Vince Carter, Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap

Game of the night: When the Jazz are down 18, they have you just where they want you.

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A huge comeback in an NBA game — to pick a random number, let’s say from 18 points down — is not a one-sided exercise.

That’s how fans see it, how coaches often see it. Stan Van Gundy looks at how Orlando lost to Utah 104-94 Wednesday night after leading by 18 and sees his team blowing it. Utah fans will look at it and say their team finally started putting it all together and the big runs were the result.

In reality, it takes a little from column A, a little from column B to make these kinds of things happen.

It does take complacency, it does require taking your foot off the gas for Orlando to blow this one. And Van Gundy has every right to be ticked off at his team for this — they almost did the same thing to Charlotte the other night, and then took no lessons forward. Or, they could have just watched the Jazz comeback on Miami from 24 hours before and realized the Jazz will not just roll over once down.

This is three games in a row the Jazz have come back from 18 or more down to win.

Part of why the Jazz can do this is they make smart adjustments — Jerry Sloan started posting up Deron Williams in this one and it was something the Magic never really adjusted to. (Against the Heat it was sort of the opposite, the comeback came when Williams started getting run off picks more off the ball.)

Once the Jazz started having success inside guys like Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson just took off.  Then the game had shifted, there was a 9-0 Jazz run followed closely by a 13-0 run and suddenly Stan Van Gundy was envying his brother’s job.

Coasting a little when you’re ahead is an issue for a lot of contending teams (the Lakers barely beat Minnesota last night, the Heat blew a big lead to the Jazz). The Magic are not immune, there will be games or times in games when they don’t feel challenged and they relax. Something dangerous to do in the NBA because even Minnesota has Kevin Love a roster full of guys who can score if left alone. There’s too much talent in this league to ever really relax.

The Jazz, they already have the personality of their coach — they are scrappers. There will be more come-from-behind wins because of that. But they could use a win where they were the team up 18 early someday, too.

Is Stephen Curry the Lionel Messi of the NBA?

Lionel Messi
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Stephen Curry has reached the transcendent point in his career. We’re now talking about if he has passed LeBron James as the best player on the planet (he has), and we’re starting to think about his legacy as the perfect point guard for a modern NBA small-ball, space-and-pace offense. Plus he’s just a joy to watch play.

Does that make him the Lionel Messi of the NBA?

Curry was asked to compare himself to the Barcelona/Argentinian player who (arguably) is the greatest soccer player in the world, certainly as elite a finisher as that sport has ever seen. Here is his answer, via the Sydney Morning Herald of Australia. Is Curry the bigger international star now?

“I don’t know – it’s a chicken and egg kind of conversation,” Curry said while laughing.

“We both have a creative style, a feel when you are out on the pitch or the court. I’m trying to do some fancy things out there with both hands, making crossover moves and having a certain flair to my game and that’s definitely the style Messi has when he is out there in his matches.”

I love Curry, but Messi is the bigger international star.

But I love the comparison in terms of the must-watch nature of the two stars, the flair in their games, the sense that you have to keep an eye on them at all times because the spectacular could happen any time they touch the ball. When the ball comes to them, everybody leads forward in their chairs. That is the sign of a real superstar.

Jahlil Okafor fights man in Boston (video)

Jahlil Okafor

The 76ers lost a heartbreaker to the Celtics last night, dropping Philadelphia to 0-16.

Jahlil Okafor was apparently in a foul mood after the game.


We’re told everyone got up and fled the scene and no arrests were made.

We’re told the altercation began because one of the men in the other group yelled at Jahlil, “The 76ers suck.”

We spoke with a rep for Jahlil who tells us … Okafor says he was being heckled from the moment he left the club and felt threatened because people swarmed him on the street.


This video obviously doesn’t show everything, but it certainly makes Okafor look like the aggressor.

Okafor will probably face punishment from some combination of the legal system, NBA and 76ers.

Kristaps Porzingis envelops Victor Oladipo’s dunk attempt (video)

Nikola Vucevic, Kristaps Porzingis
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Scott Skiles moved Victor Oladipo to the bench, because the Magic coach wanted to give Oladipo a chance to be more aggressive.

It worked.

Oladipo scored a season-high 24 points in the Magic’s 100-91 win over the Knicks.

But Oladipo’s aggressiveness also produced this fantastic Kristaps Porzingis block: