Take it the Court is a new weekly column on SCH featuring the arguments, opinions, and random musing of a Utah Jazz fanatic.
It has been a slow posting week for Salt City Hoops – but the Jazz haven’t had the luxury of time off.
On Friday, the Jazz looked flat in the second half against Dallas. I can’t pretend to know what the player’s were thinking, but it seemed as if they just expected their streak of stellar second-half play to continue. In the first half, the Jazz were step-for-step, every bit as good as the Mavericks. But as Jerry Sloan has pointed out so many times in his career, the game is 48 minutes long – and a good half won’t win too many games against the NBA elite. Bizzarro-Deron showed up on Friday – and put up AK47 type numbers – 12 points, 5 boards, 7 assists, 4 steals, and 1 block (and 4 turns). While the extra production in steals, boards, and the block might have helped your fantasy team, it was an uncharacteristically poor outing for D-Will, who shot just 30% from the field, including 1-3 from downtown. Conversely, Dallas looked every bit the serious contender – don’t say we didn’t warn you. Both D-Will and CJ are products of Dallas and both were Mavs fans growing up. Dallas’ victory over Utah made Marc Stein a fan, too.
Deron Williams shook off the loss and made the holidays a little brighter for some of Salt Lake’s less-fortunate on Saturday. Together with his Point of Hope Foundation, D-Will hosted 20 low-income single moms and their 40 kids for dinner (at Flemmings) and gifts. The Ebeneezer Scrooge in me insists that NBA players only provide this type of charity for the tax write-offs and additional jersey sales. Deron and his wife, Amy, though, appear to be genuinely happy to use their wealth and fame to do good. If you’re looking for a good charity this holiday season, consider Point of Hope.
My personal affinity notwithstanding (my pops played college ball with Memphis Coach Lionel Hollins*), a visit from the Grizzlies was just what the doctor ordered. Sure, the game was ugly. Big Al and Millsap combined for 19 points. AK was 1-10, with the sole bucket coming off of a baseline dunk. Deron never really got into the groove – and was hit with 2 quick pesky fouls in the first quarter and another in the second (though he did abuse the much smaller Mike Conley and finished with 27 points and 8 dimes). The most important stat of the night? W. Yep. Utah got back to its winning ways.
*For those of you out there that are impressed with completely useless random information, Memphis Head Coach Lionel Hollins (“Train”) spent two years as a Rebel at Dixie State College of Utah in St. George. He went on to Arizona State University, a sixth overall selection in the 1975 draft, and he even contributed to division rival Portland’s sole championship in 1977 (the first year following the ABA-NBA merger). Train also earned an All-Star nod in ’77. His #14 now hangs in the Rose Garden rafters.
The Miami Heat come into SLC looking for a little payback. In what SCH has dubbed “the Greatest Game in the History of the Universe,” the Jazz shocked Miami when Paul Millsap took his talents to South Beach. After the loss to Utah, many thought the sky was falling for LeBron and company – they lost to the Celtics (for a second time), the Grizzlies in Memphis, the Pacers, the Magic in Orlando, and the Mavs in Dallas. They’ve since pushed there record to a respectable 14-8. The Heat boast the 3rd best record in the Eastern Conference – but there are SIX teams in the West with better records (Spurs, Mavs, Jazz, Lakers, Nuggets, Hornets) and would be tied with OKC for the 7th spot in the West. Miami enters tonight’s contest with a wave of five straight victories (and haven’t lost yet in the month of December). You can be sure that the Three Stooges Amigos will bring it. I wouldn’t count on a huge comeback by the Jazz tonight – the better course would be to just play all 48 minutes and not let the Heat get ahead.
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Contact Jefferson W. Boswell at jeffersonboz [AT] gmail [DOT] com.