by Russ Bengtson
Utah is weird. Not in any kind of religious way, although it might be that, too (I was disappointed to find that the bedside table in my motel room contained a Gideon Bible, but no Book of Mormon). No, it was mainly the weather which, around 2 p.m. yesterday featured simultaneous bright sunshine and hail.
Anyway, I’m out here for Sixers/Jazz, working on that Kyle Korver kover story. It’s my first time in the Delta Center—excuse me, EnergySolutions Arena—and, I don’t know. It’s an arena. Maybe I’m jaded after seeing so many of them, but I think it’s just that most of them are pretty much the same. I could seriously be ANYWHERE.
For whatever reason, though, this game isn’t being televised at all, so I’ve got a prime seat at the scorer’s table right next to the in-arena announcers. So I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.
Sorry. Got a little excited there. Mr. Booth is on the Sixers for the preseason, and he just walked right in front of me.
The Larry H. Miller Group of Companies Wireless Internet is beyond my comprehension, by the way. Clicking on “Terms of Service” brings up a meaningless jumble of text that looks like the Matrix. Would it be SO difficult for all the NBA arenas to have free wi-fi?
Todd MacCulloch is here, and he is awfully big. Billy King is here too, and I disappointed Khalid by not stabbing him to death with a plastic knife. Alas. Pre-pre-game, Jerry Sloan eats in the press room with some of his assistants at a table with a paper RESERVED sign on it. Nice.
Questar Gas sponsors a little in-arena blimp that looks like a huge can of Red Bull or something. Seeing that it sports a gas company logo, I half-expect a Hindenburg incident at some point during the season. Also, the Jazz’s Northwest Division champions banner from last year is already up. Figured they would have waited for the start of the regular season, but I guess it’s only a division title.
He just hoisted a lefty three from in front of his own bench that was every bit as ugly as you think it would be. Also, Kevin Ollie is on the Sixers? He’s older than Mo Cheeks! Who, incidentally, walks like he’s 73 years old.
It’s possible that Fesenko was grown in a petrie dish from Memo’s DNA. Or maybe it was Andrew Bogut’s. I should ask him what he thinks of American NBA players.
Here we go.
Former Jazz forward Thurl Bailey sings the national anthem along with a kid from the Make A Wish foundation. Let’s just say the intent far surpassed the execution. Although—and I’m dead serious here—Thurl does have an outstanding voice.
Sixers starters: Reggie Evans, Willie Green, Jason Smith. Andre Iguodala, Andre Miller (cheers).
(Wait, the Jazz use “Sirius” for their intro music? Doesn’t that strike anyone else as weird?)
Jazz starters: Kirilenko, Boozer, Okur, Brewer, Williams.
The Jazz should KILL the Sixers. This shouldn’t even be close. Then again, it IS the preseason.
First shot. Kirilenko, rainbow from the corner, wet. Assist, Williams. Guess Deron is willing to pass to Andrei after all.
Kirilenko tries to block Jason Smith on the other end, flying in from the middle, but Okur fouls him. Incidentally, Kirilenko’s assignment? Andre Iguodala.
Memo drives in transition, gets Smith moving backwards, fouled, and 1. Miss.
Drei tries to knock the rebound off Dre and out of bounds. It’s called Utah ball first, then reversed, Kirilenko backpedals upcourt with a smile.
Williams to Kirilenko in the corner, back to Williams underneath for the layup.
Iguodala hits a jumper, but Brewer is right back with a layup in transition. Kirilenko blocks Green, who wants a goaltend, and Brewer gets a dunk from Williams. Green responds with a two-handed dunk and a jumper off a Miller steal.
Memo, baseline fallaway. Jazz up 14-10.
Kirilenko open underneath, wrapped up completely by Green, converts the layup anyway, and adds the free throw. Good start for Andrei.
Memo loses the ball, Smith outlets.,.to no one. Reggie Evans can’t catch up. Iguodala even passes him—Reggie Evans doesn’t run too good—but he can’t get it either.
Williams drives, draws the D and makes the perfect swing pass to Brewer on the baseline, who dunks it emphatically. This is not your older brother’s Utah Jazz.
Out of the timeout, Dre Miller drives through multiple defenders for the layup. Dude’s still got it.
Reggie Evans is clumsy.
Brewer, trapped underneath, Pump fake, up and under. Kid’s gonna be good this year.
Boozer, midrange J. It’s 25-12, Jazz.
Jason Hart in for Williams, Korver and Rodney Carney in for the Sixers.
Booze over the double. Wet.
Iguodala: “C’mon Jason!” He passes off to Jason Smith, who goes in for a two-handed dunk, gets rejected by Okur and winds up on the floor. That probably wasn’t what AI2 was thinking.
The next time down, Miller gets another layup.
Kirilenko. Fakes spinning out, turns inside, splits the double, gets the layup and the foul.
Jazz dancers. They’re not the Laker Girls, but they’re not Britney on the VMAs, either.
CALVIN BOOTH! In the game! Paul Millsap in for the Jazz.
Kirilenko misses the freebie. He’s got seven.
Giricek in for Kirilenko.
CALVIN BOOTH! Fouled by Millsap. Does he hit them both? Of course.
Iguodala posts Giricek and…well, it isn’t pretty.
Millsap is on the board. Hart strips Miller, pushes the ball ahead to Brewer for a dunk. Miller responds with a J. Giricek misses a corner three, but Millsap wrestles the rebound away from CALVIN BOOTH!, and gets fouled. He hits both as Jarron Collins enters.
Miller is fouled with 7.5 seconds, and Booth complains to one of the officials about something that wasn’t called on the other end. The official explains that he’s Calvin Booth, and he should probably just go away.
35-21 Jazz after 1.
Deron Williams is back for the Jazz, Louis Williams is in for the Sixers. Kirilenko’s back too.
Jarron Collins gets called for a loose ball foul on the defensive end for pushing Calvin Booth in the back. Oh, those Collinses.
Sloppy sequences lead to a Rodney Carney dunk. Then Booth fouls Paul Millsap, and gets pulled for Herbert Hill.
Andre Iguodala takes it strong down the lane and gets pounded by Jarron Collins. Hey, no need to raise your hand, JC, we know.
Deron Williams is seriously twice as thick as Louis Williams.
Jarron Collins gets blocked by Herbert Hill.
Korver inbounds to Iggy, and rolls to the basket unmolested. Layup.
Williams to Kirilenko, who drops off the between the legs bounce pass to a trailing Jarron Collins. Predictably, it does not end well. Although Collins will get to try his hand at the free throw line.
In a mid-game trivia contest (to win tickets to High School Musical On Ice) they spell Jarron Collins’s name wrong on the scoreboard (Jaron). Whoops.
C.J. Miles, up in here.
Jarron misses a free throw for each “r” in his first name. That’ll show ‘em.
Boozer is back, Jarron sits.
Thaddeus Young for the first time tonight. Ditto Donnell Harvey.
Booze is the only player on the floor who’s scored for the Jazz tonight. He has 10.
I mean 12.
Donnell Harvey goes behind the back and turns the ball over. Young recovers and gets all the way downcourt before doing exactly the same thing. The NBA: Where Turnovers Happen. (If you were wondering where Donnell Harvey has been, the answer is ‘Turkey.’ Let’s hope he didn’t break his lease just yet.)
Fesenko joins us for the first time with 6m to go in the half.
Ronnie Price, double-dribble in the backcourt.
I think I understand the whole “Sirius” thing now. The Jazz just use a generic “NBA Hits” CD for all their in-arena music. So predictable.
Fesenko fouls Louis Williams, and tentatively raises his hand. As the replay shows, it probably wasn’t a foul.
Fesenko with a nice move that ends in a layup, but even NBA continuation isn’t that generous. He does go to the line, though. And misses both.
Gordan Giricek looks like the love child of Brent Barry and Jeff Hornacek.
Louis Williams with a lightning-quick drive, fouled by Miles before Fesenko can do it.
Kyle Korver looks a lot like Hilary Swank. I’m not sure why I’ve never noticed this before.
Hey wow, it’s 43-38.
Fesenko, dunk from Giricek. The Sixers call time out.
Louis Williams, another drive another foul. Kid is QUICK. Iguodala comes in for KK.
Giricek tries to pick up a mid-court charge on Green, and gets called for the block instead. Ref No. 6 (Jim Clark) then has to explain things to the crowd—and Giricek.
Green, in transition. And it’s 45-43.
I’m not sure how many pounds of muscle Andre Iguodala added this summer, but it had to be at least a couple.
Fesenko gets it underneath, turns right into Herbert Hill, and gets fouled. Hits ‘em both this time.
Willie Green drives, draws a fourth foul on Giricek (that was fast), and heads to the line with a chance to tie it up. He does. Jerry Sloan does not seem concerned.
Giricek cuts to the hoop, gets the ball back from Harvey, reverse layup. Green answers. He’s got, well, a bunch of points. Twelve, to be exact.
Price is fouled by Iggy, hits a pair. 30 seconds to go in the second. Williams misses, Harvey rebounds, and Price hits a long two. The Sixers sort of get a shot off, but nothing serious. 55-51, Utah at the half.
The entertainment is a dance routine to “Thriller,” with the dancers dressed up like the walking dead. I guess it’s nice that they honored Greg Ostertag and all, but you’d think they would have waited for the regular season to start.
Andre Miller, entry pass to Carlos Boozer. The Jazz turn it right back over, but Kirilenko blocks Jason Smith on the other end.
Iggy, then Memo.
Reggie Evans with his FIRST foul of the evening. Is this possible?
Kirilenko, in to Brewer, layup plus floor burns. Drei’s only got one board somehow, but that’s his fourth assist.
Iguodala takes it strong out of the TO, there’s a loose ball foul on the rebound by Okur. Green airballs a corner three, Booze gets it, but throws the outlet out of bounds past Williams.
Iguodala drives again, another loose ball foul on the Jazz. Booze this time. Reggie Evans misses a pair, but Smith backtaps the rebound, and Miller winds up with a layup.
Kirilenko gets his hands on a board, but it falls to Miller instead, who lays it in again. Memo responds from the corner, Smith misses, and Kirilenko has his second rebound of the night.
Williams, free throw line jumper.
Miller misses a behind-the-backboard baseline jumper, Evans rebounds, Iggy resets. Miller rebounds an airball underneath, slips it up and in. He’s so good at JUST creating enough room to score.
Okur splashes a corner three while getting tangled up in Miller. Andre doesn’t agree with the call, and Okur misses the freebie, making it a moot point. Miller then scores on the other end.
Kirilenko, over Reggie Evans, who’s playing some sort of advanced defense that doesn’t involve covering the player OR the basket. So avant-garde. He’s the Ornette Coleman of power forwards.
Deron Williams (who I refuse to call D-Will) three. Willie Green responds with a long two from up top, and Deron comes right back with a layup. Andre Miller misses from the baseline, and a Reggie Evans foul makes the dunk of the game (yeah, Iggy) not count.
Kirilenko jumper, no good.
Brewer does the ol’ James Worthy in ’82 trick, drives downcourt and loses it underneath, but Deron hits another three. Jazz by 12 with three minutes to go in the third.
Morris Almond! He wastes no time in missing his first shot. Millsap is back in there too.
Yes he is. Power dunk, Millsap.
Louis Williams knocks down Millsap and is called for the charge. It’s worth noting that the laws of physics say that Williams actually is incapable of knocking down Millsap, just as a hummingbird is unlikely to be able to knock over a bulldozer.
As per coach Cheeks instruction, the Sixers get the last shot of the quarter. It is, however, probably not the shot he was looking for. 83-69 Jazz after three.
Jazz owner Larry Miller, seated courtside immediately opposite, dresses like he made his millions on the PBA tour, or maybe panhandling. Or selling used cars, which I guess is pretty close to the truth.
Rodney Carney with a gorgeous drive except for the important part.
Reggie Evans is out for all of 32 seconds of the fourth, and is on the free throw line six seconds after he checks in. Efficiency.
Morris Almond is on the board.
Booze, illegal screen. That’s his fifth foul.
Rodney Carney, from up top. Ten-point game.
Korver to Carney to eight.
Miles, from the corner, for three.
Miles, to Boozer. The Jazz lead is back to 13, and Mo Cheeks would like 20 seconds to discuss it.
Make that a full.
And, uh, they wheel out some sort of medieval catapult/slingshot to shoot full-sized Sprite basketballs into the upper deck. This cannot be safe. At least they don’t light them on fire first.
Miles trips up Miller on the inbounds. Louis Williams ends up with the jumper.
Almond, no joy.
Andre Miller again. He’s got 17.
Booze, from deep, at the 24-second buzzer. Money.
Fesenko lurches in for Los.
Almond joy. Sometimes you feel like a nut.
Louis Williams, line drive.
Fesenko throws it out of bounds out of the high-high post, and the Jazz call time. Dude definitely needs to learn to move past mistakes.
Andre Miller is big for calling huddles out of time outs.
Jason Hart for three. 97-84, Jazz, four minutes to gp.
Korver with a layup, Almond with a jumper.
Reggie Evans spins around and past Fesenko along the baseline, but Fesenko catches up and gets the block. Evans responds by tackling Jason Hart for a five-yard loss. Reggie loves being the villain.
Utah has 32 assists as a team, Philly has 11. This doesn’t even seem possible. Deron Williams has 10 assists all by himself.
Thaddeus Young is back. Either that or he’s been in and I just didn’t notice. Either way, he hasn’t made much of an impression tonight.
Two seconds after I type that, he blocks C.J. Miles.
He misses a jumper, though. Minute to go, Jazz by eight. Make that 10. Fesenko!
Louis Williams is apparently trying to foul out, but he’s up against the clock.
Smith to Carney. Nice. Too late, but nice.
Hart dribbles it out. Final score, Jazz 101, Sixers 93. Cue confetti, Gnarls Barkley.