The Utah Jazz blew out the Minnesota Timberwolves as I expected, but it was not all fun and games for the Jazz last night. Although they did get the victory, and they did get the revenge they wanted against the Wolves, some players left the game with unknown statuses for Friday’s game against the Phoenix Suns. And with the season entering its final stretch, this is the worst possible time to have multiple injury concerns, especially to your key players.
– First of all, Deron Williams, who entered the game already banged up, left the game because of a left ankle sprain. Fortunately for the Jazz, Williams returned to the game, and he didn’t look too bad. He will have an MRI today on his left shoulder, and he will be game-time decision on Friday. As for the game, Williams was one point shy of another double-double, but he did have 9+ assists for the 21st consecutive time, which currently leads the league. (Mark Jackson has the highest streak ever with 29 consecutive 9+ assist games)
– Another injury happened to Andrei Kirilenko, who actually returned to the lineup last night after missing the previous 2 games. During the 3rd quarter, AK left the game after re-straining his left calf. Unlike Williams, he did not return to the game, and he will be a game-time decision for the game against Phoenix. In the time that he did play, AK brought energy to the Jazz lineup, which was clearly evident. The one play that sticks out to me was his block on Johnny Flynn’s dunk attempt. The Wolves had a 2-on-1 against Kirilenko, yet they could not get by the “Siberian Bull” (Drago reference).
– The final injury occurred to Wesley Matthews. Matthews, who has really been a bright spot for this team lately, suffered a mildly sprained left MCL shortly after AK left the game. Wes did remain in the game, and the injury didn’t seem to affect him too much. He will be a game-time decision for Friday night’s game at Phoenix. In this particular game, Matthews was relatively quiet, as he only shot 3-9 from the field and scored 10 points. Let’s just hope that Matthews can get back to form soon, and this injury doesn’t hurt him in the long run.
– Despite the injuries dominating the headlines right now, the Jazz did have great performances out of their power forward combo of Carlos Boozer and Paul Millsap. Each of the guys put up a double-double, and they did a good job on the Wolves’ best player, Al Jefferson. As long as these two guys can remain healthy, they will be a crucial part of the team if they have success in the postseason. In fact, I will go as far as saying that they will be the determining factor to Utah’s success. If they play well, the Jazz will thrive. If not, then the Jazz will suffer. Now, of course, you don’t want to compare them to Karl Malone, but you know the importance of the power forward position in Jerry Sloan‘s system. It’s just the way it is.
– If you weren’t already aware, yesterday was Kyle Korver‘s birthday. Let’s just say, he did not disappoint on his big day. For the game, Korver had a season-high 20 points, which would have been a team-high if ‘Sap did not score a meaningless layup in garbage time. (I have to be honest, when ‘Sap’s layup went through the hoop, I was a little disappointed. If Korver got to lead his team in scoring on his birthday, that would have been great. That’s just being nit-picky of course). My favorite part of Korver’s performance, other than his 77% FG percentage, was when he “went up” for a dunk. When the “old” 29 year old attempted to leave his feet, the forces of gravity just laughed at him and forced him to take a layup instead. It was real fun for the whole family.
– I don’t know if I will ever have the chance to say this again, but the Utah Jazz shot amazingly from the free-throw line last night. Overall, the Jazz shot 19-20 from the line, which comes to 95%. I know that this is probably just a fluke, but if it is not, that would be great news. The Jazz have struggled all season long from the line, and it will catch up to them if they don’t fix it. If last night was any indication of where they are heading, I would be very encouraged.
– In case you didn’t know, the Jazz are 9-1 in the green uniforms this season, including 8 straight wins in them. They should strongly consider wearing them come playoff time.
– The Jazz are 23-1 at home when they lead after 3 quarters.
– Everybody scored for the Jazz last night. The low-point man was Fes who had 1 point.
– Last night, the Jazz set new season-highs for points in the paint (72), bench pts (61), pts off TOs (32), and they tied a season-high for pts in a half (70) and fast-break pts (28).