If part of the court was painted in Salt Lake City on Friday night, the Utah Jazz dominated it. Ted Leonsis’ plan is probably envious of the post toughness that populates Utah’s roster. Bigs Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, starters, along with Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter off the bench combined for 65 points and 32 rebounds, Jefferson leading with way with 34 and 12. When it was over, the Jazz had 70 points in the paint in their 114-100 win over the Wizards. Washington countered with 44.
JaVale McGee, Trevor Booker, Kevin Seraphin and Jan Vesely combined for 35 points and 18 rebounds. McGee had 15 and six with three blocks, but only really proved that his sheer athleticism is easier to contain than Jefferson’s skill. Booker was relatively invisible in 26 minutes with four points, four rebounds and two steals. Seraphin was completely lost. He checked in for McGee with 6:28 left in the second quarter, 38 seconds later Utah called timeout to insert Jefferson back in the game. Big Al scored eight points in 104 seconds against a helpless Seraphin. Vesely was Washington’s most competent big with hustle, 10 points on 5-7 FGs, five rebounds a nice assist and a steal, but he also had a couple horrible turnovers, passing to spots without teammates.
From the start, the Wizards chose to be a jump-shooting team. Only six of their 20 attempts in the first quarter came in the paint. Utah packed it in and dared Washington to shoot, and they did, going 5-14 on attempts outside of the paint. The Wizards started the night 5-5 on field-goals but finished 4-15 over the rest of the period. John Wall and Co. couldn’t get out in transition either, scoring just one fastbreak point on one attempt in the opening quarter. Utah scored 24 points on 12-17 paint attempts in the first 12 minutes. Al Jefferson had 10 points in the quarter as his Jazz jumped to a 32-20 lead. They never looked back.
The Jazz punished the Wizards in the paint further in the second quarter, outscoring them 18-10, 12 courtesy of Jefferson, who scored 16 total in the period. Jefferson tallied 26 first half points, only eight in the second half as Utah was able to spread the ball around on offense more. By my calculations, 18 of Jefferson’s points in the game were the fault of McGee, 10 came against Seraphin, four were on Booker, and one point each was the responsibility of Singleton and Vesely.
The Wizards one day hope to have a stacked front court chock full of toughness and offensive paint presence. Until then, they’ll just have to cope with being brushed into submission by teams like Utah. The shot charts over the first three quarters tell the story.
1st Quarter Points in Paint: Jazz 24, Wizards 8; Utah 32 totals points, Washington 20
2nd Quarter Points in Paint: Jazz 18, Wizards 10; Utah 30 totals points, Washington 30
3rd Quarter Points in Paint: Jazz 18, Wizards 14; Utah 38 totals points, Washington 28