Game at a Glance:
The Jazz bounce back from the ridiculous loss to the New York Knicks and win a game on the road. This was the first win on this five game Eastern Conference Road trip, and was a necessary win in the first game of a back-to-back set. Adding to the drama of this event was the fact that it was Kyle Korver's return / revenge game against his old club, the Philadelphia 76ers. It was also Kosta Koufos' first start in the NBA because every other bigman was out: Mehmet Okur was in Turkey to be there with his ailing father; Jarron Collins was still injured from his golf cart incident during the summer; and Kyrylo Fesenko had to leave the country due to visa issues. Oh yeah -- it was also Deron Williams' first game of the season as well. Pretty big game, storyline-wise. The real story of the game was the dominating performance by the Jazz bench (38 to 12 points), and the Ronnie Brewer show in the 4th quarter. Philly had no answer. (and haven't had him for a few seasons now . . .)
Jazz Quartet -- Top Four Players of the Game:
There were several points to this game. The first is that, really, the Jazz won yet another game while being vastly short-handed. Kosta Koufos has to start, and nearly played half the game, against some of the best bigmen in the business (Brand and Dalembert). He did a fantastic job, and while he did not shoot a great percentage (3-8 fg), the times where he caught the ball somewhere close to the rim he did not hesitate and made a good, solid move to score. He still managed to get 6 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks and a steal and an assist in his time on the court. I was impressed with him on the offensive end with his ability to actually make a fluid post move. I was also impressed that he got the rebounds he was supposed to get. (nothing amazing, like how Boozer or Millsap get rebounds they should not get, but at the same time, not like Collins who misses rebounds he should get) Lastly, while he was really nervous (as any rookie should be), he manned up and played good ball. He had a good sequence in the 2nd quarter where he was making life hard on Elton Brand (who would finish with 13 points and 5 rebounds), and tied him up and forced a jump ball -- which Kosta won. Great job, Kosta!
All in all he finished with 1-8 shooting (worse than Kover's 1-7, or Price+Knight's combined 1-5) and was just not quick enough on defense. Lou Williams was going by him with regularity before halftime. Even worse is the impression this game may have left on the minds of some people -- Andre Miller finished the game with 25 points -- most of them coming on unmolested layups. Some people may attribute that to Deron's defense, however, that just is not the case. Miller got many transition buckets, and lay ups in the same way Brewer does -- camping under the rim and getting the pass. Still, 25 points to Andre Miller is ridiculous. It's a good thing that no one else showed up . . .
Or more precisely, that Philly only really showed up in the 3rd quarter when their defense really clamped down on the Jazz when Deron and Boozer went to the bench. What was once a 14 point lead ended up becoming a 4 point deficit after the 3rd quarter was in the books. While that may have been reminiscent of the previous game in New York, the outcome of the 4th was nothing like it. Why? I'll tell you why! The Jazz bench (Knight, Korver, Kirilenko, Millsap, and starter Ronnie Brewer) started the 4th quarter on a 9-0 run which was mix of hustle on offense (like Andrei's 2nd tip shot attempt basket) and defense (Millsap had 2 blocks early in the 4th). By the time the main timeout of the quarter occurred the Jazz bench had outscored Philly 15-4 in the quarter. After that it was lights out as Deron Williams and Andrei Kirilenko kept feeding the hot hand, Ronnie Brewer, and he finished with a high number of layups and 'and ones'. Game over.
Next Game: Wednesday, November 12th, 2008 -- Utah @ Washington Wizards [2nd night of a back-to-back]