The Utah Jazz wrapped up a short week, sandwiching a win around two losses. It was a somewhat predictable week for the Jazz, as they lost the away games to the Memphis Grizzlies and the Los Angeles Clippers, and won their only home game of the week against the Los Angeles Lakers.
In a week with only three games, the Jazz continued to show improvement. Though still one of the worst teams in the league record-wise, Utah has continued being a tale of two teams. The first team started 1-13 without Trey Burke. The second, 8-11 with Trey. Clearly an 8-11 team is not great, but the Jazz have shown signs of improvement and competitiveness. It’s easy to see how player improvement, coupled with roster overhaul in future years could lead to competitiveness going forward.
Monday, 12/23/13: Memphis Grizzlies 104 – 94 Utah Jazz
The Jazz spotted Memphis a six point advantage after the first quarter, kept it closer in the second and third, before falling in the fourth. There were a number of bright spots for the Jazz offensively as each of Richard Jefferson, Trey Burke, Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors scored at least 16 points. Hayward specifically had a fantastic game, one assist shy of a triple-double. Grabbing 11 rebounds, dishing nine assists, and blocking four shots, Hayward continues to show how well rounded he is.
Friday, 12/27/13: Utah Jazz 105 – 103 Los Angeles Lakers
Going up against a team without Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and even Steve Blake, the Jazz should have been expected to win this game. Considering this, some Jazz fans may have been somewhat disappointed that it took a last minute crunch time play to lock it up. On the other hand, the win ended up being one of the most exciting games of the season so far. Derrick Favors put back slam to win the game will surely go down as one of Utah’s best moments of the season. Hayward had another great game, notching 24 points with nine assists, five rebounds, and three steals.
Saturday, 12/28/13: Los Angeles Clippers 98 – 90 Utah Jazz
Going into this one, a Clippers win seemed a forgone conclusion. The final scoreline looks about right given where the two teams are in terms of competitiveness, though how it got there is more interesting. The Jazz led at halftime, and played the majority of the next two quarters competitively. In fact, the game was tied at 90-90 with 2:33 left to go. The Jazz crumbled, and the better team won, as the Clippers rolled off eight straight points (and allowed none) to finish off the game. Utah allowed Blake Griffin to go off for 40 points, while their top scorer, Enes Kanter, had 17 (and 12 rebounds).
Gordon Hayward: Hayward had a pretty nice bounce-back week, considering his poor shooting in the prior week. Hayward finished with point totals of 16, 24 and nine in the games of the week, and assist totals of nine, nine and seven. Though Hayward is still not shooting the ball efficiently (only 14-for-41 from the field), he had a better week from 3 going 5-for-13. If Hayward can continue to find his 3-point stroke, he may come closer to fulfilling the potential that the Jazz front office and coaching staff hoped they could coax out of him.
Singin’ the Blues
Alec Burks: Teams may have figured out how to defend Burks. After a couple of weeks of scorching play, Burks production was more mild. Only scoring four, 13, and eight in the games of the week, is an indication that Burks will need to adjust to more defensive attention. Whether he can or not will be an interesting question, and one that Jazz fans will be paying close attention to.