Thursday, March 10, 2005

Utah Jazz Blog moves to MVN

The Utah Jazz Blog has moved! I've joined the Most Valuable Network (MVN) and started All That Jazz. MVN has been known as one of the best pro baseball sites on the net, but they are ambitious and growing into coverage of the other top sports.

I'm still writing. I'm still going to offer opinions, humor and statistics about the Jazz and the NBA, while seeking your opinions. So Click here to read All That Jazz. I'm excited for the move and to be apart of the growing MVN team. Hope to see you there!



Friday, March 04, 2005

Arroyo is gone, but the talk continues

They say the month of March comes "in like a Lion"......instead I think I'll come in with "I hate to whine about the whiners who are whining about old news, but I can't resist, and must get it off my chest so I'll beat it to death with a big stick".

Therefore, my Whiney Sports Mumbling Rant...

I keep reading articles in the Salt Lake Papers about Carlos Arroyo and how the Jazz miss him and how great he is doing for Detroit (reference, Jo-Ann Barnas article for Detroit Free Press picked up and ran in Salt Lake this week). I've even read opinions sent in to the newspapers and other online sites by fans who hate the trade of Arroyo and are mad at the Jazz and mad at Coach Sloan in particular. The point they are missing, and missing, and missing (they could stop shooting and missing at that point, but since Carlos hasn't stopped, why should they), and Detroit is asking him to be a part-time helper. In Detroit he is a back-up and averaging only 18 minutes per game. In Utah, the Jazz thought he was the man who could embrace the team's philosophy, lead the team, play heavy minutes (35 per game), and basically make those around him better. Truth is, he did not play well this year, despite the contract and faith the Jazz put in him. Truth is, he got on the wrong side of Coach Sloan, and while some of that may have been Jerry's fault and this league at times may be run by the players, the Jazz never have been. He was woefully immature and continues to complain that no one talked to him, as if, Carlos had no idea where Coach Sloan's office was. I for one am tired of reading his quotes and tired of all the fans who continue to push this side of things. Its a team game, but Carlos chose to make it about him and didn't like the result. I've said a million times...I'd rather lose with the right guys than win with the wrong ones. If it took giving in to a player who demanded kid gloves and special treatment to win, I'd rather lose. Is Carlos a bad guy? Whoa, that's not the point. I liked Carlos and enjoyed the good times while he was here, but unlike great players in this league he didn't fight through adversity. He isn't as valuable as people make it seem, and to hint that he means more to the Jazz than Sloan (as many have done) is idiotic.

To Carlos I say,
"take care Carlos, may you end up better than the other guys who left thinking they could do better outside the Jazz system (see: Shandon Anderson, Howard Eisley, DeShawn Stevenson, etc) . I'd like to send some of your Utah fan supporters with you, but you know how they are...fickle, as soon as they see that the grass isn't greener, they'll be bagging on you in no time."
My guess is with the recent improvement of the Jazz and Keith McLeod, and Arroyo's failure to really change the fact that only 5-6 guys on the Pistons really carry the load, that this issue will die down. Come next summer when the Jazz have the money from the Arroyo contract to spend elsewhere and an extra first round draft pick, people will be glad the Jazz held to their principles and really evaluated the situation for what it was.

In the spirit of statistical overkill, and to convince those that still wish to argue the over value of Carlos Arroyo, I offer the numbers below (thanks to the for the +/-). The result is that both teams, Utah and Detroit, have been better while Carlos is on the bench.

+/- points
Carlos in Utah (this year): -7.3
Carlos in Detroit: -6.4
Keith McLeod (Utah Starter): +2.5
Chauncey Billups (Detroit Starter): +4.9

Shooting %
Carlos in Utah (last year): 44.1%
Carlos in Utah (this year): 40.1%
Carlos in Detroit: 39.0%

Minutes Played - per game
Carlos in Utah (last year): 28.3 mins
Carlos in Utah (this year): 24.7 mins
Carlos in Detroit: 18.7 mins

To assert that Arroyo and his 39% shooting and 18 minutes per game is the reason, or even a critical influence, for Detroit's hot streak (winning 8 of 10) makes only slightly more sense to me than heaping extra praise on the hot dog vendors at Auburn Hills. I mean yes technically they are there, and yes in some remote way they are making an impact on the things inside the building, but its really only a coincidence that they are associated with the Pistons at a time when they are rolling.

Whew, all better now. Until the next article...

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Jazz Shoot Down Hawks, Push Win Streak to 3

The Utah Jazz did in fact shoot down the Atlanta Hawks Wednesday night, thanks to 51.5% shooting. But, to be honest, these poor birds are falling pretty hard on their own.

With the 96-74 victory the Jazz have won three in a row for the first time since the opening games of the season. A combination of the Jazz feeling a little bit better about themselves, mixed with the road weary Hawks, meant for the first time in a very long time, there appeared to be a team that Jazz completely overwhelmed. To be fair, Atlanta is one of the worst teams in the league, have lost their last 10 games, is now only 2-28 on the road, and was missing point guard Tyronn Lue because of suspension.

Despite beating the very beatable Hawks, the Jazz should feel good because....
  • They are starting to more consistently play the team style game they are known for. Numbers speaking to that cause in this game: no player took more than 11 shots, Jazz assisted on 25 of their 35 field goals, 3 players had 5 or more assists, and 5 guys scored in double figures.
  • The Jazz defended Atlanta well, holding the Hawks to 35 % shooting and blocked 9 Atlanta shots. Atlanta's two most aggressive offensive players, Josh Smith and Al Harrington combined to shoot 8-34. That includes at least two of Josh Smith's shots that were a layup and a dunk.
  • Keith McLeod had some foul trouble but in limited minutes was solid again: 10 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds and only one turnover. In addition two of his baskets where difficult shots to beat the shot clock.
  • Matt Harpring who tweaked his knee in the last game, could have taken a night off and the Jazz won without him. The modern day player absolutely sits in this game. Harpring however, isn't a free ride kind of player, so he suited up and scored 11 pts and 6 rebs in only 23 minutes. In the era of Stockton, Malone, and Hornacek the Jazz key players were known for showing up and getting the job done despite physical ailments of all kinds.
Atlanta is missing at least 3 critical pieces. They need some veteran players, but in specific places. They don't have a point guard, and even Tyronn Lue when healthy shouldn't be considered the answer. They don't have a low post presence on either defense or offense and the ideal situation is to have something down low on both ends, but they at least need the defense and rebounding. They need an outside shooter to commands a little respect. Now the Hawks are certainly no unique in these needs, but its almost painful how glaring these are. On the bright side, they will have cash for the free agent market. They will have another high draft pick, that they might want to consider dealing for a needed veteran. They have coach that some people around the league seem to think has potential in Mike Woodson. And, the Hawks have three improving playmaking type of players in Al Harrington, Josh Smith, and Josh Childers. Unfortunately, in the NBA when you have so many weaknesses you get exposed.

Jazz Notes:
Carlos Boozer was put on the injured list, meaning he will miss at least 5 games with the injured foot. The Jazz will replace him on the roster with PG Randy Livingston, who will be signed to a 10 day contract from the CBA. This will be the 8th NBA team for Livingston. If you are a diehard, see how many you can name on your own without peaking at the list. When you are ready to peak, read Randy's bio by clicking here.

Up next, the Jazz travel to New Orleans to play the Hornets on Friday night. A win would be Utah's 4th in a row. The Hornets have a young point guard that I think has a future in Dan Dickau, and have just added Speedy Claxton as a backup. You can read this Hornets Blog for a little background on New Olreans.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Jazz Nearly Clipped, but escape 87-86

The Utah Jazz won their second straight game. It's been since January 10th and 12th that the Jazz had won two in a row. A more staggering figure, is the fact that the Jazz are going for their 3rd straight win Wednesday against Atlanta, and that is something the Jazz haven't done since the first 3 games of the season.

The game against the LA Clippers counts as a win. It dropped the Clippers to 1-27 in the Delta Center. However, Bobby Simmons rushed a layup that missed as the final buzzer sounded that could have given LA a big win. The Jazz were clinging to a one point lead, when Keith McLeod missed two free throws after making his first 12 on the night. Despite having a foul to give, and thereby stop the Clippers, the Jazz allowed them to nearly win it at the buzzer. You could look at this game and say the Jazz nearly lost. The truth is, the Jazz made several key plays and free throws in the fourth quarter that created the win. Did it nearly go away? Sure, but that fact has to be credited to the Clippers for scrapping throughout the game and then making two long difficult jumpers in the waning seconds of the game.

Things to note:
  • Keith McLeod is looking more and more like a young player that could develop into something good. He posted a career high 18 points to go with 8 assists and 12-14 free throws. You could hear it in Jazz assistant coach Phil Johnson's voice, how much they like the effort this kids is bringing. Watch for a profile on McLeod to come in the next few days.
  • Rookie Kris Humphries posted a career high 12 rebounds, including 5 on the offensive end. In his last game, he posted 6 offensive rebounds. Kris is showing that he is grasping some concepts that will get him more playing time.
  • Elton Brand posted only 10 points on the night, on 4-13 shooting. Maggette scored 16 points, but only took 8 shots from the field. Brand and Maggette are two players the Jazz tried hard to sign a year ago, only to have offer sheets matched by the Clippers. They both have immense talent and would benefit by having a point guard to get them the ball.
  • Congrats to Jerry Sloan who moved into 7th place all time on the NBA's all time win list, with victory #936. Jerry will keep moving up, as Bill Fitch and Red Auerbach can both be passed with another 6-7 wins.
  • Matt Harpring tweaked his knee and the final outlook isn't known. Its sounding like a sprain that could put him day to day, which would be good knews given the rampant injury issues for the Jazz this year. Carlos Boozer remains out for the Jazz, who are hopeful he'll return any day.
  • The Jazz and Clippers combined to attempt only 8 three point FGs, making 4, which is a rarity in today's game.
  • In a post game locker room interview, Corey Maggette responding to some of the issues the Jazz have faced this year, commented, "The Jazz have no real go-to guy....". A pretty fair assessment, as the Jazz have filled the roster with a bunch of good players, but are waiting for one to step up. When healthy, you can see Boozer taking a stab at it, and day by day, young Keith McLeod seems more comfortable creating under pressure.
Up next, those mighty Atlanta Hawks. If you want to get a peak at a Hawks blog ahead of time, go here.