Saturday, November 28, 2009

Rare Michael Jordan Photo

Does this strike anyone as bizarre? Fruity? Please discuss . . .

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Championship City

So… at work, I looked outside to notice a procession-line of cars rolling down State Street with a police escort, and for the life-of-me, I couldn’t tell what the purpose of it was. My co-workers mentioned… “Maybe it’s a Federal dignitary (they were rolling in Suburbans)… maybe it’s an important National figure… perhaps it’s a funeral procession of an important State official”. Nope. None of the above. It was the celebration parade for Real Salt Lake, winning the MLS Cup.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t on the street to celebrate. I wish I was, because nobody was out there. Truthfully, I didn’t know about it. I remember when the University of Utah won the Sugar Bowl… and it was a huge event to participate in the parade celebration downtown. There were thousands of people on the street wearing their red that day. This time, it was a quick venture down the road, without much fanfare. Hopefully, fans were awaiting the team’s arrival at Rio Tinto Stadium.

I’m happy for RSL. They’ve brought a championship to Salt Lake City. Not since the Utah Stars of 1971 have we ever won a championship (I’m not sure you can count those of the mighty Bees, Trappers, Grizzlies… Infact, I don’t even know if those & other Utah teams have even won championships in their respective professional leagues). That being said, nothing can compare to winning an NBA championship. There’s just no comparison between MLS & the NBA, in terms of the grandeur, prestige, importance & fanfare that a championship would bring to this city. SLC would be going absolutely crazy… bonkers… nuts… if we had won an NBA championship and were masquerading down State. I can’t even imagine what that experience would feel like! Anyway… I’m happy for RSL. I just wish it were the Utah Jazz.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Pick and Roll

As loyal Jazz fans, we all know that the pick and roll has been and always will be the staple of our offense.

Except for now it turns out that it's not and that the Jazz and Lakers run the fewest number of pick and rolls in the league. Shocking, but according to Synergy Sports Technology, true. Now, during my years in the business world I have come to radically distrust anyone who uses the word "synergy," let alone in the name of their company. However, these guys may be right. Deron Williams for one agrees: "Everybody just associates pick-and rolls with us because of John and Karl," Williams said. They ran it out a lot, but similar to us. We run it toward the end of the game when we need baskets, but we try to execute our offense first."

Maybe this isn't a huge deal, but there are three interesting points worth considering. First, our offense has been pretty stagnant this year. You can see why the Lakers don't need to run the pick and roll: Kobe is a great creator and if he can't get anything it's not hard to dump the ball off to their huge front line. We're not exactly blessed with that kind of talent. Second, it turns out the rest of the NBA is using the pick and roll a lot more than they used to. Some teams use it 25% of the time; we do 11%. The game is more up-tempo than it was ten years ago when defense and a good post game ruled the day. Third, the players who get the most points out of the pick and roll are Steve Nash, Chris Paul, and Tony Parker. Wait a second. . . we have a guy just like them named Deron Williams!

Should the Jazz use the pick and roll more often than they do? Is this another sign that Jerry is just a tad out of his element these days? When we score three points during the first eight minutes of a quarter again might it make some sense to clear everyone out and have Williams and Boozer/Millsap run the bread and butter? Discuss.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Party Like It's 1999

We did it! The streak is over... Time to celebrate! You know it! We beat the Spurs in San Antonio! Hurray!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Our Lineup

It looks like Jerry is going to continue to start Wes Matthews after his two-game tryout. That likely means AK will move to the bench and Ronnie will start at the three. Neither of those guys have exactly staked a claim to a starting position this year, so it must have been a bit of a tossup. AK has a fragile ego but he also benefits from going against other teams' second unit. Let's be honest -- you'd rather try an ill-advised three or behind the back pass on a fast break against them than the starters.

This begs the question though: who was the last rookie to claim a starting spot this early in the year under Jerry Sloan? Emphasis on "claim" not "start a few games because everyone else at the position was out with an injury." I don't actually know the answer. It certainly wasn't Deron Williams or Ronnie Brewer or any of our other high draft picks. You gotta hand it to Wes.

Speaking of our lineup, next year's is looking better as the Knicks are considering signing Allen Iverson. Could their dysfunctional disaster of a year get any worse? With that type of move, you bet.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Who needs Deron?

The Jazz' forgotten rookie (the one we drafted), got his first two NBA starts this past week due to Deron's unfortunate absence. And they were auspicious debuts.

Against the 76ers, Maynor had 13 points, 11 assists, and only two turnovers. The following night against the Cavs, he had 24 points on 9-16 shooting, to go along with 4 assists. And most importantly, Maynor possesses that essential non-box score trait: Moxie. Needing a hoop late in the game against the Cavs, the young rookie took it upon himself to get us a huge bucket. In the end, Lebron took the game into his own hands, so Maynor will have to wait to have his first game as hero.

But I think we have a keeper.

What the Jazz lack...

I was thinking this weekend that perhaps what the Jazz are lacking the most this season is their fiery old owner. Many of you may have witnessed how another fiery old owner carried his team to victory this weekend by pointing double birdies at Bills fans, not once, but twice during his Titans recent game against Buffalo. My hat is off to fierce competitors like Bud Adams and the late Larry Miller, who many times have willed their teams to victory through brave acts and symbolic gestures.

Power Forward Reign

I love the way our rookies are playing! Eric Maynor stepped up nicely for DWill against the Cavs and almost led us to victory. Matthews has been stellar for us as an undrafted rookie. I feel like the rookies in many ways have performed better than their veteran teammates. In this regard, I suppose that smaller expectations can proceed to greater surprises. Our rookies have proved that to be true. Let's give an update for next year...

Looking onward, (news flash… the Knicks are 1-9) we can hope for another potential “impact” rookie playing in a Utah Jazz uniform and providing similar, if not better, results next year. As last year’s crop of talent was well-known for being strong on point guards, this year’s crop of NBA prospects is loaded with power forwards. The college basketball season ought to be extra exciting (now that it’s here) because so many quality players decided to stay in the college ranks. And for this reason alone, next year’s draft should be that much deeper and imressive. Jazz fans have plenty of reason to follow the upcoming college basketball season, because we’ll be able to witness the progress of a future star Jazzman. Let the college season begin!

Who are the players to watch? And who can you picture playing for the Jazz?
1. Cole Aldrich, C, Kansas
7-foot center, plays for Kansas, even sports a military-like crew-cut… Remind you of anyone? ... The next coming of Mr. Double-0 Ostertag! To be fair, Aldrich is much better, more talented and skilled. Could be a staple on the frontline for years.
2. Donatas Motiejunas, F, Lithuania
Foreign, caucasian, skilled 7-footer, compared to Dirk & Toni Kukoc… he’ll fit right in with the rest of our foreign frontline. While he doesn’t play college ball, hoops observers will most certainly be following his every move.
3. Derrick Favors, PF, Georgia Tech
Will probably be either the #1 or #2 pick taken in the draft. Explosive, athletic and extremely talented… Is he more like Amare Stoudamire or Stromile Swift? I guess we’ll find out.
4. Ed Davis, PF, North Carolina
I watched a UNC game the other night. Davis is more potential than product. Will he be more like Chris Bosh or Channing Frye? Stay tuned.
5. Greg Monroe, PF, Georgetown
Monroe had a solid outing for the Hoyas, scoring 18 points, 11 rebounds and 2 blocks in his 1st game. The 6-11 lefty could have a huge year.
6. Larry Sanders, PF, VCU
Here’s the newcomer on the block… a shotblocker extraordinaire. Was Eric Maynor’s teammate at VCU.
7. Craig Brackins, PF, Iowa State
If you like a replacement for Boozer’s scoring, this is your guy. Brackins can score from anywhere on the floor.

Other Positions:
1. Evan Turner, SG, Ohio State
Ohio State plays him at point guard. In two games, Turner is averaging 19 points, 17 rebounds, & 7 assists. He’s compared to Brandon Roy.
2. Devin Ebanks, SF, West Virginia
Ready to explode for his sophomore season, Ebanks is one of the most athletic players in the college game.
3. Al Farouq Aminu, SF, Wake Forest
Aminu has started the season off strong, averaging 24 points & 11 rebounds in two games. He’ll have a huge season.
4. Xavier Henry, SG, Kansas
In his opening debut as a Kansas Jayhawk, Henry scored 27 points and hit 6 threes. Consider him a one-and-doner. Some compare him to Paul Pierce.
5. Jon Henson, SF, North Carolina
6-10, skinny and skilled… he has all the talent to dominate. Let’s wait until the end of the year.

It might be a good year to have two picks.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Props to the Jazz

Props to the Jazz tonight for beating the 76ers. Despite losing DWill for the road trip and receiving heavy criticism from us fans (yes... me) for not giving great effort, the Jazz came out and got the job done. That's what I'm most proud of... the team faced adversity and then responded. We only had one point guard on the roster who was healthy and yet Maynor managed to lead the team. Boozer played a strong game, scoring 24 points and pulling down 12 rebounds. We had balanced scoring from the rest of the starting five. And our boy, the rookie, Wes Matthews continues to shine. He was a starting force tonight. Matthews finished with 16 points on 5-11 shooting and 3-4 from 3-point range. Excellent game! Again. This game doesn't speak too well to the condition of the 76ers. They must be in bad shape, since we went into their place and blasted them off the floor... (A Jazz squad suffering from its own internal disarray). Hopefully, we can continue tonight's effort into the next game. I'm not necessarily planning on it.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tweet Tweet

Here's what Deron said last night on Twitter:

"We got to change something bc what we doing ain't working right now! Don't know what but something?????"

Now, of course, he's trying to clarify what he meant, which usually happens when you've spoken the dead truth just a little too loudly.

Some more truth from D Will:

"A couple of us were talking," Williams said, "we were looking at Boston and . . .Paul Pierce has 10 points, K.G. [Kevin Garnett] has 10 points, Ray Allen has 10 points, [Rajon] Rondo has 14 points, somebody else had 12 points and they're on the bench happy. And they don't care who the hell gets the glory, they just want to win. Until we figure that out, we're not going to be a good team."

And the harshest but truest statement of all:

"We haven't put much of an effort up."

2 Rebounds in 27 minutes!

Well, I hate to keep bagging on Boozer, but we have a problem, and it doesn't appear that he is attempting to remedy the situation. Let's be honest, 2 boards in 27 minutes of play at the power forward position does not cut it. 2 BOARDS! Rebounding, like defense, is more effort than skill. And it's plain as day that Boozer does not play with any effort. It is sad to watch. Sloan said "I wouldn't mind [him] rebounding . . . there isn't any rule against [him] rebounding. I mean, if you're just going to stay out there and shoot shots and not defend and not rebound . . . I thought, well, that we'd try somebody else." Well said.

Hell, Deron Williams collected 7 boards from the point guard spot, and Milsap came off the bench and grabbed 13 boards. Where is BOOZER?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Jazz Win! Jazz Win!

To dispel the notion that TCG only reports bad news, I am here to report that the Jazz exorcised our Madison Square demons and emerged victorious in New York for the first time since 2004. Now, that's not to say that the Jazz dominated, or that they put away the game against the 1-6 Knicks easily; quite the contrary. However, we here at TCG recognize progress when we see it.

Boozer had a nice game (as he should against a team that features David Lee/Wilson Chandler) and Kirilenko's 3-point shooting carried us in the second half (let that sentence sink in). So those are good things. Hopefully they continue.

The negative development, from the Jazz' viewpoint, is the massive amount of zone that the Knicks threw at them. It took a basketball genius like Paul Westphal to realize that it makes sense to zone a team with no shooters, but now that the Kings' coach has let the cat out of the bag, the Jazz can expect to see a LOT of zone until we prove that we can beat it. Can we?

Sunday, November 8, 2009


After the Thursday night win over San Antonio, I was ready to deliver a complimentary post on TCG regarding the Jazz and thier win. I never found time to post on Friday, due to work and other obligations. So... I decided to wait and see how we performed at home against bottom-feeder Sacramento (believing that this would be an automatic win)... and all the sudden... this happened! Wow!

The reactionary and impressionable Jazz fan in me is about ready to explode inside! This loss is inexcusable. Unpardonable. Sacramento is arguably the worst team in the NBA. They were playing without their star player Kevin Martin. There was no reason in the world to lose at home to the Kings.

This inevitably has led me to think about what's wrong with this team... the Jazz. If there was ever a sign that something was wrong in Jazzland (which we've all been presuming), it was most definitely THIS moment... a loss at home to the Kings. I know the season is young (just started in fact)... there are still plenty of games to play... But, we've started a trend that is downright unhealthy, undisciplined, and unspeakable. Here are some potential reasons as to why it's happening:

1. Lack of Leadership
Harpring is gone. Perhaps the only reason Harpring was on the team was because he was a stalwart leader and example of discipline/hard work. We don't have any leaders. I believe Deron is trying, but Boozer, Memo and AK are NOT leaders. These guys aren't stars either.

2. No Defense
We knew we were bad defensively but... boy... we're really bad. Our bigs are flat-footed and slow. We're completely unmotivated to play defense.

3. Terrible Personnel Mix
On paper, Kevin O'Connor has put together a lethal combination of talent for the Jazz. However, on the floor, I believe we have a dreadful combination of non-melding talent. We have too many "me-first" players. We need more hustlers like the Rockets. We have no shooters. Memo, our center, is the best shooter on the team... which says a lot. To make matters worse, our top paid performers aren't motivated and consistent enough to carry the team (Boozer, AK, Millsap & Memo). Deron can't seem to bring them all together (not his fault... tough task), nor do it by himself... which he tried to do (29 & 15 last night, despite losing).

4. Jerry Sloan
He's lost his edge. It comes with the territory of getting older. I don't think he's able to motivate these players like he used to. It's a different generation... a different animal. Only Deron Williams seems to be able to motivate himself for every game like Stockton and Malone used to do. The others struggle to get going. The coach's job in the NBA is to manage egos and motivate players. I don't think it's happening with this bunch.

5. The Loss of Larry Miller
Larry was a fiery and interactive owner. He showed his passion towards the team, often going into the locker room and berating the team if they didn't play up to their potential. I think we miss his presence and his passion.

I suppose there are a few silver linings to this lousy season start...
- Wes Matthews is an absolute revelation. Talk about draft day steal... Wait a second, we wasn't even drafted! And yet, he's putting up some impressive performances. Kudos to Wes.
- Fesenko is playing some meaningful minutes for us. It's good to see him play to his size & strength while helping the team on defense and in the post.
- Brewer and Memo seem to be giving good effort and quality contributions. Despite injuries, Memo still provides us with shooting.
- I suppose if we kept losing, the lottery might not be a bad place to reside afterall... We could possess two lottery picks next summer when all is said and done. And hopefully... blow this thing up & start over!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

AK's Added Bulk

When I heard all the rumors of Andre's "new and improved body," and his "additional muscle" and his "bigger upper body," I dismissed them as unrealistic optimisim. But look at this photo from the Mavs game on Tuesday!? Is Andre actually bigger, or is the placebo effect invading my mind (i.e. too much 'hearing about it' makes me 'notice it')?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Again? Seriously?

The Jazz held a 15 point lead at the beginning of the 4th quarter. Then they let Dallas score 44 points in the 4th! What's that you say? 44 points in the 4th quarter? Correct good sir. 44 points in the 4th quarter. Now, to be fair, Dirk is a good player, but 44 points in the 4th quarter?!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


The Jazz got outworked, out-hustled and outplayed last night against the Rockets. Back in the day, we used to pride ourselves on being the blue-collar, tenacious, hard-working team. Not anymore. The Rockets have officially stolen that moniker from us. And truth be told… we haven’t been that sort of team for some time now. The Rockets were the unheralded, underappreciated, hardworking blue-collar team last night. Evidence of this truth was through the play of the Rocket power forwards (the lethal triumvirate of Luis Scola, Chuck Hayes and Carl Landry) who utterly outplayed our studs, Carlos Boozer and Paul Millsap. Combined, Millsap and Boozer went for 9 points and 16 rebounds. The Rocket trio scored 36 points, recovered 30 rebounds and blocked 3 shots combined. Sometimes I wish we had more players like those on the Rockets. They just play hard, play together and don’t care who scores the ball. Seven players scored in double figures for the Rockets. Our best performance on the Jazz came from Memo, who despite injury and slow maneuvering still found the bucket for 21 points. Ronnie Brewer continues to play well also with 19 points. The 4th quarter was just ugly last night. We got blitzed!... And it was on our home floor, no less. Now we have to play the 2nd half of a back-to-back against Dallas tonight… on the road. Scary!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Knicks' Pick Watch

Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of periodic posts about the state of the New York Knicks this season, which of course affects the Jazz greatly as we own their first-round pick in June.

Knicks' Record This Week: 0-3

Knicks' Record This Season: 0-3

Knicks' Overall Standing in the NBA: Tied for dead last

Quote that Sums Up Knicks' Recent Performance: "We lost this game before it even started. A lot of us weren't serious, joking around, not really preparing for the game, and it showed. It just seems like we're always taking a team's first punch. We're not that good. We can't come in here and joke around and take the game lightly. . . It shows in our layup line, it shows before the game. That's why we come out and we're not ready to play." Chris Duhon, after a 21-point loss at Charlotte.