Utah Jazz: Kanter can't dance, but Jazz show crowd they can still play
SALT LAKE CITY — There were fun dunks. An array of 3-pointers. Some dazzling defensive moments. Even excellent play by the wings.
But groan-inducing flops might be the lasting memory many attendees have of the Utah Jazz's annual intrasquad scrimmage event.
And, yes, that was a direct shot at the participants in this year's Rookie Dance Off.
"It was terrible," Jazz center Al Jefferson said, shaking his head. "I was really disappointed."
He's a nice, likable 19-year-old kid, a high draft pick with oodles of basketball potential, can bench press a bus, but there is one thing rookie Enes Kanter cannot do.
While hip-hop music blared inside EnergySolutions Arena, the unsuspecting Kanter could only muster an off-beat series of do-I-really-have-to-do-this shoulder shrugs.
"Turkish people don't know how to dance," said fellow Turk Mehmet Okur, who also blamed the music selection (LMFAO).
Kanter had no clue he had to dance, let alone in front of thousands, and he took good-natured razzing from teammates and fans in stride.
"But next year, I'll dance," he vowed. "I will work on it."
"My big rook, I knew he wasn't going to give me too much," Big Al said. "He could've thrown a little bounce."
Devin Harris joked Kanter's dancing performance might affect what kind of backpack he'll be assigned.
"I'm just glad that I wasn't out there again," second-year pro Gordon Hayward said.
NBA hopefuls Paul Carter and Trey Gilder weren't much better. Scottie Reynolds won the contest, and Jazz rookie Alec Burks showed some style.
Nobody came close to displaying moves former Jazz players Kyrylo Fesenko and Kosta Koufos did in their dancing debuts.
"Fes, he would've took over," Jefferson joked.
Some non-dancing scrimmage observations:
Had there been a scrimmage MVP, small forward C.J. Miles would've won (prize: dancing lessons from Kanter). The 24-year-old looked svelte and smooth, scoring 18 with three 3-pointers, soaring to block a Derrick Favors' shot and ending with a grand-finale windmill dunk.
"C.J.'s a great player," Hayward said. "It's been fun going at him. It'll be even more fun going with him. It was good to see him do well tonight."
Hayward looked sharp, driving and dunking and hitting jumpers in rhythm.
Veteran Raja Bell also gave an invigorating effort with 15 points and gritty defense, including a pick-pocket steal against Burks.
"I thought Raja did a great job on both ends. He was really trying to defend guys," Corbin said. "Gordon and C.J. did a great job, especially on the offensive end making plays and they hit their shots. That was encouraging."
In his second year, Favors showed he's clearly ahead of Kanter. Favors blew past Kanter for a reverse layup on one possession, and blocked the rookie after the Turkish center made a nice spin move.
Earl Watson convinced coaches to make a trade to get Jeremy Evans on his team. They didn't convert on their patented alley-oop play, but there was one nice Watson-to-Evans dunk. Evans had a strong 10 points.
The Jazz guesstimated attendance to the free scrimmage to be 10,300. That impressed the team.
"One thing about Jazz fans, they come out rain, sleet or storm," Harris said. "They support their team. It was good to see those guys and know they missed us, and we missed them. It was a good turnout for us."
Jefferson and Paul Millsap sat out for precautionary reasons with leg soreness, but they both took part in an impromptu sideline spinning class on stationary bikes during the scrimmage. Big Al riled up the crowd by telling them multiple times how much he likes and wants to beat the Los Angeles Lakers.
New Jazzman Josh Howard watched but didn't play after passing his physical. Corbin said it wouldn't have been fair to put Howard in there because he doesn't know plays yet.
It was obvious this was a fun fest when fans cheered on NBA referees as they threw T-shirts into the crowd.
Final score: Utah White 48, Utah Blue 34. Utah White: Bell, Harris, Okur, Kanter, Miles, Reynolds and Gilder. Utah Blue: Hayward, Evans, Burks, Watson, Favors, Jamaal Tinsley, Keith McLeod, Paul Carter.
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