By Fareed Taghvaee
Special to Salt City Hoops
After an impressive home debut, the Jazz and Blazers went at it again, this time in Portland. Much like Thursday’s game against the same team, the Jazz came out to a strong start. Deron Williams took control of the Jazz attack and had 8 points in the first quarter. However, the story of the game has to be the play of Kyrylo Fesenko, who finished with 18 pts and 7 rebs in the Jazz 109-100 win over the Blazers.
Fesenko seemed to get the message from Coach Sloan after some immaturity and inconsistency in the first game. Fes has really been pushing for a spot in the rotation with an injury sidelining Mehmet Okur. A Fes and AK 5/4 combination could be very intriguing.
Ryan Thompson, making his first career start had some good moments in the first half. Jazz Analyst, Ron Boone noted some solid footwork on the defensive end for the rookie. He seemed to be involved and active throughout the quarter. However, he was completely non-existent in the second half.
On the flipside CJ Miles, making his first start was a black hole in the first quarter. In fact, Raja Bell (the first guy off the bench) replaced him over Ryan Thompson. CJ did redeem himself with an explosive thrid quarter. He scored 14 points in the second half.
After solid debuts for Jeremy Evans and Gordan Hayward both seemed to struggle some tonight. Hayward was frustrated after picking up two offensive fouls in the second quarter and be relegated to the bench. While he had an inconsistent offensives night, Hayward found ways to be involved in the game. He definitely had a “rookie” kind of night. A telling sign will be how he responds tonight in Phoenix. Evans was solid again. He finished with 3 points and 5 rebounds.
Al Jefferson had more of a standout game for the Jazz. He struggled offensively in the first half, but came out strong in the second half, going 4-6 from the field and finsihing with 14 points and 6 rebounds. Jefferson did seem to be out of place a lot in the first quarter on the offensive end, but over time he should be able to blend in better.
Paul Millsap was his usual consistent self. He did have some problems with LaMarcus Aldridge on the defensive end. When he gives up good position to long players they seem to score with ease.
The player nobody will talk about was Andrei Kirilenko. He sparked a big run for the Jazz second unit and had 4 points and 5 rebounds in 7 minutes. AK has looked very good at the 4 and his versatility and passing are way too valuable for the second unit. AK will start the season as the 6th man, in my opinion.
To much surprise Sundiata Gaines started the second quarter for the Jazz, and played the entire quarter. Gaines showed some good signs of leadership, but still was not a smooth floor general. His unit had 6 turnovers in their quarter. Right now Othyus Jeffers seems to be in the lead. He has energy, plays hard and continues to impress in limited minutes. Demetrius Nicholos effectively got himself cut with his performance in the second quarter. He has a long way to go.
Sloan went with a D-League type lineup of Fesenko, Evans, Nicholos, Jeffers and Gaines for the last 5 minutes of the second quarter. Matched up against mostly Blazers starters, they did surprisingly well and kept the Jazz in the lead going into half time.
“D-Will just hustled off bench to catch a full-court buzzer-beater attempt by #blazers. He then spiked it as if it were a TD reception.” – @DJJazzyJody