Saturday, November 24, 2007

Jazz Squash Pesky Hornets

The final score of Saturday's Utah Jazz and New Orleans Hornets game is misleading to those who missed the first half of the game. Utah's 99-71 victory (box score) looked very much in doubt for most of the first half - as New Orleans led nearly through the first two quarters and owned a 5 point lead just a few minutes before half. The Jazz however, scored the final 6 points of the first half and the first 6 of the second half and never lost control.

Think about the two halves this way...
First Half Hornets - as defines a hornet, "A large stinging wasp". Wiki chimes in with "typically stings multiple times. Doesn't die after stinging. Capable of biting and stinging at the same time". Those were the Hornets that played at the ESA in the first half - while shooting badly, they were tenacious on defense and very tough on the boards.

Second Half Hornets? Think Bee movie. The Hornets, after trailing by one at intermission, got lit up 55-28 in the 2nd half and tied an all-time Hornet record for fewest points in a 4th quarter (7). The Hornets record for the fewest points in any quarter is 6 points (vs. Milwaukee in 1996). In case you are wondering about the fewest points the Jazz have given up in a quarter - it's also 6 (Detroit in 205).

Other Jazz Notes:
  • Battle at the Point - Deron Williams and Chris Paul both had some nice moments at the point. DWill blew by Chris Paul 3 different times to end up with a layup, while Paul show some slipperiness off of screens and nice kicks to the wings. The truth is however, that Williams was slowed most of the game with foul trouble and a sore toe that he had an in-grown toenail removed earlier in the week. Paul never really got on track offensively, but stilled ended with solid 15pts, 6 rebounds and 6 assists.
  • Why don't these Hornets run the ball? The have a point guard built for speed in Paul, they have shooters for the wing (Stojakovic and Mo. Peterson), and two seemingly mobile big men in West and Tyson Chandler. What gives? I'm not asking for them to abandon their defense and rebounding strengths, but why not push it a bit more. New Orleans has scored 100 or more only 5 times in 14 games - very surprising.
  • Clunk, Clunk, Clunk - that was your replay of the shooting exhibition that Peja Stojakovic, Bobby Jackson, and Morris Peterson put on, going a combined 2-19 from the field and and 1-12 from 3pt range. You must admit, these guys don't lack confidence as they kept firing away. If I remember correctly, one of these mis-guided missiles hit Memhet Okur in the head.
  • David West is a nice player. In the first half he had 13 points and owned the glass. In the 2nd half the Jazz collapsed with a zone and let the Hornets continue to hoist outside shots.
  • Back-up Point Guard Problems? Jason Hart has caught a lot of fire for this 3.8 ppg and 34% shooting early in the season, while he tries to handle the back-up point guard position. On this night, Hart and fellow reserve guard, Ronnie Price, nearly stole the show as they combined for 23 points on 9-13 shooting, including 5-7 from 3pt range in over 34 minutes of combined play.
Up next for the Jazz are the Pistons, in Detroit on Sunday. Detroit leads the Central division with a 8-4 record, including 4-0 at home. Utah, however, has won 4 straight games against the Pistons. To read up on Detroit, I recommend an interesting Piston blog - Detroit Bad Boys.

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