Emptying the Noggin — Bucks get no run against dominant Jazz

Summary: The Jazz started slow but surged ahead of Bucks in a game that was never close. The Jazz had every chess move to answer the Bucks in a blowout win, 109-95.

  • The last time the Jazz and the Bucks played, the Jazz shot 19 corner threes. Tonight, the Bucks altered their defensive approach to take away the corner three. As a result, the Jazz waltzed down the middle of the lane for dunk after dunk after dunk — 11 in total thru the first three quarters. The Bucks were covering the corner three shooters and the Jazz had the answer to whatever the Bucks threw at them.
  • The Jazz changed the rotation tonight and played Joe Johnson exclusively at the 4. Joe Johnson checked in for Favors as the first sub. In the next 14 possessions, the Jazz scored 26 points. The floor spacing and the offensive versatility with Gobert at the 5 and Johnson at the 4 is incredible. Going into the game, the Jazz were averaging 125 pts per 100 possessions with this lineup.  Tonight, it wasn’t as good over the whole night, but this is a key lineup for the Jazz moving forward.
  • Rudy Gobert and Gordon Hayward continue to be unbelievably reliable, night-in and night-out stars. Gobert dominated the inside of the game defensively and offensively. He got great seal position on numerous possessions and scored at the rim. What he did to Monroe and others at the rim all night was remarkable. Hayward was unstoppable offensively, scoring of 11 of 17 shots and finishing with 29 points.
  • There were so many good performances tonight. The rotation felt very solid with nine players playing, with the 10th man providing 10 minutes or so to prevent anyone from playing too many minutes. Ingles played behind Hood, sliding between the 2 and the 3 and Burks played when Hayward was on the bench for most of the night. Favors slid to the 5 for some minutes with Joe Johnson. The rotation looked good because everyone played well and the Jazz controlled the game.
  • Over the break, I did a bunch of research on players coming off ACL injuries and they all played noticeably better post the All-Star break. Dante Exum’s first game after the All-Star break was solid: 12 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal in 16 minutes. He still has a ton to learn, but he looks much more a part of what is taking place.
  • Joe Ingles had 7 rebounds and 5 assists and was +15 in 26 minutes.
  • Derrick Favors had a great game: 26 minutes and 19 points. He was a force tonight both offensively and defensively. I have said this all year — the key for the Jazz is going to be how they play defensively with Rudy Gobert off the floor and Derrick on. Coming into the game, in 500 minutes the Jazz’s offensive rating was 107 and defensive rating was 109 with Favors on and Gobert off. If the Jazz can start defending with this lineup, there are big things ahead.
  • The Jazz won their sixth straight game against the Bucks.
  • The Jazz’s offensive rating tonight was a 120, which is their eighth best offensive performance of the season. The defensive rating was a 105, which is a notch above league average but the Bucks are the tenth best offense in the NBA.
  • Everyone should be mentioned as the entire team played terrific basketball for the final 44 minutes of the game, and the Bucks never made any run at all.

Emptying the Noggin — Jazz get a must-win against bad defensive team

Summary: The Jazz broke a three-game losing streak heading into the All-Star break with a blowout win over the Portland Trail Blazers, 111-88.

  • The Jazz’s defensive plan on Lillard and CJ was terrific. They played a bit more aggressively with the big man on the ball handler and it stymied the Blazers’ flow. Lillard went 3 for 19 and CJ went 8 for 19.
  • George Hill was incredible defensively tonight, denying passes, making Lillard and CJ work and then forcing them exactly where the Jazz wanted defensively. This was a great leadership night for Hill as this team needed a good defensive game.
  • The Jazz’s offense struggled early, scoring just 18 in the first quarter and 22 in the second quarter. The Jazz hit on only 3 of 17 shots outside of the paint in the first half of the game. In the second half, the Jazz started to make shots you would expect them to make and ran away from Portland.
  • The Jazz went 8 of 10 from three in the second half to finish 11 of 22 from three against the Blazers who are the 28th ranked team in the NBA defending the three-point shot.
  • Dante Exum had a really exciting game for himself and the fans. The burst that made him the fifth pick and the draft was there, and he was — for the most part — in control around the basket, not throwing wild shots at the rim. Dante is going through a nearly impossible task of figuring out who he is in the league and rehabbing from the ACL at the same time. He looks more and more healthy by the game and as that worry subsides, he will be able to discover how he can be a valuable NBA player. Right now, it is with his aggressiveness to the basket. He is a poor shooter (29% on all jump shots) but he has a gift with his length and his burst of speed.
  • In the first half, Gordon Hayward was 2 for 9, George Hill was 3 for 8 and the Jazz still led by three points. They got rolling in the second half: Hayward hit 6 of 9 and Hill hit on 4 of 7, and the Jazz exploded for a 71 point second half.
  • Joe Johnson has been on fire from three – 20 of his last 36.
  • Derrick Favors’ 25 minutes were really good tonight. He only scored 2 points and had 6 rebounds, but he was good defensively tonight in his roll with helping on the guard play.
  • Joe Ingles got free for three, hitting on 4 of 6. He has not been given that air space recently.
  • Gordon Hayward capped off an awesome first half of the season with 22 points 6 rebounds 7 assists.
  • This is a nice, must-needed win. Portland is awful defensively and the Jazz took advantage. The Jazz go to an impressive 26-7 against below .500 teams.