Archive for the ‘Utah Jazz’ Category

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It was all smiles for the Jazz on Wednesday night

Let’s be clear about one thing: No one, not even the most optimistic/delusional Raptors fan would have predicted a Toronto win tonight, so I’m not going to write this blog as if the Raps let one slip.

They are not supposed to beat Utah at all, let alone in Utah, where the methodical Jazz run like clockwork.

Having said that, the effort the Raptors put forth in the second and third quarters, and to an extent in the fourth, was good enough that had it been sustained for 48 minutes, would have given them at least a fighting chance.

Twelve minutes of running around like chickens with their heads cut off (and let’s be honest, that’s what the first quarter looked like) to open the game buried the Raptors. They found themselves down 19 points after one quarter, giving up an inexcusable 41 first quarter points.

The bench came through in the second quarter to alleviate some of the deficit, but the real bright spot for the Raptors was the third quarter, where the duo of Andrea Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan looked unstoppable offensively and Toronto’s defence held the Jazz to just 36 percent shooting in the third. The Raptors even chipped the Utah lead down to one.

The knockout punch came at the end of the third. Trailing by two, the Raptors gave Deron Williams two free throws, which he made. DeMar DeRozan then stepped out of bounds attempting a half-court heave, and with 1.7 seconds left off the ensuing in-bound, C.J. Miles banked in a three-pointer.

What looked like it might only be a two-point deficit heading into the fourth quickly became seven.

You know the rest of the story. The Raptors couldn’t hang with the Jazz in the fourth, and found themselves sitting at 1-3 by the end of the night.

At this point, just keeping the games in L.A. and Portland respectable to close this road trip would be an accomplishment.

Raptors Player of the Game: Andrea Bargnani – 36 Min, 26 Pts, 8-19 FG, 2-3 3pt, 8-9 FT, 9 Reb, 3 Ast, 2 Blk

Jazz Player of the Game: Deron Williams – 41 Min, 22 Pts, 7-14 FG, 0-4 3Pt, 8-9 FT, 8 Reb, 14 Ast, 2 Stl

Goat of the Game: Linas Kleiza – 21 Min, 4 Pts, 2-6 FG, 0-1 3Pt, 3 Reb, 1 Ast, 2 TO

Tonight is the second game in a four-game West Coast road trip for the Raptors and I have to be honest that I don’t think any of these games are realistically winnable. The Kings were probably the most beatable of these four teams and the Raptors are catching the Jazz just as they may have found their stride after a disappointing first couple of games. It’s hard not to be impressed by a team that can beat the Thunder in Oklahoma City by 21 points.

The Jazz present all sorts of matchup problems for the Raptors. Their bruising yet skilled frontcourt of Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap have combined for 37.6 points and 21.0 rebounds per game, Deron Williams can and probably will have his way with Jarrett Jack and Jose Calderon, and Andrei Kirilenko’s octopus arms allow him to menace his opponents on shot attempts and in the passing lanes. On the other hand, Utah will reportedly assign six-foot-seven Millsap to guard Andrea Bargnani so that’s a mismatch you can expect the Raptors to exploit.

Mehmet Okur is out indefinitely recovering from achilles surgery so Bargnani won’t be reunited with his basketball doppelganger tonight. There are no reports of any new Raptors injuries so it looks like they have a clean slate.

Five questions

1. Based on the current trend, should we expect Andrea Bargnani to have 30 points and 1 rebound tonight while Reggie Evans is held scoreless and grabs 24 rebounds?

2. Who will win the battle of the boards between Evans and Millsap?

3. Can you make the case that Millsap is the best value of any NBA player on a non-rookie contract? He’s averaging 21 and 12, and he’ll get paid $7.6 million this season.

4. Do you think Gordon Hayward is on the covers of teen magazines in Utah like Justin Bieber is up in Canada? (Related note: one of the teams in my fantasy league is called “Carry On Hayward Gordon”.

5. Was anyone else disappointed that they didn’t work a “hunting for little Mexican girls” reference into this Skechers ad with Karl Malone?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGlQoLuyAe0

Start time: 9:00 PM ET
Channel: Sportsnet ONE
Liveblog: James Borbath on theScore.com and ScoreMobile
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Jarrett Jack, DeMar DeRozan, Linas Kleiza, Reggie Evans, Andrea Bargnani
Utah: Deron Williams, Raja Bell, Andrei Kirilenko, Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson

Your pregame song is “Unsound” by The Headstones. For some reason I was reminded yesterday of the fact that lead singer Hugh Dillon once flipped off my wife on a Brantford sidewalk for no apparent reason, so I guess he’s kind of an asshole. This is still a great song. The Raptors better run tonight if they want to save themselves.