A long NBA season is punctuated by important nights that fans recall for years and show the identity of the team. And in between those important nights, the teams play the Nets.
A Wednesday is the most appropriately mundane day of the week, and seemed appropriate for a 98-88 win by the Utah Jazz at home against New Jersey. Paul Millsap picked up his fifth double-double with 19 points and 15 rebounds. All five Jazz starters scored in double digits. And both teams missed a million shots near the basket.
The game will be remembered mostly for Gordon Hayward’s first real dunk, a thundering left handed finish that brought the crowd to its feet.
Brook Lopez played well in the first half and scored 17 points but was held scoreless the rest of the game. Anthony Morrow took over in the second half when he scored 16 of his game-high 24. Even with the slow second half, Utah coach Jerry Sloan had high praise for Lopez.
One the Jazz side, the aforementioned starters played well but the bench was nearly non-existant. Earl Watson was honored on the JumboTron as the sub of the game after posting an epic line of 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 points. The entire bench combined for an evenly-distributed, but abysmal, 10 points. No bench player scored more than 2 points.
CJ Miles left the game in the second quarter with a strained back and didn’t return. He’s listed as day-to-day, but really, aren’t we all day-to-day?. The disappearance of Kyrylo Fesenko continued as he picked up the DNP-CD after apparently suffering a concussion on Monday against the OKC Thunder. After the game Fesenko changed quickly into street clothes and hurried out but claimed to be fine when asked about his health.
Not to get cute, but it was odd to see so many Nets players who still have strong identities on former teams now playing in new jerseys. Jordan Farmar will seem like a Laker for a long time. Devin Harris still looks like he should be representing Dallas. Anthony Morrow is so Golden State. Travis Outlaw was eponymous for the end of the Jail Blazer era in Portland. And Kris Humphries is still in the league?*
*Kris Humphries is not only still in the league, he is starting. No small feat for a man who was once traded by the Jazz to Toronto for Rafael Araujo.
Up next for the Jazz is a Friday visit by their old nemesis, the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs are dealing with the fallout from the announcement that Tony Parker and Eva Longoria are getting a divorce. It will be interesting to see how the media circus that is sure to follow will affect the play of the frenchman. Parker could have avoided this mess entirely had the Jazz taken him in the 2001 draft instead of going with the injury-plagued Raul Lopez.