Tuesday, May 27, 2008

One Final Blog Post for Two Years

First, I have to apologize for not posting anything on this blog for over a month. This blog was nearly taken over by required assignments from my Journalism and Communication 1130 class at Utah State, and absorbed away the time and space that I may have used to write about other things, like sports.
However, I want to use this blog to send out some final thoughts, whether or not it be read by anyone...
First, if a team wants to build around a point guard, they should do so with Deron Williams. Or Chris Paul.
Second, a team that builds around a dominant post player and surrounds him with precise outside shooters (like four-time champion Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs) could use a player like Jaycee Carroll. So take a chance on him, NBA teams.
Third, can the Angels PLEASE get some production from their bats? Good thing their pitching is so good. Paging Vladimir Guerrero (who has, to be fair, been hitting better as of late)...
Fourth, if an NFL team wants to build around a running back, they should do so with Adrian Peterson. Or.. Adrian Peterson.
Fifth, I love the new Chronicles of Narnia movie, Prince Caspian. And I've gotta see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull soon.
Sixth, Cherry Hill, New Jersey is the best mission in the world. And I'm now a (very) moderate fan of the Giants, Nets, Eagles, 76ers and Phillies. And the Flyers, if need be.
Seventh, the gospel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is absolutely true. Having a testimony of it is the key to happiness.
That's all! Thanks to everybody who may have stumbled across this blog.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The series shifts back to Utah...

An unexpected split was the result of Games 3 and 4 in Salt Lake City in a great first-round matchup between the Utah Jazz and Houston Rockets.

Game 3 was a game the Jazz did not play well, yet still nearly pulled out the victory. Count the problems the Jazz had in this game: poor free-throw shooting, out-rebounded by the smaller Rockets; and Utah was also outscored in the paint by Houston, a stat where the Jazz are #2 in the league in points-in-the-paint scoring.

Woeful numbers
20-33 shooting from the free-throw line for a measly 60.9 percent. Most important was the fourth-quarter numbers: 2-6 free-throw shooting, and six (six!) turnovers.
Utah was also out-rebounded 43-38, outscored inside 40-26, and let Tracy McGrady have his highest scoring output of the series, scoring 27, including seven in the fourth quarter, where he only had one point combined in Games 1 and 2.
Deron Williams carried the team throughout the first half, scoring 21 of their 44 points.

Outplayed in the First Half
Somehow, the Jazz were tied with the Rockets at halftime, despite being ouplayed physically and energy-wise. Obviously Rafer Alston- who due to injury missed the first two games in Texas- was the catalyst for this energy and physical play. Overall, his 20 points and five assists were numbers that were sorely needed for Houston in Games 1 and 2.
The epitome of the Jazz getting out-hustled in the game were forward Carl Landry's 11 rebounds, seven of which were on the offensive glass. Utah will not win another game in the series if they can't keep a player who plays less than a third of the game to rip the boards on the offensive side so easily.
But, overall, the biggest culprit for defeat was free-throws. Nobody could make 'em- not even Mehmet Okur, who shoots from the charity stripe at 80-plus percent. He shot 4-7. Booz was 3-8. AK, 0-2.

Down the Stretch
It was admittedly quite amazing to see the Jazz nearly overcome a seven-point lead with about a minute to go in the game, with a three of a curl from Kyle Korver, a push-off by McGrady after AK didn't let him cut where he wanted, and then D-Will finding Memo for another trey. However, after T-Mac fails to draw iron on the other end, a fadaway D-Will runner doesn't have a chance when it meets the hand of Carl Landry.
Finally, Tracy McGrady finally failed to not disappear in the fourth quarter this series. Though he struggled in the first nine-and-a-half minutes of the final stanza, and shot just 2-8, he did just enough at the end- two field goals for four points, and three free throws- to barely put Houston over the top.

Game 3
MVP: Alston- 20 points, five assists, court leadership and a high presence of energy that his team fed off.
Goat: Lots of contenders for Utah: Kirilenko, with just five points, two rebounds, one block and no steals (a very un-AK like line indeed); Memo, 3-13 and lazy defense, despite guarding the ancient Deke Mutombo; Kyle Korver. For all the key things off the bench that he did in Games 1 and 2, he did absolutely nothing on Thursday night until hitting a 3 with around 40 ticks left.
Subway Sub of the Game: Landry.
Key Stretch: Houston opens up a 15-8 lead; Utah, highlighted by a surprising corner '3' from Matt Harpring, ties the game at halftime; after giving up control of the game in the third quarter to the Jazz, Houston, down 86-83 with four minutes left, goes on a 10-0 run late in the contest that Utah barely fails to recover from.
Key Play: With just over a minutes remaining, McGrady hits a wide-open jumper from the corner, and Landry gets fouled by Kirilenko. Landry proceeds to hit both free throws to complete the four-point play, and opens up what proves to be an insurmountable 93-86 lead.

In Game 4, the Jazz reverted back to their good habits in the series' first two games in Houston. The Jazz got back to winning the battle of the boards and superior scoring in the paint. After an average defensive performance in Game 3, they stepped it up once again Saturday, holding Houston to just 37.6 percent from the floor. A monster board from Mehmet Okur, followed by two consecutive made free throws, ended Houston's very-alive hopes for a tied series heading back to Texas.

Tracy 'The Game Plan isn't working on Me" McGrady
Once again, T-Mac struggled in the fourth quarter, connecting on just one field goal and mustering just four points; McGrady, who is averaging 23.3 points per game thus far through the series, is averaging just three in the fourth quarter. Additionally, T-Mac is shooting just 39.5 percent from the field (34-86). He may be getting his points, and tallying a fair amount of rebounds and assists as well, but the Jazz defenders- Brewer, Kirilenko, Harpring and Korver, not to mention a dose of D-Will in Salt Lake- are making it tough for him, playing him tight, physical and meeting him at half court.
I had to laugh when after the game Saturday I heard McGrady say that Utah's game plan isn't working on him- not at all. Hmmm, then how do you explain the sub-40% shooting, a 3.0 fourth quarter average, and most importantly, a 3-1 series deficit, Tracy? The game plan seems to be working quite well if you ask me.

Shooting Woes and Booz
Carlos has yet to find his offensive groove in this series. He shot just 3-13 from the field on Saturday, but at least hit all eight of his free-throw attempts and grabbed 14 boards. The team went 0-14 from the beyond the arc, but as Coach Sloan said, "It proves that you don't win the game from the three-point line."

Brewin' well in Utah
Ronnie Brewer played fantastic in Games 3 and 4, and other than Deron was the most consistent player during the Utah trip. He scored 12 points both games on 50-plus percent shooting, and played solid defense on Houston's star in the first half. In fact, Jerry Sloan probably made in a mistake in pulling Brewer, who had been playing fantastic, in the fourth quarter of Game 3 in favor of Kyle Korver, who had his worst game of the series last Thursday.
Not to mention that Ronnie had perhaps the highlight of the series when in the third quarter of Game 4 he crossed over a Rocket along the baseline, and as he went for the reverse layup, was hammered by two more Rockets, only to will his body underneath the center of the basket to face it and throw in a triple-clutch, spinning and-1 shot to give the Jazz added momentum.

Balanced Scoring
Williams led the way with 17 points, followed with 14 from Mehmet and Booz, 12 from Brewer, 11 from AK and 10 from Korv- though he was 0-6 from the three-point line. Balanced scoring has been a consistent mantra throughout the season for this team, so there's no reason for that to stop in the postseason.

Game 4
MVP: Memo, who had 18 boards, and the biggest one being the 18th with the offensive rebound that staved off a possible loss; and Williams, who made two key drives late in the fourth quarter and continued his consistent fantastic play.
Goat: Bobby Jackson- 1-10 shooting; Luis Scola- just seven points, but six fouls to force himself out of the game.
Subway Sub of the Game: Paul Millsap- 8 points, 5 boards.
Key Stretch: Houston, down 16 points midway into the third quarter, cuts it to one early in the fourth.
Key Play: Up 83-78 with 2:35 left, D-Will comes out of the timeout with a thunderous dunk, driving right past Alston and throwing it down over Battier. The next possession, after a Utah stop, he drives past Alston again for a layin. Houston, down nine at that point, cuts it to two twice in the final 20 seconds, but Mehmet Okur rebounds the second of Williams' two free-throw misses and hits the two clinchers with 5.5 ticks left.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Houston, you have a problem- Jazz roll in Houston: Observations

It certainly looks like the Utah Jazz, the only playoff team in the Western Conference with a losing record on the road (17-24) in the regular season, have figured out how to win on the road.
Well, at least they have figured out how to beat the Rockets four straight times at Toyota Center (dating back to the regular season and Game 7 of last year's playoffs), and know how to beat a team without its starting, and best, point guard, and without its 7-6 giant Yao Ming, since February.
I don't want to dampen the significance of Utah's wins on Saturday and Monday, though. They certainly played very well. They played good team ball, both on the offensive and defensive sides, particularly in throwing multiple defenders at Tracy McGrady.

Guarding T-Mac
The Jazz's efficiency in guarding T-Mac just proves that outside of the star swingman, the Rockets have a less-than-stellar supporting cast. Simply said, Utah is exposing everybody not named Tracy. While he has had his share of problems in the series' first two games, shooting just 16-43 including 0-7 for one point in the two fourth quarters, Houston's other players have failed to step up. Maybe it would be different with Alston, who would be more capable to step up when T-Mac gets harrassed on the perimeter, be it by Ronnie Brewer, AK47, Korver or Harpring.
Speaking of the 'Big 4' who have the task of guarding the star, I have been particularly impressed with Brewer being able to stick to him for the most part, despite being a young player in just his second year. AK is a better off-the-ball than on-the-ball defender, but has done impressive work. And I love the way Harpring meets McGrady early when he gets the ball and at least tries to keep T-Mac from going where he wants.
Korver is not a great defender, but as a fourth option to defend McGrady, it gives a different defensive look that keeps the Rockets and McGrady guessing. It's a really nice element, and good to know that the Jazz have at least slow-down perimeter defenders.
T-Mac is averaging 21.5 points per game, but is shooting sub-40% in the process, and his average is 7.3 points lower than his career playoff average, proof that the Jazz are doing a fine job defending him.

Rockets' red glare
Game 2 was evidence that Houston intended to be more physical with Utah from the get-go. It looked like they were trying to turn the tables after being out-physicalled particularly at the start of Game 1, where the Jazz where able to seize control of a game they relinquished for only the start of the third quarter.
I mean, we've got backup rookie point guard Aaron Brooks flailing his elbow into Deron Williams' side on a pick, Battier roughing up Kirilenko, and Luis Scola picking on just about everybody.
Too bad Scola's dirty play hurt the Rockets.
His push of Andrei late in the game, right before Bobby Jackson hit the would-be game-tying three, was the biggest factor in the game. Scola may have scored 14 points, but absolutely killed the Rockets with his bonehead push at the end.

The rest of the Rockets
Surprising was the play of Shane Battier in Game 1, when he scored a quiet 22 points on perfect 7-7 shooting, including 4-4 from the three-point line, and also 4-4 from the charity stripe to boot. He in fact nearly matched Andrei Kirilenko's fabulous Game 1 performance, where AK scored 21 points, grabbed four rebounds, had three assists and made life difficult for Houston's star. But Battier was held to 3-7 shooting in the second game. Kirilenko may have shot 1-8 himself, but unlike Battier made himself useful in other aspects of the game, including grabbing eight boards, dishing three more assists and again, making life difficult for Houston's star.
That's the difference between the two teams' small forwards. Where Battier can only help his team if his outside shots are falling, AK can help the Jazz in a variety of ways even if his shot's aren't going down.
Bobby Jackson failed to fill the role left glaringly vacant by Alston, shooting 3-15 in Game 1. He did better in Game 2, as did his temporary backup Aaron Brooks, shooting 7-17, but failed to come through in the end. With his team down three with 4:23 left, he missed back-to-back free throws, then let D-Will score a crafty layup on the other end, before missing two more shots down the stretch. Come to think of it, D-Will frankly took the game over while being guarded by Jackson, scoring four of Utah's last seven field goals. The shot Jackson actually knocked down was negated by Scola's foul.
Then there's Scola, who had a nice Game 1 with 14 points and 13 rebounds but only grabbed four boards in Game 2. He certainly is scrappy, but he is dirty, and it hurt and exposed Houston in Game 2.

Utah's team play: Jazz makin' sweet music
The team play demonstrated by the Jazz was phenomenal over the three days. I mean, AK was the leading scorer for Game 1! The ball was distributed evenly in both games. Players that struggled offensively in Game 1 turned it around in Game 2: Mehmet Okur followed a four-point outing with 16- but even more importantly, 16 rebounds; Ronnie Brewer followed a goose egg with 10 on an efficient 5-9 shooting. Conversely, Kyle Korver went from 11 to 7; Kirilenko, 21 to 3. Carlos Boozer, 20 to 13. Simply said, this club is so team-oriented, that it doesn't matter who has the big night with regards to putting the ball in the hole.
Then you've got a play that many would call lucky, but others would say good teams will to happen: Utah's up three with less than a half-minute left in the contest. D-Will finds Korver on the wing. Kyle drives baseline, and with time running down on the shot clock, fires an awkward turnaround that goes off the side of the backboard. But of course, the ever-active Russian Rifle Kirilenko finds the rebounds, and with not even two seconds left on the shot clock and with his back turned back to the basket, quickly flips the rock back to Korver, who buries both the shot and the Rockets' hopes with one hand. Swoosh. Jazz 2, Rockets 0.
Those sorts of plays are not luck. Rather, they are made by teams that are hustling, active, aware and cognizant of the situation in the game. Great teams make those sorts of plays.

Working 8-to-5
Williams has obviously been a stud in the series so far, averaging 21 points and 7.5 assists per game. Early in Game 2, he bailed out a somewhat-stagnant Jazz offense by nailing three straight three-pointers in the first quarter. He also largely took over the last five minutes of the game, driving to the basket at will. Meanwhile, Boozer hasn't had as big as offensive games as expected, since he has the quicks advantage over 74-year-old Dikembe Mutombo. But he has been efficient, scoring 20 and 13 while grabbing 10 and seven boards, respectively.
The thing about Booz is that unlike many All-Stars, he doesn't force or even demand his points. He takes what is given to him, and if nothing is there, he's fine with others scoring. This is the epitome of the team ball that the Jazz are playing right now. Plus, when his time does come, he can score several consecutive baskets, and all of a sudden his scoring isn't an issue. This only shows to me what sort of All-Star he is.

Game 1
MVP: Kirilenko- 21 points on 9-13 shooting, 4 boards, 3 assists and a steal.
Goat: McGrady. 7-21 shooting.
Subway Sub of the Game: Korver- 11 points, and two big threes in to ward off a Houston third-quarter rally.
Key Stretch: Early in the game, when Utah established their physicality, and late in the third quarter, when the Jazz stopped Houston's biggest run cold.
Key Numbers: Rebounds, even, though the Jazz grabbed more offensive boards; 50 points in the paint. 18 second-chance points for Utah.

Game 2
MVP: D-Will- 22 points, 3-5 3FG, 5 assists, four of Utah's last seven field goals in the final five minutes.
Goat: Jackson. Though he played better than Game 1, he missed several shots, including free throws, and couldn't handle Deron.
Subway Sub of the Game: Want to say Paul Millsap (8 points, 5 boards), but Korver again- his one-handed dagger were by far the biggest points of his seven. Don't forget Harpring, if only for the fact that he makes things tougher for T-Mac.
Key Stretch: End of first half; D-Will finds Memo for back-to-back threes to give Utah a six-point lead heading into halftime. End of third; Williams goes into the locker room to attend to an injury, but Ronnie Price nails a 3 at the buzzer to give Utah the lead back after a couple of Battier shots gave the advantage to Houston. End of game, where Williams guides ship.
Key Numbers: 41-36 rebounding advantage to the Jazz; 38-16 bench scoring for Utah.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

NBA Playoffs: First Round- Analysis

Western Conference
#1 Los Angeles Lakers vs. #8 Denver Nuggets: Denver has two of the Associations' finest scoers in Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson, but give me an NBA champion who one, doesn't play as a team, where two players take two-thirds of the shots; and two, that wins it all with perimeter scoring and a lack of a real offensive threat inside. Sure, Marcus Camby is a nice player, if you're talking shot-blocking and rebounding- basically defense. Kenyon Martin could be a better offensive power forward if he got more looks at the basket. Likely MVP Kobe Bryant should have a field day every game of this series. Both teams love to get up the floor early and often, especially Denver. The Lakers, from Bryant, to Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and Derek Fisher, simply have weapons that can put the ball in the whole. Lakers in 5

#4 Utah Jazz vs. #5 Houston Rockets: The Rockets went on a 22-game winning streak mostly without Yao simply by playing great defense, making good passes, and cutting hard to the hoop to give each other good looks at the basket. Team basketball. Houston had to become better at this without their 7-6 giant to take up the paint. Heck, even Tracy McGrady became more of a team player, and with his 6-8 frame could afford to post up more to give the Rockets the occasional inside look despite their Chinese teammate. (We all know Dikembe Mutombo can't give Houston that back-to-the-basket threat anymore.) Then you've got the Jazz, the hottest team since the turn of the calender- after the Rockets. With Mehmet Okur able to draw Deke away from the paint, the pick-and-roll game should be open for Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer, if Boozer can find the offensive rhythm that he lost two weeks ago. Utah's bench is better than the Rocket's inexperienced reserves, but Houston was the better defensive team in the regular season. Jazz in 6

#2 New Orleans Hornets vs. #7 Dallas Mavericks: My, how things change in the course of one year. Last postseason, Chris Paul & Co. were enjoying the playoffs on their 52-inch flat-screen TVs. Now, they are trying to establish themselves as a serious contender this year and in the seasons to come. Meanwhile, Dallas went 67-15 last season and was the overwhelming #1 seed before getting shocked by the Golden State Warriors and ex-coach Don Nelson in the first round. This doesn't mean, however, that the Mavs can't pull off the "upset," if that's what you want to call it. The Hornets don't have an answer for Dirk Nowitzki, which means that the Hornets better hope that Jason Kidd doesn't have enough left in his defensive legs to slow down Chris Paul (who, by the way, is worse than Deron Williams). Hornets in 7

#3 San Antonio Spurs vs. #6 Phoenix Suns: The absolute best series of the playoffs, from a national perspective. For the third year in a row, the Spurs and Suns meet in the playoffs. This is the rubber match, since the Suns won a conference semifinal series in 2006, while San Antonio won a controversial conference semifinal matchup last year, when Amare Stoudamire and Boris Diaw were wrongly suspended for the deciding game. Now, Stoudamire looks to prove that he has surpassed future Hall-of-Famer Tim Duncan as a premiere power forward in the West. Phoenix has talent, and may yet get enough out of Shaq to cause Duncan problems, but San Antonio is deeper- and a four-time NBA champion with Duncan as their captain. Spurs in 7

Eastern Conference
#1 Boston Celtics vs. #8 Atlanta Hawks: You kidding me? Celts in 4.

#4 Cleveland Cavaliers vs. #5 Washington Wizards: Washington may throw Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler, DeShawn Stevenson (who called LeBron James "overrated" earlier this week- not a good idea heading into a playoff series against the man), and perhaps even Gilbert Arenas at James, but it shouldn't matter. Three of those four players are All-Stars, but defensively they won't be able to slow him down. The Wizards have fine perimeter players, like Jamison, Butler and Arenas, who missed almost the entire season with a torn ACL, but if the Cavs are smart they will utilize their superior size down low and dominate the glass with Zydrunas Ilguaskas, Ben Wallace and Joe Smith not having a problem on the boards against Brendan Haywood and Andray Blatche. Heck, half of the Cavs' points might come off offensive putbacks. Cavs in 6

#2 Detroit Pistons vs. #7 Philadelphia 76ers: The Sixers showed life in the latter quarter of the season, but had a four-game swoon to end the year that pits them against Detroit rather than the beatable Cavs. Andre Miller may in fact be just as good a point guard as Chauncey Billups, but after that Detroit is just so much deeper than Philadelphia. Samuel Dalembert of Philly may have problems getting taken outside by Rasheed Wallace. Pistons in 5

#3 Orlando Magic vs. #6 Toronto Raptors: SNORE. ZZZZZ. Oh, wait, Dwight Howard against Chris Bosh? That's intriguing. Two of the best young, but so very good big men face off. That's a lot of length getting thrown around right there. Howard has more size, and a better supporting cast with Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis. Magic in 5

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Practice News Story 11: Accident

Tragedy hits Utah State University in midst of Agriculture Week
Posted: April 17, 2008 10:21 AM

TREMONTON, Utah- A terrible tragedy hit Utah State University as a van carrying eleven passengers rolled on Interstate 84 west of Tremonton, at around 4 p.m. Only two of the passengers- Robert Peterseon and Jared Nelson- have been confirmed to have survived.
Five other names of those who have deceased were releaed- instructor Evan Parker, who was the driver; Steven Bair; Curt Madsen; and Brad Wilcox.
The group had been returning from a field trip to Green Line Implements as part of Agriculture Week at the University.
Several of the members were taken to Brigham City Hospital, while another was taken to Ogden Hosptial, according to Utah Highway Patrol trooper Jason Jensen. Jensen, who arrived on the scene at around 4 pm. and worked on three people at the scene of the accident, also estimated that the van was traveling 95-100 miles per hour on roads that may have deteriorated a bit due to the layer of salt and sand that had been laid on the cement to help prevent ice slippage.
(It was) a clear day, no storms happening," Jensen said. "It was a horrific scene." Jensen added that in fifteen years of working for Utah Highway Patrol, this crash was by far the worst event he has ever been involved with.
Kyle Holden was a host of the field trip at Green Line, where he works. Estimated to have been traveling at "79-ish" miles per hour on cruise control, Holden said that he was passing the van and glanced at Parker when the wheel on the driver’s side rear mirror blew.
"I turned and watched, and I saw people flying. They were just shot out of the van. They probably rolled four or five times," Holden said.
"This was an exceptional group of students. The fact that we’ve pulled in 20 or 30 really quality students this year… that I can look at this year as one of the highest years in potential of the students. This is a hard day not just for the university, but for the college of agriculture," said Noel Cockett, Dean of the College of Agriculture.
Holden had also been a former student of Parkers’ 15 years ago.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Practice News Story 10: Investigative

Gates and Turner begin supposed philanthropic endeavor in support of Africa
Posted: April 10, 2008 10:19 AM

LOGAN, Utah- Entertainment mogul Ted Turner and Bill and Melinda Gates were seen leaving a private jet together to meet with local African officials last night.
Reasons were unclear as to why Turner and the Washington-based couple were traveling together, but Bill Gates offered explanation as to why they made the trip.
“(The trip to Africa) was very successful,” said Gates. “We met with officials about future plans. (The plans) are very encouraging.”
Among the “officials” Gates spoke of is African Mayor Malik Ok, who is encouraged by the promise of the three’s endeavor through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
“We met with the three of them (Turner, Bill and Melinda)… we wanted to get a feel of what they wanted to accomplish, and how it fills my people’s needs,” Ok said.
Ok explained that oftentimes, organizations from the United States have donated supplies to the African people to assist in the treatment of fatal diseases in the various African country. However, Ok noted that the donations always came without training and education for the African people as to how to use the medicines and practice proper sanitation- “We are teaching (the African people) how to fish, rather than giving them the fish,” Bill Gates explained.
“There are a lot of diseases, high percentages of diseases that (Turner and the Gates are looking to get rid of. Our city would benefit from their efforts. They want to get rid of diseases like measles and smallpox, diseases that in many areas (of the world) hardly exist. We are going to go into villages and teach the people how to treat diseases and know sanitation,” Mayor Ok said.
Gates claims that his wife and Turner, through he and his wife’s foundation, are working with the World Health Organization to educate the African people about these diseases, and how to treat them.
There could be, however, an ulterior motive underneath the face of humanitarian efforts.
Gates’ 1 billion dollar donation to the cause was one-upped by Turner’s 1.1 billion dollar donation. It remains to be seen if Turner is just as gracious, or perhaps more so, to the cause than Gates, or if perhaps the two economical giants are competing for a face of goodwill.
More motives in the philanthropic endeavor should be unveiled as details are released in two weeks, as Gates said they will say more about the project in two weeks’ time.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Practice News Story 9: Sports

Victory blocked from Duncan, but not from the Jazz
Several players, including the return of Ronnie Brewer, contribute to pivotal 106-99 win

Posted: April 4, 2008 10:20 AM

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah- In a Western Conference race this close, the Utah Jazz need every single win coming down the stretch.
Not to mention every single one of their players- something that was helped with the return of Ronnie Brewer.
In a scramble to the finish that coming into the game placed the Jazz in a tie for fifth place, three games out of first in the conference, but four-and-a-half from the dreaded ninth spot, Brewer returned to give the Jazz a much-needed lift with seven points-including a dagger of a shot in the form of a three-pointer to give Utah a 100-97 lead with just two minutes left.
The shot contributed in a big way to a 106-99 victory that puts the Jazz (51-26) just a game-and-a-half from the Spurs’ (52-24) second-place slot.
“Deron, he’s just been able to find open guys all game… it felt good coming off, and it put us up by 3… it was pretty big, big for me and big for the team… I’m glad it went through,” said Brewer, who also said that he tried not to favor the groin during the game, and who also played limited minutes due to the nagging injury.
However, the limited minutes weren’t able to stop Brewer from coming through when it counted most.
With the game tied at 97, Spurs point guard Tony Parker fed Duncan in the post, with Mehmet Okur guarding him. Not known for his shot-blocking abilities, Okur promptly blocked Duncan’s field goal attempt, leading to a Jazz possession that saw point guard Deron Williams find Brewer on the wing for the tiebreaker.
“Memo” also added to his block with 15 points, not to mention a career-high of 30 from C.J. Miles, who just earlier this week tallied his previous career-high with 29 Monday against Washington.
“Some nights, the hole just looks big. Right from when I got put into the game in the first quarter, I felt good and shots were fallin’… D-Will found me for some good looks, “ said the 21-year-old Miles. Of his point guard running mate Williams, Miles said “he is definitely one of the top point guards in the league and the Western Conference… he has only been in the league a few years, but he definitely gets the plays going for us.”
Williams tallied 14 assists in addition to scoring 15 points.
His pick-and-roll partner Carlos Boozer also added 26 points and 12 rebounds.
“I’m proud of my guys for our defense… we made some big stops at the end… I was worried that we weren’t going to make the stops that we needed… but we ended up making the stops that we needed,” said Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, alluding to Okur’s big block on two-time MVP Duncan.