Emptying the Noggin
• 4th game in 5 nights and a win. A win in LA. A win with Favors, Kanter and Burks playing major roles in the win. A win in LA with Kobe missing the game tying shot. A win to snap the Lakers 5 game win streak. A win to make it 4 out of 5. A win that makes the future seem very bright. WHAT A WIN !!!!!!!
• The defense tonight was terrific. For the second straight night the Jazz defended great. Going into the game against Golden State the Jazz were the worst defensive team in the NBA for the month of March. Tonight they were great. They forced a remarkable 24 turnovers, 10 in the 1st quarter, 7 in the 2nd and the 3rd. They held the Lakers to 45% shooting after allowing 50% in the opening games of the month. They only allowed 7 offensive rebounds in 38 chances (18%) and 3 of those were in the 4th quarter.
• CJ Miles, on his 25th birthday, had the best defensive game I have ever seen him play. He broke Kobe’s rhythm. Kobe was off. It is what happens when you are old. But the Jazz never let him get comfortable. What Jazz fans experienced with Kobe this season is the essence of aging in the NBA. You don’t just lose it like a running back in the NFL, you just don’t have legs on more nights in a season. We have seen Kobe drop 40 and we have seen Kobe put up one of the worst performances of his NBA career. Gordon Hayward defended Kobe very well to open the 4th quarter when he tried to assert himself on the game and went 0 for 5 with Gordon guarding him. On only one play all game did he end up in a better position after dribbling.
• Burks 4th quarter play was fearless. He said it best today. I left college because I believed I could play in this league. He shows it every time he gets on the floor. The drive from the top of the key past Kobe and into traffic for a three point play was awesome. Hitting the three. 13 points in the 4th quarter on 6 of 6 shooting. Love this kid. He is going to score in the NBA.
• Kanter was terrific in the 3rd quarter. The Lakers single teamed him the best center in the NBA and he scored and scored and scored. He beat a single team. Think about this at 19 years old he was good enough in the post that if you single team him he beats you. He even showed a variation off his only move. He went 3 for 3 with 6 points. He finished the second half with 11 points, 4 rebounds in 14 minutes
• Paul Millsap took a huge burden tonight on the offensive end with Al Jefferson out and played against Pau Gasol very well. He has figured out how to attack him. His finishing line tonight was unreal – 24 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 steals and 2 blocked shots.
• Hate to leave anyone out tonight – huge team effort. Harris controlled the game and the tempo of the game. Howard made a bunch of big shots. Evans had a super block. Tinsley was cool but not as good as the last few nights.
• Tyrone Corbin’s job keeps getting tougher. Does he banish Raja Bell to the bench? Raja behavior has been an issue and he hasn’t played well since his injury. Can he just be benched. What do you do with Al Jefferson? Derrick Favors is a starter for this team for the future. Can you tell Al that you went to a funeral after averaging 20 points and 50% shooting you are now coming off the bench? The team’s improved defense with Jefferson out of the line-up is not a coincidence. Jefferson really struggles defending in space. Favors is very strong at guarding the pick and roll in the open areas. Now he also has a point guard issue. Tinsley has played well and run the team well, Watson is healthy. What does Tyrone do? Tyrone has done a great job of keeping everyone happy this year. Holding onto the depth of this roster has been vital to this team overachieving this year. The Jazz have played the fewest 40 minute games of anyone in the NBA and have lost the 2nd fewest player games. Those items are related. I am not sure if there is a good answer to any of these questions. We all can claim we know the answer but lots of pieces going into this. How it impacts the locker-room, who he needs later, etc. These are incredibly difficult decisions.