Friday, February 27, 2009
Thursday, February 26, 2009
SALT LAKE CITY—In a USA Today poll of NBA players and fans published Tuesday, four out of five Utah Jazz players admitted to never having heard of their team, their teammates, or themselves. "Wait, who the hell is that guy?" Utah forward Paul Millsap said while looking at a picture of Jazz forward Paul Millsap. "I seem to remember the Jazz playing pretty well for the past few seasons, and they always have a bunch more white guys than other teams, but I don't know any of their names or what they do. Ostertag's not on the team anymore, is he? Though to be honest, it's not like I'd know him if I saw him." During last night's game against the Warriors, the Jazz were charged with their 49th consecutive delay of game penalty when no one got up from the bench after coach Jerry Sloan announced the starting lineup."
Kyle is playing so well, I may have to get myself some Evo.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Portland lost last night and Denver has lost three straight. We are now only one game behind the Blazers and three behind the Nuggets. We still have a shot at taking the Northwest Division Championship, but to do so we are going to have to be hungry like the wolf, starting tonight in Minnesota.
Monday, February 23, 2009
"The Jazz likely will retire a number in Miller's honor and may even someday erect a statue of him to stand alongside those of John Stockton and Karl Malone outside of EnergySolutions Arena."
How cool would that be?! Putting up a statue of Larry H. just behind those of Karl and Stock. I can just imagine it now... A statue depicting a heftier-set man, with a round 'Santa-like' belly, a slightly balding combover, a friendly smile with an out-reached hand (You know this guy!), and of course, unusually-larger-than-normal, constructured elbows... perhaps even a tear coming from off his face. I can't wait for the day! Perhaps the Jazz ought to retire a 'collared-golf shirt' or 'softball jersey' instead of a 'numbered Jazz jersey' for Larry? That would certainly set him apart as "Father" of all things Jazz.
The Jazz brass claims that Carlos will play around five minutes per quarter as he nurses himself back to health. I, personally, will wait to see him suited up and playing at a high level before I put too much hope in the Jazz' return to glory. But, it will certainly be nice to have a legitimate-sized power forward back on the squad. I'll miss Collins, though.
It does seem odd that Boozer became healthy right after (1) the Heat traded away any hope of signing Carlos over the summer and (2) rumors started to swirl that no team has enough money this summer to offer him real $$$. But regardless of the nobleness of his motivation, it seems that Carlos now has incentives to stick around at home games past halftime.
So, let's pour one out for the return of the man they call "the Booze." It's about damn time.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Friday, February 20, 2009
During the brutally cold Boston December of 2002, the Jazz came to town. Thanks to my vast network of NBA connections, I sat in the players' section. It was like going to an NBA cocktail party. I met Matt Harpring's wife (a handsome woman) and Kenny Natt's uncle (not a big basketball fan). Ben Handlogten (who lives in Boston when he's not dominating NBA centers) had a vocal cheering section of 40 plus; they even had banners.
But the eye-opening encounter of the night was meeting a 50-year old gentleman who was invited by Paul Pierce. The man was not Pierce's relative, not a childhood friend, not even a shady, AAU character: he was Pierce's "dog dealer." We spent most of the third quarter discussing how Pierce purchased dozens of pit bulls every year.
At the time, I thought, "Wow, that Paul Pierce is a real dog lover."
As Jazz fans, we continue to wait for Carlos Boozer to return to the court. Certainly, there’s a possibility that his healthy return could pay big dividends towards a “successful run” through the NBA Playoffs. We can only hope that this will be the case! In similar fashion, we as Jazz fans, wait for Carlos Boozer to make his decision to potentially opt-out of his contract. It will happen (either way) this summer. (So too could Memo and Korver… but they more than likely will not).
Being that our current economy is in such a crappy state, the NBA Salary Cap and Luxury Tax levels have been predicted to drop dramatically for the next season. Spending on contracts in the NBA could hit a dramatic low this summer (both in amount & length). Tom Ziller, from Fanhouse, goes into great detail about this unusual potentiality. As we sit now, the Jazz (with Boozer deciding to finish off his contract with Utah) will be sitting at $71 million dollars of payroll… right at the current luxury-tax threshold (salary cap is $58 mil). With the tax level predictably falling over the next year, the Jazz will be sitting squarely in luxury-tax land next season. And to think… this does NOT even involve the hope, consideration and need to re-sign Paul Millsap yet. Yikes!
Now… Boozer has said once before that he’ll likely opt-out. As we analyze it, the only real competitors on the open FA market (for his services) will be Detroit, Memphis & OKC. Competition will be the factor that drives his price range. Will they desire to sign him? At more than the Jazz are already paying him? Even after he has missed 43 games this season (and counting)? Do you think it’ll be wise for the Booz to opt-out? I wonder if all of these factors (the economy, the falling luxury-tax level, Boozer’s on-court absence, his injury woes, etc) will change his mind towards free agency, and cause him to wait 'til 2010.
If so… then we’re screwd! We’ll see Mr. Paul Millsap walk. Our chance to shed salary is gone until next year. There’s nothing we can do… except pay into the luxury tax land (which the Jazz won’t do since they’ll be squarely inside there next season). Thus, who would you rather have… Millsap or Boozer? It’s one or the other. You decide.
I hope The Larry H. Miller Group is selling a lot of cars these days. If not... oh wait… oh no.
From my viewpoint, the key to the game last night (other than Kevin Garnett playing zero minutes in the second half) was the much-maligned Matt Harpring. The guy is basically immobile, and has a contract that is going to absolutely kill us next year, but last night he provided a toughness that no one else wearing white seemed to possess. The first quarter was an absolute beat down as the Celtics intimidated the Jazz and physically outmanned them at every position other than point guard. Then, Harpring came off the bench, knocked some teeth, and was more aggressive than Pierce. I don't think the Jazz win last night if Harpring is hurt. He pulled down a crucial rebound with a minute to go - a rebound that not Memo, Boozer, and certainly not Collins would have snagged. So kudos to Harpring, and kudos to Sloan for sticking with the old guy during crunch time.
Next up: two home games against good, but not great, opponents before the Jazz head out on the road to see what type of team we really are working with.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
While there has been little talk of the Jazz making a move, there are reports now that the Jazz offered Boozer to Cleveland (scroll down a few questions). That would be completely ironical - seeing as how Boozer is hated like poison on the shores of whichever Great Lake borders on Cleveland. However, it is a perfect fit - the Cavs are starting Ben Wallace, and have to rely on Mo Williams to provide scoring behind Lebron. Adding Boozer gives them a 20-10 monster in the middle. Plus, the Cavs play crazy good team defense, so they can hide Boozer's one glaring weakness.
For the Jazz, this trade - assuming they get Sczerbiak in return - would be a godsend. Although Boozer is an all-star when he plays, it is apparent that the Jazz and Boozer are parting company sooner or later. And if, as seems likely now, Boozer doesn't opt out this year, you can kiss Mr. Millsap goodbye. From my vantage point, it is infinitely better to keep Millsap permanently, rather than keeping Boozer for one year.
Update: The trade deadline has come and gone with no Jazz moves.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Andrei has also returned to the "quote-ables" column, mentioning that he's experiencing "triple-joy". His triple-joy moment came as a result of returning to the court from injury, helping the Jazz towards victory and celebrating his 28th birthday yesterday. Happy Birthday AK! I wish all of us could enjoy the effects of "triple-joy" (in one shape or form) every so often... like AK47.
CJ Miles exploded for a 24 point game. He went 2-3 from the 3-pointline, dished out 2 assists and grabbed 3 rebounds. His production was a huge lift in propeling the Jazz towards victory.
Boozer is still unsure when he'll return to the line-up. He's already missed over half the season (42 games). In his stead, Millsap scored 18 points and grabbed 8 rebounds. We're used to having Millsap fill-in for him. Infact, Millsap has essentially replaced him. I understand that it's important for the Jazz not to rush Boozer back too early, but, the guy has been "out" forever. It wouldn't surprise me if he didn't return for the rest of the season.
Memo suffered from the flu and missed the game last night. Let's hope he returns to the floor soon. I think that along with AK & Millsap, Memo can "sure-up" our interior post-game. Collins scored 8 points and grabbed 7 boards, while Kosta Koufos played 11 minutes... in light of Memo being sick.
The Jazz have now lost 145 man games due to injuries, illnesses or other reasons. Last year, we only had 45 games lost.
Up Next: The Boston Celtics come to town for a Thursday night TNT special.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Hint: The pictures are symbolic in that they accurately depict what each of these Jazzman prefer to do, and what each will be doing this evening in the Tox Box.
At the Hornets' Tuesday morning shootaround in Oklahoma City, West told the New Orleans Times Picayune that he was hoping his team would resist the trade interest in Chandler."I don't know if that's somebody we can afford to lose,'' West told the newspaper. "So I'm not sold on that idea. You just don't find a 7-foot-1 athlete like that and he's the only 7-footer we have. Especially if we're planning on making a run into the playoffs, we're going to need size to compete with Portland, San Antonio and the Lakers. I'm not sure that would help us."
Does that sound like a guy ready to make a deep playoff run? The Hornets are currently 1 1/2 games ahead of the Jazz, but following this trade, I will be surprised if we don't catch them by the end of the year.
Monday, February 16, 2009
Being from Utah, I have a soft spot for mascots that end with "zz." For a while there, we had the Jazz, Buzz (AAA baseball), Starzz (WNBA), Blitzz (outdoor soccer), Freezz (indoor soccer), and Pioneerzz (St. George minor league baseball team). It was ridiculous. Thankfully, the days of Utah's fascination with the double Z are over. But after all those years of cheering on double Zs, I can't help but like the Memphis Grizz. And what's not to like about these lovable losers. With a 3-19 road record, the Grizz are sure to enjoy the Tox Box and appear to be the perfect team to help the Jazz start their late season push to the playoffs.
Friday, February 13, 2009
A lot of Hall of Fame news to report.
- A hearty TCG congratulations to John Stockton and Jerry Sloan for their selection as finalists for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
- Jerry and John join other luminaries from the past, such as Michael Jordan, Dennis Johnson, Chris Mullin, and David Robinson. Whether "the Admiral" makes it in on the first ballot or not, he'll always be a hall of fame virgin in my book. This video helped me (and I'm sure a lot of our readers) find some important answers in high school.
- Lastly, one other Jazzman made the cut: Bernard King. King scored nearly 20,000 points in the NBA, and nearly 200 for our Jazz. He was traded to the Warriors after pleading guilty to sexual assault. Way to go Jazz!
This year, the Jazz are at 9-17 on the road, meaning we'd have to go 8-7 after the break just to match last year's road mark. That's not going to happen. Here's why: The Jazz still have a five game east-coast road trip in March, and while none of the teams are finals contenders, all of them are fighting for playoff spots. And then, the dagger: the final nine games of the season include six road games against LEGIT western conference teams. Portland, Denver, New Orleans, Dallas, San Antonio, and the Lakers. Ugg.
Those last six roadies could easily be an 0-for-6. That means, if the Jazz have any intentions of getting anything better than an 8 seed, they need to take care of business in March against the Indianas of the world. The team hasn't given me much faith in their road-readiness thusfar. The signature road win of the season to date was at Philadelphia in Deron's first game back from his first injury. Come March, if that is still our marquee road victory, we better start prepping for the lottery.
So it's time to call your shot. The Jazz are currently 30-23 with 29 games remaining after the all-star break (14 at home and 15 on the road). How many of our remaining games will we win and where will we be seeded come playoff time?
My Take: I think we will go 19-10 after the break, finishing with a record of 49-33 and taking the forth seed. For this to happen, Portland is going to have to stuggle. But they are young, and I am not convinced they can continue on their current pace through the home strech.
What's your take?
Thursday, February 12, 2009
I am truly disappointed.
Speaking of D-Will, in the month of February he is averaging 32.5 points and 9.3 assists a game and shooting 58% from the field. I have mentioned this before, but will do so again: the way D-Will is playing, I would take him over any other point guard in the league. Plus, check out some of these dunks.
There have been some rough streches so far this season, but with D-Will and Millsap getting some much deserved rest over the all-star break and Boozer and AK scheduled to return shortly, the Jazz are primed to make a strong late season run.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Look who's coming to town... Kobe Bryant. Our favorite, quintessential "MJ" poser.
Do you hate Kobe? Hate is a strong word. But I can assure you that I dislike him.
ESPN's the Sportsguy provides us with a quality assessment of whether we are true Kobe haters or not. He categorizes antidotes of "hatred" in 5 distinct groups.
1. I see my Kobe glass as half empty
2. He's just so polarizing
3. I'm not willing to admit that he's the best
4. I don't like him personally
5. I hate Kobe... like I really hate him
As for me, I think that I fall somewhere in category #2 and #4... showing small signs of hatred. I'm certain that TCG's very own "Booner" borders on category #5.
As a teaser, here are some quotes that I enjoyed from the Sportsguy...
"I like watching him and arguing about him. I like being bothered and thrilled by him. And I really like when he plays like Michael J. Fox instead of The Wolf."
"THREE ASSISTS AND NO REBOUNDS. Talk about a team guy."
"When LeBron arrived in New York two days later and notched his amazing 52/9/11, he didn't break Kobe's new record but definitely cheapened it."
Go Jazz... Beat LA!
Monday, February 9, 2009
Deron Williams has been dominant over the past few games. He’s been doing the heavy-lifting by scoring 35, 34, 34, and 31 over his last 4. With his growing confidence and increased health, Deron has been looking like his old dominant-self. It’s for this reason why I believe that he’s an All-Star. He’s basically carrying this franchise on his back (at the moment). Unfortunately, we don't quite stack-up to the rest of the West with the current team we have on the floor. Here are some additional quick thoughts on our Jazz:
- Memo has looked sharp as well. Okur has been averaging 21 ppg and 9 rpg over the last five games. He’s filled in the void left by Booz and Kirilenko.
- Ronnie Brewer has increased his scoring production over the past five. He’s improved his scoring to 15.4 ppg.
- Unfortunately, Paul Millsap has hit somewhat of a funk. Over the last five games, Millsap has been averaging 9 ppg and 6 rpg (well under his season averages and late double-double barrage). We’ll need increased (and consistent) production from Millsap if we want to stay-afloat in the playoff hunt.
- CJ came back to the line-up against the Warriors and posted a 10 point, 7 rebound game. It’s nice to have him back in the line-up. Without him (& AK), we really lack the athleticism to keep up with the opposing wing players.
- Jarron Collins played one solid outing last week... and now he gets all of the back-up minutes to Memo. It's classic Jerry Sloan-rotation-syndrome. If someone performs decently, he'll get rewarded, regardless if he's any good. Where's Kosta?
- The Warriors beat the living-socks off of the Jazz last night. They ran all over us!... essentially doing whatever they wanted during an incredibly up-tempo game. We can’t play Warriors-ball with them (fast-break, run-n-shoot, no defense). The Warriors have too many athletes to keep up with. Let’s just chalk it up to “tired-legs” and “being outplayed”, then forget about this one. It happens… especially after playing 3 games in 4 nights.
Friday, February 6, 2009
- Mike "Czar of the Telestrator" Fratello on Matt Harping: "The thing about Harping in this league is that he eats you alive on the offensive and defensive ends of the court." These are the comments that shed a little light on why Mike is hanging out in the announcer's booth instead of roaming the sidelines as a coach. Note on the picture of the Czar below: he's the brosef on the left in the rainbow shirt. Nice!
- Karl "The Mailman" Malone during TNT's halftime show: "Lamar Odom. Lamar Odom. Lamar Odom is my boy. My boy is Lamar Odom." Really bizarre. Abosolutley no context whatsoever. For the record, Lamar Odom had 20 points and six boards last night. If that's all it takes to get Karl going he should really check out Andrea Bargnani's game.
- Jason "Old Man" Kidd on Deron Williams: "Damn I'm old and slow. D Will killed me tonight. . . did you see that play in the first half when he drove right by me and I didn't even try to stop him? I'm amazed I was even 2-6 from the field -- 1-11 wouldn't have surprised me at all. How ridiculous is it that I STARTED over him and Chris Paul during the Olympics?" OK, Jason Kidd really didn't say that. But he might as well have. The Mavs are going nowhere this season or in the playoffs with that guy running the show for them.
For instance, on Tuesday the Wizards' Mike James stood in for the Wizards' official clergyman, Pastor John Jenkins. James offered some spiritual nourishment to his meek and lowly team. Alas, even after the sermon, the Wizards lost.
This all got me thinking: if a team from Washington D.C. has a designated clergyman, what about a team that plays its home games a few blocks from ground zero of mormondom? The Jazz have to have a pastor, right? And if they do, is he mormon? If the DesNews could report on this, I would pay good money to read the insightful online comments.
For my part, I couldn't find anything on the web. However, if the Jazz need a fill-in at the pulpit, I can almost guarantee who pulls out his pregame bible: Kyle "Jesus freak" Korver. He loves church! See if you can find him this past October enjoying the sermon of Pastor Bernie.
Anyway, does anyone out there in WWWland have inside info on whether the Jazz have a pastor? Inquiring minds want to know.
UPDATE: According to Booner (who would know) the Jazz do not have a pastor. But they have a dentist.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
As much as we "rip" on Jarron Collins, I have to give him credit for being ready to play. He played his role to perfection... unspectacular, steady, well-prepared which equaled to becoming a difference-maker. And how about his long-distance jumper (college 3-line extended)? Go get 'em JC! When the Jazz have players like Boozer and Kirilenko out with injury and Memo and Millsap struggling with foul trouble, at least we had someone willing to step up and help get us a victory last night.
Howard's unpatriotic rant was just another in a line of brilliant PR moves that also includes Howard admiting that smoking pot is an important part of his offseason workout routine.