The Utah Flash had their first home game of the season hosting the undefeated Bakersfield Jam. Flash fans got a GREAT preview of the promise their team holds for them this season as this game against a very good team went to overtime, and was in doubt right down to the final ticks of the clock.
But first, let’s get the negative out of the way so that we can enjoy the rest of the game analysis. It’s one thing to write, “there were too many turnovers, especially at the close of the game,” but it’s another thing altogether to live through them. Consequently, I’m going to make you live through them here, so you can better appreciate their impact.
It is overtime, with 2:14 remaining on the clock. The score is tied at 98.
Suddenly Flash Forward Brian Jackson drove to the baseline and turned the ball over on an obvious offensive foul, leading to Bakersfield’s Trey Johnson 2-point jump shot.
Flash 98, Jam 100.
On the Flash’s next possession, the ball was knocked loose from JR Giddens and rolled right by Dontell Jefferson, who casually trotted towards the loose ball until the Jam’s Mateen Cleaves suddenly blew by Jefferson, dove for the ball, and grabbed it in one of those hustle plays Flash Fans are used to seeing last year from the likes of Brian Hamilton. Three seconds later, the Jam’s DeMarcus Johnson dunked the ball.
Flash 98, Jam 102.
On the Flash’s next possession, with 1:09 remaining in overtime, Dontell Jefferson gave the Utah Flash their THIRD turnover in the final 2:14 of overtime!
On the Flash’s next possession, with 37 seconds left, Dontell Jefferson found JR Giddens for a sweet dunk.
Flash 100, Jam 102.
The Flash then played impressive defense, forcing the Jam to take a bad 3 point shot and JR Giddens grabbed a crucial rebound and got the ball to Dontell Jefferson.
It is a two-point game with 16 seconds left in overtime, but there was no call for a time out. Instead, Coach Brad Jones shouted instructions from the sideline… which Dontell Jefferson either ignored or could not hear. Jefferson ended up just dribbling the ball between the timeline and the 3 point arc, not looking to pass at all, until there were only 3 seconds left, at which point Jefferson tossed up a brick from just beyond the 3 point line in the center of the court. Jefferson took the last shot in regulation, and it appeared that he wanted to have the last shot in overtime as well.
Flash 100, Jam 102… end of game.
Can you feel our pain? 🙂
Back to game analysis: I’m sure many think that this is how the Flash lost the game, but in reality, the Flash lost the game in the second quarter.
The Flash defense held the Jam to an average of exactly 21 points per quarter… except for the second quarter. In the second quarter the Flash’s defense gave up 33 points.
If the Flash had not had this defensive lapse in the second quarter, and had played the second quarter like the others, they would have won the game by 12 points in regulation (33 – 21 = 12).
I feel for Coach Jones on this because I’ve heard Greg Popovich trying to tell his San Antonio Spurs that they need to play like EVERY minute of the game is important, not just the closing minutes, but sometimes it is just hard to get young players to think that way.
Sadly, the young Utah Flash may have learned the hard way tonight: 3 quarters and an overtime period of very hard work were squandered because for one quarter, defensive effort was taken lightly.
In that disastrous second quarter, the Jam shot 60 percent from the 3 point arc (3/5), and 53 percent from floor. Compare that to the Jam’s shooting percentage for the other three quarters and the overtime period: 32.5 percent.
But the real killer is how the Flash put the Jam on the free throw line in the second quarter, where shooting can’t be defended. Exactly half of all the free throws the Jam shot all game were in the second quarter. The Jam shot 16 free throws, making 12 of them (75 percent).
Here is something you may not know about the Flash: the Utah Flash led the entire NBADL (NBA Development League) in two statistical categories last season: fouls and turnovers.
Even though the entire Flash roster (except for two players) is new this year, those two weaknesses seem to be haunting the Flash again this year as the Bakersfield Jam scored 22 of their points off of the Flash’s 29 turnovers.
On a more positive note:
JR Giddens had a MONSTER game:
- 34 points (team high)
- 73.3 percent shooting
- 12 of 14 from the free throw line (86 percent)
- 5 blocks (team high)
- 6 assists (team high)
- 7 rebounds, including the key rebound that set the Flash up for their final (albeit unsuccessful) play
JR only missed 2 free throws all night (out of 14 attempts). Unfortunately for the Flash, both of the misses came in the crucial fourth quarter, and one of those misses came with 35 seconds left in regulation. Nevertheless, JR did everything for the Flash. In fact, I believe I saw him selling popcorn during time outs!
JR Giddens was amazing, the Celtics were smart to draft him, and Coach Jones was smart to play him heavy minutes. Giddens showed no signs of slowing down on either end of the court, even in the overtime period.
Also, the Utah Flash was significantly smaller than the Bakersfield Jam. Specifically, the Flash has one player 6 ft. 9 in. or taller (Brian Jackson), and the Jam has FOUR, and one of them is an NBA player assigned to the Jam.
Nevertheless, not only was the Flash just minus 1 in total rebounds to the Jam, the Flash was plus 2 in points in the paint, and the Flash had a mind bending 10 blocked shots to the Jam’s 2. Wow! That’s INSANE! No wonder the Jam’s shooting percentage was low all game (except the 2nd quarter).
Other quick observations:
- 59.4 percent of the Jam’s rebounds came from 2 guys (Hendrix and Lewis). The next time the Flash play the Jam, they might want to employ a team-wide strategy to keep those two guys off the boards.
- Three Flash players (Bill Walker, Dontell Jefferson and Carlos Wheeler) all shot just 50 percent from the free throw line. In an overtime game that was eventually lost by 2 points, that hurts.
- Although there were 4 NBA players in this game, it was Dontell Jefferson (#11) who led BOTH teams in shot attempts (17). Happily, Dontell shot a sizzling 58.8 percent this game, including the make that sent the game into overtime.
- The Jam played 10 players, the Flash only 8.
- The smaller, quicker Flash had 10 fast break points to the Jam’s 4.
- Brian “Floor burn” Jackson continues to impress me. It is a mystery to me that some NBA team hasn’t picked him up. Brian plays with such heart, defends well, rebounds well, is fantastic at the “dirty work” of basketball, has a great mid range jumper, is a great free throw shooter, and is a team player through and through… it just seems obvious that Brian Jackson would be a solid role player at the 4 position on some NBA team.
- Although the Utah Flash’s current record is 1-2, they took a 3-0 team to the mats and definitely could have come out with a win despite a horrible second quarter’s defense. Additionally, so many of the turnovers the Flash had tonight were silly, unforced lapses in judgment that are very correctable. Finally, only 2 of the players on this season’s roster played for the Flash last year, so everyone is still getting to know the system and each other. When you consider all these factors, there is an extremely high likelihood that the Flash will gel into a playoff team this season.
- These new players started the season playing a couple of games on the road. I wonder if they were surprised at all by the Orem, Utah crowd. The Flash has the best attendance in the D-League, and as the Utah Jazz players know, this area is great for loud and supportive crowds… hopefully that all translates into some of that great home cooking the Utah Jazz has enjoyed for years!
Bakersfield Jam at the Utah Flash
Monday, December 1, 2008
Flash 100, Jam 102