Basketball at last. While the Utah Jazz got thumped pretty hard in their first action back from the lockout, it's hard not to be happy—purely because Utah Jazz basketball is alive again.
Here are the grades for each player in the preseason opener.
Final Score: Portland 110 - Utah 90
Devin Harris: D+
Harris wasn't very aggressive: He missed all of his threes and turned the ball over like it was a hot potato. He didn't create much for himself or his teammates.
Raja Bell: D-
This would have easily been an F if he hadn't made a couple buckets in the third quarter. He was a complete non factor except for those shots. Come on, you're a starter! Make something happen!
C.J. Miles: B-
Miles was the only sign of life for the starters on the perimeter. He had some unnecessary fouls, but hit better than half of his shots. He had a nice pump fake and drilled a jumper as the shot clock expired.
Mehmet Okur: D-
Okur looked like a guy who hadn't played much NBA ball in the past year and a half: He was out-rebounded from behind and he played poor defense (not all his fault, see Tyrone Corbin below).
He also had more turnovers than shot attempts.
Al Jefferson: C-
Jefferson definitely had the drop step going early on, but seemed disinterested, however. He was out-hustled for a rebound—as well as the majority of his playing time—by 37-year-old Marcus Camby.
Gordon Hayward: D+
Hayward had more playing time than anyone on the team, but had little to show for it. Constantly outworked by fellow sophomore Luke Babbit, he seemed like he wanted to come out agressive, but couldn't get anything going on.
Derrick Favors: A-
Favors is one of the few bright spots on the team. He quietly put together a big double-double, but didn't really get his points in the offensive system.
It seemed like a lot was grabbing offensive rebounds and broken plays. He had a nice jump hook, decent defense and lots of energy.
Josh Howard: Incomplete
Howard came in early in the first half, bricked a few shots and then sat the rest of the game. He played five minutes. Clearly, he needs to learn the offensive system, but then again it looked like the whole team needed it too.
Earl Watson: C+
Watson was more effective than Harris on offense. He had a couple of nice alley-oops to Jeremy Evans and took a few forced shots due to shot clock expiration. He had five assists and only one turnover.
Enes Kanter: B
Kanter might already be the team's best rebounder. He looked much more involved than Okur. Plus, he's a beast on the offensive glass and got to the line a few times and knocked down his free throws.
Alec Burks: C+
He showed some signs of athleticism and playmaking ability.
He got picked on a few times in double teams and didn't finish strong on a fast break, but had really good energy. It will be pretty neat once he develops confidence.
Jeremy Evans: A
Evans had nine points in ten minutes—very efficient. He kept balls alive on the offensive boards, got to the line and played active defensively. It will be hard to keep him off the court in the future.
Did not play: Paul Millsap, Jamaal Tinsley, Keith McLeod, Scottie Reynolds, Trey Gilder, Paul Carter
Tyrone Corbin- F
He made a painfully terrible choice of a starting lineup: Okur and Jefferson should never be on the floor at the same time again.
I understand what he was trying to do—have Okur set up on the perimeter to create space for Jefferson underneath. But, it was hard to watch Okur jump out to guard Portland's pick-and-roll or run out to get a hand up in the shooter's face on the baseline three.
Overall, the teams seemed ill-prepared mentally for the game as well. The team did not look ready to compete. Portland smacked around the old veterans and shaky rookies.
Overall Team: D
This was not what Jazz fans were hoping for. Whatever Coach Corbin adjusted on defense, it did not look good. In fact, I would say it was one of the worst defensive performances I've ever seen.
Granted, it is only preseason, but still, it looks like the Jazz have a long way to go before they can clamp down on teams defensively.
On the offensive side of the ball, the team lacked chemistry—18 assists with 22 turnovers is pathetic. It really comes down to Devin Harris in that regard. He has to start making plays for his team.
More than half of the Jazz's points seemed to come off of hustle rebounds, one-on-one plays or fouls. Bell should not be playing more than five minutes a game. Jeff Hornacek really needs to work with the team as well, because the three-point shooting was atrocious (1-12).
Maybe it's just first game jitters, but Portland looked miles ahead of Utah. If the Jazz don't improve quickly, this shortened season could seem longer than it really is.
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