EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Great way to head to break

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN
• Jazz really needed to win 2 out of 3 after the loss to Chicago and they got it done. More importantly, the Jazz have been awful defensively on the road and on the back end of a back to back and tonight they won the game by staying in it with defense

• Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson grabbed this game in the 3rd quarter and carried the team to a win. DeMarre Carroll in our post game interview said “we knew Al didn’t want to lose tonight.” That says a lot about what this team is about. They are aware of each other, they care about each other and they are interested in each other.

• The DeMarre Carroll progression is the best untalked about story on this team. He has become a bonafide nba rotation player who helps a team win. His energy is awesome, he is playing the game right. He has become a good enough shooter to make people pay. His ball handling is not strong but he has learned how to not make it a liability and he is getting better every game at when to gamble and when not to gamble.

• This team has 12 players who are legitimate rotation players in the NBA. All have their own desires and needs and yet somehow Coach Corbin has held this team together, avoided any issues and when the time has come each player has been ready and taken advantage of their opportunity. The players know that Corbin believes in them ,that he is willing to let them succeed and fail and it is shows when everyone of them answers the bell.

• Millsap and Jefferson have both played better on the road than at home but tonight they did what leaders have to do. On a night when the team is dead and the game is not flowing they have to carry the load and lead the team to a win. That is big they did that tonight.

• My pre-game prep told me three things about the Wolves. They can’t finish at the rim, they can’t shoot the three and they are much better earlier in the game than as the game progresses. All three turned out to be very accurate.

• Burks and Kanter ran a left side pick and roll for a portion of the 4th quarter that was effective.

• A few weeks ago Burks was running the pick and roll poorly. He wasn’t getting to the rim and he wasn’t making his shots and his defensive intensity was below where it needed to be. And then … boom. When he was struggling running the pick and roll I began to get very concerned on where his game was headed. He doesn’t have a resume as a shooter. His one on one game is ok but it is hard to finish in this league, that is a league wide issue not a Burks issue. I was beginning to wonder if he was capable on the offensive end. He needed everything in his rhythm and he hadn’t found a way to get that rhythm. However, he has made huge strides on running the pick and roll. (story here for another time) He has learned how to play under control more. He is finding his rhythm within the game off his action and others. His time at point has made him play with his teammates better. He is now comfortable at both the 1 and the 2 for stretches. He is playing with a bounce but not forcing the game. It is terrific to see come together. This has been going on for 6 games or so and it is a nice steady road that seems far more legitimate than a one night explosion every now and again against opponents who allowed him to play in a certain manner. He has learned a lot in his 2nd year and that is how it is supposed to work. The big jump for wing players is between year 2 and year 3 and if he continues the trend of the last few weeks he will be ready for that type of jump.

• Burks had a career high 7 assists.

• I love Burks rebounding from the guard position. Hard to find an elite level team that doesn’t have a guard grabbing over 4 or 5 rebounds a game

• . Jazz got solid point guard play from Tinsley and Watson.

• After watching Randy Foye walk out of the locker-room it was clear he toughed it out on a bad wheel tonight after getting hit last night.

• 28 games to go and it is going to be crazy intense. The Lakers have caught the Blazers. It is a 4 horse race for three spots. The Jazz beat the Warriors on Tuesday night and they are tied for 6th spot in the West. Warriors are up 1 on Jazz and have lost 5 in a row and but play 18 of their final 30 at home. The Rockets trail the Jazz by 1.5 and play 15 of their final 27 at home. The Lakers are 4.5 back from the Jazz (and the tiebreaker) and they play 15 of their final 29 at home. The Jazz play 15 of their final 28 at home.

• See you Tuesday