Yeah it got a little scary down towards the end & I sure would have liked to have seen the offense step up a little more at the beginning of the 4th, but at the end of the day we come home with a W & a 2-2 split out of the west.
Did anybody honestly think after J.O. went down in Denver we would have won 2 of the next 3?
Lots of players to talk about & I think I'll start with Reggie.
It's official to me as of now. Reggie could still have scored 16-18 ppg game this season. He has deferred way to much to J.O. I understand his reasoning & maybe he thinks in the long run the team will be better for it. However, IMO, it has hurt in the short run.
Reggie was great last night. Not just because he was hitting some shots, but because he was actively looking at shots. The Jazz couldn't just sag off of him & weak defend the post (not that we have one) but he was very aggressive & I even thought he was solid on defense. You can tell that Reggie loves running people through the gauntlet of Davis & Foster. There were times Bell looked like a pinball bouncing in there & one time he got flattened.
Reggie isn't what he was but I still think there is some gas left in the tank for a final push to the playoffs.
A.J. First & formost I want to throw out a "God bless you buddy" to Mike Wells of the star. Did you read the notebook of todays star? In it he points out that A.J. is upset he didn't start & even interviewed him about his feelings on the matter. In that one section we had more player/team honesty than we have seen in years (if ever) from the star. We kept saying over & over for the past two years that not everything was shangri la behind the doors in the locker room but you had to read about it from the N.Y. media or the Min. media to find out about it. That's not a slam at any one reporter, but just my sincere thanks for the change of pace. Ok, back to Johnson. He was a mixed bag of nuts last night. There were times I was pulling out my hair with some of the crappy passes he threw, but at the end of the day he had 9 assist & some solid defense along the way. I would like to see what Fred can do in a couple of more games, but it's hard to argue against the fact that as as a backup pg A.J. is solid. I just have a feeling whoever (between Fred & A.J.) we choose they are going to be the pg. for the majority of the rest of the season.
Dale. Feel free to skip this part if you don't like my Dale blathering. He is just rock solid. He is a special player because he is so good defensively that he can change a game from that side of the floor. He also shares the same trait with Reggie that the bigger the game the bigger the moment the better he is. He saved the game again at the end when in the matter of one play he blocked a shot & stole the ball all on the same possesion. I can't tell you how happy I am he is home. He is even better on defense than I remember him being. If you watch him on a switch you will see that the guard he switches to gets forced farther away from the basket than before he started. Dale has the ability to spread himself out on the floor & I have yet to see a guard get around him. What you all think of Ron as a defender I think of Dale as one.
Jeff. Again solid game. I was apprehensive of Dale & Jeff together because I didn't know how well they would do on offense, but so far the other players have been able to adjust & compensate. It's funny that they both grabbed 10 rebounds because they do it in such differant ways, but the advantage to that is that we have all of the rebounds covered as we once again outrebounded the opposition.
Jax was on fire. He is Jalen Rose with better defense at times, although I think Jalen can get off his shot a little better in trafic. When he is on he is a damn dynamo & hard to stop.
Not all was well though.
The Hulk. I'm starting to get concerned. Is it the rookie wall? Is it an "I don't care" attitude? Is he really this dumb? I have no real answer for this but what was once looking like a real suprising rookie season has just deteriorated into a real last pick in the first round rookie season. Man I wish he never would have been hit in the jaw. The team should force him to move in with Dale in the off-season & be his valet or something. Because he should learn everything about defense & rebounding from him. Then when he is done with that he should move with J.O. to learn about offense. I still believe & I am still thrilled with his future prospects, but damn this is hard to watch at times.
Cro. Uninspired basketball at it's best. At least he hit his freethrows (kids learn to hit your freethrows because as Austin has shown you can make a living if you are really really good at it)
In all though the team played well & Carlisle really has taken to much heat for people saying that he is not willing to adjust or be creative.
We've got a shot here in the next couple of weeks to not only put some distance between us & the 76ers we could move up a notch or two with some solid play.