The Jazz win their 8th game in a row against a beat up Nuggets team missing Chauncey Billups and Carmelo Anthony, move within 2 games of Division lead.
The Utah Jazz are rolling. Utah is up to 8 straight, 10 straight at home and 12 of 13 overall. Here's the kicker, nobody in the Western Conference is playing on Utah's level right now.
Not the Suns, definitely not the Mavs, not Portland or Memphis, not San Antonio, not even the defending Champion Lakers are playing on the Jazz's level right now.
If the Jazz can continue to play with this kind of intensity on a consistant basis they willl contend for an NBA championship this Season. Now I know my opinion might seem biased but it's not people. I'm a diehard Lakers fan and it burns my fingertips to type these words.
I feel like I'm cheating on my wife by annointing another team as the best in the West. But I have to be honest and objective in this business.
I've watched alot of basketball this season, I try to watch 4 or 5 games a day thanks to DirecTv's NBA League Pass. I can't get enough basketball, I love it. There's a certain beauty to this game when played properly, like a poetry in motion. When the game is played well there is no denying it and everyone can see it. When its played poorly you know it too.
Case in point, New Jersey, they suck. You can tell they suck when you watch them play, like really bad poetry.
What I'm getting at here is that when I watch the Utah Jazz there is no doubt that they are clicking right now, that they enjoy playing defense, that they want to play hard, and they are writing beautiful poetry together right now.
Now I know this is alot of praise for a team that just beat a Denver squad playing without their two best players Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups, both out with sprained ankles.
I don't doubt the impact missing two All Stars can have on a team, but it wouldn't have made a difference. Utah would have won regardless of who was on the court. The final score was 116 – 106 but it wasn't that close.
Utah opened the game with a 38 point First quarter and 66 points in the first half, both season highs. They were fresh and knew Denver just played LA Friday night and decided to run as much as possible, push Denver to the limit.
Every possession for Denver was contested, Utah looked like they were excited to play defense, like they wanted to get in the grill of the opposition and be as physical as possible.
I said in my last blog that reinserting Andrei Kirilenko into the starting lineup was the catalyst for their current streak and he continued to play well last night. AK-47 filled up the box score with 22 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block and 5 steals.
AK set the tone with his defense and seemed to rub off on his teammates. That physicality I mentioned earlier is AK's doing, he gets this team going on Defense. In one stretch in the 3rd Quarter AK scored 8 straight points, a couple of those baskets were off turnovers.
Carlos Boozer even got in on the action on the defensive side and that turned into some easy buckets in transition for the big fella. Boozer dropped 19 points and 13 rebounds on 8 for 11 shooting. Not to be outdone Deron Williams also scored 22 and had 9 assists.
Now it wasn't all sunshine and butterfly kisses in this one, at one point in the 4th Denver made a run and got within 3 points of the lead and actually had a chance to tie the game. Ty Lawsen scored 25 points and 4 assists and was a big reason for the 4th quarter run. He's going to be good.
JR Smith got hot in the 2nd half and finished the game with 19 points, but that was on 6 for 18 shooting.
When Denver made their run Utah responded with defense. In the past Utah would probably have lost this game, many times when they lose interest on the defensive side they let teams back in games and never recover.
Last night they recovered and responded. Energy, effort, and good defense.
That's how the Jazz won last night, that's how they won 8 straight. That's how they are going to continue to win. Now 3rd place in the Western Conference standing Utah has a shot to go deep in the playoffs.
Utah plays the Clippers next on Tuesday in LA, they should be fresh in that one having two days off. Good teams play hard even against bad teams. LA has not been playing well as of late. Check back on Monday for a preview on Tuesday nights game.
Love you all. Go Jazz.
Danny Shapiro is the NBA Blogger for the Utah Jazz and also covers the Detroit Lions and Carolina Panthers. Danny is a sports fanatic and is the best Fantasy Sports Manager in the world. You can also follow Danny on Twitter at DanShap@twitter.com .
About the Author
Written by Danny Shapiro
Danny Shapiro is 26 years old, married and a father to 2 boys, who he hopes one day to play MLB and support him and his wife in their old age. Danny's second love, mistress even, is sports and Danny is living his dream of being a sports writer right now, thanks to Prosportsblogging.com.