Tough week for the Jazz. First they snap a six game winning streak against Atlanta on Sunday, then receive a huge blow to the face by Boston, and then lose to the lowly, ragged, 18-win Kings tonight – on their home court, thus snapping another winning streak.
The final score? 104-103. Which means the Jazz gave up 104 points to … the Kings. Let me say that again: the Jazz gave up 104 points to … the Kings.
Fail, Utah. Epic fail.
But alas, as I’m constantly reminded, this Utah team remains a young, slightly off-kilter bunch. I avoided the mistake of believing in their recent resurgence, instead keeping my expectations at bay. In one blog I think I actually wrote: “… this Jazz team can drop just as easily as it rises …” (don’t look for that exact quote, as I was paraphrasing myself).
Jazz fans, do not fret. For while the team may continue to rise and fall like CJ Miles’ outside game, they also provide top notch entertainment. Sure they made frustrating, stupid plays down the stretch (Hayward’s drive with seconds remaining looked bombastic, erratic and every bit as clumsy as his blocks in Boston were awesome); and sure at one point I started looking at the rim to make sure a plastic cylinder hadn’t been placed on top (Utah shot an atrocious 35-percent from the field tonight – on their HOME court – and just 23-percent from downtown), but you know what? They gave it their best, er, attempt and came up short against … the Kings. Ugh.
How can you win a game in LA less than two weeks ago, then defeat OKC, but then fall to … the Kings?
Oh yeah, this is a young team …
At least the game further proves my theory that when Big Al goes off, the Jazz suffer. He made his shots, sure, but at what cost? His 21 shot attempts were the same as Hayward’s and Milsap’s put together. Big Al posted 27 points, while Hayward followed with 19, Burks and Milsap 15 and 12, respectively.
I dunno. It’s not like Big Al tried to score 27 – nobody around him could make a shot. I’d eventually stop passing to CJ too!
I’m starting to think this Jazz team can’t handle the limelight. They peak when they’re not supposed to, then crash and fall as soon as all eyes fall upon them. Just last week, SI shot them up to eighth in their Power Rankings and called them a scary threat come playoff time. I even posted an article that asked if Utah was the hottest NBA team and even tattooed the headline across my chest … and what happens? The same thing that happened when Milsap’s name was carelessly tossed around NBA All-Star circles like a red hot pickle jar – the Jazz tripped, shattered and spent an entire month attempting to get rid of the horrid stench left in their wake.
Then again, maybe I’m missing the bigger picture: CJ Miles. The streaker?
Looking at his stats over the past, what, nine games, I’m having a hard time finding a pattern. He had as many off nights as he had on during Utah’s recent winning streak – he only netted four points against Golden State, and seven against LA before scoring 10, 12 and 17 against OKC, Denver and Atlanta (which turned out to be a loss).
He scored a big ole Easter egg against Sac-Town tonight, which is discouraging to say the least, but not surprising.
CJ personifies this Jazz squad to a T: sometimes his game looks extraordinarily beautiful, capable of moving mountains with its elegance; other times it looks like a steaming pile of donkey dung covered in corn bits, frosted flakes and moldy applesauce.
So who’s to blame?
No one, really. I still think Big Al’s tendency to take over games hurts his team more than it helps, but the guy produces – to a certain degree. He had a similar tendency to jack up 25-30 points a game while in Minnesota … and I keep noting how we look remarkably like the T-Wolves circa 2007-2010 (okay, maybe we’re not THAT bad) …
I dunno. Sac-Town, as I said last week, carries some sort of vendetta against the Jazz. They’re tough, gritty, sloppy, and downright viscous in the paint. Utah, meanwhile, carries none of those qualities. When someone pushes them, they don’t retaliate, nor do they cower – they do nothing.
Maybe that’s the problem. Instead of pushing back against these hard-nosed teams Matt Harpring-style, the Jazz whither and fade. That, plus getting blinded by the spotlight, are, as of now, two serious problems the Jazz probably need to address if they want to be taken seriously come playoff time.
Perhaps that’s why adding Karl Malone to the coaching staff would benefit all involved. The Mailman knows a thing or two about pushing back and knocking the bejesus out of anyone foolish enough to stand in his way. Hell, he knocked out the Admiral without even trying!
Tonight, Sac came at the Jazz with fists clenched and hammered down hard. Utah, from what I saw, let them have their way.
And that’s why they lost … to the Kings.