Five random things I noticed from the first two games on the Jazz's pre-Christmas road trip:
1. But they love him anyway
Al Jefferson had a family reunion of sorts going on inside New Orleans Arena on Friday night. Sixty-one relatives of Big Al made the approximate 150-mile trek from Prentiss, Miss., down to the Big Easy to see Big Al play. They cheered loudly whenever Jefferson did something good. While grateful for the support, the Jazz center didn't feel like his team gave the group near enough to cheer for on this rare occasion when they got to watch him in person. Was it fun having so many friendly faces there? "Not to get beat by 20-something points," he said, referring to the 100-71 loss to the Hornets. "But it was good for my family to come and watch me play."
2. Another Layden on the bench?
Gordon Hayward got his turn on the inactive list Saturday night, which probably disappointed the fan in Milwaukee sporting the "Butler misses Gordon Hayward" sign. Interestingly, the rookie sat between the coaching staff and his teammates during the Jazz's 95-86 win over the Bucks. Instead of a uniform, Hayward sported dark jeans, a button-up shirt with no tie, a navy blue jacket and white Polo sneakers. Combined with his attire, the 20-year-old's boyish looks almost gave the appearance that assistant coach Scott Layden, whom he was seated next to, was participating in a take-your-son-to-work day.
3. One Drew Gooden, two Drew Goodens ...
Deron Williams didn't think Drew Gooden was being malicious when he smacked a driving Andrei Kirilenko across the face and received a flagrant foul. The Jazz guard did, however, think that sequence helped spark Utah, even though D-Will ended up getting a technical foul from the bench for asking one of the refs if he was a rookie. Said Williams: "The flagrant definitely got us up. It was a little excessive. I know Drew is a good guy. He didn't mean anything by it, but it got us going a little bit." Speaking of Gooden, he humorously tried to help the referees count while the Jazz inbounded the ball. One time, Gooden counted out loud, yelling "One thousand! Two thousand! Three thousand ..." On subsequent inbounds plays, he substituted thousand for "Mississippi" and "Alabama." No word on whether Gooden counted to "Eight Wisconsin" when the Jazz received their eight-second violation in the third quarter.
4. Wishful thinking
Bucks coach Scott Skiles' pregame wish Saturday about Mehmet Okur didn't come true. Asked how Memo changes things for the Jazz and for his team's game plan against Utah, Skiles responded: "Mehmet can step out and space the floor. I know he's a valuable player for them and you have to respect him when he's in the game." Then he added this wish: "I'm hoping that they'll think in the second half of back-to-back maybe they won't play him as much." Okur actually ended up playing 13 minutes. Memo even knocked down one of his patented "Money!" shots. In his second game back from an eight-month absence, Okur drilled his first 3-pointer of the season in the final three seconds of the first quarter. That gave Utah some momentum heading into the second quarter when the Jazz turned things around after trailing by 12 points.
5. Elson, Andale and Andrei
Francisco Elson good-naturedly took exception to how Andrei Kirilenko characterized him as having "spaghetti legs" after the 7-foot Dutchman chased down a loose ball in the backcourt and assisted AK-47 on a dunk that put Utah up 84-80 Saturday. Elson's description — which elicited laughter by several tuned-in teammates (including Earl Watson, who was waiting for Elson to finish) — is worth repeating verbatim: "I saw the ball in the air, I saw Drew Gooden and I thought to myself, 'Oh I can get him in a sprint.' So I just ran right by him like the fast guy that I am, like my man, 'Andale! Andale! Earl.' (Laughs) I went in from the help side. John Salmons was in a bad position and he made an overhead pass that was kind of slow. I turned around and Drew Gooden was out of position and when he turned around and I saw that he was struggling trying to pick up speed, I just ran right by him. As I caught it, I kind of lost my dribble and then Andrei luckily was there and I dished it to Andrei just for the easy dunk. That was about it. There wasn't no spaghetti legs, nothing like that like Andrei said. I'm going to have to talk to him about it."
Today at Cavaliers, 5 p.m., FSN
Wonder if Jazz will respond as well as LeBron did when fans chant "Akron hates you!" tonight.
Wednesday at Timberwolves, 6 p.m., FSN
Jazz, T-Wolves will get chance to see who got better end of Al Jefferson for Kosta Koufos deal.
The big stat: 140
Utah's 12-point comeback Saturday marked the ninth time the Jazz have rallied to win after trailing by double digits. The Jazz have overcome a combined 140 points in those comeback wins, seven of which have come on the road.
Who's hot: Deron Williams
Had string of three games in a row with 30-plus points.
Who's not: Raja Bell
Shooting guard has missed 14 of 18 shots in his return.