underrated superstars once again. Meet the New Jazz. Kind of like the Old Jazz. Only kind of better, so far.

The disturbing signs about the Jazz are based on probablities. Losing to the Magic in a close one would have actually seemingly cemented the win over Miami as legitimate, because it wouldn't be seen as a fluke. Instead, the Jazz now have back-to-back road victories on a back-to-back against two of the top 3 teams in the East (common sense, not record-wise). And that just seems improbable. It seems improbable that they survived James' triple-double and Wade's outpouring, that they managed to get Dwight Howard in foul trouble and still overcome Vince Carter and Jameer Nelson having it going. Mostly it seems improbable that they could do all of this after going down by 15+ in each of the two games.

So the question is there.

Is this for real?

The Jazz started off remarkably slow this season, with losses to Denver and Phoenix. But a big Halloween night win over the Thunder seemed to spur them into a wakeup call, and since then they've only lost once in November, and that was to a Golden State team that no longer is an unforgiveable loss. But no one could have seen this coming. Well, except Jerry Sloan. Sloan was his usual self after the game, unmoved by his team's performance. Happy with the win, sure, but he's been around the block too many times to get too worked up, though he made time to praise his point guard. As he should; Deron Williams was simply phenomenal.

Stan Van Gundy called the loss "disturbing" and he should refer to it that way. Not just for the Magic who saw Dwight Howard turn into Clark Kent getting pummeled by the suddenly superhuman Paul Millsap, but for the rest of the league and those that try and make sense of it. Are the Jazz this good? Was this just a fluke, again? Does Utah have something special going on here even in November, or was this just an anomaly on their way to where most predict them, a mid-level playoff seed and a second round exit at the hands of the Lakers again?

Playing from a deficit makes for great blog fodder and warms the hearts of fans, but it's also not a sustainable strategy. Eventually you'll dig a hole you can't climb out of, and when that happens, you'll find yourself regretting you need the shovel at all. But at the same time, the energy, enthusiasm, and burgeoning chemistry can't be denied on a team that managed to make the Magic look meek and the Heat seem sub-zero in the fourth quarters of both games. And so we'll continue to wonder if the Jazz are giant killers or just mosquitoes that managed to catch the goliaths napping long enough to draw blood.

After all, there were plenty of people saying the victory over the Heat Tuesday night was a fluke based on the perimeter prowess of Paul Millsap. Those same people will question how reliable it is to depend on the Magic to surrender 21 turnovers. In both games against the Sunshine Behemoths the Jazz were out-rebounded and faced significant deficits in field goal percentage. And in both games they seemed to go on a near-psychotic rush to pull the game back within reach. Those same people will question if this is a reliable strategy. But at the end of the day it was reliable enough to net them wins over two teams that aren't going to have too many losses come April.

And consider this: the Jazz are still integrating new players, too, and with the rest of their division looking weak early on, the Jazz are giving themselves an opportunity to do something big by winning games they're not supposed to.

But then, that's why we play them, isn't it?
Posted on: November 10, 2010 10:06 am
Edited on: November 10, 2010 12:07 pm
 

Game Changer 11.10.10: Fluke or Fact?

Was the Jazz win a fluke or a sign of the Heat's cooler underbelly? Did the Hornets just win with their bench? And are the Cavs leading their freaking division? All this and more in today's GameChanger .
Posted by Matt Moore


Each game is made up of elements which help formulate the outcome. Monday through Friday, we'll bring you the elements from the night before's games in our own specialized version of the game recaps. It's not everything that happened, but it's an insight into what lead to the results you'll see in the box scores. This is the Game Changer.  

THE BIG ONE: JAZZ PULL A FAST ONE ON THE HEAT


So the question is... was this fluke a not? Because the implications are rather significant. Let's not, for a moment, take anything away from the Utah Jazz. They were on the road, in a hostile sleepy environment, and they simply scratched, clawed, and pounded their way to a win over the most star-studded team in the NBA. Down by 20 last night, they roared back in a 72-point second half to defeat the Heat. A huge win for coach Jerry Sloan, a win the team needed, and an amazing night for Jazz fans that shows their tenacity, their heart, and their talent.

Now, then.

The Heat won the rebounding battle, 46-44. The Heat split the turnover battle, with each team losing it a dozen times, nothing too egregious. The Heat fouled only 20 times to the Jazz' 32. And until the fourth quarter, they held a significant advantage in shooting percentage, with the Jazz shooting 41% to the Heat's 47%. There were a lot of things that would have to go right in the fourth for the Jazz to force overtime.

They happened.

For starters, the Jazz shot 17 of 23 in the fourth, not Indiana numbers , but still an absurd streak. This was of course capped off by Paul Millsap. Millsap entered last night's game a career 2 of 20 3-point shooter (10%). In the final minute of the game, he drained three 3-pointers, making him perfect on the season, as they were the only 3-pointers he's taken this season. Swish. Swish. Swish. Throw on top of that the 46 point detonation he leveled with the other 37 points, including the two on the tip in to force overtime, and you have an amazing night for Millsap, and a huge outlier in terms of predictable results. The Heat suddenly found themselves dropped from an airplane and happened to land right in the middle of a tornado. That's what we're talking about here in terms of probabilities.

So was it a fluke?

I don't think so.

We see the same pattern carried out across the Heat's three losses. A scoring forward down low who's able to use his size to create points amid the barren trees of Miami (tall, sure, but not great defenders). And a point guard who can tear you up (Deron Williams tallied 14 assists last night). In Boston it was Rondo and Glen Davis; in New Orleans it was Chris Paul and Emeka Okafor. Now Millsap-Williams scratch their names onto the tree trunk of inside-out combos that have cooled the Heat. Furthermore, we see the same kind of discombobulation we've seen all season, especially in crunch time, the same reliance on sub-par players to take the biggest shots ("Eddie House for the win... clang!"), the same lackadaisical performance out of the Heat mentally, and the same defensive breakdowns in the biggest moments.

Adding to the improbability of the night was the fact that the Triad gave the kind of performance you'd want from them. Dwyane Wade had 39 and 6 rebounds, LeBron James had a triple-double with 20, 11 boards, and 14 assists, and Chris Bosh had 17 and 9. And they still lost .

The Jazz needed a few more things go their way in this one, that's for sure. The problem is the Heat handed the Jazz those things on a platter. And trying to establish exactly how to resolve those things isn't going to be easy for head coach Erik Spoelstra, who's got to be feeling a little hot this morning either way.

Great win for the Jazz, tough loss for the Heat.

GO-GO-GADGET LINES OF THE NIGHT:


Paul Millsap: Yeah, we'll go ahead and notch him down with 46 points, 9 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 1 block.

LaMarcus Aldridge: 19 points, 17 rebounds, and Aldridge seems more and more like he's taken a big step into becoming a legit big.

Kevin Love: 23 points, 24 rebounds. Amazing what happens when a good player gets playing time, isn't it?

Dwyane Wade: 39 points, 6 rebounds. Hard to argue that Wade didn't do his part last night.

LeBron James: 20 points, 11 rebounds, 14 assists. His first triple-double as a member of the Heat. And again, they lost. So weird.

Al Farouq Aminu: 20 points, 8 rebounds. Look at the rookie make progress!

WHAT YOU MISSED:


Brandon Roy had his knee drained .

Our Power Rankings are out , and we went 3-Up, 3-Down .

Oh, and the Pacers went freaking En Fuego .

KB lays out how the Bret Bearup situation affects Melo .

HORNETS KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON (WINNING)


This time they didn't even need Chris Paul to be amazing. The Hornets had every reason for a let-down game after their last week and hot start. Hey, they've got to lose sometime, don't they?

Don't they?

The Clippers are a bad team, but again played well last night, enough to hang until the fourth, with Al Farouq Aminu emerging from the shadows looking like an actual NBA player. But this time it wasn't the starting superstars that did it for the Hornets. It was the bench mob. Jerryd Bayless ran the show, Willie Green filled it up (19 points on 7-10 shooting), and that was enough for the Hornets to pull away and not need Chris Paul to press his knee anymore. The Hornets just keep finding ways to get it done. The Hornets are running a weird modified break, where they force the issue, pulling teams inside, then using smart passing around the perimeter to get the job done with open jumpers. It may not be sustainable, but by God, it's working right now.

YOUR DAILY SIGN OF THE IMPENDING APOCALYPSE

The Cleveland Cavaliers lead the Central division at 4-3.

WHIMSY


"Hold me... "




HERO OF THE DAY


Uh, yeah, I think we'll go with MANSAP.



ONE FINAL THOUGHT

The Minnesota Timberwolves played a great game last night. It'll get glossed over in the headlines and be forgotten within about, oh, four hours, but they really did. Kevin Love was just tremendous on the glass and they had some good things going. They just couldn't get the last burst to get past the Lakers, who had one of their "Do we really have to care nights?" And the answer was no. But still, good stuff from the Wolves who responded to their beat downs lately with a respectable performance. And yet another loss.

Follow F&R on Twitter at @CBSSportsNBA and check out our RSS feed . This has been your daily edition of the Game Changer.

Posted on: November 1, 2010 1:31 pm
Edited on: November 1, 2010 1:32 pm
 

Oklahoma City and the full-court press

Posted by Royce Young

Kevin Durant and some of his teammates have nicknamed the Oklahoma City franchise "Thunder U" because of the college-like attitude the permeates from the team, ranging from the rabid home crowd to the togetherness of the players.

But the Thunder showed another college-like wrinkle in their 120-99 loss to the Utah Jazz Sunday night. A full-court press.



At basically every level except the professional one, basketball teams press. Nolan Richardson made "40 minutes of hell" famous with his swarming, intense full-court attack at Arkansas. Rick Pitino utilizes high-energy presses at Louisville (and before, at Kentucky) to try and turn up the Heat, speed up the tempo and get an opponent playing out of character and faster than they want to.

College basketball teams that know how to use a press often break it out when trailing by double-digits late in the second half of a game. It can lead to quick shots from your opponent, turnovers leading to easy buckets and sometimes, turn a 15-point deficit into a six-point one in a matter of minutes.

And with the Thunder trailing the Jazz by 27 mid-way through the third quarter, Scott Brooks called on the dogs.

Brooks used two different lineups with the press. The second one was the most interesting. Technically, James Harden was the point guard with Daequan Cook, Thabo Sefolosha, Jeff Green and Kevin Durant, who played center. Durant was the "point man" on the press, with Harden picking up the ball-handler. Unlike Pitino's press, the Thunder didn't really try trap, but instead went for steals and tried for turnovers. (The first lineup if you're wondering was Westbrook, Sefolosha, Durant, Green and Ibaka.)

It worked too. The Thunder quickly went on an 8-0 run, cutting into the Jazz lead while energizing the crowd. it helped too that Deron Williams was out because of foul trouble. So the Thunder funneled the ball into the hands of Gordon Hayward and C.J. Miles, players that aren't deft ball-handlers.

Oklahoma City pressed for the remaining six minutes of the third and for about four minutes of the fourth. After Williams returned, the Jazz found a few easy buckets and started breaking through.

Brooks probably kept the press on a little too long, as the Jazz adapted and moved past it with ease. The surprise element definitely caught the Jazz off-guard, especially with secondary ball-handlers on the court. That part was pretty smart by Brooks - put on the press with Earl Watson, Hayward and Miles handling the ball, not Williams.

Malcolm Gladwell made a very strong case for why NBA teams should press, citing reasons like supreme athleticism and the versatility of players to make a difference on an opponents offense. For OKC, those things definitely apply. Even if the press doesn't work, you make the other guy exert effort, you drain time off the shot clock, disrupting their offensive sets and potentially you pressure them into a mistake.

And it worked in Oklahoma City for a time too, igniting a small run and some energy to an otherwise flat team and crowd. But the Jazz pointed out the problems with it being completely successful - when you've got good players, breaking a press isn't that difficult.

A press at lower levels often is successful because players aren't as skilled, are easy rattled and the frantic pace can mess with someone that's not an expert at handling the ball. NBA players don't suffer from those issues, well, for the most part. So while the Thunder press was fun and potentially something we haven't seen the last of, it's not quite a deadly secret weapon in Brooks' back pocket.
Posted on: September 27, 2010 12:40 pm
Edited on: September 27, 2010 12:56 pm
 

D-Will tells Jefferson he'll make him an All-Star

Posted by Royce Young

Sometimes, what makes a good player great is his point guard. And really, isn't that the job of a good point guard? To make everyone better?

Steve Nash definitely did it with Amar'e Stoudemire and Shawn Marion. Chris Paul did it with Tyson Chandler and is doing it with David West. And Deron Williams did it with Carlos Boozer.

Now Williams has a new project. And he said he intends to turn new big man Al Jefferson into an All-Star. Jefferson, in an interview with the Salt Lake Tribune, said:
“D Williams is Batman. He’s Batman. He’s the captain. He’s the guy, you know. And I’m Robin. So I’m willing to do whatever. I’m not worried about jelling with him. I’m going to adjust to him. Whatever he needs me to do is going to be done. Because the first thing he said to me when I talked to him is, ‘I’m going to make you an All-Star.’ And when he said that to me, I believed him. He wasn’t just talking. He wasn’t just saying it because it sounded good. He really means that. And I’m not going to do nothing to mess that up. Whatever he wants me to do. I know he told me one thing, he was joking. He said I don’t really dunk a lot in the games. And so [he said], ‘If I throw you a sweet pass, you’re going to have to dunk it.’ And if he wants me to start dunking, I’ll dunk it.”
There's absolutely no doubt that's possible. A lot of making the All-Star team is how your actual team is doing. And the Jazz should be pretty good. Jefferson was in Minnesota on sub-20-win teams, playing mostly in obscurity. He's always had nice numbers and that was with Randy Foye, Jonny Flynn, Ramon Sessions and Sebastian Telfair setting him up. No disrespect to those guys, but they sure as heck aren't Deron Williams.

Health has always been the main hurdle for Jefferson. If he gets that and adds it to the fact he has an elite point guard dishing him the ball, he very well could be headed for an All-Star caliber year. The West is relatively thin with premier centers. Jefferson could establish himself at the top of the pile.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com