EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Good time to be a Jazz fan

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN
• Solid performance by the Jazz tonight. The ball movement offensively was great and the Jazz needed to take Kyrie Irving out of the game and they had a super defensive plan to do so and Irving never got into a rhythm that impacted the ball.

• One thing that has jumped out to me the last few games is how well the Jazz are executing their game plans. This sounds so basic but this team is beginning to understand who they are and how they have to play to win. We are seeing them coming into games prepared for what the opponent is going to do on either side of the ball and then doing what was built into the game plan. Truly, this means players are playing team basketball and not playing for themselves. The game plan often means giving up yourself we are seeing that.

• Two sequences of this game that I loved. First, Jefferson goes out to defend Irving and someone didn’t rotate and gave up an open shot to Zeller. Jefferson was pissed. Then on the offense Jefferson gets the ball on the mid block left and bullets a great pass to Millsap for a bucket and one. The minute the offensive play was done Jefferson went to Foye and Tinsley to figure out what was wrong with the defensive rotation and why they had just given up a wide open shot. Jefferson worrying about his defense and getting a tough assist all in one sequence. That is the growth of Al Jefferson who understands what has to happen to win basketball games.

• The second sequence was back to back steals by DeMarre Carroll and Earl Watson. These plays happened just as Cleveland seemed to be getting back into the game. Defense creating easy offense.

• Derrick Favors worked over the last two days to slow down when he got the ball on the offensive end and to let the game come to him a bit more. That was evident tonight. He was methodical and in control around the basket. He hit two jump shots and was his usual self in transition and diving to the rim. The third highest scoring night of his career tonight as Favors had 19 points. What I liked most about Favors the last few nights is his improvement on the defensive glass. Earlier this year Favors was a poor rebounder on the defensive side. Tonight he had 7 defensive rebounds in 25 minutes.

• DeMarre Carroll is playing very well off the bench. His gambling style defense works well off the bench and he makes a play or two a night sneaking around on the offensive glass to steal a possession. He is also making his jump shot – tonight he was 5 of 7 with 13 points.

• Kanter who has not been playing many second half minutes got extended run tonight and had a solid 14 point game. This was just his 8th game in double figures in his entire career.

• Loved the ball movement tonight. 5 players with 4 or more assists tonight

• This is pretty remarkable that the Jazz are staying alive and prospering without much of a point guard. Jamaal Tinsley is playing well and Earl Watson is giving every ounce he has every night but no way you would have thought the Jazz without Mo Williams could do this.

• CJ Miles returned and CJ did what CJ does.

• Jazz will play one game in 8 days and in that one game Millsap plays just 22 minutes, Marvin plays only 20, Foye 29 and Jefferson 30. This is an incredible break for the Utah Jazz.

• This is the momentum that Tyrone Corbin was talking about. The teams surrounding the Jazz are suddenly struggling. Warriors ended their losing streak tonight but have not been playing as well, Houston has lost 7 straight, Portland is on the verge of their 5 straight loss. Minnesota and the Lakers have lost 7 of 10. Good time to be a Jazz fan.