Saturday, December 13, 2008

Game 7 Recap: Utah 93 - Philadelphia 80

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 . . .)

['s boxscore -- Yahoo! Game Recap --'s game highlights -- -- ]

Jazz Quartet -- Top Four Players of the Game:

Andrei Kirilenko Carlos Boozer Paul Millsap Ronnie Brewer
Nov 11 2008 [Ron Cortes Staff Photographer] Kirilenko says no Nov 11 2008 [Tom Mihalek AP Photo] Boozer pump fakes Millsap was big inside, as usual Brewer was a layup machine in the 4th
Photographed by Ron Cortes for Photographed by Tom Mihalek for AP Photo Photographed by Jesse D. Garrabrant for NBAE/Getty Images Photographed by Jesse D. Garrabrant for NBAE/Getty Images

Andrei seems to have a permanent spot here as the team continues to have a wide variety of injuries this season. Andrei had a much better game than the last one, and he finished with 16 points (6-8 shooting, 4-4 from the FT line), 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 block in 33 minutes of action (and only 1 turn over!). Andrei was patient on offense finding his team mates, out-rebounded Dalembert on some misses and shot at least three outside jumpers with a high level of confidence, and swished each of them. He was one of four guys with at least 16 points in the game!

Boozer had another double double, this time with 19 points and 16 rebounds. If he was shooting better from the FT line he would have had a 20-10 game, something that has so far been elusive to him in the last few outings. He made himself a good target for Deron Williams, and the side pick and roll was called often, and worked often -- Boozer actually had a double double before halftime in this game, and Deron Williams had 8 assists. Boozer was a beast inside, scoring in a variety of ways, but his jumper was off -- and that's something that we're going to need to be on during the rest of the season against harder clubs.

Millsap tied Kirilenko with 16 points off the bench (though, he was slightly less efficient, going 8-12), and added 6 rebounds, 3 blocks, 2 assists and 1 steal. His defense and rebounding was instrumental during the 4th quarter run by the bench, and his hard work was rewarded as his team mates looked for him inside. So far the unselfish play of the Jazz has really been a key reason why they've continued to win games with so many guys out. Millsap is a great example of this unselfish play.

Ronnie Brewer is going nuts these last few games. Last game was a 12/7/7 with some other stats for change. This night Brewer started off slowly (zero points at half, after missing all of his shots), but his team continued to work the ball to him, and he delivered when it counted. Ronnie finished the game with 16 points (6-16 fg, 0-3 3pt, 4-4 ft), and had 9 assists and 4 steals. Yes, he and Andrei almost had double doubles in this game, and both are 'second' tier players on this team. That's depth!

Digging Deeper:

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!

While Koufos was impressive Deron was somewhere between impressive and 'meh'. He felt the need to come back sooner than he should have, and while he did have an okay game (statistically at least, with 7 points and 9 assists, 2 boards, 1 block and 2 turn overs), he did not play a good game. He did control the pace and was able to break his man off the dribble and find an open man on occasion -- but he was just as likely to pass the ball to someone a bit off where it should have been. He also forced his way inside, but did not have the speed, lift, or balance to make layups. His outside shooting was also pretty off.

Deron does make life easier for others . . .

Photographed by Jesse D. Garrabrant for NBAE/Getty Images

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]


Anonymous said...

Just wanted to leave a comment and make sure you were okay...well?