27 November 2007

Jazz fall to the Knicks

The Jazz have been nothing if not inconsistent this season. While their overall record of 10-5 is decent, losing to teams like Sacramento and Cleveland is discouraging. This latest loss to the Knicks (4-9) last night underscores the weaknesses of this Jazz team.

First, the Jazz have little interior defense. Zach Randolph went off for 25 and 14, shooting 11-15 from the field. I realize Randolph is a significant talent in the post, but when he's playing against Boozer and Okur down low, he's nearly unstoppable. I love Carlos, but his vertical is pathetic and he can barely challenge shots on defense. Millsap is another option to defend down low, but it seems he's better at rebounding than playing defense at the rim.

Second, while the Jazz starters did well (with the exception of Okur, who's been off all season), the bench stunk it up. Harpring shot 2-8, Price 0-4. The Jazz also shot 2-15 from the 3-point line. It's hard to win when you can't hit from the outside.

An old roommate of mine posed this question to me: If you had to choose between a defensive center like a Dalembert and Okur, who do you go with? And honestly, my answer is the defensive center. Okur is a scorer, and the Jazz have plenty of those. Deron and Boozer can go for 25 on any night, and Brewer is good for 15 or so. Andrei, Millsap, Harpring, and Almond (hopefully) can fill the balance of what's needed. What the team needs to improve on is stopping the other guys.

I think the Jazz will be fine, but to push the team to championship level, they need a better defensive presence in the middle. We'll see if the Jazz make that move.

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