Emptying the Noggin — Jazz’s collective slump continues in LA loss

SUMMARY: With home court for the playoffs in the balance, the Jazz fell to the Los Angeles Clippers, 108-95. Utah never led, other than 2-0 to start.

  • The Clippers jumped on the Jazz from the beginning and the Jazz couldn’t get the offense flowing at all early in the game. The Jazz scored just 14 points in the first quarter and didn’t hit their first 3-pointer until the 11:00 mark of the second quarter.
  • The Jazz were down as many as 16 and fought back to tie the game at 70-70. But unlike the last time the teams played, the Jazz were unable to take advantage when Chris Paul went to the bench. Last time, the Jazz were +12 with Chris Paul on the bench; On Saturday, the Clippers went on a 10-0 run to take a 80-70 lead and never looked back. The Clippers were +9 with Chris Paul on the bench today.
  • Gordon Hayward collided with Austin Rivers knee-to-knee when making a cut. Gordon ran on it in the hallway, then returned to the game, but when he landed after taking a 3 (that he made), he immediately signaled to the bench that he couldn’t continue. The official word on Gordon is a left quad contusion.
  • I found three other players who had quad contusions this year: Anthony Davis didn’t miss any games, Dwight Howard missed one and Cody Zeller missed seven, played one and missed seven more. Clearly, there is no common thread.
  • Gordon was shut out in the first quarter of the game, which is Gordon’s biggest scoring quarter this season. Gordon has not shot the ball well against the Clippers this season. In three games, he is now 16 of 42. Luc Mbah a Moute is a good, physical defender. There is a list of guys that cause Gordon some trouble and they all fit the same mold: Jimmy Butler, Kawhi Leonard, Andre Roberson and Luc Mbah a Moute. If we play the Clippers in the playoffs, this is something Quin is going to have to solve in order to get Gordon going.
  • The Jazz go as George Hill goes. In wins, George Hill shoots 51% and 46% from 3. In losses, he shoots 40% and 24%. He was 4 of 11 today and 1 for 3 from three — right on the numbers for a loss.
  • Rodney Hood has scored in double figures twice in eight games. Rudy Gobert has become the Jazz’s second scorer, but they need more of a threat than Rudy as a roller and Gordon on the perimeter.
  • Unfortunately, the Jazz have a litany of players that are in shooting slumps. As a team, they came in to the game as 26th in the NBA in EFG over the last five games. George Hill is now 6 of his last 27 from 3 (22%), Alec Burks is 2 for his last 13 overall and 11 of his last 39 from 3 (28%) Rodney Hood is 12 of his last 40 from the field and 3 of his last 14 from 3. Ever since guarding LeBron James for 35 minutes, Joe Ingles is three of 16 from 3. Joe Johnson hit on 3 of 7 tonight, but came in at 27% from 3 since All-Star break and 4 of his last 23 from above the break. Boris Diaw is 8 of his last 24 from the field.
  • As depressing as that last bullet point, was it is clearly collective. This leads me to believe it is a fatigue issue or something is off in the offense where the timing is astray. The good news is I assume they will all get their flow back at a similar time. All of these guys are better than those numbers — they all have been for their careers and they have been for this season. Something is off right now. Lots of this is caused by players being forced into larger roles than they are used to playing due to injuries.
  • Rudy Gobert was awesome again tonight. He had 26 points, 14 rebounds and 2 blocks.
  • Today, the Jazz‘s defensive rating was 116. In 6 of the last 9 games, the Jazz have allowed a defensive rating over 111. The Lakers are the worst in the NBA at 111 and only Brooklyn and LA are over 109.1 for the season.
  • How has this happened? Is it as simple as Favors being hurt and losing the number one defensive combo in the NBA? Is it the offensive struggles meaning the defense gets stressed? Is the same fatigue impacting both side of the ball?
  • When we were at our best, we were the best in the NBA at transition defense and the best at defending in the half court. It was a deadly combo.
  • March was going to be brutal. We all knew it. We are feeling it right now.

Emptying the Noggin —Gobzilla takes over New York

Summary: The Jazz waited until the fourth quarter to close the door on the Knicks, but when they did Gobzilla took over New York and Utah won, 108-101.

  • Gobzilla (aka Rudy Gobert) left a path of destruction and wreaked havoc on the New York Knicks. Rudy had a career high 35 points, hitting on 13 of 14 shots. He grabbed 13 rebounds and a career high 11 offensive rebounds, adding four blocked shots. Only Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Davis have had stat lines similar this season. He was far and away the best player on the floor.
  • The Jazz trailed by eight points after the first quarter, four at the half and then by three heading into the final quarter. The Jazz won their 11th game when trailing going into the fourth quarter this season.
  • Gordon Hayward went the Paul George route tonight. Similar to Paul George in the Indiana game, Hayward had a miserable start, missing 10 of his 12 shots. In the fourth quarter, he went 4 for 5 and scored 13 points.
  • Raul Neto played the backup point guard tonight instead of Dante Exum. Exum didn’t play the point guard well on the road trip and had too many possessions that killed the offense. Teams are going under every pick with Dante, and even when he runs off re-picks, defenders are still going under. This is stalling the offense and leaving the ball in his hands for too long each possession.
  • Instead, Quin went to Neto and was rewarded. Neto hit a corner 3 and a top-of-the-key 3 when the Knicks went under the pick. Neto is small which hurts him on the defensive end, but he’s a better shooter and runs the team with more efficiency right now than Dante.
  • The Knicks caused the Jazz problems early with Porzingis popping out, which opened the middle for drives and gave Kristaps looks from 3. The Jazz have struggled defensively all year with the stretch-5, and the same was true early tonight when the Knicks scored 34 points in the first quarter.
  • The Jazz simply couldn’t make a shot for a long time in this game, starting 4 of 24 from 3.
  • The Knicks are 30th in the NBA in defensive rebounding, and the Jazz had 18 offensive rebounds in 46 chances; 39% is an outrageously high number.
  • Boris Diaw started at power forward instead of Joe Johnson, but was -12 in his 14 minutes.
  • Alec Burks went 0 for 4 and was somehow +15. That is the complete opposite of how Alec’s career has gone.
  • The Jazz got a much-needed win. If they win in LA Saturday, Utah has a chance for the four seed. If they lose, it will be very unlikely.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Gobzilla destroys New York

EMPTYNG THE NOGGIN
Summary: Jazz waited till the 4th quarter to close the door on the Knicks but when they did Gobzilla took over New York
• Gobzilla left a path of destruction and havoc throughout the New York Knicks. Rudy had a career high 35 points, he hit on 13 of 14 shots. He grabbed 13 rebounds and a career high 11 offensive rebounds. He added 4 block shots. Only Karl Anthony Towns and Anthony Davis have had stat lines similar this season. He was far and away the best player on the floor.

• Jazz trailed by 8 in the first, at 4 at the half and then by 3 heading into the 4th. Jazz win their 11th game when trailing going into the 4th quarter this season.

• Gordon Hayward went the Paul George route tonight. Similar to Paul George in Indiana Hayward had a miserable start to the game missing 10 of his 12 shots. But in the 4th quarter he went 4 for 5 and scored 13 points.

• Rual Neto played the back up point guard tonight instead of Dante Exum. Exum didn’t play the point guard well on the road trip. Too many possessions he just killed the offense. Teams are going under every pick with Dante and even when he runs off re-pick they are still going under. This is stalling the offense and leaving the ball in his hands for too long each possession.

• Quin went to Neto instead and was rewarded. Neto hit a corner 3 and a top of the key three when they went under the pick he nailed a three from the top. Neto is small and it hurts him on the defensive end, but is a better shooter and runs the team with more efficiency right now than Dante.

• The Knicks caused the Jazz problems early with Porzingis popping out and the middle opening up for drives as well as Porzingis from 3. The Jazz have struggled defensively all year with the stretch 5 and the same was true early tonight when the Knicks scored 34 points in the 1st quarter.

• The Jazz simply couldn’t make a shot for a long time in this game starting 4 of 24 from three.

• The Knicks are 30th in the NBA in defensive rebounding and the Jazz had 18 offensive rebounds in 46 chances. 39% is an outrageously high number.

• Boris Diaw started at power forward instead of Joe Johnson but was -12 in this 14 minutes

• Alec Burks went 0 for 4 and was somehow +15. That is the complete opposite of how Alec’s career has gone.

• Jazz got a much needed win. If they win in LA Saturday they have a chance for the 4th seed, if they don’t it will be very unlikely.

Emptying the Noggin — Jazz lose 3rd straight

Summary: The Jazz closed out the four-game road trip with a loss to the Indiana Pacers to go a disappointing 1-3 on the trip. The Jazz knocked on the door numerous time, but were unable to ever gain control of the game and fell, 107-100.

  • First off, Gordon Hayward was terrific. He came out of the chute and carried the team for most of the night. He scored a career-high 38 points He had 10 in the first quarter and then had 10 straight at the end of the first half to bring the Jazz back into the game. He continued all night and finished shooting 16 of 24.
  • Rudy Gobert was also terrific. He had 16 points, 14 rebounds and a career-high 8 blocks. He altered numerous shots, forced guys to change routes, and was mammoth. He sprinted the floor and made great catches.
  • Hayward will be thinking about a 3-pointer he missed to tie the game and Gobert will be thinking about going 2 for 6 from the line. This is why these guys are stars. The care factor from these two is magnificent.
  • There are two ways to look at this loss. First, it is a make or miss league. The Jazz were 6 of 26 from 3 for the night, highlighted by George Hill’s 0 for 7 and Joe Johnson’s 0 for 4. The Pacers, on the other hand, made shots. They were 10 of 20 from 3 — 50% is absurd.
  • A strange part of this game is that the Pacers allow the second-most amount of corner 3 attempts in the NBA and the Jazz only took one corner 3 the entire game. The Pacers are the fourth best team in the NBA defending the above the break 3 and the Jazz were 6 of 25 on above the break 3s.
  • The other way to look at this game is the Jazz didn’t make force plays, the 50-50 plays or the focus plays they needed to win on the road. Early in the game, the Jazz had at least four balls just knocked out of their hands. The 50-50 balls seemed to ricochet to the Pacers. Is that bad luck, were the Jazz a step slow or did the Jazz lacked gumption? Paul George dove on a ball out from under Gordon Hayward. Monta Ellis had an awesome steal. Joe Ingles doubled in the post and signaled to get someone to rotate over to cover the shooter and they never came.
  • At the end of the first half Gordon, scored on a filthy shot with 4.0 left and then no one put up resistance on Glen Robinson who banked in a 3 at the buzzer. This was super painful and the difference between being down two points with momentum rather than down five without.
  • The Jazz trailed by 10 going into the fourth quarter.
  • They kept battling and even had a shot to tie in the fourth when Hayward missed a 3 in transition at 103-100. Paul George hit two big shots for Indiana to clinch the win.
  • The Jazz got within two on numerous occasions in the third quarter and were never able to take the lead or tie the game.
  • There were five times during the game the Jazz had a chance to tie or take the lead and they failed on all five.
  • Raul Neto played the backup point guard minutes in place of Dante Exum after Dante had a really tough start to the game. Neto made great steals twice but when he got to the rim for the layup, he got one blocked and missed the other.
  • The injuries to Derrick Favors and Rodney Hood have put a minute burden on Joe Johnson and Joe Ingles that is very intense.
  • In the eight games that Rodney Hood has played since returning from injury, he is shooting 39%.
  • The offense was actually fine tonight. The defense is what didn’t get enough stops. Myles Turner is that big that can pull Rudy out on the floor and then there is no rim protection behind him.
  • Al Jefferson gave Indiana a great boost with 10 points in 11 minutes.
  • Joe Johnson is shooting below 40% and below 25% from 3 since the All-Star break. As Ron Boone pointed out on Postcast, Johnson has gone from playing 20 minutes against second-tier guys to 30 minutes versus first-tier guys.
  • Rodney Hood returned and got three fouls in the first four minutes. He bounced back to make a few shots in the second half.
  • These last two are tough losses. The March schedule is brutal and these were the two that the Jazz had to find a way to grab to give them a little leeway in the quest for the four seed in the West. It now looks like the Jazz will have to go to LA and beat the Clippers if they want. With the Thunder and Grizzlies playing so much better, Utah better get it rolling before the seventh seed comes calling.