EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Jazz can’t gain the mo in Sactown

Emptying the Noggin
• The Jazz can’t defend the Kings. The Jazz had been one of the best defensive teams against the shot and then the last two nights the Jazz didn’t defend the shot at all. The Kings shot 50% and then 54% tonight.

• After a slow start the Jazz answered and played from ahead for most of the first half. It felt like how you win a road game but the 3rd quarter got them. They stop contesting shots, I can only recall one really good contest in the quarter and the Kings made that shot.

• The bench that was so good last night didn’t do the same in the 3rd quarter but the slow starts were an issue again as well, Jazz fell behind 8-0 to start and then the Kings opened the 3rd quarter on a 9-3 run. The last two nights the opening of the 1st and 3rd quarters were really tough.

• Tyreke went 1 on 1 and the team defense was unable to have an impact on what he was doing. He has always killed the Jazz averaging a career 23 pts a game and tonight was no different.

• When Favors is not in the game and the other team puts Jefferson in the pick and roll the secondary line of defense is non-existent and it is often needed.

• The two 3rd year players Hayward and Favors who carried the Jazz the night before with 23 points from Hayward and 16-14 from Favors were poor this evening. Combining for 1 of 14 from the field. This is youth.

• When the youngsters have their inconsistent nights which is what they will do at this point in their careers the Jazz need players to step up and fill the void and tonight that didn’t happen. Jefferson finished 7 of 15 but never had an impact on the game and Millsap was a non factor in the first half before having a slight impact in the 2nd half.

• The Jazz lead the game 69-66 when Jefferson turned an ankle and the game slipped away from that point forward. This coupled with the Cousins ejection which was a benefit to the Kings were two huge turning points in the game. After Jefferson went out Favors went 0 for 2 with 2 turnovers and had a poor goaltending and the Jazz went from up 3 to down 8.

• Randy Foye an 86% FT shooter went to the line for 3 free throws with the score 92-84 and 5:56 left and he missed all 3 –the chances of an 86% free throw shooter doing that is 0.2%. Some nights it is not your night.

• The Jazz just aren’t right. Offensively they aren’t sharp. They aren’t making cuts to make a play, they are making cuts with an intent. They often run the offense but it is not with a goal in mind it is more to get from one spot to the other.

• The coaches are trying to put the ball in Gordon’s hands more in the pick and roll but he has a major turnover problem on the pick and roll. He had three tonight. This happened last year and at about this point of the season they moved away from that aspect of the offense.

• Paul Millsap is 14 of his last 42 from the field. He looks way off his game. Not sure if the pressure of turning down the contract is bothering him, if moving to the small forward has ruined his rhythm, if not playing the 4th quarter the other night impacted him or if it is none of the above and he is just in a natural struggle but he is off his game. His outside shot is not with him either he is 4 of his last 16 from 16 to 23 feet. The Jazz need Paul to be very good to win.

• Not sure this team wins a lot of game unless a few guys are really really good on a given night. When one or two guys is not really good it puts pressure on the other guys possibly beyond what they are capable of handling at a high level.

• I can’t figure out how I feel. This is the reality of this season. The teams in the West are all good. No one is a Washington, Toronto, etc who are just terrible. Every team in the West is going to be close to 30 wins and most are going to be 35 or more and the playoff teams 5 thru 10 are going to be 45ish to 42. Therefore, this season is going to have big ups and downs and losses are going to feel bad. With that said this team isn’t gaining momentum. The schedule this month is tough but this was a stretch to gain a little mo and that included a win tonight to make it 4 in a row and 8 of 10 instead the road woes are the topic again with a 3 game trip looming after Denver on Monday.

• Moreover, 14 games into the season I wish there were a few more moments where this team played well and I could look at those moments and see where this team is headed. It feels as that is what is missing. The way they battled against Toronto when they were dead and came back, the comeback v. Sacramento, the opening night blowout of the Mavericks and the fight v. Boston are nice reference points but a sustained period of excellence is lacking.