Sunday, November 18, 2007

Jazz go flat in Indy, drop 2nd in a row

The Jazz had one of those games Saturday night. A few times per year the NBA schedule delivers a situation where you play a back to back games, with both games on the road and come out flat. The home team hits a few 3-point field goals, and you don't have the energy to fight back and get things on track. The Utah Jazz were blown out by the Pacers, 117-97 (box score) in a game where Indiana pretty much did whatever they wanted the entire night.

How bad was it? You can be challenged to find a single Jazz player who had a good night. Kirilenko might be the only one you can say had anything at all - with 12 points, 5 blks, 3 rebs, and 4 assists. Virtually every statistic that is recorded went in favor of the Pacers. The Jazz were out shot (58% to 47%), out rebounded (35-31), out assisted (29-20), committed more turnovers (20-18), made fewer steals ( 11-6), made fewer blocks (7-5), made fewer 3-pointers (11-2) and took fewer freethrows (28-22). If I was searching deep for things Indiana didn't do right, I'd come up with the fact that the Jazz outscored the Pacers by 3 in the 4th Quarter (as if that mattered) and just over 12,000 fans decided to show in Pacerville.

So a road trip that look like a possible sweep, ended up at 1-2. The Jazz battled hard, and could have won in Cleveland, but then mailed it in Saturday night. What observations can we make about the Jazz after this 3 game trip?

  • At times, the Jazz executed so well - looking like a veteran and well-oiled machine. Thinking primarly about stretches of the Toronto game, and then the final few minutes of Cleveland as the Jazz almost stole the game.
  • At times, the Jazz revert back to a youthful team that has more faith in the individual than in the team system, breaking the offense with forced shots and passes.
  • Deron Williams is human. After a terrific start to the season, he laid two eggs in the final two games of the trip - going 7-25 from the field, averaging 9.5 points, and totally 10 assists and 8 turnovers.
  • Despite these two games, the Jazz duo Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer have been very consistent and both have essentially the exact scoring averages on the road as they do at home. Boozer averages 25 ppg and DWill averages 17 ppg at home and on the road. Typically younger players - usually the non-stars, do well at home, but struggle on the road. This can be seen as a sign of maturing for both players.
Clearly the disappoint thing with the Pacer game, is that Indiana had a 6-game losing streak and probably would have been an easy win if the Jazz jumped on them early. Good teams learn when they can take out a weaker team and don't give them life.

The Jazz return home for the New Jersey Nets Monday Night. The Nets are 4-6, and a full 5 games behind the undefeated Boston Celtics. This is bad for the Nets since they've played 8 of their first 10 games on the road. To read ahead on Nets, I'd recommend Joe as good Net's blog.

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