The Other Side: Utah Jazz
The Utah Jazz has been playing the same tune for almost 20 years it seems. Jerry Sloan is the coach. A muscle-bound power forward and a savvy point guard are accumulating a boatload of points and assists out of the pick-and-roll. The rest of the team is filled by tough-minded role players who hustle and produce in a predictable, motion offense. It should be boring by now, but winning never grows old.
The Jazz (6-1) arrives at Verizon Center sitting atop the Northwest Division and coming off an impressive 93-80 win against the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday, which also marked the season debut of point guard Deron Williams. Williams had seven points and nine assists after missing the first six games with a sprained left ankle. The surprise of the night, though, was shooting guard Ronnie Brewer, who outscored the 76ers in the fourth quarter 16-13. Brewer's outburst came after he missed his first nine shots.
Carlos Boozer is still the leading scorer for the Jazz, returning to his role as go-to-man after mostly riding pine in Beijing, where he won a gold medal with Williams. He's one of just five players in the NBA averaging at least 20 points and 10 rebounds. But you probably knew that already. Here's some other stuff you need to know about the Jazz:
1. Jerry Sloan Goes for victory No. 1002
Sloan is the longest tenured coach in the NBA in his 21st season. He claimed his 1,000th career win last Friday over Oklahoma City. He has won more games with the same team than any coach in NBA history and ranks fourth all-time behind Lenny Wilkens, Don Nelson and Pat Riley.
The former Baltimore Bullet has been around to see 219 different coaches hired and fired since he took over for Frank Layden on Dec. 9, 1988 (Michael Beasley had yet to be born!). Eddie Jordan is the third-longest tenured coach in his sixth season in Washington, and he is the ninth coach for the Bullets/Wizards since Sloan was hired.
2. C.J. Miles starts
Who, you ask? Doesn't matter. The real story here is that former all-star Andrei Kirilenko is coming off the bench as sixth man. He still gets the bulk of the minutes at small forward, but Sloan realized that since Kirilenko has always struggled finding the right fit with Williams and Boozer, he could be the leader of the second unit.
Kirilenko is thriving. He has scored in double figures each game, and is averaging 15.6 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.7 blocks. Manu Ginobili started the whole starter-turned-sixth-man-extraordinaire revolution, and the trend has grown this season with the Jazz using Kirilenko and the Los Angeles Lakers using Lamar Odom.
3. Mehmet Okur isn't coming to town
Okur left for Turkey this week to deal with a family emergency. That might be the best news for the Wizards. Okur loves playing in Washington. In his last two games at Verizon Center, Okur averaged 32.5 points. He had a career-high 38 points two seasons ago, in a game that was overshadowed by Gilbert Arenas's 51 points and game-winning buzzer beater. Last year, Okur had 27 points and 11 rebounds in a 96-87 win. Rookie Kosta Koufos started and had six points and five rebounds.
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