Best Play – If you have been keeping up with the NBA standings throughout the season, you should be aware of the fact that the Cavs have been the first place team for quite some time. So anytime you have a chance to beat a team of that caliber, it is a huge occurrence. Beating them on a ridiculous, buzzer 3-pointer with a former D-Leaguer, who is in the middle of a 10-day contract, is something that is top-play worthy for the season. That is why when Sundiata Gaines hit his unforgettable shot against the Cavs, he took a direct path to the top of the list of top plays of the current NBA season. Anytime a play goes beyond your wildest imaginations, you know that it is a play that deserves to win an award for “Best Play of the Season.”
Best Comeback – In a season full of comebacks, it was hard to determine just one as the best comeback. But as I looked through all of the games up to this point, I had to choose the game against the Blazers, where the Jazz overcame a 25-point 3rd quarter deficit, on the road no less. As the Jazz were stuck with 39 points with 19 minutes left in regulation, it looked like it was going to be a struggle just to get to 80 points in the game. But not only did the Jazz reach 80 points, they actually came all the way back, and they sent the game into overtime, as Carlos Boozer hit a buzzer hook shot at the end of regulation. Of course, with the momentum heavily favoring the Jazz, Utah took care of the Blazers in the overtime session, and they won the game 93-89.
Best Overall Performance (Team) – Utah’s game against the Rockets earlier this month, is the kind of game that all teams would die for. The Jazz outscored the Rockets in all 4 quarters, as they amassed 30 points in 3 of those quarters. In addition, 6 of their players scored in double figures, they shot 67.5% from the field, and they made a season-high 14 3-pointers. Leading the way was Deron Williams, who scored an impressive 35 points on 13-17 from the field, while also piling up 13 assists and 7 rebounds. When all was said and done, the Jazz had cruised to a 133-110 victory. Did I mention that the 133 points were a season-high?
Best Individual Performance – With Deron Williams‘ recent explosion against the Houston Rockets as a close second, I had to give this award to Carlos Boozer for his performance against the Portland Trail Blazers, where he scored 22 points, grabbed an amazing 23 rebounds, and dished out 5 assists. The reason I gave the nod to Boozer was because he was the lone bright spot on the team for most of the game. Plus, hitting a buzzer hook shot to send the game to overtime didn’t hurt his case either. Had Boozer just had an average performance that night, there is no way that the Jazz win the game. As a cherry on top, this performance came right after I wrote THIS PIECE, which made me feel pretty smart.
The Stepping Up Award – With Carlos Boozer battling an injury in the middle of the season, Paul Millsap was called on to start at the power forward position for a few games. One of those games was against the Sacramento Kings (Jan. 29). In the game, Millsap had a Jazz-high 32 points and game-high 14 rebounds, as he surprisingly led the Jazz, who were also without star point guard Deron Williams, to a 101-94 victory. This win showed everybody the heart that this Jazz team possessed, as they were without arguably their two best players. Getting the huge performance out of Millsap actually had people questioning if he should start full-time. Of course, those talks still haven’t been put to rest.
Best Coaching Move – In my opinion, getting Andrei Kirilenko back into the starting lineup has been a move that has transformed this team this season. Not only have the Jazz played better as a team with Kirilenko on the floor, but AK has been personally rejuvenated this season. AK’s renaissance has been a driving force behind this team’s success, and the team showed that by winning 16 out of 18 games from the time he became the starter. Now that AK is once again a key player and leader on this team, the Jazz are more versatile and a lot harder for team’s to play against.
If you have any other award suggestions, leave them in the comments section, and I will consider updating this post with your input. Go Jazz!