Boozer's ineffective defense shows why Jazz need Kirilenko back

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According to the Associated Press, Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko says there’s a “50-50 chance” he’ll be able to play in games two and three of Utah’s series against the Los Angeles Lakers.

When healthy, Kirilenko is one of the most versatile defenders in the NBA. With his outstanding athleticism and wingspan, Kirilenko is capable of matching up with any offensive player on the ball, and he’s a great help-side defender as well. Carlos Boozer is a great offensive player and rebounder, but he’s not the kind of defender that Kirilenko is.

On NBA Playbook, Sebastian Pruiti has some screenshots illustrating how Boozer’s poor help defense on Kobe Bryant made it easier for Kobe to hit some crucial baskets down the stretch. If Kirilenko was in the game instead of Boozer, Milsap, or even C.J. Miles, there’s a distinct possibility he could have made life tougher for Kobe down the stretch of game one. (To be fair, there’s also a distinct possibility Kobe would have made the shots anyways. He’s good.)

Bryant looked human for long stretches against the Thunder in round one. Age and injury may have played a part in that, but remember that the Thunder had a lot of defenders with quick feet and the length necessary to bother Bryant on the perimeter. C.J. Miles and Wesley Matthews aren’t as good defensively as Sefolosha and Durant are, and Utah’s two best big men are undersized power forwards who aren’t known for their help defense.

Kirilenko might not be the defensive answer for Utah, but he gives them a better chance of slowing Bryant down than anyone currently suiting up for the Jazz does. Kirilenko or no Kirilenko, Jerry Sloan is going to have to find some way to make life tougher on Kobe if he doesn’t want to lose yet another series to a Phil Jackson team.

Markieff Morris flips off Suns fan (video)

Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris reacts to a call during the second half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)
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Markieff Morris‘ frustrations last night didn’t end with his scuffle with teammate Archie Goodwin. They didn’t end with the Suns’ loss to the Warriors, either.

As Morris was leaving the court, a fan heckled him: “Markieff, you f—ing suck. I can’t wait until you’re traded.” Though Morris probably agrees with the second sentence, he flipped off the fan:

Though it’s difficult to confirm that video was from last night, it jibes with a previous report of the incident.

John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7

Morris will likely at least be fined. Considering his previous behavioral problems this season – he threw a towel at Jeff Hornacek – I wouldn’t completely rule out a suspension. But a fine seems most likely.

Dwight Howard commits ridiculously sloppy inbound violation (video)

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An embarrassing lack of focus by the Rockets? I can hardly believe it.

Late in a game against a team Houston is battling for playoff position, Dwight Howard was just careless, stepping on the baseline as he inbounded the ball. It’s a needless goof, and he’ll get plenty of deserved criticism for it.

But don’t overlook Patrick Beverley‘s frustration foul on Damian Lillard before the ensuing inbound. That was nearly as foolish and even more costly.

The sequence sparked a 7-0 run for the Trail Blazers, who seized control of the game en route to a 116-103 win.

DeAndre Jordan dunks on Marcus Smart before Smart knows what’s happening (video)

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Marcus Smart went to tag DeAndre Jordan on the pick-and-roll, and Jordan took off from so far from the basket, he was dunking on Smart before the Celtics guard could do a thing.