In many facets, the Jazz are far from curing their road ailments. But Saturday night against Golden State, Utah has reason to smile through another lackluster away-from-home performance nonetheless.
Utah shot 40 percent or less from the field for the third time in four road games, but they still beat the Warriors 88-87. The win marked the first road win for the team this season. It wasn't a beautiful performance, but a few standouts proved to be just enough against a struggling 2-6 club.
Guards: Raja Bell indicated that he may be pulling out of his slump by scoring nine points on 3-6 shooting from the field. His grumblings about a too-low amount of playing time may have also been assuaged after playing 24 minutes, six minutes above his average. Devin Harris notched eight assists, but went 2-6 from the field and had three turnovers. After a stellar game against Memphis Friday evening, Earl Watson was largely a non-factor in 17 minutes. Ditto for Alec Burks, who shot just 1-6. Meanwhile, the Jazz backcourt was hurt by Monta Ellis, who scored 32 points on 16-17 shooting from the charity stripe. At least the Utah guards made the prolific scorer earns his points, as he went 8-22 from the field. Backup guard Brandon Rush scored 14 points on an efficient 5-7 from the floor. Five of the Jazz's nine turnovers came from Harris and Watson. GRADE: C-
Forwards: Gordon Hayward had a line that Andrei Kirilenko would be proud of, scoring 17 points, grabbing six rebounds and dishing four assists. Paul Millsap struggled in 22 minutes, going 4-12 from the floor for nine points while notching just four rebounds. Derrick Favors made up for Millsap's play a bit by giving a 12-point, 10-rebound line in 26 minutes. Fans must be happy with the developing steady play of Josh Howard, who contributed nine points in 25 minutes. However, the Jazz certainly could use his length for rebounding help, and he had zero. Curiously, C.J. Miles played just four minutes and managed to throw up three shot attempts in that time, making none. David Lee did give the Utah forwards some problems, scoring 13 points and grabbing 15 rebounds. Grade: B
Centers: Al Jefferson managed to produce an overall decent game despite being spotty throughout his 34 minutes on the floor, scoring 15 points on 6-15 shooting from the field while grabbing eight rebounds. His opposer, Kwame Brown, didn't even play well offensively, a change from many previous games whether Jefferson has had to go against the Lakers' Pau Gasol or his brother Marc of the Memphis Grizzlies. Brown scored just eight points in 31 minutes. Enes Kanter scored six points and grabbed seven rebounds off the bench and did a solid job defensively. Grade: B+
Bench: Favors led the way in guiding the Jazz bench to a 31-29 edge over the Warriors. While Rush and Nate Robinson played well, three members of the Golden State bench who played 10 minutes or more combined for a 2-12 effort from the field. Burks remains inconsistent. Grade: B-
Coaching: Tyrone Corbin's move to play C.J. Miles just four minutes certainly is interesting. Will this remain consistent as Corbin aims to give more youngsters time off the bench, or is he still holding to the mantra of just playing the best guys as he continues to develop a more firm rotation? Corbin could also be questioned if he played Bell half the game and far more than his average in order to make the veteran happy in order to encourage team cohesion, or if the head coach actually felt like Bell deserved the time. Because Bell played solid — a monster performance from Monta Ellis aside — it's difficult to judge this game. Hopefully, Corbin is not pandering. Fans can bet that Corbin will continue to keep Millsap in the lineup as Utah continues to display winning ways. Grade: B+
Overall: It's a good thing to see the Jazz at least play more than half-decent once all was said and done in the second half of a back-to-back set. The Jazz had previously been waxed in their first such experience at San Antonio Dec. 31, so their win is encouraging, even if they did struggle from the field (a 4-16 effort from three-point land included). Too many negatives applied to a win would just be foolish for a streaking team relying so much on two rookies and two second-year players. Grade: B-
Rhett Wilkinson is a journalism and speech communications major at Utah State University. He has previously been an intern for the Deseret News. He can be reached at email@example.com or at Twitter: wilklogan