Saturday, November 15, 2008

All that Jazz, Missing a few Beats

The NBA's Utah Jazz had the unfortunate luck of facing the Charlotte Bobcats Friday night without three of their biggest stars. Deron Williams, Andrei Kirilenko and Mehmut Okur were all MIA against CHA. Deron and Kirilenko both were injured, while Okur is tending to his critically ill father in Turkey. The final remaining star, power-forward Carlos Boozer, was promptly benched by the coach for foul trouble. The end result was a 104-96 victory for the upstart Charlotte Bobcats. The team received 23 points from Ray Felton and 22 from Gerald Wallace. Jason Richardson is currently out for knee surgery, but since there's no structural damage he'll only be out a mere week or two.

The Bobcats strung together several impressive runs which were helped by Boozer sitting out. According to game and team stats, Charlotte is the lowest-scoring team in the NBA this year, but against the depleted Jazz they managed to finish with a season-high in total points scored. And despite all the absences on the Utah roster, the Bobcats had to win the game in the final 30 seconds. Jazz coach Jerry Sloan credited the hustle of a young basketball club, but was quick to note Boozer's foul troubles as well as missing their floor general, Deron Williams, didn't help.

Utah looked like one of the top notch teams in the Western Conference as the season opened, as they were one of the few unbeaten. Coach Jerry Sloan achieved an amazing milestone, winning his 1,000th game, and to add to that, he's the longest-tenured coach with one team in the NBA right now. These days it's rare to find that sort of dedication to one brand of basketball, and one paycheck. His team may still be one of the best out west, but once the injury bug and foul trouble strikes, this team lacks its jazzy, energetic nature.

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