Ugh. That was a downright shame. I can't put it any other way. Given some of the other NBA results today, we needed this win. We need everything we can get.
Hair gel battle under the rim.
I have to try not to be mad at our boys. I really do. Walking away from this game it would appear that they came out big tonight and had the Jazz on the run for almost the entire game. Hell, they even broke through their standard third quarter blues and retained a decent lead going into the fourth!
Big Al came huge with a jaw dropping 7 threes. Jackson had a decent performance including a perfect run at the charity stripe. Biedrins had some quality boards, although I wouldn't go so far as to call this one of his best games ever. JRich had a few timely shots and a great contribution. And Baron?! Damn at some points in the game, it felt like it was Baron on 5. And he was winning.
But something was wrong. Although we held the lead almost the entire game, we were never able to truly run away with it. Short of a spectacular display of three-point shooting in the first half, the Dubs were fighting for every last point. When the fourth quarter came around however, it came down to poor shots, fouls, turnovers, and some heavy usage of the whistle by the refs.
"What?! That was all ball ref!"
But before I go on, I have to say that I don't blame the refs for this loss. I'm not saying that was the best officiating ever either, but if we were really the team that should have won tonight; those whistles would have been simple annoyances to us. Instead, we may be looking back to each whistle as the pinnacle turning point from victory to defeat. Deep down, I don't see that as being true.
At the end of the day, I blame the long shot. The streak of threes in the first half had the exact effect that I feared. As the game progressed and we found ourselves going blow for blow with the Jazz, it was easy for everyone to revert back to "old faithful" and chuck up some shots from beyond the arc. Why not? We're on fire tonight, aren't we?
Well, not only did this tactic lead to fewer trips to the charity stripe for us; it allowed the more aggressively rebounding Jazz to gain easy possessions from us. And you can be sure that they weren't taking the ball down and attempting to drain a three. Tonight, the Jazz beat us on the fundamentally proven tactics of playing low and drawing the fouls (30 shot to our 17), cleaning the glass (44 boards to our 30), and finding cutters and open looks. (32 dimes to our 21 including 17 from Williams alone!)
We have some serious homework to do. The road to the playoffs is not getting any easier from here on out. It's going to be up to these guys to take the initiative to be aggressive on the court. If they can't, we are going to continue to get dominated by teams that base their strategy on low post ball.
You live by the three. You die by the three.
Tonight we did both.
I know that big Al came out tonight with some sniper-like shooting, but given the theme of this recap, I have to give this to Baron. When the game came down to the wire, he was the only reason that we were even still in it. I can think of at least 3 times tonight where he was getting down and dirty on his shots and should have had the whistle on his side. With limited minutes tonight he produced well. Heart of a Warrior Baron!