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Posts Tagged ‘2006’

Jazz at Hawks 12-6-2006Seven years ago today, the Utah Jazz made their greatest 4th-quarter comeback in franchise history (and 5th-largest in NBA history) as they rallied from a 21-point 4th-quarter deficit with a 40-13 explosion in the game’s 12 minutes to defeat the Hawks 111-106 in Atlanta. As was often the case during Utah’s magical 2006-07 season, Jazz center Mehmet Okur provided the late-game heroics with his clutch three-point shooting.

Okur scored a game-high 30 points to go along with 10 rebounds on a ridiculous 11-17 shooting from the field and 4-5 from behind the arc. Andrei Kirilenko was also exceptional – with a 12-point, 5-rebound, 5-assist, 2-steal, 1-block fill-in-the-blanks performance. They were joined in double-figures by Derek Fisherlied (18 points), Deron Williams (13 points), Carlos Boozer (13 points) and Matt Harpring (11 points). Current Hawk and former longtime Jazzman Paul Millsap – then a rookie – scored 2 points and grabbed 2 rebounds in 16 minutes of play off the bench.

Joe Johnson led Atlanta with 27 points while Josh Smith added his own swiss-army knife exhibition with 23 points, 12 rebounds 4 blocks, 4 assists, and 3 steals. Atlanta’s starting lineup also included their 2005 #2-overall pick and current Jazz forward Marvin Williams. Battling a few bumps throughout the game, Marvin scored 9 points on 2-11 shooting with 4 turnovers and 3 steals.

In the midst of a 5-game road trip, the Jazz saw a close high-scoring 1st-half give way to a sloppy 3rd-quarter in which Atlanta outscored them 39-19 to take a 93-72 lead into the 4th-quarter. In the final period, Utah’s monster run was sparked by rookie Ronnie Brewer who came off the bench to score 6 points in the final period and give Utah a burst of energy with his defense and hustle.

The 7-Point Possession

Ronnie Brewer also sparked perhaps the most productive Jazz possession in team history – essentially a 7-point trip down the court for Utah.

Score: Hawks 95, Jazz 76
Time: 10:35 4th-Qtr
10:34 4th-Qtr – 2 Brewer FT’s off a steal and subsequent clear-path foul that resulted in 2 FT’s in which Utah also retained possession. Hawks 95, Jazz 78.
10:23 4th-Qtr – On Utah’s ensuing possession, an extra pass by Okur resulted in a Fisherlied three that he was also fouled on for a 4-point play opportunity. Hawks 95, Jazz 81.
10:07 4th-Qtr – Fisherlied missed the free throw but Boozer corralled the offensive rebound. On the extra possession, Utah turned a UCLA set into a weakside drive and dish by Kirilenko to Boozer for a layup. Hawks 95, Jazz 83. Atlanta timeout.

In 28 seconds without the Hawks even touching the basketball, the Jazz scored 7 consecutive points. Despite Mike Woodson’s (who had hair back then) timeout, Utah still outscored Atlanta 30-11 in the game’s final 10-minutes behind 12 points from Okur on 4-5 shooting.

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The Jazz have played a some dramatic and memorable games in Atlanta over the years – overtime losses in 1987-88 (a 130-124 overtime loss thanks to Dominique Wilkins’ 46 pts) and 1993-94 (100-96), a thrilling 101-99 victory in the 1997-98 season thanks to a Karl Malone game-winner in the closing seconds, a 90-86 win rallying from an 11-point 4th-Qtr deficit early in the 2010-11 season and of course the infamous 139-133 four-overtime debacle in 2011-12.

However, Utah’s 21-point 4th-quarter comeback in 2006 is perhaps one of the more overlooked wins in franchise history, partially because it was in Atlanta but moreso due to the fact there were so many other memorable finishes both by Memo and in the entire 2006-07 season that culminated with a thrilling run to the Western Conference Finals.

A 21-point comeback outscoring their opponent 40-13 in the final 12 minutes was remarkable – but so was Okur’s penchant for clutch late-game shooting. The Jazz didn’t play their best game but they came through when it mattered most – in the 4th-quarter that by then had simply become known as “Moneytime.”

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Ronnie Brewer - 2006 NBA Draft

Ronnie Brewer may have been my favorite draft pick ever. Not speficially because of his play (Ronnie was a solid rotation player for the Jazz who fit very nicely into their system), but because of the hilarious exchange between Dan Patrick and David Stern that preceded his selection. In all the years of televised drafts, it’s hard to recall a more amusing snarkfest between a commissioner and television host.


Now back to Ronnie Brewer.

By his second season Brewer was Utah’s starting 2-guard and developed into a very solid albeit limited role-player. He had world-class athleticism, was a great teammate, a solid defender, a good passer, a great cutter, and fantastic open-court player – but he just couldn’t shoot. He could make the 16-footer but didn’t take them often or make them consistently. Utah was able to mask that weakness by possessing one of the premier shooting bigs in the league in Mehmet Okur. In Utah’s vaunted high screen-roll – Okur filled the “Jeff Hornacek” role as the 3pt-shooter who rolled up on the weakside and Brewer became the dive-man who cut to the rim. It worked beautifully in 2007-08 with Brewer shooting a gaudy 55.8% from the field and averaging 12.0 points per game as part of the league’s #1-offense. Those numbers also translated into the 2008 posteason in which Brewer averaged 10.2 points on 52.0% shooting.

Although Brewer would shoot over 50% in his first three seasons with the Jazz, his lack of shooting-range was magnified when Okur’s body began to break down. Okur missed most of Utah’s 2009 first-round playoff series against the Lakers with a hamstring injury and Brewer’s limitations were accentuated by Kobe Bryant’s unwillingness to defend Brewer outside of 10-feet in half-court sets. Bryant sagged off Brewer and with another streaky perimeter shooter at SF in Andrei Kirilenko and a total non-shooter at center in Jarron Collins – defenses were able to focus all of their attention to collapsing on all-stars Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer in the paint which fouled up many of Utah’s sets.

As shown below, Brewer’s primary scoring production came as a paint-finisher where from 2006-10 he converted a stellar 64.4% of his field goal attempts within 10-feet of the basket. He also shot an extraordinary percentage of his shots from point-blank range. (By comparison, in his Jazz tenure only 49.0% of Al Jefferson’s shot attempts have come from within 10-feet of the basket).

Ronnie Brewer Shot Breakdown
  Overall FG% 10-ft % of FG Att FG% Outside
Season FG% or closer Inside 10-ft 10-ft
2006-07 52.8% 66.7% 63.7% 28.6%
2007-08 55.8% 65.6% 61.4% 40.4%
2008-09 50.8% 63.2% 54.5% 36.1%
2009-10 49.5% 63.8% 53.4% 31.5%

It also shows that playing with the Deron-Kirilenko-Boozer-Okur unit clicking on all cylinders in 2007-08 was when Brewer was his most effective. In 2008-09 Deron, Boozer, and Okur missed a combined 69 games and Brewer’s point-blank looks declined. That continued into 2009-10 where Okur’s minutes dipped from the 33-34 range to 29 as his durability and effectiveness began to slip. With Brewer set for free agency in 2010 and a roster featuring five capable wings (Brewer, Kirilenko, C.J. Miles, Kyle Korver and rookie Wes Matthews) who all deserved minutes – management shipped Brewer at the trade deadline to Memphis for a protected 1st-round pick that was used in their acquisition of Al Jefferson (the Grizzlies’ pick ended up being F Donatas Motiejunas whose rights were traded from Minnesota to Houston).

Ronnie Brewer has played on 4 teams since being traded and has yet to find a role or system that fit his abilities as well as Jerry Sloan’s system. He was a solid draft pick, a quality Jazz player and a great teammate – and he gave NBA fans the greatest gift of all: an all-out snarkfest between David Stern and Dan Patrick.

I’d be satisfied with a similar haul from this year’s 14th-overall pick – particularly with this being David Stern’s final draft as commissioner.

Come on Bill Simmons, pick a fight with Stern! You know you want to!

David Stern booed at 2012 NBA Draft

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