Coming into Friday night’s game against the Sacramento Kings, the Utah Jazz were short 2 starters (Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams), but that didn’t prevent them from winning their 5th straight game and 9th out of their last 10 overall.
The player who stepped up the most for Utah in this game was forward, Paul Millsap. Millsap, who has always been a favorite of mine, had incredible numbers, as he scored 32 points, grabbed 14 rebounds, and dished out 7 assists. Numbers like that sound like a great night for LeBron James, so the performance was definitely much-appreciated by his Jazz teammates. For the Jazz to know that they have a guy like Millsap waiting in the wings in case Boozer does miss some valuable time due to injury, or even foul trouble, is great for their mentality.
Another guy who played an important role for the Jazz on Friday night was Andrei Kirilenko. AK scored 18 points, pulled down 7 rebounds, and swatted an amazing 5 Sacramento shots. One of Kirilenko’s blocks actually came towards the end of the game, and it halted any last momentum that the Kings might have had to come back. Kirilenko’s contributions to this team sometimes fly under the radar, but he is one of the key reasons why the Jazz are playing so well as of late.
The last member of the team who really stood out to me was Sundiata Gaines. Although Ronnie Price started in place of Deron Williams, he got into early foul trouble, and he was held scoreless. Next in line was Sundiata Gaines, who was able to score 12 points and drop 5 dimes. This was Gaines’ most action as a pro, and he did not disappoint. Now that Jerry Sloan knows he can count on the former D-Leaguer to play big-time minutes, he will begin to give him more minutes as the season progresses. This was Gaines’ first real test since being signed for the remainder of the season, and he passed it with flying colors.
The one concern for the Jazz in this game seemed to be free throw shooting. Out of the 40 free throws they attempted, they only made 27, which is 67%. If this starts to become a trend, it could hurt this team in the long run. For now, the Jazz should just feel fortunate that they were able to overcome all of those missed free throws and still win. This was just another display of the tough resolve that Utah showed throughout this game.
– With the win, the Jazz remained undefeated in their green uniforms.
– Millsap’s 32 points tied a career-high, which he set against Boston in December 2008.
– The Jazz improved their home record to 19-6. They are 28-18 overall.