3-POINT SHOTS following the Utah Jazz’s comeback win – from down two whole points! – against the Andrew Bogut-less, Drew Gooden-less, Michael Redd-less, Corey Maggette-less Milwaukee Bucks:
POINT 1: A week ago, a reader named “Observation-ist” gave me some free advice and an observation, go figure, after I’d written one sentence about Andrei Kirilenko going 0-for-6 and scoring zero points in the Jazz’s win over the New Orleans Hornets.
“To the author: Jody, Jazz-nation needs your help. When Kirilenko doesn’t worry about his offensive numbers and just plays basketball, his overall contribution is fantastic. Blocks, help-defense, steals etc. are a huge part of Jazz success.
“To that end, it does NOT HELP when you make a comment about his offensive productivity (or lack thereof). Case in point … IMHO, your reference to AK going 0-6 with no points did NOT contribute to your article but did serve to heighten AK’s focus on offense, which we don’t need.
“Perhaps you’re not inclined to take suggestions about your reporting from a reader. However, if you are, may I suggest that, unless it’s a vital part of your article, please refrain from commenting on AK’s offense. Laud his defense and overall contribution or simply omit him from your article.”
So why do I bring this up a week later after a game against the Milwaukee Bucks?
Because A.K. had one of those games in the Jazz’s 109-88 victory that makes fans like Observation-ist want to learn the Russian words for all-around awesomeness, that’s why.
Kirilenko was active and a menace to Milwaukee, grabbing eight rebounds, blocking four shots, dishing out four assists and racking up a plus-minus score of plus-21.
Those are game-changing statistics that certainly help Jazz Nation more than any note I could ever write.
“We didn’t have our big bodies tonight and the guys we had were trying their best to get the rebounds,” young Buck Brandon Jennings said. “But with Kirilenko and guys just flying in there trying to tip the ball and stuff like that, it’s kind of hard.”
P.S. Kirilenko missed both 3-point attempts and was 4-for-9 while scoring 13 points.
P.S.S. I believe most players adhere to the “I don’t read newspapers” policy that Deron Williams so often reminds us. I do see Kirilenko reading novels in the locker room before games, but I highly doubt he’s paying attention to what sports writers not crafting Russian fiction stories are writing. Also, it’s worth at least mentioning when a max-contract player misses every single shot and scores as many points in a game as yours truly. But I do get the point that Kirilenko’s non-scoring contributions often seem more vital to the Jazz’s success than his offensive help.
POINT 2: Defense again sparked the Jazz’s dominating second half. The Bucks only scored 36 points in the second half, including a pitiful 15 points in the fourth quarter.
During the Jazz’s momentum-securing 13-0 run midway through the second half, Utah forced Milwaukee into three turnovers, five consecutive missed shots and Kirilenko drew an offensive foul and blocked a shot.
Next thing you know, a how-are-the-outmanned-Bucks-sticking-this-close 78-73 game turns into a more expected 91-73 lead for Utah. Game over.
The Bucks became the eighth consecutive opponent and the 11th out of 12 teams to not hit the 100-point mark against Utah. Showing how dominant the Jazz were inside on defense, Milwaukee shot 34.7 percent from the field overall while hitting 43.5 percent of its 3-point attempts. That means the Bucks only made 16-of-52 shots (30.8 percent) inside the arc.
POINT 3: I have to give deserved kudos to the Jazz training staff. They don’t simply settle for mundane medical descriptions.
The crew that has turned “gastric distress” – a far more entertaining description than, say, “stomach issues” – into a common and beloved phrase by Jazz fans and media was at it again Monday.
Center Kyrylo Fesenko left Monday’s game with a hand injury in the second quarter. Moments later, we were informed that Fesenko had suffered a “subluxed fifth finger on his right hand.” I slept through the subluxed portion of medical school, explaining how I became a sports writer instead of a doctor, but that’s apparently a fancy way of saying dislocated.
Fesenko had never heard the term subluxed before.
Fesenko: “I don’t know what that is.”
Me: “I don’t know what it is either. I thought it was a Ukrainian word.”
I’m calling it “subluxed pinky distress.” Fes explained that the top portion of his finger was pointing a different direction, but it was put back into place and no fractures were discovered on the X-rays.
“So,” he said, “I’m all good.”
As it reads on the last page of the Jazz medical staff’s children books:
And they mortally existed happily ever after.