3-point shots from a different kind of Jazz blowout:
POINT 1: When Paul Millsap started off the game hitting a short jumper, it was a good sign. When he drilled his second mid-range J a few minutes later, it was a really good sign. The Jazz were in need of a shot in the arm, and made outside shots by Millsap and others did just that en route to a 120-99 road rout over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Seven of Millsap’s 12 buckets were jumpers. And as coach Jerry Sloan said it would earlier in the day, hitting from outside unclogged the middle and allowed Deron Williams and the Jazz to run their offense much more smoothly while shooting 53 percent overall and a sizzling 63.6 percent from 3-point land.
The Jazz had only shot in the low-40-percent range coming in.
“You know that’s not going to last,” Williams said of the Jazz’s previous poor shooting. “You know guys are going to come out and hit shots, so we did that. We did a better job of that (Sunday).”
POINT 2: It was fitting that on Halloween Millsap was called a “beast” by Al Jefferson and his outing was described as a “monster game” by Williams.
(P.S. This is not the beast that emerged, but this Thunder fan does look like the long-lost cousin of USU’s Wild Bill.)
After a quiet preseason, he had been one of the few bright spots in both blowouts. We’ve seen this before, of course. Millsap has returned to playing like he did when posting a league-high 19 straight double-doubles in Carlos Boozer‘s absence back in the 2008-09 season.
“Guys were looking for me, I got a little flow going, but the team shared the ball,” Millsap said, deflecting postgame praise. “You get in a rhythm when the team shares the ball. … I put it up there and it went in, it’s as simple as that.”
POINT 3: Oklahoma City made things interesting in the second half with a wild full-court press. That helped the Thunder trim a once-27-point Jazz lead down to 13 in the fourth quarter.
But Utah, after allowing 12 straight points and coughing up the ball a couple of times, eventually broke the press and the worn-out Thunder’s back after calming down.
Rookie Gordon Hayward, a point guard before his growth spurt in high school, was among the Jazz players brought in to help with ballhandling during the press.
“I’ve seen my fair share of presses and I think the biggest key is you’ve got to slow down and use the whole court,” Hayward said. “I think we just started speeding up and going way too fast. I think when we started slowing down is when we started breaking and attacking and getting some easy layups.”
And the Jazz didn’t panic after a few turnovers, Andrei Kirilenko said.
“It was a little bit easier to play when you have 25 points rather than you have five points,” he said, referring to the size of Utah’s lead. “We lose a few balls, but we’re still 17 up rather than get minus.”
Kirilenko, by the way, was the villain at Ford Center after he plowed through OKC’s James Harden on a screen. One fan even yelled, “Break the Russian!” a la A.K.’s old Rocky doppleganger Ivan Drago (back in the pre-Shaggy haircut days, of course). Harden, sporting a Clubber Lang beard, had been purposely slowing down his dribble to annoy Kirilenko and try to get the small forward to run into him while bring the ball up the court.
FUNNY/NOT-SO-FUNNY FANS: Two pretty good lines were yelled at guys on the court from a couple of Ford Center fans.
Heckle aimed at ref John Goble: “Is that a Halloween outfit?”
And this line delivered at the baby-faced Hayward at about 8 p.m. CDT cracked me up, too: “Gordon, it’s past your bedtime.”
Dumbest line of the night by a fan was yelled at refs by a guy near the Jazz bench while his Thunder were getting walloped: “Ref, you must be Mormon!”