Tag:Utah Jazz
Posted on: November 9, 2010 10:37 pm
 

At the Buzzer: Jazz' Millsap detonates Heat

LeBron James gets a triple-double, Dwyane Wade gets 39, and the Heat are overtaken again as Jazz' Millsap scores 46 in overtaking Miami in overtime.
Posted by Matt Moore


Those in the NBA spheres who were waiting to start the clock on Pat Riley taking the reins of the Miami Heat may have held off after two losses in the first two weeks to two great teams. This will likely get them pushing those buttons if they're going to at all.

The Heat gave up 72 points in the second half after a 20-point lead in the first half to lose in overtime, at home to the Utah Jazz 116-114 . Paul Millsap was ridiculous, scoring 46 points with 9 rebounds while Deron Williams filled it up with 14 assists, as if to say to Chris Paul after his Hornets beat the Heat, "Match!".

The Heat are now 5-3, with three losses in the first three weeks of the season. Not exactly what the Triad was thinking would happen when they rose up from the floor to the excited fans. Oh,and those excited fans? They were nearly in a coma tonight, and tickets still remain for the Boston freaking Celtics' visit to American Airlines on Thursday.

As much as this was to some degree a fluke game, with Millsap draining three 3-pointers (!) for crying out loud, there are no excuses for this team. And the Heat still seem out of sorts, discombobulated, and without a guy they can definitively turn to. Dwyane Wade had 39 points, LeBron James had a triple-double, Chris Bosh had 17 points and 9 rebounds, and they still lost. The one thing that had been helping them in games, their defensive effiiceny, took a tumble as the Jazz simply picked them apart.

For the Jazz, they're finally starting to look like the team they need to be this season. Williams is getting back in the act, and even when Al Jefferson had a terrible night, Millsap more than made up for it.

It was recently reported that the Utah Jazz would start extension talks with Jerry Sloan. You have a feeling Erik Spoelstra will not be having the same conversations any time soon.

The temperature rises.
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: October 29, 2010 10:14 am
Edited on: August 14, 2011 8:13 pm
 

The Game Changer, 10.29.10: Orlando is good

The Orlando Magic came out strong, John Wall debuts, Utah looks lost, Gordon Hayward cut his amazing hair and Hakim Warrick puts two Jazz on a poster.  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: ORLANDO THROTTLES WASHINGTON

Somebody forgot to tell the Orlando Magic that they weren't playing the Atlanta Hawks.

The Magic brought the same brand of soul-crushing domination they used to sweep Atlanta out of the playoffs last year to their Thursday night season-opener against the Washington Wizards, and the game got ugly quickly.

The Magic nearly doubled up the Wizards in the first quarter (29-15) and suckered Washington into settling for contested jumper after contested jumper, cruising to a 128-83 win  in the new Amway Center. It was too easy, and Dwight Howard posted 23 points and 10 rebounds while barely breaking a sweat, watching his team's second unit finish off the win during the fourth quarter.

Orlando's strategy never got much more complicated than, "We'll make shots while you miss shots." Orlando finished 43-77 from the field compared to 29-78 for Washington.  Wizards rookie point guard John Wall was a major culprit, as he shot just 6-19 in his NBA debut, clanking tons of pull-up jumpers from the 15-18 foot range.

But you can't pin this all on Wall: most of his teammates didn't bother showing up to help ease his transition to the professional game. The Wizards were out-rebounded 53-25 and they had no answers defensively as Orlando moved the ball well and attacked from all sides.

(For a full recap of Wall's first game as a professional right here . It wasn't all bad, by any means.)

This felt like a statement game for Orlando. But that statement wasn't "Welcome to the NBA, John Wall." It was more like, "Take notice: We still plan on holding down the Southeast Division." After an undefeated preseason and a pretty season-opener, the Magic look more than ready to prove that point against the new-look Miami Heat on Friday night.

GO-GO-GADGET LINE OF THE NIGHT:

Dwight Howard:  23 points, 10 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 3 blocks, 7-9 shooting, +24 (plus/minus).

Plus, just one foul in 30 minutes of action. Dominating.

Honorable mention goes to...

Hakim Warrick:
18 points, 11 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 6-11 shooting.

and...

Paul Millsap
: 19 points, 13 boards, 1 assist, 1 setal, 2 blocks, 9-13 shooting.

DON'T MISS:

Ken Berger reports that Oklahoma City's Jeff Green and Detroit's Rodney Stuckey will not be receiving contract extensions. Meanwhile, it appears free agent center Erick Dampier has made up his mind: he's taking what little talent he has to Houston.

PANIC TIME QUESTION MARK:

By Royce Young

With about five minutes left in the game, Deron Williams pulled up, looked right at rookie Gordon Hayward and screamed, "Go through!" Williams was visibly frustrated and ended up firing a one-armed strike right at Hayward to really emphasize that frustration. At the next timeout, Williams continued to pound on the rookie, demonstrably gesturing what he wanted from Hayward.

But that wasn't even the worst of it for the Jazz. With a score of 110-94 in the Suns favor at the buzzer, what was left of the Jazz's home crowd booed the team. Can you believe that? Booing, in game two.

I guess those things tend to happen when your team starts 0-2 with both games being fairly non-competitive. Especially when there were high expectations coming in to the season.

Most didn't see the Jazz coming up empty in the opening week of the season and with a made over roster, it's easy to point at the new pieces not gelling. An 0-2 start wasn't expected, especially after an 8-0 preseason, but it's early. Oh it's so early. Don't press any kind of panic button if you're a Jazz enthusiast. In fact, don't even mention anything of the like. Jerry Sloan will have this straightened out soon enough.

Last season, Utah started out the season 1-3 before closing November winning six of seven en route to 53 wins and the fifth seed in the West. It took a little time to put it together, but it was all where it needed to be eventually.

And this season, Utah is retooling after losing Carlos Boozer, Wesley Matthews and Kyle Korver. The replacements are solid in Al Jefferson, Raja Bell and Hayward. But it'll take a little time for everything to be put together.

The average defeat for Utah in the first two is 19. The Jazz have given up 110 points in both games. But take into consideration that Utah has faced two quality, up-tempo teams to start the season. Not exactly ideal opponents when you're trying to work out the kinks of a new offense and defense with a number of new players.

Jazz fans aren't used to watching their guys lose at home. Especially not by double-digits. The Jazz offense was out of sync at times, playing a more one-on-one than you typically see in Sloan's flex offense. The ball didn't move well, the Jazz didn't shoot well and defensively, there were breakdowns often.

But it will get sorted out. It might take some bruises and a few more boos from the home crowd, but the October version of Utah won't at all be the same as the March version. I'm pretty sure you can count on that. 

WHIMSY:

Utah Jazz rookie Gordon Hayward showed off a new buzz cut during Thursday's loss to the Phoenix Suns.  That news was seriously lamentable, given the amazing helmet Hayward had been rocking. Take a look at the air flowing through his mullet wig.  gordon-hayward

Upon further inspection of this photo, Hayward appears to have planted Chia Pet seeds on Steve Nash's hair and then transplanted the result onto his own head with super glue.

 

VIDEO CLIP MANIA:

Phoenix Suns forward Hakim Warrick puts both Raja Bell and Paul Millsap of the Utah Jazz on a poster. Video courtesy of NBARauf on YouTube

 

ONE FINAL THOUGHT:

Poor Mickael Pietrus is buried on the Orlando Magic bench. Deep. Pietrus, noted Ben Q. Rock , didn't check into the game for Orlando until the fourth quarter, when the Magic were already up 30+.

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: October 23, 2010 2:03 am
Edited on: August 14, 2011 8:02 pm
 

Jerry Sloan unimpressed by Jazz's 8-0 preseason

The Utah Jazz finish the preseason undefeated and coach Jerry Sloan still isn't satisfied. Posted by Ben Golliverjerry-sloan We give you gruesome injury photos . Luxury car photos. Goofy Adam Morrison photos. All in the name of entertainment and distraction. But these are cheap tricks when compared to Utah Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan, whose single-minded devotion to achieving perfect basketball play is as entertaining as the NBA gets for die-hard hoops fans.  To recap, the Utah Jazz completed a perfect 8-0 preseason tonight, holding the Sacramento Kings to just 71 points (only 13 in the fourth quarter!). The Jazz's average margin of victory was 8.125 points per game during the exhibition season, and they beat division rival Portland twice, the Los Angeles Lakers (the league's best team) twice and the Phoenix Suns, a playoff team last year, twice.   This year marks the first time in the illustrious history of the Jazz franchise, and the first of the Sloan era, that the completed the preseason undefeated.  Sloan enjoyed the accomplishment for approximately 0.0 seconds. Brian T. Smith of the Salt Lake Tribune caught up with Sloan after the game, who looked to manage expectations and criticized his team's work ethic. 
"Teams will take a lot of stuff away from us that they gave us in exhibition season," Sloan said. "That's just the nature of this business. That's why you try not to get too high." Sloan on losing focus: "I don't think we're losing our focus as much as we're losing our ability — we were running harder; running for layups. Now, when the ball goes in the post we're not getting anything out of it. We're not getting any screens or things like that you've got to be able to do if you get in tough ballgames, because you can't always beat somebody one on one."
That enduring perfectionism is what makes Jerry Sloan the NBA's best coach, and it's what will keep him the league's best coach until the day he decides to retire. It's also what makes him so entertaining.  8-0! Take a shot, Jerry, live a little! He never will.
Category: NBA
Posted on: October 21, 2010 7:03 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 7:57 pm
 

Sad to see Sundiata Gaines go

Sundiata Gaines, perhaps the D-League's greatest success story, was waived by the Utah Jazz today. Posted by Ben Golliver

Brian T. Smith of the Salt Lake Tribune reports that the Utah Jazz have cut four players today to trim their roster down to 13 players, choosing to go forward with less than the roster maximum of 15 players so they can cut down on their luxury tax bill.
The Jazz waived Othyus Jeffers, Sundiata Gaines, Ryan Thompson and Demetris Nichols on Thursday. "It's a part of the job. It's just the nature of the business," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "We can't mope around about it for two or three days. You've got to go back and go to work."
One of those names surely hurts to read more than the others for Jazz fans: point guard Sundiata Gaines.   Gaines made a blip on the national radar last year when the phone call of his midseason call up from the D League's Idaho Stampede to the Jazz was videotaped and uploaded to the internet.  Soon after, Gaines became a household name nationally by hitting arguably the best shot of the 2009-2010 season, a last-second three-pointer to defeat LeBron James's Cleveland Cavaliers.   Given today's circumstances, it's worth another look. Immediately after Gaines made his Magic, the usually reserved Sloan told reporters that he would sign Gaines, who was playing on a non-guaranteed 10-day contract when he buried the Cavs, for the rest of the season. Ten months later, Sloan tells reporters that it's a business and that he won't mope about it. If that doesn't sum up how precarious life in the NBA can be, nothing will.
Posted on: October 21, 2010 1:26 am
Edited on: October 21, 2010 1:29 am
 

NBA Northwest Division preview

The CBSSports.com NBA Facts and Rumors team previews each of the NBA's six divisions. First up: the Southeast.  Posted by Matt Moore.

The Burning Question: Just how big is the Melo question in this division?

Will he be here? Will he be gone? Will Denver retool? Rebuild? Firesale everything but the walls and sell those for scrap? If he is there, will he be a distraction? Will it be business as usual? Are we confident the Nuggets can contend even if he's still in Denver? Are we sure? Are we confused? Angry? Hungry? Who's hungry? 

Last year Denver went 12-4 in this division. The other three cannibalistic playoff teams in this division went 25-23 combined. So Denver's got a lot to say about who wins this division. The problem is, of course, we have no idea what we're going to get when mid-November rolls around and teams have shaken off the early rust or shine and are revealed to be what they actually are.  If Carmelo Anthony is still in Denver at that time, as it appears he very well may be, this team could lead the division, further scuttling Melo's trade prospects. Conversely, if Anthony's gone and Denver's decided to go all Jericho and rebuild their society, then things could get pretty crazy in the rest of the division.

Melo was the biggest star in this division over the past several years, but now that Kevin Durant has eclipsed him as the next great scoring forward, there's more talk than ever about what exactly it is that Melo provides this team. And that question is going to be examined even closer this year as Kenyon Martin is out till January and Chris Anderson till December. The complimentary pieces that were brought in to surround Melo are injured and Chauncey Billups isn't getting any younger. Meanwhile J.R. Smith is still J.R. Smith for better or worse, and this team is always a half second away from going into full-on mental chemistry meltdown. 

The Thunder should be improved, but can they topple a veteran group that knows how to win night in and night out like Denver? Utah's got Al Jefferson, but can they overcome their injury issues to maintain a consistency like Denver has? And if we want to talk about injuries, take Portland's training staff. Please. Ba-dum, ching. No?

If Denver goes down the tubes, there will be a team to fill the void. The only question is if that team will simply be vacating an open spot or legitimately taking the spot Denver had been tagged for a year ago, that of de facto Western challenger to LA. 

What Berger Says: 


CBS Sports Senior Writer Ken Berger previews the Southeast Division.
Everything is in flux with the Melo situation still unresolved. So the spectrum of what could go right for the Nuggets looks like this: A) Clinging to the scant hope that Anthony can be persuaded to stay; or B) Getting the best possible deal for him. There's little reason to have any faith that A can happen. So the Nuggets will continue to explore trade possibilities, which will force them to decide whether it's possible to trade Melo in a deal that saves money and keeps them in contention (no), or saves money and sets them up for the best possible future. Either way, it looks to me like the Nuggets' ascent has ended before they reached their full potential.



And Now, A Non-Sequiter:

Anyone else feel like Kyrylo Fesenko would be the worst roommate in the world? Young, inexperienced, probably always asking questions. He's a jokester, which is fine when you're hanging out but gets old real quick.  Dude probably steals your toothpaste, too. No? Just me? Okay. Just checking. 

VIDEO OF SUPREME PREVIEW SUPREMACY: 
Posted on: October 15, 2010 9:55 am
 

Shootaround 10.15.10: Good and bad places

Dwight Howard thinks the new rule has its place, Monta Ellis' wife is keeping him in the right place, Andre Blatche needs a new place, and Al Jefferson is getting into a good place, all in today's Shootaround.
Posted by Matt Moore

So while the Union's suing and the Celtics are freaking out, Dwight Howard has come out and said that in regards to the new tech rules, "They want us to cut down on talking to the refs, as hard as that may be. We've adjusted to everything else that's put out there. So we'll adjust." That's right. The guy that watches cartoons, does funny voices, and is pretty much known as a big kid, he's the one who's being grown up about this. The world's gone mad. Dwight Howard is in a place where he can have perspective and Kevin Garnett is not. What is happening?

Marvel Comics is teaming up with ESPN and the NBA for a series of promotional spots . Does it bother anyone else how much the league is marketing towards the storyline of LeBron leaving Cleveland? Don't get me wrong, I've been softer on James than others because if you asked me if I wanted to go work somewhere nicer with two of my friends with a greater chance of success, I'd probably do it too. But rubbing Cleveland's nose in it constantly for marketing purposes and playing into their spurned response seems exploitive.

Monta Ellis is in a much better place emotionally and mentally. Why? Dude got married and his wife, a lady cop, has him in line. I can understand where Ellis is coming from, as I'm sure a lot of men can. You have your wilder 20's, jacking up shots and riding mopeds, and then you get married and that stuff gets thrown out. This would be better if she were a segway cop or something. Still, it's good to see Ellis in a better place.

Mike Wells of the Indy Star reports that both Dahntay Jones and Solomon Jones are on the block as the Pacers try and move for a big man.

TruthAboutIt.Net's Kyle Weidie is more concerned with Andre Blatche at the moment than Gilbert Arenas. Blatche boosted his stock immensely last year with some solid play on the blown-up Wizards. But he thinks of himself as a primary scoring threat, not as a complimentary piece, and has big chemistry issues. If they can get him on the market and get a good player to put next to Wall for him, they should move, and quickly.

Alvin Gentry is telling his team that if they want to be succesful this year, they're going to have to be a "GREAT" defensive team . This for a team that had a worse defensive rating than any of Mike D'Antoni's years. Even if you think Amar'e was the problem (and he wasn't), good luck with that, coach.

Sasha Vujacic suffered a concussion in practice and is out indefinitely. Perhaps he was confused on what being "unconscious" from the arc meant.

In case you missed it last night , you need to see John Wall destroying the Bucks in 40 secons. For real.

Mike D'Antoni called Anthony Randolph a "stat magnet. " If only that magnet wasn't similarly charged to that of a "high basketball IQ magnet" because Randolph seems to repel that idea. Many, Knicks fans especailly, hope this is the season that changes. He can be an absolute game-changer when his head's in the right place.

And finally, just a small basketball note. If you caught last night's Jazz game you saw this, but if you didn't, Al Jefferson looked really good. Even with an out-of-shape Deron Williams working with him, Jefferson was hitting from all over the floor and attacking the glass on both sides of the ball. Defensively he's still figuring the system out, but things are looking tremendously good for Utah's new acquisition.


Posted on: October 6, 2010 4:04 pm
Edited on: October 6, 2010 5:20 pm
 

GMs say Kevin Durant will win the 2010-11 MVP

Posted by Royce Young

The news is Kevin Durant was voted to by 28 of the league's general managers to win the 2010-11 MVP award. That's the news . But the story? The story is how they voted in regards to LeBron James.

The reigning two-time MVP winner only picked up one vote to take home the Maurice Podoloff Trophy. In the 2009 GM survey, James received 79 percent of the vote. This season? One vote. Durant grabbed 67 percent, the highest total. Kobe Bryant received 26 percent and Dwight Howard also got a single vote. But LeBron, the player who won last season's trophy by the largest margin ever, took quite a dive.

Is that perception? Is that based on emotions? Is it about race (that's a joke)? Or do GMs truly not think LeBron will have an MVP caliber season?

What made it such an interesting thing is that LeBron was still voted as the league's best small forward, getting 68 percent of the vote. That's right, perceptive basketball reader, Kevin Durant also plays small forward. And the votes went to KD for MVP, LeBron for best player.

Clearly Durant has leaped over LeBron in terms of popularity because of Durant's slight demeanor, humble attitude and big time summer. LeBron's value to a basketball team hasn't changed. As anyone who watched Miami's first preseason game last night, LeBron is still a wonderful, incredible amazing basketball player. He didn't lose that ability by going to Miami. And the league's GMs didn't think that. They just think he lost his value.

But that's not the only thing that was determined in the vote. A few interesting notes from the survey:
  • The Thunder was named the league's most fun team to watch (52 percent) over the Suns (23 percent).
  • John Wall was picked with 68 percent to win Rookie of the Year. Blake Griffin was runner-up getting 29 percent. Don't forgot DeMarcus Cousins who looked incredibly impressive in his preseason debut.
  • A small surprise here: The Lakers were picked to win the NBA title with 63 percent. The Heat only got 33 percent. The executives think it will be a Heat-Lakers Finals though, with LA picked to win the West (96 percent) and Miami to win the East (70 percent).
  • Kobe got nearly 79 percent of the vote in the "Who do you want taking the last shot?" question.
  • Dwight Howard (96 percent) was voted as the top center. He was also voted the top defensive player (78 percent).
  • Boston was picked as the top defensive team in the league with 75 percent of the vote. Arguably last season's best defensive team, especially in terms of defensive efficiency, the Bobcats, did receive a vote.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com