Emptying the Noggin – Jazz lose to the West best

Emptying the Noggin
• The Spurs are fabulous. Offensively, they move the ball without looking to see if the man is there because they are so disciplined and so well coached they don’t even have to look. We can’t see it as obviously on defense but it is the same, they rotate perfectly and they know the next guy is going to do it as well. It is awesome basketball and impressive to watch. Greg Popovich is a great coach and his team knows exactly what to do and how to do it. That is how they have won 11 straight, 28 of 33 and are on the verge of being the 1 seed for the second straight year with a huge amount of turnover. If you are a basketball fan, even a junkie, see if you can make it to the arena tomorrow because it is worth a watch in person.

• From a Jazz stand point when they started slow again, more on this in a moment, this would have been an easy one to roll over and die on and they did the exact opposite. They played hard, they played right and they battled all night. The effort and energy was impressive. The team brought the fight they could and made runs and got the game within 7. The Spurs knew what to do each time the Jazz made a run, that is another item that makes them great.

• Tony Parker made two huge drives late and Tim Duncan makes a ton of defensive plays and Manu is just relentless.

• The slow starts on the road particularly are a huge problem. You can’t play from behind all the time and you can’t play from behind on the road. The Spurs haven’t lost all year when leading at the half at home. But this is not about tonight this has been going on for a long time. Tyrone Corbin spent the entire shoot around recently about having a good start and they still came out dead. It is not clear why but here are a few thoughts. Defensively guys are a step slow and seem worried about foul trouble, offensively the ball is not moving and the ball is standing still meaning the team doesn’t have the energy it needs to have.

• Derrick Favors had 10 points and 7 rebounds in the 4th quarter tonight; moreover he impacted the entire game defensively. He protected the rim, he altered shots, he rotated well on the pick and roll. He is going to be a real stud.

• The Jazz are suddenly gotten very thin. Earl Watson maybe done for a while, he has an MRI tomorrow but has a knee issue that he is very concerned about. CJ Miles has a calf strain, not sure how long this will be but if his name was Andrei Kirilenko it would be three weeks at least. Chance we don’t see either player again this year.

• DeMarre Carroll entered the game 2 of 6 from three in his career. He hit 4 of 5 attempts tonight. He worked on his three point shooting in Denver this year and never before was a three point shooter,. His weakness coming into the draft was he couldn’t shot and wasn’t a superior athlete. He can’t do anything about the athlete part but he has improved his shooting enough to maybe become a viable player. I am not sure if he has the make-up but he should model himself after Memphis Tony Allen. He is not close to that defensively so it would take some real work.

• Alec Burks is in the rookie doldrums. The more time he has received the less productive he has been. . This is not a big deal as it happens and wing rookies really have a hard time in the NBA, In fact, with Alec personality it might be the best thing because I promise you he will work his tail off in the off-season after this experience the last few weeks.

• When Al Jeferson gets tired he really slips on the rebounding end and on the defensive movement. He looked gassed tonight around the 8 minute mark and it showed up. In addition, when Al shots below 50% the Jazz have a hard time winning. We are now 10-18 when he shots below 50%. Recently it has been Gortat and Duncan. Big defenders are hard on Jefferson, he is really special on 2nd tier defensive players.

• I am writing this on the bus to the plane and the billboards in San Antonio are classic. First one – Want to Teach when can you start? (now that is encouraging about the State of Texas educational system. Can’t tell you how pleased if I was a parent and read that) — next one San Antonio loves god, loves country and supports free enterprise. (Three wonderful sentiments, had no idea they went together)

• I am ending this on a self serving note since I have preached this for the last 5 year and yes I used the word preached on Easter Sunday. This is my basketball pulpit. The defensive rebound is one of the most underrated aspect of the game. The Jazz and the Spurs allow the same Defensive FG%, the Jazz believe it or not defend the 3 better than the Spurs, the Jazz force more turnovers than the Spurs and the Jazz rank 23rd defensively and the Spurs rank 13th. How does this happen. Two ways – WE FOUL WAY TO MUCH and DEFENSIVE REBOUNDING. The Spurs are the #1 defensive rebounding team in the NBA. It changes everything about you defensively. If the Jazz are better this year from 22nd to 13th in the NBA but we need to be better. Lastly, we have to stop fouling defensively. This has been a staple of the Jazz for the last 20 years and it prohibits you from a good defensive team. Defend without foul and rebound and things will be a lot better.

• 9 left – 5-4 and we are two over .500 might get us in – 6-3 gets us in