EMPTYING THE NOGGIN—Jazz go to 2-2 on the road trip

  • In the season of discovery—or the season of development—Utah’s late-game development has been much improved. This is largely (or entirely) due to Trey Burke.  He made two enormous shots late in the game against Charlotte—the twirl-in-the-lane fader and the three when they went under the pick. Lots of late-game basketball is simply making plays. Lots of it is staying in the system and staying in the game—not trying to be a hero but being a player, and the Jazz are beginning to do that. They did it much more on the defensive end of the floor than they had in the past.
  • Al Jefferson missed two follows at the rim, but before the follows Derrick Favors had come over and altered the shot of Kemba Walker, forcing the miss. This is the second time on this trip that Favors has won the game with a stop at the rim. He altered the shot of Jameer Nelson in Orlando and did the same on Walker in Charlotte. This is what he’s designed to do and what the Jazz are hoping he becomes. Big steps in his defensive game.
  • Favors’ offensive game is also improving greatly. He made two dribble moves on Jefferson where he got low with the dribble—actually below the waistline of Jefferson—and he nailed three jump shots. These are subtle steps, but they are coming. I’m beginning to believe he might turn into a scorer in this league as well.  The next step I would be curious to see is if he can play off the elbow instead of off the post. Think Amar’e in his heyday.
  • This was a really fun night. Al Jefferson lives life to make everyone happy and he brought a smile to everyone’s face last night. From the note Kanter wrote to Al to his reaction to the atmosphere the entire evening with Al matching up on Favors and Kanter. Al is a wonderful man who is warm and comforting, and he’s a pleasure to be around. I truly miss him every day and it was great to see him. I hope he gets a loud applause later this month when he returns to Utah. He speaks of his time in Utah very fondly as the key to his development as a player.
  • Favors defended Al terrifically late in the game on two occasions when Charlotte went to Jefferson. Favors had single coverage and Jefferson had to give it up.
  • Marvin Williams made two winning plays last night. The value of having a player who has won a lot of games in his career is enormous. He chased down a fast-break opportunity in the final minute of the game that could have given the Bobcats/Hornets the lead and knocked the pass off the glass for a turnover, and on the final play of the night he stepped off McRoberts onto Walker to alter his visage and force an awkward shot. These are winning plays.
  • Trey Burke got in foul trouble for the second straight night. Teams are going at him early to get him into foul trouble, and he is going to have to learn how to react.
  • Postgame interview with Trey Burke is worth a listen. He is a great interview.
  • Lots of people have been wondering about development vs. winning. Last night it was my feeling that Tyrone Corbin made a large commitment to development. In this isolated game I was surprised that Richard Jefferson didn’t return. The starting five (with Jefferson) was +20 when on the floor. Alec Burks was not playing well, and as I re-watched the fourth quarter, he did not play as well as he can or as he has in the past. He made spacing errors, returned to his habit of dribbling the second he touches the ball rather than swinging it or doing something with it, and got beat defensively. It was not a great stretch but Corbin left him in the game for the development and the experience. Alec may have earned that with his play this month. Just an interesting moment inside of a season inside of a month inside of a game.
  • A 2-2 road trip thus far. The Jazz have two more road wins than home wins. One more before we get to come home.
  • I am done—this flight to Memphis is insanely bumpy and very unpleasant.