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.

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