Saturday, December 13, 2008

Game 6 Recap: New York 107 - Utah 99

Game at a Glance:

The Jazz and Knicks play a very sloppy game that featured a combined 38 turn overs and 25 steals and a very explosive Jazz-killer Jamal Crawford going bombs away from deep (5 threes out of 7 tries on the way to a 32 point game). Utah was looking good early, with a 5 point lead at the half, but a spectacular 3rd quarter collapse (27 to 15 in favor of the Knicks) occurred where the Knicks continued to exploit the Utah Jazz/'Jerry Sloan coaching staff' doctrine of going behind the screen to the result of countless open shots by their guards. Furthermore, the Jazz ended up getting some really cheap fouls (both Boozer and Millsap got tagged with their 4th, on offensive fouls each on layups they made) in the 3rd which compounded things, but that's what happens when you're not at home. It was during this quarter where I got that feeling in my stomach that the Jazz were not going to exorcise their Madison Square Garden Demons just yet and well . . . a picture says a thousand words . . . even Andrei's late game three point shooting couldn't save the Jazz, as their defense on the three, and inability to make their open shots doomed them to the first loss of the season.

This is how I felt during the 3rd quarter

['s boxscore -- Yahoo! Game Recap --'s game highlights -- What would Oakley Do ]

Jazz Quartet -- Top Four Players of the Game:

Andrei Kirilenko Brevin Knight Carlos Boozer Ronnie Brewer
Andrei was forced into shooting threes in this game to bring the team back, and he did for the most part Knight was not a world beater, but he played well enough to stay in the quartet for another game Boozer was a workhorse who had 19 and 17 in a losing effort Brewer finished the game with 12/7/7 which is pretty good if you ask me.
Photographed by David Dow for NBAE/Getty Images Photographed by David Dow for NBAE/Getty Images Photographed by David Dow for NBAE/Getty Images Photographed by unknown for NBAE/Getty Images

Andrei Kirilenko should have excelled in this type of game, and some of his stats reflect that, though I think that he could have played better. 'Drei finished with 18 points (7-16 shooting, perfect from the line, and made 2 clutch threes in the 4th quarter), but only 2 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks. At times he was posting up against the much shorter Chris Duhon, yet the Jazz were able to get him the ball with mixed success, but other times he was unable to score on him. This upset me, though people who were actually at the game were quick to point out that Duhon fouling the hell out of Andrei, and was not getting called for it. Aside from that, Andrei was clutch down the stretch and made some really good passes off of drives. It just was not enough.

Knight was more effective than Price was in this game, and seemed to really get the other Jazz players involved when he was on the floor. Brevin was able to give the Jazz 10 points (three deep jumpers in rhythm and perfect ft shooting), 5 rebounds and 6 assists in 24 minutes of action. Knight was effective defensively in hounding the other teams' ball handlers in the half court set when he was in there, but could only do so much to affect the outcome of this game. He had a few Almond like experiences in this game, working hard to get the ball to an open man, only for that guy to miss an uncontested shot. Knight continues to shows that he can be a good back up PG with defensive instincts.

Boozer continues to be an offensive rock for us, in Deron William's absence. Boozer managed to notch 19 points (7-11 shooting, 5-6 ft) and grab a mammoth's worth of rebounds (17 -- 6 offensive). He also added three assists and 3 steals. He played good defense inside as well, being able to neutralize Zach Randolph in the paint. Unfortunately, Randolph did manage to shoot four open three pointers (because Boozer did not follow him outside the paint to defend him), and Randolph managed to hit two of them -- one of them the proverbial dagger three. Boozer only played 32 minutes because he was sidelined in the second half with foul trouble -- the culprit being the previously mentioned 4th foul in the 3rd quarter -- called on a made layup by Boozer.

Brewer finally makes his first Jazz Quartet of the season, and deservingly so. Brewer was one of the few capable Jazz players on this night, finishing with 12 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds, 7 steals and he made both of this three point attempts! Due to the crazy monkey lineups that Mike D'Antoni used, Brewer was rarely able to match up against Jamal Crawford though, which is a shame. Jamal did score a 4 point play against Ronnie though which really sucks. Great game by Brewer, none the less. His utility and usefulness will only improve with Deron finding him around the basket for dunks.

Digging Deeper:

This type of game really burns me up for a variety of reasons. Firstly, it started really early (1 pm EST) and this loss was the first loss of the season. Secondly, it was to the Knicks -- a team we have trouble handling for some reason. Thirdly, it was at Madison Square Gardens, a place we seemingly can't win it. Fourthly, it was to the @#&*#@ Knicks! Sure, the Jazz were without Deron, but you'd think that we would be talented enough to handle this team. I thought so, but I was wrong.

One of countless underdefended outside shots the Knicks took

The Knicks really killed it from the three point line, five different Knicks scored from deep, three of them for at least 2 threes. The Knicks took a lot of threes (24) but made an astonishing number of them (11). It was not just guards that got in on the act either, as Zach Randolph and Wilson Chandler (face up bigmen, but bigmen still) both went 2-4 against the Jazz from three. That's 8 uncontested, outside jumpers that the Jazz let the Knicks take.

This is not the 1980's anymore, many bigmen do have legit range -- just the other game against Portland (Game #4) the Jazz let Channing Frye and LaMarcus Aldridge shoot and make open threes against us. This may continue to be a problem down the line as our team defensive philosophy seems to over-emphasize defending the paint at all costs.

This is further compounded by the fact that many teams run sets where the ball handler is screened for. The Jazz coaching philosophy is to go behind the screen, instead of fighting through it to keep the ball handler defended. This left a number of open shots for the Knicks players that were not three pointers, but still very good looks. According to my scribbles notes on this game, the Jazz left a Knicks player open on these two types of plays (guy open for three, or guy open on perimeter screen) over 20 times. And the Knicks made the Jazz pay for it. Will every team shoot so well against the Jazz? Hopefully not, but if your defensive schemes rely on 'HOPE' then some changes need to happen.

As bad as the game looked, the Jazz were still in it, but were unable to retake the lead, despite being close in the 4th quarter on the road, without their best player. Part of the problem was rebounds. Sure, the Jazz managed to rebound the ball 41 times, but the second highest rebounder on the team was Brevin Knight. Mehmet Okur, who no doubt was severely distracted by off-court stuff, played 42 minutes and finished with 17 points but only 3 rebounds. That's one rebound every 14 minutes of play. That's not too good. The biggest beef I had with this game was the sheer number of open shots that the Jazz missed. There were a lot of good looks that were just missed. The Jazz could have won this game, and really they should have. Props to the Knicks . . . grudgingly. 

Next Game: Tuesday November 11th, 2008 -- Utah Jazz @ Philadelphia 76ers