EMPTYING THE NOGGIN—One play summarized too much of the night

  • The Raptors are a good team (19-10 since trading Rudy Gay). They have been the fourth best defensive team since the trade. They looked every bit that good against the Jazz.
  • One play tonight was really disturbing and frustrating, and it sealed the game. The Jazz were on a run, down by five and playing with energy and momentum. The Jazz forced a loose ball, Hayward seemed to have possession and then got it ripped away by the Raptors. From where I stood, which is not that close, it looked like a ball that Hayward should have been able to hold on to. Then the Raptors took a three and missed, but Amir Johnson just moved Enes Kanter out of the way for a follow dunk. This was unquestionably about effort, desire and focus. Kanter shouldn’t be moved out the way by Johnson. To the Raptors credit, those are winning plays.   Those are the 50/50 balls that change the game. The killer is that those were really 80/20 balls and the 20 got them.
  • The Raptors’ defense is really good. The Jazz couldn’t combat it at all. They hedge hard or trap on the pick and roll, and the Burke couldn’t turn the corner or get the pass out. The details on these plays were poor. Guards were going too quickly before picks were set; picks weren’t set very well; and some of the spacing to be available for passes was not as good as it should have been.
  • Alec Burks has an elite skill. He is a driver and a scorer. You can build an entire game around that elite skill. It will take time and focus, but it is the cornerstone building block for a nice career. His ability at the rim and his ability to beat his man on the dribble are elite. There are many steps still left, but the basis for a game is there.
  • Gobert played a season high 30 minutes. He is an impact defensively and a zero offensively right now. This is more than the Jazz expected when the year started.  Everything Gobert gives this team right now is a huge positive. Gobert is learning and is a huge rim protector. He has played this game for a while and always intended to be in the NBA. He understands the game—he just needs to learn how to play with this level of competition.
  • Kanter had a poor night. Jonas Valancciunas dominated him. He needs to have more good nights when playing against front-line talent.
  • Burke and Hayward are mired in slumps. It will be interesting to see how long it takes them to break out. Hayward has experienced this and should be able to go back to that experience to get out of it, but Burke hasn’t and may just be fatigued.
  • MARVIN WAS MARVELOUS. What a night for Marvin Williams. He gave this team everything he had and everything they needed tonight. He battled at the highest level. He is a pro and it is terrific to watch him every night.