Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Let's Focus on the Positive

It's been a tough few weeks for Jazz fans, so let's focus on the one thing that I am celebrating right now; THE SPURS FIRST-ROUND EXIT.

Over the last decade, the Spurs have been a disgusting display of floppage, whineage, and vagisilitis. I couldn't be happier that they were bounced out by Dallas. I hope that this summer Tony Parker tears his groin filming a Subway commercial and Tim Duncan is arrested for possession of Meth and soliciting sex to a male prostitute (a la 'Ted Haggard'). But for now, I am happy with the state of the Spurs.

The Boozer Debate

Well... let's allow the discussion to begin (or in Boozer's case... let it continue)!
We've been waiting, analyzing and conjecturing for months about Carlos Boozer and what he will ultimately decide. "To opt out, or to not opt-out, that is the question!"
As I see it... Boozer has an interesting decision laid out before him. Sure, he says that he wants to be back. But really? Boozer will do what's best for Boozer. And yet, to admit, the Jazz will do what's best for the Jazz. There will have to be a mutual investment on both parts to ultimately allow Boozer to make his decision.
Yahoo Sports is reporting that the Jazz may not want to invest in Boozer after all. Even though Boozer is the one who will make the decision, the Jazz could ultimately trade him afterward (if he doesn't opt-out). Here's the commentary via Yahoo Sports:
"After Utah’s first two losses in the series, Deron Williams told friends he was growing increasingly frustrated with the softness of some of his teammates. Williams has previously targeted Andrei Kirilenko for criticism, but he’s said to have also soured considerably on Carlos Boozer .

After Monday’s season-ending loss, Boozer now says he’d like to return to the Jazz, adding that he feels like “one of those cornerstone people who brought this team back to prominence.” In truth, the decision might not be entirely up to him. Even if Boozer doesn’t opt out of his contract, the Jazz are expected to explore trading him and devote their resources to keeping Paul Millsap ."
The key to understanding this analysis is that... if Boozer knows the intention of the Jazz (which he will eventually) and doesn't get a promise of future investment, he may just opt-out and walk away. So really, the question is... what do the Jazz want to do? Keep him, let him walk or trade him.
I believe that there will be teams vying for Boozer's services. In specific, Detroit and Memphis could possibly be serious suitors (along with perhaps OKC and Atlanta). Will Boozer's economic value be high enough to walk away from $12.3 million next season?
My Prediction: I actually believe the Yahoo Sports report. The Jazz would like to have both Millsap and Boozer back next season, however, because of luxury tax concerns, the Jazz will only be allowed to invest in one of them. I think the Jazz want to keep Millsap more than Boozer (he'll be cheaper and more durable). Thus, Boozer will discover this intention (along with his relatively high economic value) and ultimately opt-out. If he doesn't, the Jazz will trade him to one of those teams mentioned above... for cap space, a player and a draft pick. Thanks for playing for us Booz! Best of luck.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I Bring Hope

I've been absent from posting during the playoffs. I apologize. But the Jazz series had a thick layer of inevitability that I couldn't cut through no matter how hard I tried. I watched the games more as an observer than a fan, watching to find some glimmer of hope for next year. I watched without much thought for the outcome of any particular possession or game. It's hard to blog about inevitability.

So, now that the season is over, I feel like there are things to ponder, things to write. Luckily, I am a very stable jazz fan. I don't get caught up in Jazz-are-title-bound hype when we win seven straight at home, and I don't worry about the "state of the franchise" when we lose to a clearly superior team in five games. Thus, in this time of doom and gloom, I am here to bring you hope.

  1. What Could Have Been: The thought that continues to needle me about this season is that it was flushed down the toilet by dropping two late home games to lottery clubs. If we beat Minny and Golden State in April, we're playing either the aging Spurs or the Nuggets in round 1. If it's the Spurs, I would be blogging about our second round matchup right now. And, while the Nuggets have looked good against New Orleans, I think that Jazz/Nuggets would have gone seven games. We were very close to being competitive this postseason.
  2. Talent Level: The Jazz have a lot of talent coming back next year. Our entire starting lineup returns (Boozer and Okur ain't leaving). Most of our bench talent is back, with the likely exception of Mr. Paul Millsap. While Millsap will be missed, his absence won't leave the Jazz bench totally ineffective - we just need Kirilenko and Korver to up the ante.
  3. Summer Break: No summer basketball for Williams, Okur, and Boozer means that we should be healthy next year. Along with the contract distractions, injuries killed the Jazz this year. Kirilenko, Fesenko, and Kofous are all playing this summer. Of course, having a summer off only helps stave off injuries if you actually stay in shape. For out-of-shape Euros, like Okur, summer break is more of a mental-health benefit. It allows him to binge on turkish delight and mutton so he can bulk up for training camp.
  4. Contract Years: Okur, Boozer, Brewer, and Harpring are all playing for new contracts. Let me predict right now that Boozer plays 75+ games and has a career year rebounding the ball. He's cool like that. I wish I could place a wager on this in Vegas.
  5. Aging of the West: For years the Western Conference has been brutal. But there is a subtle shift in power occurring. The Spurs and Hornets have been exposed in the playoffs. And I'm not convinced that the Rockets are going to be better next year. The Mavs are getting older as well. That leaves the Lakers, Blazers, and Nuggets as the cream of the crop. The Jazz can easily compete for home court in the first round next year.
  6. The End of an Era: Jarron Collins has likely played his last competitive basketball game. While I don't think that fact will improve or worsen the Jazz, his absence will certainly soothe Booner and Pasty Gangster who are convinced that Jarron is the anchor holding the Jazz back. Good bye, gentle scholar. We will miss your sweater vests and your citizenship.
Now, to be sure, there are problems: the Jazz can't win on the road, we are likely to lose our most aggressive post player for nothing, there are obvious chemistry issues on the squad, the luxury tax looms, and we may be trying out a new coach. But, I am optimistic about next year. I think next year's Jazz absolutely will outperform this year's squad and that we have a good shot at making the Western Conference finals. So cheer up, Jazz fans. Hope springs eternal.

Lessons Learned

  • We are not that tough.  
  • But our coach still is.
  • Ronnie Price should be our backup point guard.  End of story.  Brevin Knight couldn't have turned in that performance seven years ago, let alone seven days ago.
  • It is a lot more fun to watch Jazzmen who put in an effort than to watch those who don't.  Say what you will about Boozer being able to get his shot off and playing better against bigger oppoents than Millsap (and I agree), but I can't suffer through another big game where he doesn't seem to try and leaves the court satisfied with 10-point effort in a playoff elimination game.  D Will put it best in the D News today: "(We need) to figure out ways to play harder, and bring a different effort every night. ... We're not getting that effort every night from everybody — and we've got to have that."
  • From all appearances there are three guys who want to start and play hard every night for the Jazz: Williams, Millsap, and Price.  A bit discouraging because that's not a lot to build on, especially if we lose Paul.  

Monday, April 27, 2009

Dear Ronnie Price

You embody everything a Jazzman should be. Thanks for bringing your heart, energy, determination and toughness! I hope that you will be with us again next season.

Here's to your ability to lift the Jazz from a 20-point deficit in the fourth and rallying the boys to close the gap to 5. Thanks for taking on the establishment (that is Kobe and DFish)! That was the most entertaining sight of the series.

I can guarantee you... that you have every Jazz fan behind you. You've more than earned your keep. Infact, you've completely endeared yourself to all of Jazz nation. Please come back next season!

Until then,
Go Jazz!


Is Tonight Sloan's Last Game?

Maybe, maybe not. But the thought has haunted me for weeks. And J.A. Andande seems to see the writing on the wall as well. Here are the reasons:

1) Sloan is getting old,

2) Sloan may be getting bored after 21 years with no ring, and not even a Coach of Year award,

3) Sloan needs knee replacement surgery,

4) the face of the Jazz is changing (LHM is dead, Hot Rod is retiring so that he can focus on 'the bottle' full time, and we risk losing Boozer, Millsap, Okur, Korver, and a slew of others this season, so how badly will Sloan want to start over with a new squad?),

5) this young Jazz team is digressing (Western Conference Finals in 2007, 2nd Round exit in 2008, 1st Round exit in 2009), and

6) when it's time, it's time.

So just in case, keep your eyes on Sloan tonight, because it may, it just may be his last night on the Jazz bench. But then again, maybe not.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Harsh Reality

Ouch! Reality set in last night as the Jazz fell hard to the Lakers.

While I believed the Jazz could perhaps make this thing a series and tie it 2-2, we followed our impressive showing on Thursday night with a stunning Laker domination.

The Lakers scored 40 points in the 2nd quarter to put us on our heels. We were never able to recover from an on-slaught of Laker points... outscored by 12 in each of the middle quarters. We were never able to get stops and scores. Until finally, we found ourselves down 20 in the fourth. The Laker wave just completely rolled us over.


When Kobe scored the first 7 points of the game for the Lakers, I knew it was probably going to be a long night. He continued his scoring barrage early and often. He had 13 of the Laker's first 15 points. Most of his shots were well-contested and guarded by Ronnie Brewer. What can you do when someone gets that hot? Kobe went on to set the tone and finished with 38. Thirty-eight!


Both Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams had respectable games. Each player scored 23 points a piece. Boozer was in double figures for rebounds while Deron had double figure assists. They both played solid games. Unfortunately, we didn't get much else from the others. Kirilenko came on late when it was just TOO late. The Lakers still rolled us.


Where do we go from here? It was plain for the eye to see that we were simply overwhelmed and overmatched in this game. The Lakers did what they had to do... and it didn't feel too good. What a harsh reality check!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Where Have You Been All Season?

Oh baby what a night for Carlos Boozer! Finally, the man played like a MAN! 23 points and 22 boards. Not to mention 2 clutch free throws when the rest of our Jazz men were really tight at the line. And the DUNK! Oh that left handed dunk that he so rarely throws down, but when he does, it is a sight to behold, especially when he does it in a crucial game 3 with the game tied at 84 with 17 seconds left on the clock. Good Grief!

What a game indeed!

The downside is that last night's performance by Boozer begs the question: Where has Boozer been? We can all see that he is capable of much much more than he typically gives us (as evidenced by his line last night). I suppose the only clear answer is this: Boozer rarely plays half as hard as he did last night.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

No Memo for Game 3

It is being reported that Memo is an official no-go for Game 3 tonight. Too bad. But on the bright side, that means we will get to see plently of Jarron Collins. Also, AK-47 will start in place of Korver tonight.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Random Thoughts on the Jazz-Lakers Series So Far

  • Two players who should see a lot less time in this series going forward: Brevin Knight and Jarron Collins.  Knight is getting killed by Jordan Farmar for hell's sake.  
  • Two players who should see a lot more time in this series going forward: D Will and Memo.  Oh wait, one is playing every minute as is and the other one doesn't suit up.
  • As Kenny Smith semi-eloquently put it on last night's halftime show, the frustrating part about Jerry's coaching style is that he doesn't seem to try new wrinkles when the old ones are clearly not working.  Our defense was as bad in Game 2 as it was in Game 1.  Collins continues to waddle up and down the court adding nothing of value.  From what I can tell, the big change in last night's game plan was playing Price in the 2nd half instead of Knight.  
  • Aamzingly, with all that's gone wrong there are still some slivers of hope.  Kobe hasn't been dominant, partially because Brewer has played tough D on him.  No one on their team -- and certainly not Derek Fisher or Trevor Ariza or Shannon Brown -- can come close to stopping D Will's penetration.  With the home crowd on our side, my predicition is close victories in Games 3 and 4.  

The Stat of Damnation

The one key fact that damned the Jazz last night was their start: They gave up 41 points in the 1st quarter and allowed the Lakers to shoot 86% from the field.

But on a brighter note, Jarron Collins played 13 minutes and had 0 points, 2 boards, and 4 great fouls. Good work Jarron.

And on an even better note, U-92's radio-jockey proclaimed this morning that he is not giving up on the Jazz. So as Jazz fans, we definitely have that going for us.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Double Disappointment

What part of the sentence below is more disappointing?  That Okur probably won't be back or that we're going to start Collins again in a playoff series against the best basketball team in the West?

"If the big Turk and one-time NBA All-Star is not ready to return Tuesday, as it appears will be the case, Jazz coach coach Jerry Sloan indicated this morning that he's inclined to stick with veteran reserve big man Jarron Collins opening at center."

Now, if I were Collins I would be practicing 14-foot jump shots at the top of the key like crazy these next couple of days.  That's there any time he wants it.  But something tells me come Game 2 we're going to see a lot of them clanging off the iron again. . .  

No Free Tacos . . .

The only Jazz victory that took place in Los Angeles Sunday afternoon was the ever-so-small victory of scoring 100 points to take away free tacos for everyone at the Staples Center. At this point, we'll take our victories wherever we can.

Friday, April 17, 2009

AK = 00-Tag

After his emotional breakdown, two-seasons ago against the Houston Rockets in the 1st round of the 2007 playoffs, Andrei Kirilenko has had to prove that he's more than just an average role player.
Since then (and even since 2004, when he signed his contract), AK hasn't overcome the stigma that has accompanied his play (average). More has been expected of him. And truly, he hasn't justified the salary that he was paid.
The Deseret News quoted Jerry Sloan in regard to AK47 and his role on the Jazz, even comparing him to the goofy and somewhat unusually-mannered Greg Ostertag by saying:
"Sometimes money gets in the way of other people's thoughts about players," the Jazz coach said.

"It's kind of like when we had (center Greg) Ostertag. Ostertag got a big contract, and they expected him to play like (Kareem Abdul-) Jabbar. Well, he wasn't. And that happens with a lot of people sometimes."
It can't be overstated of how money changes our perspectives of people. The D-News goes further into describing Andrei's salary by saying: "At slightly more than $15 million per year, Kirilenko makes about $3.5 million more than next-closest teammate Boozer. He's due $16.45 million next season and $17.82 million in 2010-11. At the time he signed his current $86 million contract extension in 2004, it was a max-money deal." Thus, our perception and expectation of AK has almost certainly outgrown the 'real-time' true reality (decent to average role player).
All of this stated, notwithstanding, Andrei Kirilenko has got to be seen as the difference-maker in this series versus the Lakers. His defense against Kobe, his full-court scoring style, and the intangibles he provides on the floor can't be undervalued during this series. If AK plays out-of-his-mind... then we might just have a 'smidgen' of a chance. Go Jazz!

Front Office Rumblings

In breaking down the Western Conference Playoff bracket, ESPN's Marc Stein makes an interesting point about the Jazz's monumental collapse heading into the Playoffs: "Rumblings in front-office circles around the league are growing louder that the uncertain futures of potential free-agent forwards Paul Millsap, Mehmet Okur and Boozer -- since it's unclear who's staying and who's going -- have caused tensions in the locker room that have seeped into Utah's play. An increasing lack of togetherness would certainly help explain what's been happening at the defensive end, judging by the 125, 118 and 130 points the Jazz gave up in three of their final four regular-season losses."

None of this is necessarily news, other than to suggest that the Jazz packed it in early on an otherwise promising season just because a player or two might leave this summer. Sad, sad, sad. Here's to winning ONE game against the Lakers.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Doom and Gloom

I was once taught that... "if I didn't have anything good to say, then I shouldn't say anything at all".

And so technically... I suppose this ought to be one of those moments. However, if I didn't speak up about the Jazz... then it would defeat the purpose of our blog.

It's been rather depressing to witness the downfall of the Jazz as the regular season has concluded. They've absolutely fallen apart... both physically & collectively. To make matters worse, we now face the 'wrath and fire' of Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in the 1st round.

If you didn't notice a complete swathing of our Jazz against the purple and gold the other night, then you're living in a fantasy world. We'll be lucky to win a game against these guys. From 1 thru 12, the Lakers are plain and simply better than us. Deron Williams is the only player I'd take in a cross-positional comparison. Otherwise, we're completely overmatched!

I don't think that I'm overblowing the "doom-and-gloom" attitude. The fact is... our Jazz are just playing completely out-of-tune. I like a selective group of our guys individually (as players)... but collectively we don't get it done (especially on the defensive end). I'm worried for our future with this cast of characters.

What do I wish for? As always... I'll be cheering hard for our Jazz. I'd like to see us make the series competitive. Will we win it? No. But I wonder however, would it be bad to see our guys falter in order to enact personnel change?

The series will go long if Deron Williams (our one, and only hero) straps on the Superman cape and flies unmercilessly towards the hoop. Otherwise, it'll be "all Lakers, all the time". And that just makes me puke writing it!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

1 -13 from the field?

Too bad Baron Davis won't be suiting up for the other team in Los Angeles tonight. He was a huge help to the Jazz last night. With Barron in the game, the Clipps were -17.

UPDATE: Looks as if Phil Jackson WILL start and play all of his big guns tonight. "I wouldn't think of sitting players," Jackson told Los Angeles reporters. "I don't think that's the right thing to do when people buy season tickets, special-game tickets and things like that. The league has asked us not to do that, so we have to [respect] that."

Thursday, April 9, 2009


The Biggest Game of the Year = A Big Let Down

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Dreaded 8th Spot

Now that Ginobili is done for the year, there isn't any team that I really fear in the West other than the Lakers. Therefore, the primary goal for the last five games is avoiding that 8th spot. If the Jazz win in Dallas on Wednesday, it all but guarantees that we avoid the bottom seed in the playoffs - the Jazz would own a two-game lead and the tiebreaker. We'd have to crap out on a home game against Golden State or the Clippers, and we never lose at home to bad teams. Oh, wait...
However, if we lose on Wednesday, things get dicey. Losing leaves us tied with the Mavs for seventh, with the Jazz owning the tiebreaker due to our stellar division record. The Mavs remaining schedule features a series with the Hornets and finishes with the T-Wolves and Rockets at home. Meanwhile, the Jazz have to go on the road to San Antonio (where we haven't won since the 1950s) and Los Angeles with home games against the Clips and Warriors. Thus, assuming both teams win their home games and lose on the road, the Mavs are looking to finish 3-1 while the Jazz are looking at 2-2. That means we end up in the 8th spot.

Of course, the Jazz could steal one on the road, or the Mavs could fall at home. But, to be on the safe side, the Jazz really could use a Texas road win on Wednesday.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Interesting Question

ESPN's Marc Stein poses an interesting question in his latest NBA Power Rankings.  Although most Jazz fans have assumed our last game against the Lakers might not be all that difficult because Kobe & Co. won't be playing for anything, Stein wonders if it would be even more of a walk if the Jazz and Mavs are tied since if LA lost it would mean they'd face Dallas in the opening round.  

You have to admit it makes some sense.  A 100% healthy Jazz team is incredibly tough at home and all they'd have to do is steal one game in LA to make things very interesting.  Although we're not exactly playing our best ball, elite NBA teams are probably going to want a slightly easier draw in the first round.  

Rondo = Stockton?

Sure enough, ESPN is reporting that of all the point guards in the NBA today, Rajon Rondo plays more like John Stockton than any other player. Now, there will be plenty of Jazz fans that are upset that D Will's photo is not up there with Stockton's, but I for one agree: D Will is more explosive and more offensively-minded than the Pasty Gangsta, whereas Stockton is just grittier!

Interesting comparison . . . although I never hear anyone say that Rondo is the dirtiest player in the NBA.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Sweet Redemption

Hey Jazz,

Just when I think you couldn't possibly be any worse (losing to Minnesota at home), you go and do something like this (beat New Orleans on the road), and totally redeem yourself!

Way To Go Jazz!...

Jazz Clinch Playoffs: We're on our way to the playoffs. Because Phoenix lost, we're guaranteed a playoff spot due to our tie-breakers.

Kirilenko Starts... Explodes: AK47 finally had a fantastic outing. He finished with 16 points and 7 rebounds. Perhaps this ought to be a permanent fixture... AK in the starting lineup.

Ronnie's Our Hog: No pun intended for the Arkansas Razorback native, but Ronnie Brewer was our most consistent player. He finished with a team-high 23 points. Ronnie also had a couple sweet steals for dunks in the fourth quarter.

3rd Quarter Swoon: We've gotten into this terrible habit of losing intensity in the 3rd quarter, only to allow the opposing team right back into the game. The Jazz were up by 27 points at half... 27 point lead! Only... we let New Orleans climb back into the action, outscoring the Jazz 37-21 in the 3rd quarter.

Mr. Killer Instinct: While for good or bad, Deron Williams is the only Jazz player that has the "killer instinct" and intensity to take over a game. As the Hornets got closer in the 3rd, Deron took it over... aggressively taking the ball to the hoop. The Jazz eventually weathered the Hornets comeback effort.

Jazz Own Hornets: It's a simple fact... we absolutely own the Hornets and Chris Paul. The Jazz swept the season series with the Hornets, winning each contest by over double-digit margins.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Say It Ain't So...

Jazz lose at home to the Timberwolves. This one hurts... really bad. Ouch! I'm shocked. I didn't expect this outcome. Wow...

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Roadie Losers

The Jazz are 0-10 when playing on the road against Western Conference playoff contending teams (this includes games versus Phoenix also). Stated succinctly... we can't beat playoff teams on the road! Will we make a break-through tonight? Can we steal a couple of road games from our last 5 (@ Denver, @ New Orleans, @ Dallas, @ San Antonio, & @ LA Lakers)?

Unfortunately, it didn't happen on Tuesday versus Portland. The Jazz got blitzed from the opening tip-off and never challenged Portland all night. Sloan got tossed. Boozer got tossed. And the Jazz got blasted by a young, hungry Trail Blazer squad. Can we bounce back tonight?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Jazz Tats: Brewer Loves JC

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

Kyle Korver may act like the biggest Jesus freak on the Jazz, by going to church and all, but he definitely doesn't declare his faith to the whole world in the one, true, NBA-sanctioned manner: getting some Jesus ink. In the religious tattoo category, there is no one on the Jazz that can touch Ronnie Brewer. Brewer has an incredible number of tats, and because of their, um, quality, they are nearly impossible to decipher. But I have done my best to give our loyal reader(s) the information they crave.

So, let's begin with the left arm. Or, as Ronnie calls it, The Holy Spirit.
  • First, on his left bicep there is a pair of hands, clasped in prayer, giving praise to....
  • A huge basketball on his shoulder.
  • On the inside of his left forearm is some atrocious design, which, for the life of me, I can't make out. I think it may be a samurai.
  • Underneath the basketball-worshiping hands is a single word that starts with F. I'm going to go with "Faith" but I could be persuaded by "Fame!"
Now, to the right arm. Or, as Ronnie likes to say, My Lord and Savior.
  • Ronnie's right arm was inkless in college. But, as you know, upon signing a rookie contract, all NBA players are eligible to receive a cross tattoo. Ronnie got the executive package and added a thorn to that cross.
  • On his right shoulder he has a blurry blob of a basketball with three unreadable words above it. My suspicion is that the words are "Don't be content." That Golden-Griff-like phrase is Brewer's life motto.
  • But don't be led to believe that Brewer's left arm was wasted on crosses and life mottos. Hell, no!
    For lo, on the inner forearm of the boy Ronnie, was found a permanent skin image that was above all other permanent skin images. Ye, even an image of Jesus Christ with a crown of thorns around his heart. And, upon discovery of that image, there went up in the land a cry of great confusion. And a great commotion came over the land until the Lord was told of the boy's image. Upon hearing of the boy's image, the Lord called forth for the boy. And the boy was brought. And, clutching the boy by the forearm, the Lord commanded him, "Dunketh." - Sloan 4:16