That Miami game was over. Done. The Jazz were down 8 with 29 seconds left in regulation. The long ball had been inconsistent all night, the Heat had four good free throw shooters on the floor, and one of the best Jazz players (Big Al) hadn’t touched the hardwood for (what seemed like) days. I was wrapping up my comments on the Daily Dime Live, taking a few (deserved) pot shots for things I had said during the Jazz’ 3rd and 4th quarter runs, and trying to figure out what we could learn from this loss. The game was done.
Then Millsap went Supernova.
46 points. 67.9% FG% (19-28). 100% 3PT% (3-3). 9 RB. 1 Ast. 1 Stl. 1 Blk. 1Tov.
Don’t know if the story needs to be retold (you can check it out here), but here are a few morning-after thoughts as I try and wrap my mind around this win:
- The first half was an absolute disaster. The Jazz only scored 13 points in the first quarter, and 19 points in the second (to Miami’s 25, 26, respectively). For those keeping track at home, that’s an embarrassing 32 points against a team that is supposed to be Eastern Conference contenders (Opposing fans were putting the over/under at 70 points for the Jazz in the DDL).
- The Flex is a system designed to give players easy, open looks at the basket. It relies on three main things: Good passing, good screens, and good cuts. The Jazz accomplished successful execution of ONE of those three things in the first half: the passing, but since there were no real cuts or screens going on, they were passing into jumpshots. If you’re not executing the other pieces of the flex, and your jumpshots don’t fall, then the offense is completely crippled. Moral of the story? TRUST AND EXECUTE THE OFFENSE.
- I don’t know what Raja said at halftime, but it hit the right notes with the Jazz. His line wasn’t anything to look at, but he earned his paycheck with that veteran speech. Sometimes young guys need to hear a soapbox speech from someone they trust and respect… in this locker room, that’s Raja Bell.
- When the Jazz came out of the half, they executed their offense correctly, had easy buckets throughout the 3rd and 4th (Spoelstra called it a “layup drill” in postgame interviews), and gave themselves a chance to get into the game.
- Never underestimate the importance of having “a go-to guy.” We’ve always thought that was Deron. Nice to have two of them around.
- What was Deron thinking fouling before the ball came in-bounds at the end of regulation? Carlos Arroyo tricked him into a technical foul that very nearly cost the game. Either way, that should have been more damaging than it was since it gave the Heat an extra free throw AND ended up putting Deron out for OT.
- Wade missed a free throw that could have nearly iced the game for Miami. I don’t even know what to do with that information. Besides that miss, he was spectacular. 39 points on 52% FG shooting, and 60% from 3-point land? Wow. That kind of night, and then to miss a game-icing free throw. I’m sure he’s furious.
- Haslam didn’t box out Millsap on the final putback in regulation. Never underestimate the value of fundamentals. If I was Erik Spoelstra, I would have put one player on the shooter, a floater under the basket, and three brutes with the sole assignment of BOXING OUT MILLSAP.
- Not enough has been made of AK’s 3 in OT. That thing was a missile straight from Mother Russia. He may terrify us when he raises up to take that 3, but Kirilenko is a machine and feels no fear.
- How about Jerry NOT calling a timeout on the final Ronnie Price drive (pass to Elson)? Sloan would get slammed if that backfires, but I love it. I like not letting the defense get set, especially against good defenders like Miami.
- How about Francisco Elson icing the game? Elson had 2 points… both coming at the stripe in those final seconds. Those are some intense shots that bigger players may have missed (I’m looking at you Wade). I like that he made both, even if it meant banking in the second… it forced a real desperation shot… if you’re only up by one in that instance, you pass it inside and shoot into someone to try and draw a foul. Those refs proved that they were willing to call fouls with the game on the line.
- The refs made a GUTTY call. Not very many crews would call a game ending foul for a relatively unknown (Elson), on a superstar (Wade) in the superstar’s house (Miami). Kudos to the refs for stepping up to the plate and making the right call.
- Buried in the Millsap love, you’ll find pretty solid other lines:
Awesome game from Deron: 9-15 from the field on 21 points, 14 assists, and 4 rebounds.
AK: 16 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists, and a block. The Russian Dagger balled.
- Opposing fans were wondering why we didn’t have a nickname for Millsap in Utah. They came up with a few (and we started using two in particular for the rest of the DDL). Here are my favorite suggestions: Steel Mill and Purple Drank (a little throwback to the Mardi Gras colors). Any they missed? Which do you like?
- Finally, one last crazy stat: The Jazz overcame a 21-point second-half deficit to stun the Heat with an overtime victory in Miami last night. It was only the eighth time since the start of the 2004–05 season that an NBA team, playing on the road, overcame a second-half deficit of more than 20 points to win. The Jazz accounted for four of those eight wins, having previously overcome such deficits to win at Sacramento (2006), Atlanta (2006) and Portland (February 2010). Wow.
It was a FANTASTIC game, and I couldn’t be more happy for Millsap (it’s nice to see hard work payoff in a superstar league). Purple Drank will never have to buy himself another watered down drink in Utah again!