Five random ramblings about the Utah Jazz after a wild and wacky week that included — go figure — more sputtering starts and another riveting rally:
Finding Neo: Is Millsap The One?
Asked to describe Paul Millsap's late-game performance Saturday, C.J. Miles didn't compare to him to M.J. or The Mailman. He opted for a Keeanu Reeves character comparison — but not the one from Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. Said Miles: "I don't know what Paul is right now. He's in the Matrix. Paul Millsap, he makes big plays." That comment came after Miles teased Millsap, asking if he'd taken the red or green pill. By going 6-for-9 in the fourth and 6-for-6 in overtime and dodging bullets in slow motion, Millsap seemed to have channeled his surreal bend-the-spoon-type powers displayed in the Matrix movies.
Questioning the questioners
Meanwhile, Al Jefferson, who had his own shooting spree with 14 third-quarter points, teased Millsap and media members for asking the same questions game after game. To the media's defense, the Jazz have had a few similar storylines all year long: slow starts, big second halves, double-digit deficits, comeback wins and rebounding woes, interspersed by the occasional Millsap mania. Big Al ceased his teasing when Millsap was asked for his opinion on the origin of the Puma Punka stone structures in South America. (OK, not really, but I should've asked that.)
Good timing, bad timing
One boisterous Houston fan spent his night Saturday heckling the Jazz, which you'd expect at the Toyota Center. And he seemed right on target in the first half when he yelled "This is what you call a Texas beatdown!" as the Rockets took a 16-point lead. He lost all trash-talking credibility, however, in the fourth quarter when for some reason he decided to pick on Big Al AFTER Jefferson scored 14 points in the third quarter. Jefferson's 7-for-10 shooting after halftime was pretty darn good for someone who supposedly can't shoot. And the good timing? How about the Jazz fan sporting a No. 24 Millsap jersey sitting a few rows behind Utah's hoop in the second half?
All shook up over 23
Until Paul Millsap's 23-point outburst in overtime and the fourth quarter Saturday, that number had not been a good one for the Jazz last week. And not because a former No. 23 with Utah (Wesley Matthews) had a career-high 36 points Friday for Portland, perhaps making the front office second-guess itself. Twenty-three was the margin of defeat for the Jazz at home against Atlanta (110-87). It was also how many turnovers (a season-high) they ended up with in Friday's 100-89 loss at Memphis when Utah players did their best impersonation of the 5- and 6-year-old Little Elvises who played hoops at halftime at Memphis while wearing King-like glasses with black wigs and sideburns.
The key to lock-down defense?Comment on this story
Coach Jerry Sloan had an interesting analogy while talking about recent inconsistent interior defense played by Jefferson and the Jazz. Sloan: "If a guy keeps coming at you all night long, he's going to win. Somewhere you have to set the stakes up and say, 'This is where I live.' You have to protect that, just like the front door of your house. If you don't, they can come in the front door, go out the backdoor and do whatever they want." A couple of hours after Sloan said that, Houston heeded Utah's "Do Not Enter" sign after halftime Saturday when the Rockets only made 9 of 36 shots (25 percent) to, um, open the door for the rallying Jazz and their 12th win after trailing by 10 or more.
Wednesday vs. Knicks, 7 p.m., FSN
Amare Stoudemire and the Knicks' pick (the non-Gordon Hayward one Utah ended up with) have N.Y. on a roll.
Friday vs. Cavaliers, 7 p.m., FSN
Cleveland — still reeling from Sundiata Gaines' shot, no doubt — hasn't even won 10 games yet this season.
The BIG Stat
100: With Saturday's 103-99 victory, the Jazz improved to 9-0 on the road (and 18-1 overall) when they reach the century mark in scoring.
His 27-point night against Rockets was a legendary effort.
Struggled in first Jazz start; only 7 points, 6 rebounds all week