Well, so much for pushing the panic button after just two games of the regular season. Following their second win in a row, which evened their record at 2-2, the Utah Jazz are looking like a respectable basketball club. This is definitely a far cry from their first two outings of the regular season. But just because they have won the last two games, it doesn’t mean that this team doesn’t have any concerns.
After handling a young exuberant OKC Thunder team on Halloween in the Ford Center, the Jazz took care of the new and unimproved Toronto Raptors (a team that D-Will has never lost to, by the way) at home. In the game, the Jazz started off hot, as they went on a 17-0 run in the first quarter and led 41-22 after the first stanza.
Even with the Jazz having that amazing first period, they did have a bit of a scare in the middle of the third quarter when the Raptors cut into their lead significantly. Luckily for the Jazz, though, CJ Miles connected on 3-pointer off the glass as the third quarter expired. The 3-pointer gave the Jazz a 7 point lead going into the 4th, and they never looked back from that point on.
Despite the fact that the Jazz got tremendous production from Deron Williams (who was looking extra cool out there with his fancy dribbling techniques and superior passing skills), Al Jefferson (who led the game with 27 points), and Paul Millsap (who added 21 points), the Jazz still needed a 19-point outing by CJ Miles (including that buzzer 3) to truly wrap things up against a team that is still looking for its identity in Toronto. I don’t know about you, but as a Jazz fan, that has me a little concerned. When you play as well as the players did last night, and you get off to a spectacular first quarter start, especially at home, you don’t expect the game to be up for grabs going into the final quarter.
The biggest thing that I noticed over the last two games, even though they were both wins, was that the Jazz did not play with the same sense of urgency on defense coming out of the halftime break. In the last two games, the Jazz have given up 34 points and 37 points respectively. And albeit the Jazz outscored the Thunder 35-34 in the third quarter, the points given up are just unacceptable, especially when you look at the amount of points they have given up in the other 3 quarters.
Now, just like after the first two games of the regular season, there is no need to panic about the Jazz and their third quarter defense just yet. However, if this trend starts to become a consistent theme for the next 5-7 games, I would start thinking about making some adjustments if I were Jerry Sloan. For now, though, I see it as a small blip on the radar screen that should not scare the Jazz in the very least. Once it starts costing them victories, then something needs to be done. Hopefully for the Jazz, it never has to get to that point.
On a positive note, let’s go to my Jazz Notes…
LT’S JAZZ NOTES
– The Jazz have beaten the Raptors 11 straight times.
– After being outscored in their first 7 out of 8 quarters, the Jazz have been outscored only once in their last 8 quarters.
– Deron Williams was just 2 rebounds shy of a triple-double last night.
– The Jazz shot 56.5% from the field and 88% at the free throw line.
– Deron Williams led the Jazz in rebounding with 8. No player in the game had double-digit rebounds.
– The Jazz got their first home win in their new uniforms.
– Paul Millsap is leading the team in scoring after 4 games, as he is averaging 21.2 ppg on 63.2% shooting.