This week’s games:
- Monday, December 1 – Denver Nuggets. Energy Solutions Arena. 7:00 PM MT.
- Wednesday, December 3 – Toronto Raptors. Energy Solutions Arena. 7:00 PM MT.
- Friday, December 5 – Orlando Magic. Energy Solutions Arena. 7:00 PM MT.
Game of the Week: Utah Jazz vs Denver Nuggets
The Utah Jazz kick off the week with a match-up against their division rivals. The Nuggets started the season 1-6 but have rattled off seven of their last nine to get themselves to .5oo. Trey Burke and Alec Burks will have their work cut out, facing the dynamic back-court of Ty Lawson and Aaron Afflalo. The Jazz back-court have struggled against quicker scoring opponents. This will be yet another test for both. I expect to see a lot of transition ball between these two teams. Denver is the 4th best scoring team in the NBA, averaging 105.5 points. However they allow an equal amount of points on the defensive end. Trey vs Lawson is likely to be the match-up to watch, but another intriguing match-up is likely Enes Kanter vs Kenneth Faried. This game should be high on the “fun meter” and worth every penny.
Player Focus: Alec Burks
I put Burks here, more as a call out than anything. He’s due, plain and simple. He has yet to find his groove. He still gets to the free throw line at a high rate and is shooting 85% at the line. Additionally, he’s shooting a career best 36.8% from downtown. What is to be credited for his slump? It seems opponents are scouting him much better (a result of being in the starting lineup) than before. Defenses are not allowing him to get to the basket as easily as he’s used to, forcing him to take bad shots or turn the ball over more. Opponents like to bring an extra guy from the top of the key to help on his drive. Alec will have to be better at recognizing the defense and adjust accordingly. This week will have opportunities for him to break out. Expect to see Burks settle in and find his identity. If he does, it could be just the boost the Jazz need to get them out of their losing streak.
Nuggets: The first of four rival match-ups this season. Offense, offense, offense without a lick of defense; A transition exchange of epic proportions; There’s a reason this is the game of the week. I’ll even call this an overtime game. Jazz win, 115-112 OT.
Raptors: Kyle Lowry and company visit Energy Solutions Arena on Wednesday. The beasts of the East are off to a brilliant start, boasting the second best scoring team in the NBA. The last time the Utah Jazz faced off against the Raptors they ran out of gas on the second night of a back to back. This time the game is at home, the Jazz have had an extra night’s rest, and the Raptors are the team on the second night of a back to back. Additionally, the Raptors will be without star DeMar Derozen, out indefinitely with a groin injury. The guard duo of Alec Burks and Trey Burke went a combined 8-26 from the field and 22 points in the last meeting. More importantly, the duo were responsible for nearly half of the Jazz’ 11 turnovers. To win this game, they will need Burks and Burke to click as well as the bench to come alive. Trevor Booker, Rudy Gobert and company were outscored 42-23 in Toronto. This game is likely to be similar to the one in Toronto, plenty of fast paced scoring. Jazz win, 110-103.
Magic: I’ll be honest here, I don’t know much about the Magic to this point. But judging by their record, they just aren’t a very good team (ok they have a better record than the Jazz at this point, still…). The one match-up that could be tough for the Jazz may be Channing Frye vs Kanter. Frye knows how to stretch the floor. Kanter will have to guard the perimeter, something he hasn’t done too well this year. I expect the Jazz to log their first three game winning streak of the season. Jazz win, 99-89.
Jazz History: December 5, 2000
Karl Malone of the Utah Jazz converted a finger roll in the lane for two points, moving past Wilt Chamberlain and into second place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Malone scored 31 points in Utah’s 98-84 win over Toronto, giving him 31,443 career points, 24 more than Chamberlain’s 31,419 points.
*Upon researching NBA history, I came across a second nugget (no pun intended). I couldn’t resist sharing it.
Bonus History: December 7, 1982
The Utah Jazz, in a 137-121 loss at Portland, set an NBA record for free throw percentage in a game, connecting on all 39 of their attempts from the line.