EMPTYING THE NOGGIN—Vast improvement for the Jazz

  •  A much-improved performance by the Jazz compared to the poor outing in Portland. The Jazz defended the three much better. They handled the pick and roll far more effectively. They stayed attached to their man much more, avoiding the rotations they had the game before. The Blazers are a better team and that showed by the end of the game.
  • The Jazz were simply outmatched at the power forward without Derrick Favors and Marvin Williams. Jeremy Evans did his best but being 50 pounds lighter than Aldridge was just too much to handle. Tyrone switched Evans to Lopez and he promptly scored twice in a row in the post. Jeremy did the best he could and has an impact on the game with his athleticism, but asking him to guard the top-level bigger power forwards is a lot for him to handle.
  • The biggest story of the night for me was the improved play of Trey Burke. The schedule lined up for the Jazz to play a bunch of team twice early and I was curious to see how Trey played one night differently than the second time he played them.  Unfortunately, with the injury he didn’t get a chance for GSW, OKC or any of the others twice. Tonight was the second time he played Lillard and he was far better defensively. He played inside his game and inside the team game. He was very good again tonight. The kid is not scared and the continues to get better—15 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists on 5-of-12 shooting. He had just two turnovers.
  • The Blazers play a particular style of defense and it forces teams to play inside the 3-point line and go one on one. This is why it is a good matchup for Alec Burks, and Alec had a very good first half. The Blazers don’t believe in rotations, very similar to how Indiana plays. Burks is able to go 1-on-1 in this setting. He had 20 points and only two turnovers, but no assists. That is the Portland defense. Alec going 8-of-11 from the field is a nice game. He has strung six straight games of vastly improved play. Super to see.
  • Batum was face-guarding Gordon and not letting him get the ball, and while he made some plays the Blazers style meant he was unable to be a play maker—he finished with zero assists.
  • Jazz had just 13 assists on 36 field goals. This is the Blazers’ game plan working.   The Jazz shot just 1-of-7 from three. This is the Blazers’ game plan working.
  • Jazz are shooting the free throws great: 21-of-23 … and if you take out the Biedrins misses, the Jazz are over 90% for the last six games.
  • The Jazz played well, but they simply had a deficiency in the matchup they weren’t able to overcome.