Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Taking Crotty's last post a step further, with the playoffs fast approaching and the crucial final stretch starting tonight for many of the western playoff contenders (Lakers excluded), the following is my prediction for the final standings and playoff seeding. All of the 2-8 western playoff hopefuls have games remaining against their western counterparts, but some have considerably lighter schedules (San Antonio and Denver) than others (Utah and New Orleans). Even predicting that Utah pulls off two road wins against western playoff opponents, I still don't see them rising higher than the 6 seed.

  1. Lakers
  2. San Antonio (56-26)
  3. Denver (54-28)
  4. Houston (52-30) Wins tiebreaker by beating Portland in their next head-to-head.
  5. Portland (52-30)
  6. Utah (51-31)
  7. New Orleans (50-32) Wins tiebreaker by beating Dallas one more time this year.
  8. Dallas (50-32)

The Road Ahead

Here is the Jazz' remaining regular season schedule:
  • Mar. 31: @ Portland
  • Apr. 2: @ Denver
  • Apr. 3: Minnesota
  • Apr. 5: @ New Orleans
  • Apr. 8: @ Dallas
  • Apr. 10: @ San Antonio
  • Apr. 11: Golden State
  • Apr. 13: L.A. Clippers
  • Apr. 14: @ L.A. Lakers

That's six road games against playoff teams and three home games against lottery clubs. Any predictions on how those will turn out?

3-6, anyone?

The Magic of KJZZ

For those of you who missed the Jazz telecast last night against the New York Knicks, you missed some great television. Let me fill you in:

Steve Brown went up to the box seats where LDS Church President, Thomas S. Monson, was watching the game to interview the church leader. It was a typical Steve Brown train wreck interview, full of silly questions and Brown interrupting President Monson one word into his responses. 

The real magic came immediately after the interview, however. Here is a transcript of the ensuing dialogue between Boller and Booner:

Boller: Thanks, Steve. You never know who will be in the arena. Good to hear from a #1 Jazz fan.

Booner: You know, he once told me who his favorite college player was. Guess who?

Boller: Who?

Booner: (emphatically) Your's truly.

Boller: The Booner?

Booner: Yes, sir.

Boller: errrrr...(extended pause)...Well, back to the action. 

Where Have You Gone AK47?

The Simon and Garfunkel classic hit "Mrs. Robinson" has a line in it that calls out Joe DiMaggio for leaving the game of baseball too early. DiMaggio left the game at the peak of his career in order to retain the image of himself... "being on top". I guess not everyone can be at their best forever, or at least "all the time".

"Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio
A nation turns its lonely eyes to you (Woo, woo, woo)
What's that you say, Mrs. Robinson
Joltin' Joe has left and gone away"

In like manner, while Andrei Kirilenko isn't Jazz nations' best player, oftentimes he's considered one of the most important. With the way he's been playing now, you could easily replace DiMaggio's name (in that song) with Andrei Kirilenko's, and wonder to yourself... "Where have you gone, AK47? Jazz nation turns its lonely eyes to you..." I wonder what's happened to Andrei's game? In a time of great need, AK47 is disappearing rather than re-asserting.

Over the course of the last 15 games, Andrei has only scored in double figures 4 times. Through March, AK's scoring numbers have fallen 4 points (from 12 to 8 ppg), his rebounds and assists seem rather ordinary (3.4 rpg & 2.1 apg) and most alarming... his blocks and steals per game are down to 0.6 and 0.2 respectively (perhaps an all-time low!).

AK... where have you gone? It seems like your season ending swoon has begun to hit us again. Is it because Boozer is back? There's just not enough room for the 3 of you (Booz, AK and Millsap)? Clearly, you just don't belong on the perimeter. You seemed so content and effective in the 6th man role, coming off the bench. However now, you're not even relevent to changing a game. Where have you gone AK47?

Captain Kirk Snyder Arrested

Former Jazz draft bust Kirk Snyder was arrested in Ohio yesterday. Apparently, Snyder broke into his neighbor's house in suburban Cincinnati and was beating up some dude until the dude's wife pulled the hood that was covering Snyder's face. So Snyder ran home. A few minutes later, police dogs tracked him (to his home) and he was arrested.
Surprisingly, Kirk never really meshed with the Jazz.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Brevin Knight = Jason Hart

I count myself as one of those who was actually excited to get Brevin Knight as a backup point guard during the offseason. Maybe my expectations were a little too high. I have grown increasingly frustrated with Knight's performance as the season has worn, and I have frequently wondered why Ronnie Price isn't getting the backup minutes by now. I expect that change to come any day.

I have heard it said that Brevin Knight is a good backup point guard because he doesn't "hurt" you. However, I was hearing similar arguments on behalf of Jaron Colins about 3-4 years ago. I think the Jazz need more than someone who doesn't hurt them in the backup point guard position, and I also question whether it is true that Brevin Knight doesn't hurt them.

Consider the 32.9% shooting percentage for the season (most of those shots being open 15 foot jumpers). Also consider the 0.00% on 3PT field goals (0-5). If he was making up for it with great defense and steals, then I might feel more comfortable, but his steals per game equals his turnovers per game (.94/game).

I know that Sloan is a sucker for Stanford grads, but, as he seems to have concluded with Collins, I think the Jazz have better options.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Filed Divorce

If true, it's really too bad. Boozer and his family have been through some rough, tough times with the ill-health of his kids. Very sad... You can only hope that it's resolved and settled.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The New Guy

Editor's Note: Last night's game against the Suns was so frustrating to watch, with so many missed free throws and layups at such a critical juncture in the season, that I'm pretending it didn't happen.

This past Sunday, Utah's second most popular daily newspaper ran a lovely feature story on new Jazz owner Greg Miller (apparently Gail Miller, Larry's widow and Greg's mom, technically owns the team, but for all intents and purposes he's running the show).   

A few intersting tidbits:
  • Miller the Son prefers suave leather jackets to beat-up green polo shirts.  Nice!  Score one for the new kid.  
  • According to Webster University Professor Patrick Rishe, professional sports teams are often handed down from generation to generation.  Rishe went on to describe the Steinbrenner family as "kind of cantankerous."  I couldn't find anything online about this, but I'm pretty sure Dr. Rishe won Webster's campuswide "Master of the Obvious" award last year, narrowly beating out Ron Boone (who was deemed such a great fit that he was considered despite having no connection to Webster).
  • Greg Miller said in the interview that he's committed to keeping the Jazz in Utah as long as they're profitable.  This is what's technically known in the PR business as "a TON of wiggle room."  Perhaps I'm getting nostalgic for the old days already, but I preferred LHM's "The Jazz will stay in Utah as long as I'm alive," answer to that question.  Score one for the old man.  
  • In a nice sidebar piece, Greg listed his favorite movies as "Brokeback Mountain" and "that one with that chick from Saved by the Bell where she dances around a lot on the pole". . . OK fine, that part isn't true.    
On a more serious note, does Greg plan to try to resign every Jazz free agent this summer?  Is he willing to go over the salary cap under any circumstances?  Will he rename the Salt Lake Bees the Salt Lake Buzz and finally return us to the double-z glory days of the late 90s?  

No real clues, unfortunately.  

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Intro Battles

So, LeBron James and Shaquille O'Neal have been battling it out... over who can put on the most hilariously entertaining pre-game introduction.

First, it was LeBron and his boys from the Cavs performing the photoshoot. And not to be outdone, Shaq came up with something (perhaps) even better, the bowling routine.

Personally, I'd have to admit that I probably enjoyed the photoshoot more than the bowling skit. However, the classic 'thing' with every Shaq intro-show is that he's always "the centerpiece" of the comedy act. He's the one that will always get the big laughs. It's the Shaq show! I don't think that the Big Cactus can be outdone in this regard. His personality measures up to be close the same size as his ego (and for that... he'll always be more likable and enjoyable than today's NBA villians, ie. Kobe).

My question is... when will the Jazz put together their own pre-game intro-skit? Can you imagine Jerry Sloan's reaction to it? I wonder what the Jazz would do? Something involving Kirilenko, Memo, Fes, Kosta, KK and Harp... with D-Will leading the way could be pretty entertaining & funny. How 'bout alpine skiing? Boy-band rock concert?... (with synchronized dance moves). Or the dance club-dance off?

Back-to-Back Shaq

After a nice win over the second-place team in the West, the Jazz head to Phoenix to take on the currently lottery-bound Suns, who return the favor by coming to SLC on Saturday. The Suns are riding a five-game win streak after winning in Denver on Monday night. And in the tight Western Conference, all you need is a five-game win streak and, KAZAAM, you're back in the playoff race.

The key to tonight's and Saturday's game will be the teams' benches. If Millsap, Korver, and Kirilenko can get theirs, the Jazz should win both games this week. That's because the Suns' bench (without Barbosa) is paper thin. Their bench studs are currently Jared Dudley, Goran Dragic (that's right, Goran Dragic of CutGoranDragic.com), and ex-Jazzman Louis Amundson. What's that? You don't remember the Louis Amundson era? That game was awesome!

Anyway, I'm not one to go calling games in March a "must win," but if the Jazz want any chance at homecourt in the playoffs, they need two games from the Suns this week.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Letting Others Do the Hard Stuff

Thanks to the 76ers and the Suns, the Jazz are moving on up the Northwest Division standings. We are currently tied with Denver in the all important loss column. Now would be an excellent time to go on a nice little winning streak. And, as luck would have it, the Big Confuscious comes to town.

Now, remember, the Rockets are playing without McGrady - which means that they are a good basketball team. With McGrady out, they run everything through Yao and let Scola and Artest clean up the boards. Since their guards suck, they have decided that they don't need them: they have been running a three forward lineup with either Kyle Lowry or Aaron Brooks at the point.

Lately, the Rockets have been doing things that the Jazz are seemingly powerless to accomplish, like winning in San Antonio. However, the Jazz seem to be in the Rockets' head, just like the Spurs are in ours. Much of that dominance is the result of matchups: when you are running Aaron Brooks against Deron, you are digging yourself a hole. And the Jazz, unlike a lot of teams, have the bigs to match up with Yao, Scola, and Artest.

Last thing to know about the Rockets: they have a small forward that was recently shot in the leg after smashing into a utility pole with his SUV. And it wasn't Ron Artest!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Life Off, Madness On

I have to be honest… I haven’t been paying much attention to the Jazz this weekend. My focus has been solely on the NCAA tournament –but if you’re curious… we beat the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday night.

While the local teams dropped the ball over the weekend, the tourney was still exciting. It made me think about the magical tourney appearances that our Jazz players participated in over their college basketball careers.

To reflect on that, I remember watching #1 Duke being upset by Indiana in 2002. Boozer and the Blue Devils were considered unstoppable back then (with Jay Williams & Mike Dunleavy). Kyle Korver (for Creighton) lost to Chris Kaman in the 1st Round at the Huntsman Center. I was there to witness it. Brevin Knight starred for Stanford against the Utes of Utah in the Sweet 16 of 1997. And of course, AK47, Memo Okur and the Fes never played NCAA Tournament Ball (that would’ve been thrilling if they had…). Probably the best memory of all though was the highlight of Deron Williams and Illinois in their run to the Final Four. Here’s to reminiscing:

Elite Eight 2005 – Illinois vs. Arizona

To many, it’s known as “the shot”. Illinois made one of the most improbable comebacks –down nearly 15 points with 4 minutes to play- and beat Arizona to advance to the Final Four. Deron Williams was the superstar behind the comeback. His “shot” put his playing career on the proverbial “map”. And as we all know now, he's been making those caliber of shots ever since.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Karl Malone Knows that Karl Malone is a Patriot

Readers of The Cowhide Globe are nothing, if not hard core right-wing political junkies. So this brilliant editorial featuring a true "who's who" of global intellects is likely old news to all of you. But hopefully, by posting it here, we can help people realize that the Mailman is absolutely right about whatever it is he's talking about.

P.S. How would you phoenetically spell the way Karl prounces the number 19. Nowuntane?

The Calm Before the Storm

After avenging their loss to the second-worst team in the NBA last night, the Jazz now begin to prepare for the home stretch. Two weeks ago, I wrote that the Jazz' recent East coast jaunt would either set them up for a run at a high playoff seed, or a dogfight to stay out of the Western conference basement. Well, after going 2-3 on said trip, it looks like we're going to be fighting for playoff scraps.

Now, before you tell me that the Jazz are only a game and a half out of third place in the West, take a look at what looms on the horizon. On Friday the Jazz take on a suprisingly effective Thunder team in Oklahoma (spoilter alert: this will not be an easy game). Then, next week, a home game against the Rockets (take that one to the bank), followed by a home and away series with the Suns (both games should end up in the 130s). Following the Shaq double play, we get a freebie with the Knicks at home. Overall, I feel comfortable predicting a 4-1 record for the rest of March.

But then comes April. And April is a bitch. Six road games against Western Conference playoff teams (Portland, Denver, New Orleans, Dallas, San Antonio, Lakers) mixed in with three home games against cupcakes (Minnesota, Clippers, Warriors). Oh, by the way, guess how many road wins the Jazz currently own against teams with winning records: ONE! The Jazz continue to be a terrible road team. Thus, barring any shockers, we're looking at a 3-6 record in April.

Bottom line: I don't see the Jazz having home court in the first round. And, unless we get a dream matchup (read: Rockets) that will mean a quick vacation.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


I guess it really began to fall apart in Atlanta.... what a rocky, rough weekend!

In any event, the Jazz gave up three in row with a loss to Orlando today. We finished off the road trip 2-3. It wasn't exactly what we, Jazz fans, had hoped for going into the road swing.

Trying to pinpoint where our downfall began is difficult to do, but I'll try to explain it in a few select words...

1. Dwight Howard: He destroyed us today, going for 28 and 20. The guy just abused us in the paint. The Magic outrebounded the Jazz 60 to 44 (which is quite unusual because the Jazz are generally one of the better rebounding teams). Howard had a lot to do with that stat. Boozer talked about Dwight Howard after the game, singing his praises by saying, "Howard was a monster, he is one of those guys that people don't appreciate like they should. He should be in the MVP talk, too. He cleans up everything and corrects any mistake they make." Howard had 12 points and 11 rebounds in the first quarter alone. "Howard is awfully hard to deal with," Sloan said. "He took us out of our offense, and then you have to take pot luck out there, and that's usually not a good percentage shot." If Howard is forcing us to take "pot luck" then we're really in trouble. Pot luck? Right on... I guess that means he was dominant!
2. Dwayne Wade: The Jazz always have trouble defending Super-star caliber shooting guards, -whether it's Wade, Kobe, T-Mac or Vincanity- they all make us look bad. Dwayne Wade had 50 points yesterday. 50!... Ouch! He set records on Saturday. Wade "tied his career high in scoring, set new bests in minutes (52½), field goals made (19) and attempted (39), and passed Alonzo Mourning to become Miami's all-time points leader." Afterword, he stated at the end of the game... "Just another day at the office." Boy, I sure hope not... because that's some incredible work-day! I do remember watching the Jazz blow an 8 point lead to essentially give the game away, but that doesn't take away from what Dwayne Wade did to us... serious ABUSE! Abused.
3. Joe Johnson & Josh Smith: These guys double-dosed the Jazz by scoring 31 and 22 points respectively. Joe Johnson started our trend of 2-guard-laden smackdown with his scoring output. It also gave the Hawks something to crow about. Apparently, they think they're pretty good now... "This shows everybody in the world the Hawks are for real," Smith said. "They have to take the Hawks seriously. Utah is an outstanding team. We played the best in the West and were able to beat them." Well... way to go Jazz! We made Atlanta feel relevent. Coach Sloan had some other thoughts, "No, we didn't run out of gas. We didn't come with gas early." No Gas... No Gus... No Fuss. We didn't win. Better luck next time...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

All that glitters is gold

The Salt Lake Tribune offered up this glimpse into the jetset lifestyle of Jarron Collins, friend of the stars who doesn't hurt you on the court. Please Jarron, tell us more about having "a romantic encounter with a woman."

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Price Check

Remember this amazing moment in last year's playoff series with the Lakers.

Where has Ronnie gone? I, for one, don't understand why Brevin Knight is getting all the backup PG minutes and Price has been relegated to the end of the bench, only to emerge in mop-up duty. Price is bigger, more athletic, a better shooter and a better defender. And he has the potential to improve with experience. Knight isn't bad. He doesn't hurt us, but he also does help us. He has trouble with bigger guards and can't shoot. He distributes well but doesn't provide much of a spark because he can't score. Price has the potential to guve us a real lift off the bench and I'd like to see us give him a chance to do so as we make our push to the playoffs.

Plus, maybe we'll get to see more highlights like this dunk over Boozer.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Jazz Tats: D-Will's Designs

Editor's Note: This is the second in a series of internet investigative reports on the meaning behind the living artwork that is the Utah Jazz.

The 2005 NBA draft was a turning point for the post Stockton-Malone Jazz. Before the Jazz drafted Deron Williams with the third overall pick, few would have thought that John Stockton's replacement (not counting Carlos Arroyo) would be such a, uh-hm, decorated individual. And even more baffling, that someone with tattoos could actually be a good guy! Those of you who watch NBA drafts religiously (like the Guru and I), may remember that Stu Scott predicted that Deron would be a great locker room presence. After asking the standard questions of the young draftee, the always intelligible Mr. Scott finished the interview thusly:

Mike, seven tattoos on this man, still, character ---- all the time, character.

Deron, predictably, had absolutely nothing to say in response. And so, without further ado, let's discuss those seven points of character.

1. The Panther: Deron's most prominent tattoo is that of the Panther on his right arm. I don't know what the panther tattoo means to him personally, but I hate to break the news that it means a lot to other NBA ballers as well. In fact, multiple NBA players, from crappy players to future HOFers have the exact same thing (see, Iverson's right forearm). In fact, the ferocious panther design is so popular that it spans across sports. Other athlete/heartthrobs - like Soccer players/Calvin Klein models - like showing off a little panther art for the ladies.

2. The Bicep Initials: On his right arm, Deron has his intials, DMW. (The M stands for Michael). Those also happen to be his daughter's initials, although it's unclear which came first - the tat or the tot (Golden Griff will love that one). On his left arm he sports his mom's initials, DES. Sweet kid.

3. D-Will: You have to love a tattoo of your own nickname in flames. It's like when Karl had that "The mailman" tattoo or when Ricky Green had that "Fastest of Them All" tattoo. Those were something. Not all NBA players opt for the nickname tattoo, of course. Tim Duncan, for instance, passed up on the "Timmy D" tattoo, for the infinitely cooler clown tattoo.

4. Christian Symbols: In keeping with NBA rules, Deron has a token christian tattoo. He has a cross with a rose and angel wings on his left arm (just below all of the beautiful imagery of the picture on the right).

5. Texas Made: As if it weren't enough that Boozer's tattoos are an homage to the Bulls' 1998 championship, Deron gives a shout-out to the Mavs/Spurs/Rockets every time he takes the floor. I would point out that Deron is actually "West Virginia Made." Of course, being accurate in this case would make a really lame tattoo even lamer.

6. His Daughter's Birth Date: Apparently, Deron has the date his daughter was born tattooed on his chest. Really? Is it in long form with gothic script, like, "The First Day of October in the Year of Our Lord, Two-Thousand and Two," or is it just "10-1-02." Either way, it screams I-ran-out-of-ideas.

7. NO GUTS, NO GLORY: Finally, his most recent and eye-scorching additions. He didn't have the Guts/Glory tattoos in college, so he may have inked them in Utah, which is a shame. You'd think we could do better than that. Those two lines in gothic font on his triceps rank among some of the worst tattoos in the NBA. Personally, if I'm getting those tattoos, and I'm an NBA player, I would get them upside down so they can only be read by a defender when I'm rising to shoot over them. Then, after I score, I could yell "NO GUTS, NO GLORY" and waive a hand in front of my face as if I can't feel it. That would be cool and intimidating, right?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Drafty Success

As many of you know, I’m a huge fan of the NBA Draft. It’s one of the highlights that I look forward to during the offseason. It combines the two sports that I enjoy and follow religiously (college hoops and the NBA). With March Madness upon us -and discovering which teams and players will be playing in the upcoming NCAA tournament- Now is the time we get to witness the college stars of today performing on the biggest stage… and then hoping and imagining that one day, their splendid basketball careers will continue with the Utah Jazz.
However, this year may be the anomaly or exception. The Jazz will likely NOT have a 1st round pick this summer because it was traded “conditionally” to the Philadelphia 76ers for Kyle Korver (and then again to Minnesota). Draftexpress.com explains it something like this
"Minnesota, via Philadelphia, receives a first round pick from Utah, as part of the Kyle Korver trade. Pick is protected 1 through 22 in 2009, 1 through 15 in 2010, 1 through 17 in 2011, 1 through 16 in 2012 and 1 through 16 in 2013. If pick has not been conveyed by then, Utah shall convey their own 2014 2nd round pick and 1,150,000 in cash on or before July 15, 2014."
So, because the Jazz are performing so well (of which I’m ecstatic) and continue to rise in the standings, we will more than likely lose out on our 2009 1st round pick. That’s just too bad because I love the draft. What will I look forward to when the summer roles around? MLB? Real Salt Lake?… Please! The good thing is… we could very easily have two picks for the NBA Draft of 2010 (our own and New York’s). "New York owes a protected 1st round draft pick to Utah, due before 2010 (top 24 protected in 2007, top 23 protected in 2008, top 22 protected in 2009, unprotected in 2010) [via Phoenix.]" And seriously... that would be sweet!
Let the madness begin!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Where's Kosta?

It's hard to complain during an 11 game win streak, but did you see Jarron Collins's line against the Toronto Raptors on Sunday: 0 points, 0 rebounds, 0 assists, 0 blocks, 1 turnover and three fouls in five minutes of play. Even worse than what Collins did on the court was who he kept off it. Once again Kosta Koufos registered a DNP - Coach's Decision, his ninth DNP in a row. Koufos has the potential to be a major contributor for the Jazz down the road, but that is not the only reason I wish Jerry would play him instead of Collins.

On November 11, 2008, I attended the Jazz victory over the 76ers in Philadelphia. Because Okur was out and Fesenko was resloving a visa issue in Canada, Koufos started and played 20 minutes. He finished with 6 points, 5 rebounds, a steal and two blocks. And beyond his stat line, he was active, running the floor on offense and altering shots on defense. I left the game convinced that Koufos was already better than Collins and I still feel that way today. We need a back up center for the playoffs and that center should be Koufos. So let's stop throwing away those five minutes we keep giving to Collins and get Koufos in the game. Koufos's energy and play will help us now and the experience he gains will pay dividends in the future.

Update: We may get to see the return of Kosta sooner than expected. Ross Siler is reporting this morning that Collins may be out tonight with a stomach virus.

Jazz in 4th!

With Denver's magnificent loss yesterday to the lowly Sacramento Kings (the worst team in the NBA, way to go Nuggs!), the Jazz have moved into the 4th spot (minus homecourt advantage, mind you) and would play New Orleans if the NBA Playoffs started today.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

RuPaul and the Raptors

Sounds like a catchy 80's band name doesn't it? Good guess. But the name really comes from Shaquille O'Neal's recent description of the team the Jazz play this afternoon: the Toronto Raptors. After a February 27th Suns' victory over the Raptors, O'Neal compared the Raptor's best player Chris Bosh to 90's drag queen RuPaul. The Raptors have responded to O'Neal's criticism by ... losing their last three games. That's one way to silence your critics. The Raptors losing streak currently sits at four games and they are going to have their hands full with our red hot Jazz.

One thing the Raptors do have going for them is a great blog. Check out this excellent post breaking down today's match up.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Cry Me a River

One of the best parts of beating the Nuggets is listening to their post-game excuses. They have to be one of the whiniest teams in the league and Coach Karl leads the way. Here is what he had to say about the Nuggets 97-91 loss to the Jazz:

“The frustration of them getting the whistle is really hard sometimes to overcome in this building.”

J. R. Smith’s post game comments were even more pathetic.

"They came out in the third quarter and [the officials] started blowing the whistle. They got every call. They got to the free-throw line. That's what opened it up."

Even Chauncey Billups, Mr. Big Shot, got in on the action, before catching himself and giving the Jazz a little credit.

"... In the third quarter, they scored most of their points from the free-throw line. It's kind of weird how that happens. But you have to give them credit. They attacked."

At the All-star break the Nuggets looked like they were going to be tough to catch. But Coach Karl and his guys have now lost five straight road games. Let’s hope they have a lot more excuses to make before the season is over.

Friday, March 6, 2009

By the Nuggets

One of the great things about subscribing to the NBA League Pass is getting a taste for the local telecast teams from each franchise. Each team has its own quirks. Some examples include Portland's Mike Barrett, who calls every player on the Blazers by their first name, or Miami's Eric Reid, who calls each shot made by Dwyane Wade as if it were the winning shot in the NBA Finals. Each franchise's telecast team are at least slightly biased toward the team they cover (which should be no surprise).

However, there is no NBA broadcast team that reaches the heights (or lows, rather) of homerism like the Nuggets' Chris Marlowe and Scott Hastings (pictured left and right, respectively). Their on-air comments towards the opposing team and NBA officials are consistently comparable in rationale and maturity to the student section at the Marriott Center 

Thankfully, tonight's game is being broadcast on ESPN since Marlowe and Hastings have a special vitriol for the Jazz. According to these two jokers: 
  • The Jazz are a bunch of cheap shot artists 
  • The Jazz learned all they know about playing dirty from Jerry Sloan. 
  • Matt Harpring, in particular, is a criminal who should not be let in the same building as upstanding citizens like JR Smith, Carmelo Anthony or Kenyon Martin 

By the way, it takes a man like Carmelo to sucker punch someone and then run to his bench.

It's Go Time

For Northwest Supremacy, tonight’s game of Jazz versus Nuggets couldn’t be any bigger. The Jazz are on a role, while the Nuggets are currently placed where the Jazz want to be. Last night, Denver handed the other Northwest contender Portland a swift loss, and now on the back-to-back, it’s “Go Time” for the Jazz to lay a swift division supremacy whooping on the weary Denver Nuggets. Here are the match-ups I’m looking forward to watching:

DWill “the Franchise” vs. Chauncey Ba-Ba-Ba-Billups!
Denver getting Chauncey was a downright steal. He’s completely changed the fortunes of that team. DWill, for the Jazz, is the engine that runs the good-ship Utah. This is a classic match-up of top-tier ball-controllers. Let’s see who wins the time of possession. I believe that it was Chauncey Billups who got the All-Star nod over DWill. No?! It’s time for revenge!

AK47 Defending Carmelo
There’s no other defender that gets under Crymelo’s skin other than Andrei Kirilenko. AK always forces CA into taking tough, contested shots. Let’s see if Andrei can cause another Crymelo-fest tonight.

Booz & Sap Versus Nene’, Petro and the Birdman?
Wow. We ought to dominate the paint tonight! And if we don’t, that’ll be the story of the game.

Brewer And J.R.
Both players are on the up-swing. Each possesses a certain degree of athleticism and pizzazz. Smith could probably be considered more of a tumult rather than pizzazz. He’s got a nice jumper… but he’s terribly out-of-control.

The Money-Man
Memo is in a category ‘all to himself’. He can’t be stopped. Who’s going to guard him? I don’t think Denver has a match-up for him. He’ll run circles around the Denver big-guys… casting away three-pointers at will. If he’s “On”… look-out!

Here's to the Jazz in a homecourt-laden beatdown tonight!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Jazz Tats: Booze Ink

Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of internet investigative reports on the meaning behind the living artwork that is the Utah Jazz.

I can think of a lot of things that Carlos Boozer does better than Greg Ostertag. One of those things is selecting bodyart. No cartoon cavemen for this power forward, just good old-fashioned christian imagery. And a ferociously awesome grizzly bear.

Boozer claims that at age 17 he saw Dennis Rodman on TV and was inspired to get his first tattoo. If you do the math, that was in 1998. In that year, Rodman was playing for the Bulls and they were on their way to their third straight championship against.... Well, let's just say that Boozer has never been accused of being a Jazz "lifer."

Boozer's arm tattoos are of a fairly recent vintage. When he signed with Utah he just had the beginnings of the grizzly bear that now dominates his left arm. It is claimed that his arm reads "C Booz Unleash the Beast." You be the judge.
On his right arm there is a tattoo of Boozer underneath Mt. Juneau. Boozer's left side is dark, signifying temptation, while his right side is light signifying basketball. I did not make that up. Underneath that image are the words "God's Will," because it was God's will that Boozer play in the NBA. Again, not made up. Also on Boozer's arm is the full text of Phillipians 4:13, which predicts that a great bear will come out of Alaska and destroy everyone in its path - except Lamar Odom.

Boozer is also a family man. He has the name of his wife (CeCe) and his three children (Carmani, Cameron, and Cayden) etched in various locations (none are inappropriate) on his body.

But, let's get back to God. On his chest, underneath his jersey he has a cross with the words "Follow the Money." Oh, whoops, my mistake. Apparently it says "Count Your Blessings." Same thing. On his back, Boozer has a huge guardian angel with the words "My Keeper." Interesting things about Boozer's guardian angel: (1) it's a dude, (2) he has dreadlocks, and (3) he is almost, almost, flashing his junk.

One last fun-fact: apparently the guy who tattooed Boozer's arms also did 50 Cent's back! The Jazz are so urban!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Dominant Duo

The Boozer is back! Along with Deron Williams, Carlos Boozer helped the Jazz come away victorious over the Houston Rockets, 101-94. Boozer had 20 points and 17 rebounds while Deron Williams posted 26 points and 14 assists. What a tremendous performance by the dynamic duo!

The Booze is Back?

It certainly appears that Carlos Boozer is nearing a full recovery from missing more than half of this season, judging from tonight's 20 point, 17 rebound performance against the Rockets. Not only did Booze play well individually, but his +15 net points (a team high) while on the floor shows that, at least for tonight, the team as a whole is finding another gear now that the Booze is back.

Houston...We have a problem.

With the Rockets in town tonight, I can't help but think of one of my all-time favorite blocks. There's just something amazing about seeing someone who stands at 7'6" get his shot turned away so emphatically. Let's hope we see more of this from AK and the Jazz tonight.

Hollinger's Odds

According to the ever-trustworthy and future-seeing John Hollinger of ESPN.com, the Jazz have a 9.7% chance of getting to the 2009 NBA Finals, and a 3.0% chance of winning the 2009 NBA Finals.

Can we pray for that 3%?

Key Stretch

Take a look at the upcoming schedule for the Jazz. The next ten days will determine what the Jazz will be fighting for come April. On one hand, they could be fighting for the 8 spot in the playoffs and TCG will be debating the merits of tanking for the lottery or fighting the good fight just to be in the big NBA dance. On the other hand, the Jazz could potentially be looking at homecourt advantage in the first round and TCG will feature articles about who is more like Satan, Kobe or Tim Duncan. The margin for error in the Western Conference is very slim, but to even have a chance of moving up the standings, the Jazz need to take care of some Eastern business next week.

First things first: the Jazz have the Rockets at home tonight and the Nuggets at home on Friday. Those are no-brainer must-wins. The Jazz are currently in the seventh spot in the West. Beating the Nuggets and Rockets won't necessarily move us up any higher, but beating them both puts us one half game out of the third spot. Beating good Western teams at home is a must, because we don't beat them on the road.

Speaking of the road, after two games at home, the Jazz head on a five-game jaunt out east. The trip includes three playoff teams (Atlanta, Orlando, Miami) and two lottery teams (Indiana and Toronto). None of those teams are world-beaters, but the Jazz can lose to absolutely anyone on the road (see, Wizards, Washington). I believe that the Jazz can earn at least a winning record, and ideally four wins on that trip. If the Jazz can do that, they are in a great position to make a nice run in the brutal last stretch of the season. However, if they limp home with a 2-3 or 1-4 record from the East, Kirilenko can start making his family vacation plans early.

Monday, March 2, 2009

This Is Where We Want To Be...

Well… not quite.

1. The Jazz are currently on an 8-game winning streak, and have won 11 of their last 12. The Jazz picked up the tempo to dispose of the Warriors 112-104 on Sunday night.

2. With our team now healthy, we can finally play to our potential. We have options in our line-up to go big, small, fast, athletic, or grind-it-out.

3. Boozer’s gradually getting his “groove” back. While he isn’t scoring a lot of points, he’s starting to hit the glass.

4. The Money-man, Memo Okur, is lighting the nets on fire. He’s picked up the slack when the Boozer was out-of-action. Over the course of January and February (27 games), Memo has scored over 20 points on 17 different occasions.

5. Kyle Korver, the heart-throb, has come out of his shooting slump. Thank goodness!... because he was downright terrible for a while.

6. DWill hit a season best 20 assists versus the Warriors. If Deron is distributing the ball like that, without “needing” to score, then I believe we’re in good shape. We have scoring options to spare.

7. Brewer’s putting up some mighty fine-looking numbers (averaging 20 ppg over his last 5 games).

8. Jarron Collins doesn’t play anymore.

9. The Jazz (37-23) are sitting in the 7-spot in the race for seeding in the Western Conference Playoffs. We’re nipping at New Orleans (36-22), Portland (37-22) and Houston (38-22). Even Denver isn’t too far off (39-21). It’s not out of the question that the Jazz could surge towards 3rd place and win the Division. Marc Stein has us ranked 7th in the NBA in his power rankings.

10. Personally, I’d like to avoid LA at all cost (and I don’t mean the Clippers). I think placing 2nd, 3rd or 6th would be good for us… Let’s keep the streak alive!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Brewer Puts the Kings In Checkmate

I couldn't pass up a good chess pun. But seriously, Ronnie Brewer played a great game last night against the Kings. He finished with a career high 26 points and played the entire second half. Brewer has increased his scoring average this season by almost two points - from 12 to 14 points a game - but his increased offensive productivity is not the only way he is helping the Jazz. The last two seasons, the Jazz were routinely torched by high scoring shooting guards. Players like Micheal Redd, Ray Allen, Gilbert Arenas and, especially, Kobe Bryant regularly erupted for high scoring nights against the Jazz. This season, Brewer seems to have finally harnessed his impressive athletic ability and channeled it into becoming a top notch defender and the Jazz have largely kept opposing shooting guards in check. Brewer is playing better defense and forcing his man to work harder to defend him. Let's hope he can keep it up, as the Jazz are going to need strong play from Brewer on both sides of the court if we want a shot at knocking off Kobe and the Lakers or Manu and the Spurs in the playoffs.