The Jazz come in at a deceiving 2-3. In the ledger, Utah is only one game better than Sacramento. But look at that impossible schedule for the Jazz: at Denver, Clippers, Rockets, at Dallas, Spurs. Maybe you'd dream of 3-2 or even 4-1 as a Jazz fan. But 2-3 ain't a sneeze. That schedule has two potentially great teams and three good teams. All of them should be in the playoff picture for a long while, with the Clippers perhaps dropping out in February or so.
The last game for the Jazz was a TNT Thursday dissembling of the mighty Spurs, who actually don't look too mighty allofasudden, with losses in Chicago, Salt Lake and Portland. The Jazz jumped on S.A. from Go, running up a 32-22 first quarter lead. Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer shared focal point duties, a familiar story. D-Wil is at 23/9 early on, while Boozer is rolling with 15/10. The team offense hasn't fully come together yet, and surprisingly Paul Millsap is only at 24 minutes per game.
SLC Dunk is my source for silky Jazz analysis.
THE KEY BATTLE
Lost in all the Soft Peaches hubbub is the fact that despite Paul Westphal naming Beno Udrih as the new starting two-guard, Tyreke Evans and Udrih himself both told The Bee's Ailene Voisin that Udrih will be the point guard. This is really all semantics -- positions don't really matter as much as we believe, and this is especially true in Westphal's system, where Kevin "Not a Point Guard" Martin brought the ball up a ton in the first five games.
The question Ailene fairly poses is that if Evans performs better as a two-guard, will all the "Tyreke is a point guard!" posturing be for naught? The catch that Ailene doesn't mention: it's pretty much a given that Evans will perform better over the next two months ... because he has been pretty bad so far, at least by the numbers.
|2009 - Tyreke Evans||5||31.0||4.4||12.4||35.5||0.2||1.8||11.1||2.2||4.0||55.0||0.8||2.2||3.0||3.6||2.4||1.6||0.0||3.2||11.2|
Unless Evans continues to shoot 36 percent with few assists and rebounds, the next two months alongside Beno will look better on an individual level. So this is almost a foregone conclusion, with the only question being team performance. And while I think Evans can make it sharing a backcourt with a true shooting guard like Martin, I'm not in the business of rooting against the team's success for that point to be proven.
We can't assess how that will all go down until the day comes. Suffice it to say that no matter what position Evans is playing, we hope for a load of improvement. That starts tonight, with a truly elite player in Deron Williams at the point, and a feisty troublemaker in Ronnie Brewer at the two. Another big challenge for Evans.
A Robert Frost piece titled "Lodged," dedicated to our friend Kevin Martin.
The rain to the wind said,
"You push and I'll pelt."
They so smote the garden bed
That the flowers actually knelt,
And lay lodged -- though not dead.
I know how the flowers felt.
I'm not sure comparing Martin to a garden bed helps anything, but whatever.
Since the day former Kings head coach Phil Johnson took a job as Jerry Sloan's top assistant in Utah 21 years ago, the Kings have had 10 head coaches. Exactly two of them (Bill Russell and Rick Adelman) have a career coaching record above .500, and only one (Adelman) had a Kings coaching record above .500. In fact, the second best record as a Kings coach since 1988: Reggie Theus's 42-62 mark. Mon dieu!
Andrei Kirilenko will block a Tyreke Evans shot into the third row. Later, Evans will switch hands 14 times on a driving layup attempt.
This is a 6PM game on CSN and KHTK. All viewers are on high Grant Napear anger alert. Repeat: all viewers are on high Grant Napear anger alert. Game thread at 6PM, post-game thread at 9PM. Recap by Wednesday.