PODCAST: Winless and Hapless, Jazz Now a Targeted Team

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goose eggIt is never a good thing to have a zero in your record at this point of the NBA season — unless, of course, that zero is in the loss column.

For the Utah Jazz, that goose egg is in the win column — and nobody wants to be the first team to lose to them.

So as tough as things have already been, they are about to get tougher for Tyrone Corbin’s young team.

That topic, and plenty more from around the league, discussed in this podcast with Gordon Monson and Spence Checketts of “the Big Show” on 1280AM in Salt Lake City.

SH Blog: Howard says everyone should get over his departure from LA, Barkley says STAT has lost his talent

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We’ve heard plenty about the issues Dwight Howard had with Kobe Bryant over the summer, and why he wasn’t happy playing with the demanding superstar. With the center back in town to face the Los Angeles Lakers – he already heard plenty of boos while playing in Staples Center against the Los Angeles Clippers this past Monday – perhaps it’s finally time to close this chapter of his story for good, for both himself and everyone else around the league.

STORY OF THE DAY: 

LAL_Jamison_AntawnAntawn Jamison and Pau Gasol explained what it was like to see Howard and Kobe Bryant clash, from Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:

“I made my decision,” Howard said. “I’m happy where I’m at. Everybody should move forward. This is my life. If you don’t like it, so what.”

[...]

“Dwight and Kobe just didn’t get along,” Jamison said. “There was no definite reason as to why they didn’t get along. They were just two different personalities that couldn’t co-exist. You know how aggressive and straight-forward Kobe is. He doesn’t stroke any egos. What you see with Kobe is what you get.

“They tried once it got started. Once we couldn’t get it going and started struggling, Dwight got hurt and Kobe said some things. I understood what Kobe was trying to do because that’s Kobe. ‘Toughen it up.’ It just did the opposite with Dwight. The more and more we couldn’t put things together and try to get to that point of being the team we thought we could become, it got worse and worse.”

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Sprung: Alec Burks tries to grow along with young Jazz

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UTA_Burks_AlecBROOKLYN – Through three regular season games, Alec Burks led the Utah Jazz in points per game (18.0), two-point field goal percentage among players who took at least one shot per game (57.6), offensive rating (107), win shares, win shares per 48 minutes (.131) and PER (19.2).

Sounds like someone who should start for a rebuilding team like the Jazz, no? Yet the 12th overall in the 2011 draft has yet to start a game in his NBA career.

Why?

“He’s deserved to start for us, but right now he could help us coming off the bench and give us some bench scoring,” Utah coach Tyrone Corbin said. “He’s continuing to grow. He’s been a great guy, his game is growing. He’s worked his butt off for us all summer to continue to grow his game. He’ll play a lot of minutes for us.”

After Burks averaged just under 18 minutes per game last season, Corbin has rewarded his work with a bump in playing time. The 22-year-old Burks is now playing a solid 30 minutes a game. Although Utah hasn’t had success as a team, Burks’ work is paying off, and he credited his assertiveness for his fast start.

“I’m just being aggressive,” Burks told Sheridan Hoops. “Shots happen to fall. It’s been good.”

The 6-6 Grandview, Missouri native was extremely soft-spoken, almost to the point of being shy, but he has already gained the respect and admiration of his teammates.

“He’s been playing brilliant,” said veteran guard Brandon Rush. “Just attacking, attacking.”

“He’s playing really well right now,” rookie reserve Ian Clark said. “He’s stepping up, playing a big role for us on this team both offensively and defensively. He can guard with his size, and his offensive ability is really helping us down the stretch in the games.”

The problem is that Utah hasn’t won any of those games, and it only got worse on Tuesday night. The Jazz were overmatched by the Nets on the defensive end and were sloppy on offense in a 104-88 loss that exploited Burks’ greatest weakness.

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StatBox Breakdown: A Look At Who Got Extensions; and Who Didn’t

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220px-Avery_Bradley_and_Jordan_CrawfordThe deadline for teams to sign players from the draft class of 2010 to extensions came and went at the stroke of midnight ET on Nov. 1. Those who did not get extensions will be unrestricted free agents this summer.

Six players received extensions, with three of them getting done during the offseason. Two more were completed during training camp and the last one was executed Thursday in Memphis, just hours before the deadline.

Meanwhile, three other rumored extensions did not get done, with rebuilding clubs unwilling to pull the trigger. Perhaps the biggest surprise was no extension for Eric Bledson of the Suns, who was supposed to be a major rebuilding piece.

Which teams were prudent in signing – or not signing – their three-year veterans? Let’s take a closer look from a statistical standpoint.

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SH Blog: Westbrook already dunking in practice, Wallace puts the Celtics on blast

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Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose covered the Denver Nuggets in their latest Grantland video, and I am starting off this blog with the clip because it just might make you cry a little. In a good way.

Simmons has the Nuggets listed at No. 13 and Rose thinks they should be ranked higher. It says here that Denver is unlikely to make the playoffs this season because:

1. They lost Iguodala and got nothing in return.

2. They lost starting center Kosta Koufos, who was probably their second-best defensive player.

3. They lost Corey Brewer, who wasn’t the smartest cat when asked to guard sharp shooters, as we’ve seen from his sometimes-comical job during the playoffs against the Golden State Warriors. Other than that, though, he was a pretty useful defender throughout the regular season off the bench.

4. Danilo Gallinari will miss significant time.

5. They are relying on JaVale McGee to anchor their defense. Based on what he’s done in the preseason, his maturity issues aren’t going away any time soon: he complains about calls, too often looks dejected about things out of his control, commits silly fouls out of frustration and generally lacks discipline when it’s most needed. His freakish athleticism allows him to be a very good shot blocker, but his overall IQ and demeanor on the defensive end is not to be trusted for 30-plus minutes. And who’s behind him? Timofey Mozgov? J.J. Hickson?

Brian Shaw will attempt to implement a new system for a team that is underhanded and underdeveloped, especially on the defensive end. He wants them to play a style that can better succeed in the postseason by playing a little slower and utilizing the post, but does he have the proper personnel for that? They do have some offensive weapons in Ty Lawson, Wilson Chandler and Nate Robinson, but is that enough to overcome their deficiencies in a loaded Western Conference? I’m not banking on it.

STORY OF THE DAY:

westbrookBig news out of Oklahoma City on Monday about Russell Westbrook, from Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman:

But the headliner was All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook, who participated in on-court drills with the team for the first time since he had arthroscopic surgery earlier this month.

“There were bits and pieces where Russell participated in practice, so that was good,” coach Scott Brooks said. “It was good to get everybody out there, working together.”

In recent weeks, Westbrook has been seen on the court during the portion of practice open to the media, going through light workouts with the Thunder training staff.

But on Monday, he apparently amped it up. And even in that brief setting, Reggie Jackson, the man who is replacing Westbrook in the starting lineup, seemed to be impressed.

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