With CJ Miles out for the Utah Jazz on Saturday night, the Jazz knew that they were going to need other bench players to step it up if they wanted to knock off the Memphis Grizzlies, even though they were without Rudy Gay. Luckily for the Jazz, the bench did step it up, and they were able to pull out a 98-92 victory; bringing their 2011 record to 1-0.
One of the biggest surprises in the game was the play of Deron Williams who was relatively quiet, as he scored 19 points and had just 5 assists. Despite the low numbers, he did play very well in the 4th quarter, and he did have a huge impact on the Jazz pulling out the game. The real story of this game, though, was the play of the bench without their sixth man, CJ Miles.
The Jazz bench which averages the fifth lowest points per game average in the league, outscored the Grizzlies’ bench 32-6 and were the real difference in the outcome of the ballgame. In fact, if you look at the
+/- of the starters and the bench players, you will see that all starters excluding Paul Millsap had a negative +/-, whereas all the bench players excluding Jeremy Evans had a positive +/-.
Gordon Hayward led the bench with 13 points (and the team’s highest +/- at +14) on 6-10 from the field. In addition, he had the dagger of the game when he slammed home the ball off of a sweet dish by D-Will that put the Grizz away for good. He also had an amazing and-1 dunk with his left hand that had ESA going insane. Needless to say, Hayward is showing that he still believes in himself, and he has not yet given up hope on his rookie season.
Another bench player that caught my eye was Ronnie Price. Price brought a ton of energy off the bench as he scored 7 points, including a beautiful two-handed jam and a 3-pointer. He also pilfered two balls from the Grizzlies and provided the Jazz with a necessary spark in the first half.
The overall leader for the Jazz in this game had to be Paul Millsap who led the Jazz with 22 points (8-11 from the field) and 10 rebounds. He went 6-6 from the charity stripe in a game where the Jazz looked terrible at the line (22-35), and he also helped on the defensive end by logging 3 blocked shots. In a game where the Jazz could not find much consistency, Paul Millsap provided just that.
Watching the Jazz play like they did, and seeing that they were still able to pull through in the end, really showed a lot about the grit of this team. Yes, the Grizzlies were without their best player, but when push came to shove, it was anybody’s game with 5 minutes left, and the Jazz were the team who took the game. Their home record has not been impressive, and it was important to kick off the new year with a W for the home crowd. Hopefully it’s a sign for things to come in 2011.