26 April 2008

Jazz win Game 4

It's official. This Jazz team belongs to Deron Williams. I've believed this was true for a while now, but tonight seals it.

Williams scored eight fourth-quarter points, including two on a killer dunk, to lead Utah past Houston 86-82. Deron finished with 17 points and nine assists, a line that isn't overly impressive, but when the Jazz looked like they were going to blow a late lead, he refused to let it happen.

On a night where Utah didn't hit a single 3-pointer (0-14), Boozer shot 3-13 from the field and Korver was 4-11 (0-6 from the 3), I'll take the win. It was an ugly win, but it was a victory the Jazz needed to take control of the series.

It appears Utah figured out how to shoot free throws, going 24-31 from the line for a respectable 77%. However, Deron did miss two free throws with eight seconds to go, shots that would have put the game away.

But then Okur came out of nowhere and got rebound number 18 on the night, was fouled, and hit his two free throws to win it. He's averaging over 13 a game in this series, which is a huge increase from his seven per game in the regular season.

Overall, I'm not very impressed with the Jazz in this series. To be fair, Houston is a great defensive team, and Utah will most likely look a lot better offensively against the Lakers in the second round (thanks for nothing, Denver).

Boozer, especially, has looked less like an All-Star and more like Drew Gooden. He's averaging 15 points a game against the Rockets. He is rebounding well, but for him to be unable to score more against Carl Landry and Luis Scola is just pathetic.

Tracy McGrady continues to fizzle in the fourth quarter. After failing to show up late in Games 1 and 2, he finally "broke through" and scored seven in the fourth quarter of Game 3. On 2-7 shooting.

Tonight he took one shot in the fourth (four total points), and finished with 20 on 9-25 shooting. That's 31% from the field if you don't have a calculator at home.

Here's something I'll never get: when players score a ton of points while shooting a poor percentage, why do they get props? What would you take if you were an NBA coach?

Player A scores 26 points on 13 of 19 shooting.

Player B scores 50 on 25 of 61 shooting.

It's a simplistic example, excluding 3-pointers and free throws, but you get my point. My take is that Player B actually hurts his team more than he helps. He's only shooting 40% from the field, and the worst teams in the NBA don't average 40% from the field.

Thoughts from the rest of today's games:

-I love Dwight Howard. He recorded 19 points and 16 rebounds to go with eight blocked shots in a big win over Toronto. The scary thing, he's still learning. Mark my words, in two or three seasons, when Dwight is as smart as he is strong, he'll do something ridiculous like average 30 and 20 for an entire season.

-Right when I was about to write Rashard Lewis off as one of the worst contracts ever, he shows up tonight, scoring 27 points, pulling down 13 rebounds and dishing five assists. He's still shooting under 33% from the 3-point line for the series (including 0-9 in Game 2), but he can pick that up.

-The Nuggets are an embarrassment to the league. After failing to show up against the Lakers once again, Carmelo Anthony makes the following statement:

In a game like tonight, on our home court, us giving up as a whole is uncalled for,” Anthony fumed. “Yeah. We quit. Everybody. From the coaches to the players, we quit. And I said it.
Wow. Just wow. The Nuggets have underachieved for a long time now, but tonight takes the cake. If I were owner E. Stanley Kroenke, I'd think long and hard about making some major trades, and maybe firing Nuggets coach George Karl. And I say this as a completely unbiased observer. If Denver actually puts up a fight against the Lakers, it helps the Jazz in round two.

Instead, the Lakers will barely break a sweat in sweeping the Nuggets and be at full strength against Utah. Not good.

-Josh Smith makes me love him more every time I watch him. He's like Andrei except better. Gotta appreciate anyone who can dominate on the offensive and defensive ends of the floor, and throw down some earthshaking dunks to boot. Smith finished with 27 points, nine rebounds and six assists. He also had a sick block against Boston's Rajon Rondo attempt at a reverse layup, and slammed four dunks down with authority.

So much for my theory that Garnett wouldn't let Atlanta win a single game.

A friend of mine asked me why a sports writer called the Hawks an underrated team. After thinking about it, I realized Atlanta has a lot of talented players. Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Al Horford, Marvin Williams and Mike Bibby are not bad players. I'd watch out for them in the near future. If they don't take off, I'm going to blame coaching.

Outside of the L.A./Denver and Spurs/Suns series, the playoffs have been pretty outstanding so far. My wife's getting a bit sick of these playoff game marathons in the living room, but she's been supportive. I'm a lucky guy.

Tomorrow I'll finish explaining the theory I mentioned earlier. It's too late to go into it tonight.

I love the NBA.

No comments: