EMPTYING THE NOGGIN—Two things becoming the signatures of this team

  • Two items are becoming the story of the season: young player development and consistent fight.
  • This game was similar to the Clippers game in LA. Numerous times during the night the Jazz could have rolled over and called it good, and they didn’t do it. Trey got two fouls early and the team held together without either Trey or Gordon on the floor and trailed by just three points after one quarter. The Spurs turned it on in the opening part of the third, and the Jazz were down 18. Somehow, though, the Jazz were back within a bounce or two late. This team fights. The character of this team is impressive and Corbin is getting consistent night-in and night-out effort, which is a huge deal in this league and most teams don’t do that.
  • The second is the bounceback of our young players. Kanter and Burks were awful a few weeks ago. Burks was slumping in a manner that began to make you wonder if he had an NBA career ahead of him. Now he has put together a six-week stretch of the best basketball he has played his entire career. Kanter was playing in a manner that made you hope he could be a third big in the NBA, and now he has hit double figures for six straight games and the last seven out of eight. Moreover, tonight he was terrific with 25 points and 11 rebounds.
  • In the realm of development, let’s not forget Favors. He has put together two of his most dominating performances back-to-back. He was bigger, stronger and quicker than anyone on the floor again tonight. He didn’t hit his mid-range shot tonight or he would have been out of this world. But he went at Duncan early. He clearly is learning how to play certain players. He finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds.  That is big time.
  • The work that has gone on behind the scenes to get Kanter right is paying off. It is what should take place on a team but doesn’t always happen. Coaches spending extra time both on and off the floor. Players showing them support. Coach Corbin did a terrific job of giving Kanter matchups that were allowed him to succeed, and Kanter is a momentum player. The momentum can go either way and right now it is flowing in the right direction, but it can just as easily get dislodged and leave him spiraling the other way as well.
  • Tony Parker is really awesome. He was as dominant as LeBron or Durant. He took over the game and knocked the Jazz out of the game.
  • This was a tough night for Trey. He looked overwhelmed when Tony put the pedal down. The first-half pick-and-roll defense from the Jazz was very good, but in the third quarter Tony had his way. Burke looked overwhelmed. But the essence of Trey is that he doesn’t drop his head and quit. He stays in the game, and by the night’s end he brought the Jazz back and had 17 points and a career-high 11 assists (with just two turnovers). I’m not sure I think either of the last two nights were very good for Trey, and he is averaging nearly 18 and 10 in those games while shooting a decent percentage.
  • Richard Jefferson was really solid again tonight.
  • If you look at the Jazz five-man data over the past years, some of our most-used lineups were negative and yet the team was above .500. There were two ways to look at it. One was that we were using the wrong guys in our primary lineups. The other was that Tyrone Corbin must have a great knack at finding different combinations on given nights to find ways to win games. Both were probably accurate. This season he has continued to find five-man groups that I would never think of having success, and on each night they find a way to have a positive result.
  • 70 points in the paint was a season high against the Spurs.
  • Tyrone has been very clear about Favors and Kanter together. He wants to play them together. They need to learn how the other is going to be successful and how to play off of each other. Earlier this year and last year, offensively they inhibited each other.  Maybe they are learning how to play together.
  •  As good a night as this was, there are lots of mistakes that separate the Spurs and the Jazz. Backdoor cuts galore where guys lost focus. Middle dribble penetration with the help too late. Key offensive play where Burks drifted off his spot and toward the rim, so when Favors went to throw the reversal pass he had to wait and the timing and play got blown up. The Spurs would never do that. These are the separators, and we have to learn them.