After poorly played losses at New Orleans, San Antonio, Memphis and Denver, Jazz fans will be happy to see their club play well north of the border Monday night.
At least on the offensive side.
The 104 points scored by Toronto in regulation mean that Utah has yielded more than 100 points in four consecutive road contests. Despite that, the Jazz won their first road game this season in triple overtime and by doing so avoided their first five-game road losing streak since April 2011.
GUARDS: Two games and three days removed from struggling mightily at Denver (a 1-of-6 shooting effort), Mo Williams — a game-time decision — was much better in his next test away from home. His 17-point, 14-assist night was good enough to counter Jose Calderon's 20-point, 17-assist performance. Williams has now scored in double figures in six-of-seven games. Gordon Hayward (12 points, 4-of-12 shooting) arguably played his worst game of the season, especially considering DeMar DeRozan's big evening. DeRozan's 37 points marked the highest of his seven-game regular season by 13. Hayward's was the second-lowest of his regular season season, despite the extra time. GRADE: C+.
FORWARDS: Considering his defense, Marvin Williams' 17-point, five-rebound evening may have been the best (regulation) of his eight regular-season games as a Jazzman. It marked his highest point outing since the Oct. 31 season-opener against Dallas. Paul Millsap (34 points, nine rebounds) was more than fine. Remarkably, he scored 22 points in the 15 minutes of overtime, and his 3-of-4 3-point conversion makes him 8 of 12 for the season. He was matched by Andrea Bargnani (18 points, eight rebounds, 5-of-17 shooting) only in regulation. Despite being at least four inches shorter than the Italian — one of the larger height differentials he'll face — Millsap was largely primarily responsible for limiting Bargnani. Derrick Favors played 77 seconds more than Millsap and initially seemed less effective, shooting 2 of 7 with two turnovers in regulation. But his 4-of-5 shooting and two blocks after that helped solve the issue. His four total blocks mean he extended his streak of having at least one block for every regular-season game. GRADE: A-.
CENTERS: Just two days removed from a monster performance against Phoenix, Al Jefferson went back to his so-so ways against the Raptors in regulation, when he registered 13 points on 5-12 shooting. But he nailed an enormous 3-pointer to send the game to overtime, and his 11 points in extra time helped the league's fourth-leading rebounder (he had 17 Monday) make amends. Overtime allowed him to register his 239th double-double. With two more steals, he's registered at least one in six of eight games and averages more than one per contest. Too bad he's turned the ball over more than that (13-12).
Since Jonas Valanciunas shot 3-of-3 for 10 points, the Jazz were fortunate his four fouls helped limit him to just 16 minutes. But the efforts of Linus Kleiza (20 points, seven rebounds, 30 minutes) and Amir Johnson (11 points, 14 rebounds, 38 minutes) helped account for that. Kleiza's point total accounts for his season output, too, since he went scoreless in 12 minutes in his first regular-season game Nov. 10 against Philadelphia. Good thing for the Jazz he fouled out by the time overtime came around. GRADE: B.
BENCH: The Jazz reserves were edged by Toronto's bench 42-36, and Randy Foye bailed them out. With 20 points, he was essentially Utah's answer to Kleiza. He had 4-of-7 3-point shooting in less than 37 minutes. One wonders if he would have played more had he not fouled out during overtime, especially since Hayward was struggling. Jamaal Tinsley followed up an impressive 14-assist, no-turnover outing against the Suns — just the fourth such statistical accomplishment in 25 years — with a four-assist effort in 13 minutes. The nine-year veteran has averaged 5.8 assists in just 20.3 minutes per game so far. GRADE: C.
OVERALL: The 11 blocks they registered Monday certainly will maintain the Jazz's spot as the team with the second-most blocks in the NBA. But that doesn't mean they were stifling defensively. Given Foye's hot hand, the game might not have entered overtime were he not in foul trouble. Fortunately for Utah, the frontline played at a higher level after regulation. Kleiza becomes the latest reserve player to score much higher than his average against the Jazz. Often, it's a big guy — a testament to the holes the likes of Jefferson leave open. As long as second-rate scoring post players continue to do as much, Big Al will remain a step below the best big men in the league. Beating a 1-5 team on the road shouldn't call for euphoria. But the overall performance was generally better than other non-EnergySolutions Arena contests so far. And how many teams win triple-overtime battles on the road? GRADE: B-.
Rhett Wilkinson studies interesting stuff at Utah State University and is the co-founder of Aggie BluePrint, USU's first student magazine. Previously a Deseret News intern, he can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter: @wilklogan
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