The Jazz started 9-4 and were the surprise team of the Western Conference to start the year.
Then they started playing on the road.
They are now 15-14. Oh, and they still have still played five more home games than away games. They are 3-9 on the road this season. Though it bears mentioning that the road wins were against Golden State, Memphis, and Denver. Those include two places where the Rockets lost and one where they won against a depleted Nuggets team. And after all, you can only play the games on the schedule, right?
These aren't your older brother's Utah Jazz. There's no more Deron Williams or John Stockton. Gone are Karl Malone and Carlos Boozer. Mehmet Okur and Andrei Kirilenko? Not here anymore (Thank God!). Sure to be Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan isn't here either. Tyrone Corbin runs this show.
They still have infuriating players like Josh Howard and Raja Bell. Paul Millsap can still score 50 points against the Rockets by just existing. If Al Jefferson watches any tape at all of what Nikola Pekovic did to the Rockets the other night, he could go bananas. Every once in a while Devin Harris remembers that he has some talent and goes off. They also have a bunch of young guys with upside like Derrick Favors, Alec Burks, and Enes Kanter.
So don't be surprised if you don't completely recognize this team. The jerseys are the same, and some of those players look familiar, but there will be times where it just feels wrong. That's normal.
By the way, tipoff is at 6pm CST tonight. No idea why they moved it up an hour, but whatever.
Oh, and VBG is handling Monday's preview.
PG: Kyle Lowry vs. Devin Harris:
Why is Kyle Lowry passing up wide open threes? When did that happen? I liked the Lowry who took threes from five feet behind the three point line with confidence whenever a defender backed off of him. He's still in there somewhere, and what better place to unleash him than against the team where he got his first triple double?
Oh, you want highlights from that game? Sure:
Jazz Vs Rockets 3/20/2011 - Kyle Lowry's First Career Triple-Double (via RedNationRocket)
SG: Kevin Martin vs. Raja Bell:
Remember when Raja Bell was Kobe's "biggest rival?" Well this video puts that argument to bed.
Forget Raja Bell this dude is Kobe's #1 Rival (via meepos)
SF: Chandler Parsons vs. Gordon Hayward:
I wasn't as high on Hayward coming out of college. I mean, I remember how dominant the Baby-Faced Assassin was at Butler, but I didn't think it would translate to the NBA. Or at least, I saw his ceiling as an end-of-the-rotation player.
He hasn't really proven me wrong, but it's still early. As it is, he doesn't do anything particularly well. He and Parsons seem about equal to overall.
PF: Luis Scola vs. Paul Millsap:
Just like everyone else in the league, Millsap's scoring is down this season, as is his shooting percentage. On the other hand, he's attacking the glass with much more vigor and is averaging a very respectable 16/9.
And he absolutely kills the Rockets and Luis Scola. Almost all of his important statistics shoot up when he plays the good guys. In other words, look out.
C: Samuel Dalembert vs. Al Jefferson:
Speaking of guys who seem to play better against the Rockets, Jefferson averages four more points and rebounds against the Rockets than his career average. He also averages more assists, blocks, and steals against us than his career numbers.
Jazz: Josh Howard, Earl Watson, Derrick Favors, C.J. Miles, Enes Kanter, Alec Burks
Rockets: Goran Dragic, Chase Budinger, Patrick Patterson, Courtney Lee, Greg Smith?
Rockets: Jordan Hill out
Prediction: Rockets 111-94
And because I'll get in trouble if I don't put it in here (and because it's hilarious):
Make sure you get in on TCWHRO (we have to figure out another way to say that)'s fantasy basketball game. Details here. Just make your predictions in the comments, and maybe explain how you came to that conclusion so we have something to talk about.
Jazz vs Rockets coverage