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The last loss of 2009

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  • The last loss of 2009

    Here’s what a loser I am: The Flaming Lips are covering “Dark Side of the Moon” at midnight in a special New Year’s Eve show across the street from my hotel in Oklahoma City and I’m here blogging about the Jazz’s loss to the Thunder.
    It was the kind of loss that was so absurd - - a rookie ref calling a loose-ball foul on Paul Millsap going after a rebound with 4.5 seconds left - - that all the Jazz can do is try to shrug it off and hope it doesn’t come back to haunt them come playoff tiebreaker time.
    “It’s a tough one to swallow,” Deron Williams said. “We were right there. We played good enough defense the whole game to win the basketball game. We just . . . offensively we didn’t have everybody going.”
    Jazz coach Jerry Sloan echoed those sentiments, saying “Our guys played hard and tried to do what they had [to do] to win the game.”
    The Thunder did such an awful job of delivering the knockout punch when the Jazz seemed ready to fold that by the time the Jazz made their comeback from eight points down in the fourth quarter, they clearly deserved to win the game.
    Oklahoma City made just 14 of 28 free throws, but Nick Collison converted the two that counted after Millsap’s foul. The Jazz dropped to 18-14 - - the same record as the Thunder - - and wouldn’t be in the playoffs if they started today.
    The Millsap call was clearly the game-decider, but there was a lot of other stuff from Thursday’s game. For starters, Williams’ decision to give up the ball to Ronnie Price for the final shot.
    Williams scored 10 points in the fourth quarter, including a pair of driving three-point plays, but opted not to drive on Thabo Sefolosha when Russell Westbrook cheated off Price to help on defense.
    “It was a clear out,” Williams said. “I got the ball and I was going to try to drive on Sefolosha and as soon as I took off. . . Westbrook came over to help and I kicked it to him. He had a good look, just couldn’t knock it down.”
    What especially hurt the Jazz was failing to take advantage after Wesley Matthews forced Kevin Durant to give up the ball and Price drew a charge on Westbrook with 37.2 seconds left and Utah leading 86-85.
    Williams missed everything on a 22-footer - - he said his shot felt off all night - - and the Jazz were called for a 24-second violation, giving Oklahoma City back the ball with 12.5 seconds remaining.
    * * *
    Credit Matthews with a fantastic game at both ends. Matthews had 14 points on 7-for-10 shooting and played ahead of both C.J Miles and Ronnie Brewer in the fourth quarter. Matthews also drew the defensive assignment on Durant at the end of the game.
    He battled Durant when the Thunder’s star tried to post him up. He forced Durant to give up the ball before Price took the charge with 37.1 seconds left. Durant actually tried a swing-through move to draw a foul but Matthews backed off a split-second early.
    He also helped force Durant into a tough miss before Millsap was called for the loose-ball foul on the rebound. Durant finished with 31 points but had six in the fourth quarter on 2-for-6 shooting.
    “In the most complimentary way, he’s an unconscious player,” Matthews said. “He can miss five, six shots in a row and he thinks that seventh one’s good. That’s tough to play against. He’s a very, very good scorer.”
    Matthews also tossed in a jumper to beat the shot clock late in the third quarter, sending the Jazz into the fourth trailing 65-62.
    * * *
    C.J. Miles went just 1-for-5 against the Thunder, who signed him to the $14.8 million offer sheet the Jazz matched in the summer of 2008. Miles is now shooting 39.2 percent this season. He insists the wrap on his shooting hand from his thumb injury isn’t a problem.
    Mehmet Okur’s struggles only deepened Thursday as he posted what might have been the worst double-double (11 points, 11 rebounds) I’ve ever seen. Okur made just 4 of 17 shots and committed six turnovers, which is a season-high if not a career-high.
    Okur got picked clean by Eric Maynor early in the fourth quarter, with Maynor heading the other way for a layup that gave Oklahoma City an eight-point lead
    What’s most concerning about Okur’s play is that he showed up in Utah in early September to work out before the season. It’s not like he showed up a day before training camp and showed no commitment. He’s just flat-out in a rut.
    * * *
    I noted it in the game story, but Sloan was as animated as you’ll see in Thursday’s loss. He was switching into zone defenses, calling out plays to run, getting guys up off the bench, calling quick timeouts and even going with that Williams/Price/Matthews lineup in the fourth.
    “He’s a competitor,” Matthews said, adding that it was the most animated he’d seen Sloan in person, though “I’ve seen him on TV plenty of times.”
    * * *
    Check back Friday for some New Year’s resolutions the Jazz should consider. One of the biggest arguments you can have is whether the Jazz should be better than 18-14. I would argue their record is about right. Hope everybody had a fun and safe Dec. 31.
    --Ross Siler




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  • #2
    Re: The last loss of 2009

    That's great... no more losses in 2009...
    :huh

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    • #3
      Re: The last loss of 2009

      Credit Matthews with a fantastic game at both ends. Matthews had 14 points on 7-for-10 shooting and played ahead of both C.J Miles and Ronnie Brewer in the fourth quarter. Matthews also drew the defensive assignment on Durant at the end of the game
      Matthews is an undrafted rookie playing under a coach that is notorious for not playing rookies, and somehow he can give us a consistent effort just about every time he steps on the floor.

      CJ is in his FIFTH year as a pro and somehow still can't manage to give a decent effort on any regular basis. It's kind of pathetic, really.

      I know CJ is just 22, but Matthews is only 6 months older and has never played in this league.

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      • #4
        Re: The last loss of 2009

        That's one thing that kind of got lost in the foulgate hoopla. Matthews was insane on Durant, seriously. Durant seems like he is a foot taller than Matthews, but every time Durant shot Matthews hand was no more than 2mm away from Durants face and hand and it clearly flustered Durant. One thing the bigs can learn from Matthews is how to walk your opponent back out when he gets a spot in the post. Durant had the perfect spot in the post and Matthews strayed walking him back out before they could get him the ball. I'll never understand how this kid went undrafted.
        Gordon for ROY!!!!!!!

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        • #5
          Re: The last loss of 2009

          Matthews played really well, kudos to the kid.

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          • #6
            Re: The last loss of 2009

            Originally posted by hawaiianjazzfan View Post
            That's one thing that kind of got lost in the foulgate hoopla. Matthews was insane on Durant, seriously. Durant seems like he is a foot taller than Matthews, but every time Durant shot Matthews hand was no more than 2mm away from Durants face and hand and it clearly flustered Durant. One thing the bigs can learn from Matthews is how to walk your opponent back out when he gets a spot in the post. Durant had the perfect spot in the post and Matthews strayed walking him back out before they could get him the ball. I'll never understand how this kid went undrafted.
            Watching him against Philly the other night (only time I've seen the Jazz live this year), he looked like a defensive ace in the making. I was shocked by how textbook everything about his defense is.

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            • #7
              Re: The last loss of 2009

              Originally posted by WeberJazz View Post
              I was shocked by how textbook everything about his defense is.
              Including his commentary:

              “In the most complimentary way, he’s an unconscious player,” Matthews said. “He can miss five, six shots in a row and he thinks that seventh one’s good. That’s tough to play against. He’s a very, very good scorer.”
              How many rookies ever even say things like this? The kid is a baller on and off the court.
              How do you score under 35 in a half? Utah's tank is too strong -Raptors fan

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