Last night, Paul Millsap showed off his previously-unknown perimeter shooting stroke, while scoring 11 points in 28 seconds to power his Utah Jazz to an overtime victory over the Miami Big Three. Millsap was 3-3 from behind the arc during this explosion, after going 2-20 during the rest of his NBA career. So yeah: Paul Millsap, 3-point bomber.
Certainly not the Miami Heat, who surrendered what was, at one point, a 22-point lead to the Jazz and lost in overtime. Oh, the Jazz got the winning-time job done with their franchise point guard on bench due to fouling out. Not only did Millsap’s newfound outside shooting touch get the Jazz back in the game, his last-second tip-in sent the game to overtime. Needless to say, his 46-point (the most by a Jazz player since Karl Malone delivered the mail) 9-rebound game was indeed beast-like.
There are highlights of Millsap’s awesome finish, which is just one of the reason I love the Internet:
While the Utah Jazz are most certainly struggling to play Jerry Sloan basketball their first two games of the season, their game against the Phoenix Suns yielded a couple of nice dunks last night. One by Deron Williams and the other by Hakim Warrick, who, some say, may have had the best dunk of the (very) early season.
See for yourself:
Now for Williams’:
Evidently, Williams was pretty pissed last night, and considering how his team played, it’s understandable. It’s a good thing the ball wasn’t Gordon Hayward, however.
It’s safe to say that some Utah Jazz fans aren’t the biggest fans of Los Angeles Lakers clutch machine, Derek Fisher. Whether their initial reason for the fan-hate is legitimate or not, their dislike for the Lakers guard, especially now that the sweep is complete, now has reason. While folks like Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant are being praised for the Jazz series, especially the close-out game, the 12 points provided by Derek Fisher and Shannon Brown in the fourth quarter made all the difference in the game.
Fisher’s damage came from a early-fourth quarter 3-point bomb, that was quickly followed by a three free throws, courtesy of Deron Williams fouling Fisher during a 3-point attempt. Add to that Brown’s two fourth quarter 3-pointers, and you see how the 111-96 advantage got that point.
Yes, Bryant and Gasol finished the job, but without those four three-point plays, even more would’ve been required from the Lakers’ dynamic duo. Important 3-pointers and misguided fans aside, that wasn’t the extent of Fisher’s interesting night.
Anybody that’s remotely followed this site in its two-plus years of activity is well aware of the affection it has for nasty dunks. No matter the age — IF has discussed high school dunks before — the satisfaction of watching a good dunk never truly goes away. When it happens during meaningful basketball games, that is, the Playoffs or the NCAA Tournament, they stand out even more.
Take, for instance, LeBron James and Carlos Boozer.
Not only did both players have great games while helping (leading, in LeBron’s case) their team to a win, they both also offered two nasty little dunks, all for our enjoyment — as well as the displeasure of the opposing team. Video after the jump >>
The story of Sundiata Gaines is a good one. The ex-Georgia Bulldog came to light thanks to an improbable run to the SEC Tournament title back in 2008. After toiling in the NBA’s development league, Gaines received a call-up to the big stage, one that resulted in a much-blogged-about heartfelt moment with his mother. However, thanks to a nifty buzzer-beater against the Cleveland Cavaliers last night, one that negated a LeBron James-led comeback, has put Gaines directly in the spotlight, something the kid deserves after the work he’s put in and the road he’s traveled.
In fact, if you do a quick YouTube search of his name, you’ll see about three pages worth of video dedicated to this very play. Now that’s the way you take the stage: With a dramatic flair that’s impossible to ignore.
Not only was Gaines’ shot a nice way to continue his feel-good story, it, as mentioned, negated a furious comeback from the Cavaliers; one that had James scoring 20 of his 36 points in the fourth quarter alone. Unfortunately for LeBron, he needed to add at least one more point to his total in order to prevent any game-winning shenanigans from taking place.
As it turned out, Gaines and his 3-point daggers had different ideas about how the game should end.
Dirk Nowitzki is averaging 29.6 points a game, a total to be reckoned with by any estimation. He’s easily one of the best offensive players in the NBA. However, what he accomplished last night turns the description “one of best” into “downright scariest.” When the fourth quarter of Dallas’ game against Utah started last night, the Mavericks trailed by 16 points. While deficits like that are commonplace in the NBA, the way in which the Mavericks came back is not. Sure, Dallas rode their best player, but I doubt even they figured Nowitzki would be as effective as he was. Let’s put it this way, during their fourth quarter comeback, Dirk Diggler matched his season scoring average by dropping 29 points.
In one quarter.
The flop-haired German with the exquisite outside shot finished with 40 points, but it was his sterling fourth quarter that’s getting headlines, and rightfully so. 29 points in one quarter is more than a number of teams can muster as a whole. To wit, the Jazz, as a team, scored 18 in the fourth against Dallas last night.
In fact, a quick glance at last night’s scores reveal only one team, besides Dallas, that is, outscored Nowitzki in the fourth quarter and that was the Boston Celtics with 36. The rest of the NBA could only match, if not score less, than Dirk’s final stanza explosion. StatSheet.com has a nifty little chart showing just how effective Nowitzki was last night. His contribution is designated by the pinkish-flesh colored bar:
Michael Jordan gave perhaps one of the more polarizing Hall of Fame acceptance speeches, maybe ever, on Friday, and there has been plenty of reaction to Jordan’s parting words. Peter King loved it; Adrian Wojnarowski did not. Regardless of your feelings about Jordan’s “this is why I succeeded” speech, one person in particular — Bryon Russell — didn’t seem to fond about the way he inspired the second coming of Jordan’s career — or least, he wasn’t fond of the way he was characterized in Jordan’s speech.
Left-handed dunks, when done by right-handed folks, are usually impressive. When they are done in a must-win playoff game and breaks a tie and gives your team a chance to win in the closing seconds (props to Deron Williams‘ big shot), they are a thing of beauty — even if you are a Lakers fan (don’t hate). The question is, did the Jazz make this a series? The immediate answer is “I don’t believe Kobe Bryant is going to shoot 5-24 in consecutive games;” so take from that what you will.