Jazz Fall to Nuggets in Season Opener
October 24, 2009 -
The Jazz hung tough for 3 quarters but fell apart in the 4th, losing in Denver 114-105 to open the 2009-10 regular season. (Have I ever mentioned that I hate the Nuggets?)
Game ball goes to: Deron Williams. He scored 28 points on 9 of 15 shooting, including 2 of 3 from behind the arc and 8 for 8 from the free throw line. He also dished out 13 assists, grabbed 3 rebounds, and had 1 steal. His otherwise outstanding performance was somewhat marred by 5 turnovers and an ill-advised foul on Chauncey Billups’ 3-point attempt at the end of the 3rd quarter. Still, he was primary reason this game was even close.
Stat of the game: This was Jerry Sloan's 100th game coached against the Denver Nuggets. That’s well more than an entire season’s worth of games against one team!
Highlight: Kyrylo Fesenko looked great in 11 minutes, hitting all 3 of his shot attempts, grabbing 2 rebounds, and playing solid defense. Though he didn’t record a block, he definitely altered a few shots.
Lowlight: Although he had a hot hand during the preseason, Carlos Boozer was ice cold in Denver. He shot a dismal 3 for 14 from the field against the Nuggets and looked tentative most of the evening. Boozer was clearly bothered by the size and athleticism of Denver’s frontcourt, as most of his shots were high-arc fade-away jumpers.
Other items of note:
- Mehmet Okur was injured 24 seconds into the game trying to take a charge from Nene. After hurling a few jumbled expletives at the TV, I began to wonder what the Jazz had done to offend the injury gods. Fortunately Memo hobbled back out a few minutes later and went on to score 13 points in 31 minutes. He has mild knee and ankle sprains and is listed as questionable for Friday's home opener against the Clippers.
- Andrei Kirilenko played a nice game and was active on both ends of the court. He had 16 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and 1 block. The Jazz need this kind of effort from him consistently for them to be successful this season.
- Jazz rookie Eric Maynor was outclassed by Denver rookie Ty Lawson, who got to the hoop easily and scored 7 quick points during critical stretch to start the 4th quarter with Deron Williams on the bench.
- This was the best I’ve ever seen Carmelo Anthony look. As much as I can’t stand him, he is turning into a superstar.
- Utah’s two largest weaknesses were clearly exposed by Denver in this game: outside shooting and interior defense. The Nuggets took it to the hoop repeatedly against Okur, Boozer, and Millsap, who could do little to stop them. On the other end, Denver was contesting every Utah shot in the paint. I was actually surprised when I read the box score and saw the Nuggets only had 6 blocks. It felt more like 16.
Utah Jazz Season Preview 2009-10
October 27, 2009 -
With the Jazz set to open their season tomorrow night in Denver, it's time to publish my official 2009-10 preview. I haven't been this unsure about how the Jazz would perform since 2003-04, the year after Stockton retired and Malone left to chase that elusive title with the hated Lakers.
The range of possibilities is wide this season, but I'll gaze into the crystal ball as best I can. Here are my projections for the team, as well as individual players:
2008-09 Record: 48-34 (3rd in Northwest Division; 8th in Western Conference; Lost in 1st round of playoffs)
2008-09 Statistical Leaders:
Points: Deron Williams (19.4)
Rebounds: Carlos Boozer (10.4)
Assists: Deron Williams (10.7)
Steals: Ronnie Brewer (1.7)
Blocks: Andrei Kirilenko (1.1)
FG%: Paul Millsap (53.4%)
3Pt%: Mehmet Okur (44.6%)
FT%: Kyle Korver (88.2%)
Key Additions: Eric Maynor, Wes Matthews
Key Subtractions: Brevin Knight, Jarron Collins
(Obviously I use the word “key” rather loosely.)
PG – Deron Williams, Ronnie Price, Eric Maynor
SG – Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver, Wes Matthews
SF – CJ Miles, Andrei Kirilenko, Matt Harpring
PF – Carlos Boozer, Paul Millsap
C – Mehmet Okur, Kosta Koufos, Kyrylo Fesenko
Projected Opening Day Starting Lineup:
Deron Williams (PG), Ronnie Brewer (SG), Andrei Kirilenko (SF), Carlos Boozer (PF), Mehmet Okur (C)
Point guard play – Deron is a budding superstar and one of the top-2 players in the league at his position. He has improved each season, and this one should be no exception. With Deron’s leadership and clear competitive drive, the Jazz have an ideal floor general.
Depth – Utah has one of the deepest rosters in the league, with a second unit capable of holding its own against many starting squads. This can prove highly valuable over an 82-game season.
Balance – At least 8 players on this theam are capable of dropping 20 points on any given night. At least 4 are capable of dropping 30. The Jazz are not dependent on a single superstar for the bulk of their scoring, which makes them more difficult to defend.
Flexibility – With such a deep, versatile lineup, Sloan has the option to exploit matchups without sacrificing talent. Most everyone on the team can play two and in some cases three different positions.
Outside shooting – Utah was one of the worst 3-pt shooting teams last season. Four of the top six players based on minutes played per game (Boozer, Millsap, Kirilenko, and Brewer) are not consistent deep threats. Okur was the only player on the team to shoot over 40% from behind the arc. When your center is your best shooter, you have to worry a little bit.
Wing play – The Jazz lack a consistent scoring threat from the wing positions to take pressure off Williams and the post players. Brewer, Kirilenko, Korver, and Miles can all score effectively in spurts, but none can be counted on to consistently provide 15+ points per game or to create their own shots.
Interior defense – With Boozer and Okur together in the starting lineup, Utah lacks a shot-blocking presence in the frontcourt. This has been painfully apparent over the past couple of seasons, as opposing teams regularly take it to the hole without fear.
Toughness – Not an attribute you would expect to be missing on a Jerry Sloan-coached team, but the Jazz failed to show much toughness last season. This was evidenced by their dismal record on the road and in the second game of back to backs. Losing Harpring to injury (and possibly retirement) will not help in that category.
Health – The Jazz missed 149 man games to injury or illness last season. Not a single person on the roster played in all 82 games, and all of the top guys except Brewer missed significant action: Boozer (45 games), Kirilenko (15), Williams (14), Okur (10), Millsap (6). Simply keeping the team healthy should result in a higher win total than last season, but they are already off to a bad start. CJ Miles and Kyle Korver were both injured in the preseason, requiring surgery that will keep them out until at least December. Okur, Brewer, and Price also missed preseason games due to injury.
Centers – Kosta Koufos and Kyrylo Fesenko are both young, intriguing big men with the physical tools necessary to become a serious presence in the post. Will either begin to realize that potential this season? If one of both can step up and become that enforcer the Jazz have been missing, it could make a huge difference.
Boozer – No one (himself included) expected Carlos Boozer to be in a Jazz uniform on opening day. But here he is. Boozer is in a contract year and will have every incentive to play his heart out this season. The question is, what kind of a team player will he be?
Worst-Case Scenario – On paper, this is essentially the same team that made the playoffs last season by the skin of its teeth, and then barely put up a fight against the Lakers in the first round. Particularly with some of the improvements to other Western Conference teams, it’s not that difficult to imagine the Jazz landing in the lottery.
Best-Case Scenario – This team actually has the talent to win the West and contend for a title. When healthy and playing on the same page, the Jazz can compete with anyone in the league. Unfortunately neither of those two things happened much last season. If all the pieces fall into place, Utah will give the Lakers and Spurs a run for their money. At very least, they will be a team no one wants to meet in the playoffs.
Predictions – The Jazz will improve over last season’s disappointing finish. They will continue to have one of the most efficient offenses in the league but will also continue to struggle stopping good teams down the stretch of close games. That said, the interior defense will be better than last season due in part to Boozer’s newly found (and contract-motivated) commitment.
Deron Williams will have a monster year and earn his first all-star invitation, increasing his scoring and assists totals, and improving his shooting percentage. The DWill vs. CP3 debate will rage on, as Deron closes the statistical gap and leads his team to a better record.
Ronnie Brewer will earn a contract extension with his improved defense and limited-but-efficient offensive game. He will play heavy minutes in the first part of the season while Miles and Korver rehab their injuries. His lack of shooting will hurt the Jazz in the short term (particularly when he’s on the court with Kirilenko), as teams will pack the paint to stop Boozer and Millsap.
Eric Maynor greatly exceeded expectations in the preseason and will see solid minutes backing up Williams, particularly with Price likely logging some time at SG. Maynor’s lack of strength will be a liability against bigger guards, but he has shown he can play at this level.
Mehmet Okur will increase his 3-point attempts to compensate for the lack of other outside shooters. He will miss a handful of games throughout the season with back problems but will prove an integral part of the team's success.
Paul Millsap will make the Jazz look smart for matching his contract offer this summer. His stats will be limited by Boozer’s continued presence (though Sloan will likely find him some minutes at SF) but his contribution will go beyond the box score.
Carlos Boozer will be the consummate professional and will post career numbers. He hurt his brand so badly over the summer that he will be in damage-control mode all year. The crystal ball is a little murky, but I think I see a different colored uniform in February...
CJ Miles was poised for a breakout year before tearing a tendon in his shooting hand. He likely won’t be back in the lineup until sometime in December, and it may be the all-star break by the time he is back to form. He will have some outstanding games but won’t achieve the consistency we’ve all been craving from him.
Kyle Korver finally got his wrist healthy before injuring his knee. Like CJ, he will miss the first part of the season and may not be back until January. When he does come back, however, he will likely return to form relatively quickly. His shooting off the bench will be key down the stretch.
Kosta Koufos didn’t show the improvement I had hoped to see from him during the preseason. He will likely spend some time in Orem but will still see some minutes with the Jazz. Kouf is a bright guy and a hard worker, so I expect him to earn more time as the season progresses. 2010-11 will be his breakout year.
Kyrylo Fesenko seems to be getting better, just not as quickly as I would like. Since he’s not eligible for Flash duty anymore, he will see his share of DNP-CDs unless the opposing team has a big, legitimate center. Unfortunately the light won't come on quickly enough for him, and this will be his last season with the team.
Andrei Kirilenko bulked up significantly during the offseason. This should make him more durable over the course of the season but won’t bring back the all-star who disappeared a few ago. AK will have the occasional brilliant game (i.e. 18 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 blocks, 3 steals) but won’t do it consistently.
Ronnie Price will take full advantage of his additional minutes, providing energy and hustle off the bench. Sloan admitted his error in not playing Price enough last year and won’t duplicate the mistake. While Maynor may actually beat him out for backup PG by the end of the season, Ronnie will remain in the rotation.
Jerry Sloan will once again be snubbed for coach of the year despite overcoming the offseason Boozer drama to exceed expectations in leading his team to one of the top records in the conference.
Projected 2009-10 Record: 54-28
(2nd in Northwest Division, 4th in Western Conference, lose to Lakers in Western Conference Semifinals)
The Jazz are likely still a few pieces away from being a true title contender. This season will be a step in the right direction, but they won't quite get there.
Jazz Beat Kings to Finish Preseason
October 24, 2009 –
The Utah Jazz closed out their preseason Friday night, beating the Sacramento Kings 95-85. The Jazz outscored the Kings 28-14 in the second quarter and never relinquished the lead.
Game ball goes to: Paul Millsap. Following a dreadful performance in Tuesday’s game against Portland, Sap scored 19 points on 9 of 16 shooting. He also had 7 rebounds, an assist, a steal, and a block in 33 minutes of play.
Stat of the game: Utah had 12 steals, with 7 Jazz players recording at least one.
Highlight: Eric Maynor had another solid outing and finally seemed to find his shooting stroke. He had 13 points on 5 of 8 shooting including 2 for 2 from behind the arc. Maynor also had 2 assists, 2 rebounds, and his usual 2 steals. (If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that Maynor recorded exactly 2 steals in all but 1 of Utah’s 8 preseason games.)
Lowlight: The Jazz were without their entire depth chart at shooting guard. Ronnie Brewer sat out with back spasms, while Kyle Korver (knee), Ronnie Price (hamstring), and CJ Miles (thumb surgery) were all still out with their respective injuries. While Brewer (and possibly Price) should be back for the regular season opener, Korver will apparently require surgery, leaving the Jazz extremely thin at the wing positions to start the season.
Other items of note:
- Deron Williams posted his first double-double of the preseason with 19 points and 11 assists.
- Kosta Koufos and Kyrylo Fesenko both continued to struggle with fouls. Koufos fouled out in 22 minutes, while Fess was whistled for 5 in only 14 minutes. Mehmet Okur also had 4 fouls in 17 minutes, giving the Jazz 15 for the center position alone. Looks like the replacement refs were a little whistle happy in the post.
- Sacramneto rookie, Tyreke Evans, scored 21 points for the Kings. He also had 7 turnovers.
- The Jazz finished the postseason with a 6-2 record. They open the regular season on Wednesday at Denver.
Jazz Beat Blazers…Again
October 21, 2009 –
For the second time in less than a week, the Jazz beat the Portland Trail Blazers with relative ease. Utah built an 11 point lead in the first quarter and never looked back, cruising to a 108-97 victory. The Jazz improved their record to 5-2 in the preseason.
Game ball goes to: Deron Williams. He scored 27 points on 8 of 12 shooting from the field, along with 9 of 10 from the free throw line. He only had 3 assists but obviously didn’t need more. Once again, Deron looked like the best player on the court.
Stat of the game: Utah was outrebounded by Portland (31-33), had fewer assists (15-18) and more turnovers (22-21), yet still managed to win easily. The Jazz shot 53% from the field while holding the Blazers to 41%.
Highlight: Kyrylo Fesenko had 8 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 blocks in only 13 minutes. (If only he hadn’t committed 4 turnovers and fouled out during those same 13 minutes…)
Lowlight: Paul Millsap only scored 3 points on 0 of 6 shooting and fouled out in only 21 minutes of play. Not exactly the kind of performance to make Portland agonize over losing out on him this summer.
Other items of note:
- Carlos Boozer kept his hot hand, hitting 8 of 10 from the field. Booz has averaged 72% shooting over the past 3 games.
- Eric Maynor finally broke his streak of recording exactly two steals in each preseason game. He only had one on Tuesday.
- Ronnie Brewer continued to look impressive, putting in another solid if not spectacular performance on Tuesday. He scored 16 points on 6 of 8 shooting. He also had 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and a block.
- Mehmet Okur returned to the lineup after sitting out Sunday’s game with a sore back. He only scored 5 points on 1 of 6 shooting. Kyle Korver and Ronnie Price are still out. No word yet as to whether or not they will play on Friday.
Jazz Lose to Clips Saturday, Beat Bobcats Sunday
October 19, 2009 -
It’s still preseason, so I’m going to be lazy and combine the recaps of Utah's two games over the weekend versus the Clippers and Bobcats. The Jazz lost to LA 103-96 on Saturday but then bounced back to beat Charlotte 110-103 the following night.
Game ball goes to: Carlos Boozer. He scored 42 points in only 45 minutes between the two games, shooting a combined 18 for 26 (69%) from the field. Boozer also looked much more active on defense than in previous years. He seems to be solidifying his starter status at PF.
Stat of the game(s): Eric Maynor continued a rather interesting streak by nabbing two steals against both the Clippers and the Bobcats. The rookie has recorded exactly two steals in each of Utah’s six preseason games thus far.
Highlight: Kirilenko returned from a two-game absence on Sunday, shaking off jetlag to post his best outing of the preseason with 18 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, a block and a steal.
Lowlight: The Jazz still can’t stay healthy. In addition to CJ Miles who will be out at least six weeks, Mehmet Okur (back), Kyle Korver (knee), and Ronnie Price (hamstring) all missed Sunday’s game with minor injuries.
Other items of note:
- Koufos and Fesenko both logged the most minutes they had seen all preseason, and both responded with their best games thus far. The pair has been relatively disappointing up to this point. The Jazz really need one or both of them to step up this season.
- Maynor continues to struggle with his shot (1 for 6 Saturday and 3 for 11 Sunday), but the rest of his game is definitely far ahead of what I expected. Looks like he will legitimately challenge Price for the backup PG role.
- Even though his preseason numbers haven’t been gaudy, Deron Williams routinely looks like the best player on the court.
Deron and Dwight
October 18, 2009 -
OK, not really Dwight (from The Office), but Rainn Wilson, the actor who plays him. The two star together in a commercial for the NBA on TNT in which Deron is a passenger in Rainn's taxi cab. The whole bit is pretty entertaining, but Rainn (who is sporting a sweet mullet) has one classic line that absolutely cracked me up:
"Hey, you're from Utah. Great state. I got the crap beat out of me in Provo one time."
Haven't we all.
Rainn has apparently filmed a whole series of these taxi commercials with various NBA stars. While I'm admittedly biased, I like Deron's the best. Check out the video below:
Maynor Shines in Jazz Victory Over Blazers
October 16, 2009 -
The Utah Jazz beat the Portland Trail Blazers 99-96 on Thursday evening in Salt Lake City. This game wasn’t on TV, so I can’t make any personal observations. But based on the box score and recaps I read from some fans who watched the game in person (thanks Redneck, Maria, and Pater), here is my second-hand summary:
Game ball goes to: Eric Maynor. The rookie is starting to make me look bad for doubting the wisdom of drafting him. He easily had the best game of his short pro career with 15 points, 5 assists, and 2 steals in 23 minutes off the bench.
Stat of the game: Deron Williams had more rebounds (7) than three Jazz centers combined (6): Mehmet Okur (2), Kosta Koufos (2), Kyrylo Fesenko (2)
Highlight: Williams left the huddle during a timeout to launch t-shirts into the crowd using a giant slingshot.
Lowlight: Fesenko had 0 points, 4 fouls, and 3 turnovers in 11 minutes. In fairness, he did also block 2 shots.
Other items of note:
- Ronnie Price started at SG for the Jazz with Miles, Korver, and Kirilenko all out of the lineup. He had 10 points, 2 assists, and 1 block in 23 minutes.
- Long-time Jazzman, Jarron Collins, played for the Blazers. It must have been odd to see him in the opposing uniform. Even more odd, Collins recorded a blocked shot – something he rarely did while playing for Utah.
- The Jazz managed to win despite being outrebounded (36-47), committing more turnovers (16-15) and fouls (32-25), and dishing out fewer assists (20-24).
Kirilenko to Miss Two Preseason Games
October 15, 2009 -
Fortunately he’s not injured. Aside from Deron Williams going down, the last thing the Jazz can afford right now is an injury to another wing player. With CJ Miles recovering from thumb surgery, Kyle Korver nursing a hurt knee, and Matt Harpring having likely played his last NBA game, the Jazz could ill afford to lose Kirilenko as well. No, Andrei is healthy but will be missing the next two games traveling to Russia for “personal reasons.” He is scheduled to return in time for Sunday’s game in Los Angeles.
Although details of AK’s absence have not been officially disclosed, a Russian poster on the JazzHoops message board said the Kirilenkos are in the process of adopting a child. In his words, “They are in adopting process and it is very complicating and long process. Both parents must be present in all interviews.”
If this is indeed the reason for his trip, then congrats to Andrei. I just hope his wife doesn’t make him get up in the middle of the night to feed the kid on game days.
Jazz Cruise Past Real Madrid
October 11, 2009 -
Although the game was much closer than it should have been through the first quarter, the Jazz eventually proved too much for host Real Madrid on Thursday (yes, I’m a little late getting this posted), cruising to an easy 109-87 victory.
Game Ball Goes to: Paul Millsap. The clear MVP of the European trip, Sap scored 20 points on 9 of 10 shooting in only 22 minutes. He also had 3 boards, 2 steals, and a block. He’s making Utah look very smart for matching his contract offer from Portland this summer.
Stat of the Game: The Jazz had 8 turnovers in the 1st quarter and finished with 23 for the game.
Highlight: Eric Maynor hit a nice pull-up 3-pointer to beat the first-half buzzer.
Lowlight: Goran Suton had more combined turnovers and fouls (5) than points and rebounds (4). Odds of his making the roster are pretty slim.
Other items of note:
- Deron Williams had another solid if not spectacular outing. He just looks to be in a different league than his competition (although in this game, I guess he technically was.) I expect a monster year from him.
- Maynor is a playmaker. His shot still isn’t falling, but he had 7 assists and 2 steals in 24 minutes (Ronnie Price sat out with a minor injury). A couple of his assists were gorgeous. I’m feeling pretty good about the point guard position right now.
- Kyle Korver played for the first time this season, coming back from a minor knee sprain sustained in training camp. He didn’t do much, but it was good to see him out there.
- Daryl Dawkins (aka Chocolate Thunder) was in the stands, clad in a marvelously tacky yellow and black striped suit. The NBA TV announcers were cracking up.
- Boozer actually looked pretty good defensively, recording 3 steals in only 20 minutes. Too bad, because this game would have been the perfect opportunity to comment on his penchant for matador-style defense.
Jazz Lose to Bulls at Buzzer in London
October 7, 2009 -
Maybe my standards are low since I haven’t seen an NBA game for a few months, but this was the most exciting exhibition game I ever remember watching. The fans in London were treated to a great show. In a back-and-forth contest that remained relatively close throughout, Chicago hit a shot at the buzzer to beat Utah 102-101, handing the Jazz their first loss of the preseason.
I won’t recap the game, but here are a few of my observations:
- The NBA TV announcers were terrible. They mentioned at least seven or eight times throughout the game that the Bulls were playing without Derrick Rose, John Salmons, and Tyrus Thomas. Just so happened that the Jazz were playing without CJ Miles, Kyle Korver, Matt Harpring, and Kyrolo Fesenko, but at the beginning of the game the announcers stated that the Jazz were essentially at full strength. It was actually funny, because the ticker on the bottom of the screen was mentioning CJ Miles’ finger injury and pending surgery right about the time they made the "full strength" comment. Someone must have called their attention to it later, because they finally acknowledged CJ and his injury just before halftime. It was the 4th quarter before they also commented that Kyle Kover was not playing due to knee inflammation. They never said a word (at least that I heard) about Harpring or Fesenko.
- The announcers also referred to Kosta Koufos multiple times as a rookie. C'mon guys, this is your profession. Do a little homework.
- Millsap looked outstanding. He scored inside and out, rebounded, blocked a shot, had a steal, took a charge, and just played aggressively. He had one strong driving layup going to his left that really impressed me. I don’t remember seeing that from him last season. Boozer by contrast was a complete non factor. If this game were an audition for starting PF, Millsap won the job.
- The Jazz missed Korver and CJ. The lack of an outside threat made things much more difficult for the offense. Ronnie Brewer and Andrei Kirlenko each airballed a 3-point attempt in the first half.
- Airball aside, Brewer looked great. I expect further improvement from him this season.
- Despite the fact that neither could hit a shot, Ronnie Price and Eric Maynor both looked good backing up DWill at the point. They both ran the offense, found open teammates, and played solid defense. Maynor showed a lot of poise for a rookie and could end up earning some minutes this season.
- At one point in the 3rd quarter, Williams fell awkwardly when running out to defend Hinrich. My heart sank as I flashed back to last year’s preseason game against the Bulls when he rolled his ankle on Derrick Rose's foot and ended up missing the first part of the season. Fortunately Deron got up and seemed fine.
- This game was my first chance to see the 2009-10 version of AK. Not sure what’s up with the hair (although I could say that every year), but his new build is legit. He apparently gained 20 pounds of muscle over the summer, and it shows. Fortunately it didn’t appear to affect his quickness on defense, as he had 2 blocks and 2 steals in only 19 minutes.
- Chicago has some good rookies. Taj Gibson was one of two players available at #19 that I had hoped the Jazz would select in this year’s draft (the other was Sam Young, and he didn’t get picked until the 2nd round). The Bulls took Gibson at #26, and I think they got a steal. They also selected James Johnson at #16 (I hoped he would slip to the Jazz but didn’t expect it), and he looked outstanding yesterday. He hit the winning shot at the buzzer to cap an 18-point outing that also included 8 rebounds and 2 blocks.
Injury Bug Already Biting Jazz - Updated
October 6, 2009 -
Poor CJ. Just when it looked like things were lining up for him to have a breakout year, Miles injured his shooting hand on Monday during practice in London. The injury was diagnosed as a ruptured tendon and will require surgery. No official timeline has been given for his return, but conventional thinking is around two months.
I seriously feel bad for the kid. Miles had apparently trained pretty hard during the offseason and was down to 4 percent body fat. He had an outstanding game against Denver in the Jazz' preseason opener last Thursday and really seemed to be a transformed player. I wish him a speedy return and hope he doesn't lose everything he gained this summer during the recovery.
While I'm wishhing, how 'bout immunity for the Jazz from any further injuries this year?
Jazz Beat Nuggets to Open NBA Preseason
October 2, 2009 -
It’s only preseason, but I’ll take any opportunity to see the Jazz beat the Nuggets, who rank just behind the Lakers for the coveted title of my most hated team in the NBA. The Jazz opened their 2009-10 campaign with a 103-87 victory over Denver.
The game wasn’t televised here in Arizona, so I didn’t get to watch. My schedule didn’t allow me to catch a radio feed on the internet either, so this review will be based on the box score and commentary from a few fans who attended the game in SLC (thanks Pater, Redneck, and Genki from JazzHoops). From what I gather, there were reasons for Jazz fans to be encouraged. Here are a few of the highlights:
- CJ Miles scored 16 points on 5 of 7 shooting including 2 for 2 from behind the arc. He also had 3 steals and the team’s only block.
- Carlos Boozer received a mixed welcome from fans, but there were more cheers than boos (not to be confused with Booz-es). He appeared to be putting in real effort on defense, which we can only hope continues throughout the season.
- Deron Williams had 16 points and 6 assists in 21 minutes and looked like he could do anything he wanted on the court.
- Kosta Koufos had a rough outing, going 1 for 8 from the field.
- Brewer, Millsap, Price, Okur, and Maynor all looked solid.
On a lighter note, the rookies apparently got their official welcome to the NBA when Maynor led the team out on the court, followed by two other roster hopefuls. Problem was nobody else joined them, so those three stood there in the layup line waiting for the rest of the team. Maynor had a big grin when he figured out they had just been tricked.
In summary, the team appeared to be in great shape, putting forth improved effort on defense, and running the offense with precision. You can’t read much into a preseason game, but you also couldn’t hope for a much better start for the Jazz.