As journalists, students and taxpayers (and their accountants) know, it's amazing what you can do on deadline.
Faced with the necessity of winning to keep their playoff hopes alive, the Jazz (43-38) controlled their contest against Minnesota (20-51) Monday night in a 96-80 win.
GUARDS: Mo Williams (15 points on 7-of-15 shooting, seven assists) offset four turnovers with four steals, holding Minnesota point Ricky Rubio to 2-of-9 shooting. Another nullification was between shooting guards Randy Foye (11 points on 5-of-11 shooting, three assists) and Luke Ridnour (six points on 3-of-7 shooting, three assists). Foye's 2-of-5 showing from distance makes him just 13 of 42 from 3-point land in five of his seven games since making a record nine 3s (on just 11 attempts) against Brooklyn in Salt Lake City. GRADE: B.
FORWARDS: Young Derrick Williams (18 points on 7-of-13 shooting, six rebounds) is comparable in size to Paul Millsap (seven points on 3-of-10 shooting, eight rebounds), but the second-year Minnesota forward proved problematic for the experienced Jazzman. Derrick Favors (12 points on 5-of-7 shooting, six rebounds) made up for some of it in 24 minutes. Surprisingly, he did not register a block despite averaging 1.7 every 23 minutes this season and notching one for the five straight previous games.
Another (versatile) veteran and ex-Millsap teammate, Andrei Kirilenko (seven points on 2-of-7 shooting, seven rebounds, four assists), kept Gordon Hayward (eight points on 2-of-5 shooting, six rebounds, three assists) in check. Hayward has made just three buckets in 10 attempts in the past two games after being rather on fire in the previous five, making five-plus in all those contests (32 of 66 total for 48.5 percent). GRADE: C.
CENTERS: Al Jefferson (22 points on 8-of-15 shooting, eight rebounds) did not quite match his 40-point, 13-rebound evening Friday against Minnesota, but he did show that second-year pro Greg Stiemsma (six points on 3-of-7 shooting, eight rebounds) was still a good draw for him. And one of Favors' better games of the season was beneficial.
The Jazz are 23-7 when Big Al scores 20-plus points. GRADE: B+.
BENCH: The Utah reserves were outscored 37-30 by the Minnesota bench — a minority of an occasion in contests this season. Fourth-year forward Dante Cunningham (12 points on 5-of-8 shooting, five rebounds) proved difficult. DeMarre Carroll (six points on 2-of-4 shooting) proved useful in eight minutes. The fourth-year NBA reserve himself played after missing his team's last game (Friday), though he registered 17-plus minutes in the three previous contests. Does coach Tyrone Corbin like to throw off opponents by making Carroll's playing time unpredictable? GRADE: C+.
OVERALL: The Jazz shot 47 percent and committed just 10 turnovers in clearly one of their best road performances of the season. It's amazing what can happen when a team's back is against the wall, or you are facing a deadline — or whatever the apocalyptic nature of the situation is. (They can send the Lakers' Steve Blake a note for that after the role player's huge night against San Antonio Sunday). Makes one wonder how good Utah could have been this season if they played with the same urgency in even 90 percent of their games, rather than half of them. GRADE: B.
Rhett Wilkinson studies at Utah State University. Co-founder of Aggie BluePrint (USU's first student magazine) and two-time Deseret News intern, he now interns for Deseret Book's LDS Living. email@example.com or @wilklogan
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