Friday, January 14, 2005

Kings execute Jazzmen

The Jazz were playing sweet music the last two games. Cliche? Sure, but after beating two of the best teams in the NBA this week, the Jazz may be entitled. Thursday night in Sacramento, the Utah Jazz were brought back to earth a bit, when the Kings used terrific offensive execution at key moments, to end Utah's two game winning streak.

The Kings were warriors. It was a physical and bloody night. Greg Ostertag had his false teeth knocked out when he was accidentally elbowed in the mouth by Jazz center Curtis Borchardt. Kings forward Maurice Evans went strong to the basket late in the 4th quarter but was challenged in mid-air by Carlos Boozer and Kirk Snyder of the Jazz. Evans lost his balance and landed gruesomely on his head and shoulder. When all said and done, Ostertag has six stitches, Evans had twelve stitches and a concussion, but the Sacramento got the victory.

Perhaps the most impressive part of the Sacramento victory was the execution on offense. Especially noticeable after timeouts. Virtually every time they came out of timeout the Kings scored a basket off a well designed play. One of the few times the Jazz completely defended the designed play, Chris Webber took it up on himself and made a forced shot. With regard to Webber, he clearly is not the same guy physically that he used to be. He isn't as quick and his swagger and way of moving now seem to be a product of years of banging on his body, rather than a style point being made. That said, Webber is savvy, still very talented, and makes up for physical slowing by good decision making. You may not always respect things he says and does off the court, but there are many reasons to respect the way he has continued to adapt his game over the years.

There were a few comments that always need reacting to....

What was said:
Peja Stojakovic, perhaps the best shooter in the NBA, said, "When they grab and hold you for 30 minutes you get mad. I was just letting the referee know, if you are going to call it by the rules, you should do it, and not let them get away from that."
What I think:
You know I respect his shooting, but his whining about someone trying to actually guard him is a little irritating. It is not as irritating as his constant flopping, whining, arm swinging, and exaggerated movements he makes to try and draw fouls, but you get the idea. From the, 'If I could get what I want file', I'd like to see Peja being guarded by Jerry Sloan, the young or old Jerry would be fine. For the record, Peja can relax, the officials noticed and called the game exactly the way he would have hoped, with Utah being whistled for 26 fouls and Sacramento only 16. I'd rather have Peja commenting about how great his teammates Brad Miller and Chris Webber played, or the precision play calling of Rick Adelman. He is a marksman on the court, but a few of his comments are a little off the mark.

What was said:
Greg Ostertag, former Utah Jazz center, said, "That's just Jerry [Sloan]. You don't expect to see stuff like that happen, and I don't think it was intentional, I think he just got caught [Maurice Evans], and that's what he gets for jumping so high. But Jerry's hands on. 'Stick your nose in there , and if it gets busted, stick it back in', that's the way Jerry coaches."
What I think:
All those years of banging heads with coach Sloan, we always thought he and Jerry didn't understand each other. We were wrong! Actually, in all seriousness, the fall by Maurice Evans was scary. To the point that after the first couple of replays, I was very tired of seeing it and had to look away. It is however part of the game and I don't like how the world and NBA are always looking for someone to blame. The other quotes and comments suggested it was a dirty play, and even the officials gave the Jazz a flagrant foul on the play. The truth is, two players on the Jazz defended the basket and tried to get the basketball, and Evans was a high flyer who went strong to the rim. Falling and getting hurt is a risk and Evans should share some of the blame. To leap into the heart of a defense like that without assuming that bodies will collide doesn't make sense. In the end, this kid looks to have a bright future, is a terrific athlete, and reports are that despite the mild concussion he'll be fine.

Closing notes...
Kudos to the Sacramento Bee and writer Scott Howard-Cooper for the fine piece about Jerry Sloan and the emotions he has over losing his wife Bobbye. It is a must read and you can do so by clicking here.

Jazz announced Kirilenko is out until January 22nd, despite rumors and hopes that he would be back Saturday the 15th.

All in the Family. Sacramento's fill-in point guard, Eddie House is actually Mike Bibby's brother-in-law.

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