The Jazz Tame The 'Cats

Coming into Utah’s match-up with the Charlotte Bobcats, I thought that the Jazz would suffer if they did not have the services of Andrei Kirilenko, specifically on the defensive side of the ball. Of course, the Jazz were without AK last night, and they did show signs of weakness through the first half, as they trailed Charlotte by 11 going into halftime.

Like I feared, the Bobcats killed the Jazz with the likes of Gerald Wallace and Stephen Jackson, who put up 18 points and 15 points respectively in the first half. It seemed that without Kirilenko, the Jazz just had no answer for Charlotte’s lengthy players.

But then, halftime happened, and the Jazz suddenly turned up the heat defensively. After combining for 33 points in the first half, Wallace and Jackson were stymied to just 10 points in the second half. And as for the Bobcats’ point total in the second half, they could only muster up 40 points, which is 13 points less than the first half total of 53.

Not only was Utah’s second half defense a catalyst for overcoming an 11-point halftime deficit, but players like Carlos Boozer, Deron Williams, and Kyle Korver provided the impetus for the Jazz to thrive on offense, en route to a 102-point output.

Boozer had another spectacular game for the Jazz as he put up 33 points and 16 rebounds, and he was a key reason why Utah stayed as close as they did in the first half. I truly believe that if Boozer had been off, the game would have been over in the first half, and the Jazz would have never had the chance to come back in the second half. Boozer’s recent mean streak has been unbelievable, and he is showing the Jazz why he deserves to remain with the team for a very long time.

D-Will had a typical D-Will game, as he scored 20 points and dished out 12 assists. His shooting percentage was nearly 50%, which was the best it has been since the All-Star Break. As a side note on Williams, prior to the game when he was still questionable, he unveiled a shirt during practice that read, “Unstoppable.” I am sure when his teammates saw that, they got excited, and they all wanted to play harder because of it. It’s a little gesture like that, that can really make a difference in the locker room.

Kyle Korver was on every Jazz fan’s good list last night, as he buried crucial 3′s, and he was that all-important third scoring option that stepped up for Utah. The thing I have noticed from the Jazz, is that when they have a third scorer step up, they are a lot more successful. Sure they have won games with Boozer and Williams providing the bulk of the offense, but when they can have a performance like Korver had, as the third option, it makes things a whole lot easier for the team. And not only was Korver a third option, but he was the guy hitting the game-deciding shots for the Jazz down the stretch.

Overall, the Jazz once again showed that you can never count them out of a game. Even when it looks like they don’t have what it takes to overcome, they shift the momentum back in their favor, and they cruise to a victory. The Jazz have shown this resiliency countless times this season, and I am beginning to think that no team does it better than they do. If they could just learn to come out strong from the start, this team could be even tougher. But as for now, 37-20 is nothing to laugh at. This team IS elite, and they will continue to win games, as long as they remain mentally tough. You could see that they believe in themselves, and it is that confidence that truly goes a long way.

LT’S NOTES

- Kyle Korver shot 5-6 from 3.

- The Jazz outscored the Bobcats 60-40 in the second half.

- Stephen Jackson had 1 point in the second half.

- CJ Miles shot 1-10 from the field.

- The Jazz are 23-8 at home.

- Larry Brown, who was ejected from the game said, “”I don’t think there’s a better player in the league than Deron Williams…” (Wow, did he see what Boozer did to them?)

- Some other links to Jazz-Bobcats recaps… SLC DunkSalt City HoopsThe Cowhide Globe UBJF

Tags: Andrei Kirilenko Carlos Boozer CJ Miles Deron Williams Gerald Wallace Kyle Korver Larry Brown Stephen Jackson