Time to Silence the Jazz

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Published: January 7, 2009

Just because I enjoyed that game last night so thoroughly, I wanted to add a pair of things about it that I thought of while I was waiting until 2:00 AM to wind down enough to go to sleep.  (Game ended at 1:10 on the east coast)

1. Don’t buy the Hype about Pau Gasol’s defense on David West.  It was bandied about that Fluffy had struggled recently against the Lakers due to Pau Gasol’s stellar defense against him.  That’s crap.  West is rarely bothered by Gasol, and I can only think of one game where he had trouble scoring against him – and that probably had more to do with just being off than the defense.  Then why does David West have trouble scoring against the Lakers?  Lamar Odom.  The much maligned Laker forward appears to be custom built to give David West fits defensively.  He’s fast enough to bother his effective dribble-drive, and he’s tall enough to contest his fade aways and jumpshots.  West has always struggled against him – and it’s been something I’ve talked about a bunch in the past.

2. Anyone notice how many times Kobe made it into the paint in that game?  Once.  Yes, he was unstoppable with his jumpshot, but even when he started driving in the fourth, our defense always pushed him towards the corners and made him take a jumpshot.  Usually that was because Chandler was stepping out on him.  It was huge.

Matchup: Hornets(21-10) @ Jazz(20-15)

Off Efficiency: Hornets 106.6(8th), Jazz 105.6(11th)
Def Efficiency: Hornets 102.5(12th), Jazz 102.3(9th)

The Jazz have been injury-plagued all season as Deron Williams had an ankle injury early and sat out thirteen games, and Boozer was on and off the court until deciding he needed surgery that is set for this Friday.  Mehmut Okur has missed a half-dozen games, and most of the other rotation players have missed between one and three games.  So the Hornets get a wounded beast that is still managing to amble into a decent record.  Utah has gone 5-5 over their last ten, but over their last five they’ve been playing much better, with their losses being close and their wins blowouts.

For the Hornets this is the last game of a nasty four game road trip, and they played a tough game against the Lakers last night, while the Jazz rested at home in their beds, dreaming of Suger Plum Fairies and Jerry Sloan.(They cannot escape him, even in their dreams)  I wouldn’t be shocked if the Hornets came out a little flat, but let’s hope not.

Injuries

Hornets: None
Jazz: Carlos Boozer is out.

Positional Analysis

PG: CP3 v Deron Williams
Advantage: Hornets
Deron is just now coming back to full strength after having had a long, slow recovery from a bad ankle.  His shooting percentages still aren’t where you expect them to be, but he’s dishing 11 assists over the last five, and playing better than most point guards ever do.  CP3 is his (un)usual crazy self.  Despite recent history, I don’t expect Deron to get the better of him this time around.

SG: Rasual Butler v Ronnie Brewer
Advantage: Jazz
I’m still a big Ronnie Brewer fan.  The guy still can’t shoot to save his life, but he’s got good ballhandling, constantly finds himself free around the basket and can finish easily, and generaly hustles hard and plays solid defense.  Butler has been slipping a bit, but I think not having to track an explosive scorer will probably help him shake free a bit on the offensive end this game.

SF: Peja Stojakovic v CJ Miles
Advantage: Hornets
CJ Miles has a solid jumpshot and is out there mostly to stretch the floor for the first unit.  He doesn’t play a lot of minutes and is fairly limited.  Stojakovic is limited as well, but I still have faith that his jumpshot is better than limited.

PF: Fluffy v Paul Millsap
Advantage: Hornets
I love Paul Millsap. The guy is energy, hustle, and competes hard in the paint for every rebound.  He can also finish in the paint with a lot of different moves.  Boozer may be a better offensive player, but Millsap is a starter on a lot of teams in the league.  I think West will still outplay Millsap, but I am a little worried about him after last night.  West has a history of following great games with bad ones.

C: Tyson Chandler v Mehmet Okur
Advantage: Jazz
Okur is a great offensive center, Tyson is a great defensive center.  Chandler hasn’t been able to stay on the floor for extended minutes this season, and his rebounding is way down.  This would normally be even in my book, but I still need a few good games from Chandler before I can call it that way.

Bench
Advantage: Jazz
I like the Jazz’s backup set of Andrei Kirilenko, Kyle Korver, Ronnie Price/Brevin Knight and little known but very effective big man Kosta Koufos.  Each of them have skills that contribute to the team, and any of them can get the Jazz 10-12 points off the bench.  The Hornets counter with Armstrong, Posey, and Antonio Daniels.  Armstrong is getting better, but this unit still doesn’t pack a tremendous amount of firepower.

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