The NBA: Jazzing Things Up
The Utah Jazz are currently tied for 4th in the West and are 6-1 at home. They have a better record than 4 playoff teams from last year – Portland, Denver, Dallas and Memphis. By all indications, they’ve exceeded early expectations.
This is not really how it should be, right? I mean, on paper, the post-D-Will Jazz should be struggling just as bad or worse than, say, the Minnesota Timberwolves, who have two potential All-Stars in double-double monster Kevin Love and the wildly popular, not to mention flashy, Ricky Rubio. But the Jazz are 4 games ahead of the T-Wolves and have been more impressive all throughout.
Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap are chiefly to blame. Neither of them will probably get a nod for the All-Star game, but they’ve been rock solid down low for coach Ty Corbin. In a combined 62 minutes per game, the dynamic duo has produced roughly 34 points, 17 rebounds, 3 blocks and 3 steals per game. They’re also shooting a combined 52% from the floor.
Awesome stats? Not really.
By the numbers, Al-Jeff and Millsap’s scoring has actually dipped a little bit this season, same with Devin Harris and CJ Miles. Utah is in the Top 10 in only 3 categories – FG%, blocks per game and turnovers per game. Not exactly a meteoric rise from last season.
So far, though, those good-but-not-quite-great stats have been enough to make some pundits turn their heads. All of a sudden, Memphis, the toast of the previous postseason for its grit and unwavering spirit, might be the odd man out. Granted it’s still too early, but the way the team has been playing, Utah is certainly jazzing things up.
Key stat-stuffers for today’s games:
GSW over DET, 99-91 – Warriors bounce back after losing to the Cats, getting one on the road even as Greg Monroe pumps in 25 points for the Pistons.
UTA over DEN, 106-96 – Potential playoff teams match up with the frontline duo of Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson wreaking havoc for the Jazz.
SAS over PHX, 102-91 – TD turns back time and drops a double-double on the flickering Suns.
Super Scorers (Top scorers of the night!)
Paul Millsap (UTA) – 26
Greg Monroe (DET) – 25
Tim Duncan (SAS), David Lee (GSW) & Marcin Gortat (PHX) – 24
Ragin’ Rebounders (Top rebounders of the night!)
Marcin Gortat (PHX) – 15
Paul Millsap (UTA) & Al Jefferson (UTA) – 12
Dynamic Dishers (Top playmakers of the night!)
Steve Nash (PHX) – 10
Tony Parker (SAS) – 9
Ty Lawson (DEN) – 8
Terrific Thieves (Top thieves of the night!)
Al Harrington (GSW) – 4
Ekpe Udoh (GSW) & Dorrell Wright (GSW) – 3
Boomin’ Blockers (Top blockers of the night!)
Ekpe Udoh (GSW) & Chris Andersen (DEN) – 4
A LOT with 2
Sharpshooters (Top 3-point shooters of the night!)
Ben Gordon (DET) – 3
A LOT with 2
Jan. 15, 2012 First Five
C – Greg Monroe (DET) – 25pts, 8rebs, 1ast, 1stl, 1blk
F – Paul Millsap (UTA) – 26pts, 12rebs, 3ats, 1stl, 1blk
F – David Lee (GSW) – 24pts, 6rebs, 3asts, 2blks
G – Gordon Hayward (UTA) – 19pts, 4rebs, 3asts, 2blks, 1stl
G – Monta Ellis (GSW) – 22pts, 7asts, 2rebs
Al Jefferson (UTA) – 18pts, 12rebs, 2blks, 1ast
Tayshaun Prince (DET) – 20pts, 7rebs, 1ast, 1blk
Danilo Gallinari (DEN) – 18pts, 4rebs, 4asts, 1blk
For a full summary of the day, here’s today’s NBA Daily Zap.