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Game 55 Recap

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Another win...and against a quality (though wounded) team too!

Jazz 100, Blazers 103
Boxscore

Team Observations:

Let's look at the steps we wanted to take towards victory:

1.  Shoot smart and make a high percentage to cut down their rebound advantage.

We shot over 49% for the night.  More of those than usual were off of breaks but even in the halfcourt we did a pretty good job of moving the ball into good positions.  Get this:  we got more assists than the Jazz.  That's like Carrot Top getting more dates than George Clooney.  We did end up losing the rebounding battle by five but for most of the game we were right there with them.

2.  Get a smart-but-slightly angry game from Zach.

Not bad...see below in the individual observations.

3.  Make them shoot from distance.

We gave up a lot of layups and putbacks tonight, but when we were set in our defense the Jazz were shooting over the top of us a whole lot.  We led the points in the paint by a bunch.  They shot only 2-9 from three point land and only 42.5% overall.  Well done.

4.  Disrupt their ball and player movement.

We weren't doing this at all early on, but we tightened up a lot after the first quarter.  Our help rotation was good.  We got our hands on some steals.  We ended up fouling them a ton but that was disruptive and better to see than them shooting from wherever they wished.  It was a lot uglier game than the Jazz would have hoped for.  As stated above, we did a good job holding them to 18 assists, more than 6 below their season average.  "But Deron Williams didn't play" you say.  "But Derek Fisher got 10 assists anyway" I reply.

5.  Win the hustle points.

With the exception of allowing way too many offensive rebounds late we did a good job with this too.  We got more steals, way more blocks, and forced more turnovers than they did.  Our guys were pretty active out there.

This is not to say the game was pretty.  There were tons of mistakes out there...many of them near grotesque.  But we did enough of the right things enough of the time to give ourselves a chance to win.

Individual Observations

--After a VERY slow start in the first, particularly on the defensive end, Zach came out and played one of his better games of the season.  Not only did he shoot 50% himself, he was part of the reason the team shot nearly that as a whole.  His early "gimme that" shots turned into an impressive array of cuts, layups, and deep posts and he discerned pretty well when to hold the ball and when to give it up.  He had 12 rebounds, 3 steals, and only 1 turnover.  This was a net positive game for him.

--Brandon Roy had one of the best games of the season...maybe THE best.  His 27 points don't seem earth-shaking anymore (because he's done that before) but check out his 11-15 shooting and his 7 assists.  And those assists were beauties too.  He broke down the Utah defense so badly that they spent a ton of energy just trying to control him, allowing everybody else to have a picnic.  This was a real leadership game for him.

--Besides Zach, Ime Udoka is Example #1 as a beneficiary of Roy's game.  Both the jumper and the lane were open for him all night.  And there's hardly a player you would trust more to play within himself in such a situation.  6-9, 15 points, good ballgame.

--Lamarcus Aldridge saw 27 minutes tonight and they were quality-time minutes too.  Magloire never made it off the bench and Aldridge took his spot as first big man off the bench.  He had some nice defensive moments.  You'll notice the two blocks but he really played hard when the Utah big men were abusing us early.  He shot 3-5 but he looks like he's rushing it a little out there.  When he gets more experienced and his offensive game smoothes out a little he'll be scary.  He may not average 22 a game but I bet he'll shoot near 60%.

--Dan Dickau also had some quality minutes and really calmed us down when the Jazz threatened to make runs.  He had 5 assists and 11 points in those 18 minutes, mostly off of free throws.  Good showing for Dan.

--Joel only got 19 minutes but compared to what he has been getting that seemed like an eternity.  And get this...he played in the second and fourth quarters!  His stat line is unimpressive but he was the only guy keeping it from being a complete dunkfest for the Jazz early on.

--Jarrett Jack's game was mixed.  On the one hand he had 4 turnovers, which is a definite no-no, and he only shot 4-10.  On the other hand he tallied 6 assists and was part of keeping the offense going, teaming especially well with Brandon.  His defensive game was also mixed.

--Travis got 17 minutes and his contributions ranged from the spectacular to the near-disastrous.  On the one hand he shot 4-8, made a couple of nice passes, played a little defense, and had an amazing one-handed alley-oop tip-in with his back/side to the basket.  On the other hand he missed some defensive assignments and fumbled away a break opportunity to cancel out his highlight reel play.  Worst of all, very late in the game with us holding a tenuous lead he checked into the game with his jersey un-tucked, which is an automatic delay of game call, which was our second, costing us a technical, cutting the lead from five to four and eventually (because of other people's missed free throws) contributing to the potential for Utah to send it into overtime with a miracle shot.  This is the wonder and tragedy of Travis as we know him.

--Juan played 13 minutes and the only stats he registered were 2 missed shots and 1 personal foul.  Complete zeroes across the board other than that.

--Martell at least got 5 rebounds and 2 blocks in his 19 minutes, but his offensive game was somewhere south of Brutal Junction tonight.  The guy can't seem to keep himself in a game lately.

Miscellaneous Observations

--The refs were pretty brutal themselves both ways tonight.

--This was also an ugly game for an injured Utah team.  They fumbled away a lot of relatively easy chances.  I expect they'll say this is not indicative of their usual level of play and I agree with them.

--Andre Kirilenko just looks surprisingly bad out there.  Has he gained some weight maybe?  He looks slow and uncoordinated.

--In addition to Jamaal warming the pines all night everybody's favorite point guard also got to sit through the whole game.  The main unfortunate side effect of that is we didn't get to see RipCityGal and her lovely sign.  Perhaps she'll send us a picture...

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)