Right? I mean, that seemed to me like one of the first really important games of the season. Message: Jazz not a flash in the pan.
The interesting part was Jerry Sloan's decision to put his star, Carlos Boozer, on Tim Duncan down the stretch. After the game, Duncan whined about non-calls (wonder if he'll get fined) but Boozer certainly wasn't intimidated. Johnny Ludden writes about one episode:
Tim Duncan poked the ball away from Carlos Boozer near Utah's free-throw line, scooped it up and set his sights on the Spurs' basket 50 feet away.
For all of Duncan's skills, however, foot speed is not among them. After lumbering down the floor, Duncan started to go up for a dunk only to have Boozer crack him back to the floor.
The hard foul not only prevented a basket, it sent a message. Apparently, the Jazz have grown tired of being pushed around by the Spurs.
At one point down the stretch, Boozer just took the ball out of Duncan's hands, keying the game-winning run. Duncan didn't score in the fourth quarter.
Boozer finished with 23 and 16. The Jazz outrebounded the Spurs 50-34. And, as part of my mounting "Deron Williams is Good" campaign, he not only (along with Matt Harpring) hit big buckets down the stretch, but may have provided a little pre-game spark for Boozer's performance, too. Phil Miller reports:
Williams dropped by Boozer's locker before the game and pointed out Duncan's place in his life. "I told him, 'That's one of the guys who can keep [you] out of the All-Star Game,' " Williams said with a smile. "You see what he did."
"He's not playing like a rookie anymore. He's out there to put his foot on your throat."