EMPTYING THE NOGGIN—We are heading home

  • Gordon Hayward was terrific tonight. Going up against Tony Allen, it seemed that the script would be for him to have a quiet night, but instead he was the best player on the floor (Zach Randolph could make an argument). He got Tony Allen to snap and be the one who got lost in the battle.
  • Hayward finished with 16 points, 11 rebounds (his second straight double-double with rebounds) nine assists and four blocks. His blocks were awesome. This is an impressive night when you consider he is being guarded by Allen, who is the elite wing defender in the NBA. He never backed down. He asserted himself on the game throughout. He by passed mid-range 2s to create other opportunities or to get to the rim. His shot selection was much better and he was able to make plays after by passing some of the long 2s.
  • I am seeing big-time glimpses out of Derrick Favors. The Jazz are asking a lot out of him right now. Anchor the defense and the post option on offense. The improved jumper with the improved post moves are becoming better and better. If he continues this rate of progression, March and April could be really cool to watch.
  • Marvin Williams is gaming it. I can’t even begin to explain to you the insane effort he is putting out there to be on the floor every night. He is doing the best he can to be an example and a leader for this team.
  • Trey handled himself well against Mike Conley. Tonight’s night is probably what we can expect from Trey for the season. He notched 18 points (probably 2-4 more than he will average), shot 40% and nailed 2-of-6 threes. His three turnovers were a bit uncharacteristic, but the 5 assists is probably the correct number. He wasn’t outclassed tonight. He was in the battle and held his own. That is a big deal facing a guard as good as Mike Conley.
  •  The Jazz’s lack of defensive rebounding in the first quarter was huge in the outcome of the game.
  • John Lucas played back-up point guard, which is not a surprise if you have been watching the team on this road trip. Problem is, John is still very little out there.
  • Jeremy Evans, who has not a had a great month of December, had a nice game tonight. He is still not knocking down the jumper, but he made an impact on the boards and blocked a few shots.
  • Enes really struggled with the top-of-the-line big men this trip—Al Jefferson and Zach Randolph.
  • Don’t know what has to happen to get Brandon Rush going, but the Jazz need him—Jefferson is going to wear out here pretty soon. 36 minutes is a lot. He is shooting lights out this month from three (well over 50%) but his body is not built to be playing 36 minutes at his age. He needs Rush to be an option on nights when Alec goes AWOL.
  • Jazz starters were even in 22 minutes tonight and the lineup with Jeremy in for Marvin for 5 minutes was +9, but the minute we went any deeper it didn’t turn out well.
  • The last two games Alec Burks is -36 in 45 minutes. Enes Kanter is -26 in 35 minutes. Pretty stunning when you consider the team is -6 in that time period.
  • Jazz tried to boost the second unit with Burke going out on the old Stockton six-minute sub and coming back to play the second quarter with the second unit, but it didn’t seem to help.
  • Have a Merry Christmas! This team is getting better and individuals are getting better.