EMPTYING THE NOGGIN—Jazz show major growth in Indiana

  • This was as good a game as I can recall this year. It was carried by our five youngsters for most of the night. All of them showed what they are capable of doing in this league, and all of them made significant errors against a great team—and when you do that you pay for it. That is why I loved this game. The kids showed what they can do, and at the same time their weaknesses got exposed. Milwaukee can’t do that. Boston can’t do that. Only great teams can do that, and that is how they will learn.
  • Utah’s defense continues to make major strides. The Jazz came in the game 7th in the NBA in EFG% defense over the last 20 games and held the Pacers to 41.5% shooting (and 5-for-15 from 3-point range. This is a big development with this team.
  • The Pacers could have been a real problem for the Jazz and they battled through it.   We’ve had a bunch of guys who have been struggling, and this could have been a night that derailed them. Instead, they all ended with solid offensive nights.
  • Derrick Favors’ first quarter was awesome: 11 points, 6 rebounds and one assist, and he dominated Hibbert. He got Hibbert out of the game with foul trouble and was the best big on the floor.
  • Favors and Kanter had a very exciting two-play sequence. On one end, Kanter hit Favors on a paint-to-paint pass and Favors was fouled, and then Favors hit Kanter on a paint-to-paint pass for a  Kanter dunk. These are huge developments for both of these guys. They have to be able to pass if they are going to be able to play together. Favors’ passing is so much better this season. He is really become an ok passer. Kanter has a long way to go, but he is getting better all the time.
  • Both Hayward and Burks continued their upward trend. Gordon finished with 21 points on 8-for-15 shooting, and Trey hit 5-for-9 shots plus he drew a foul and finished with 16 points.
  • 18 turnovers was too many and guys got loose with the ball at times. Very poor outlet passes, not secure with the handle, bad passes above the free-throw line, moving picks, etc. Can’t do these things against great teams. They cost you points, and the Jazz allowed 24 points off of turnovers.
  • Utah had a good offensive game plan. The understood how Indiana’s defense was going to rotate and what Indiana was taking away and where to get some good looks.
  • Alec Burks went 5-for-16. This is a bad matchup for him. This is the best rim-protecting team in the NBA. But this is where he has to become a better mid-range shooter. His 32.9% is the fifth-worst mid-range percentage in NBA among players who have taken at least 125 attempts. Only Rubio, Prince, Millsap and Jeff Green are worse. However, he did a ton of other things tonight. He made some great passes and finished with seven assists and grabbed nine rebounds. He played a very strong complete game.
  • Enes had his best two-play post sequence of the season. He drop-stepped to the baseline and came up the reverse side, and then on the next play hit a rolling hook across the middle. He has been working hard with Alex Jensen on his post moves to make them quicker and less “Al Jefferson lite”—and it is working and it shows.   Couple that with his jumper, and you have a makings of an offensive player. The only concern is he has stopped getting fouled. Zero free throws in 13 shot attempts.
  • It felt as though Kanter played some of the best defense I’ve seen from him this season on the pick and roll. He made mistakes and got split on occasion, but overall you can see his understanding of the concepts and major growth from even the beginning of the month.
  • The Jazz played a good portion of the game with Burke, Burks, Hayward, Kanter and Favors. They played nine minutes together and the Jazz were outscored in those 9 minutes 26-14. The Pacers shot 9-for-14 from the field and 2-for-2 from 3-point range while hitting 6 of 7 from the line. In those nine minutes, Utah’s offensive rating was 88 and the defensive rating was 152. For the game, Utah’s defensive rating was 104.
  • The Jazz were down by four with 13 seconds left and ended up taking a 2-pointer. I thought the first look was for a three and it wasn’t there. However, it is not obvious when you look at the numbers if you should shoot a three or a two. If you walk the numbers down, it is really close over two possessions what the right call is. You need the opponent to miss one free throw, which if they are an 80% free-throw shooting team should happen 60% of the time. Even if it is only one possession, an 80% free-throw shooter makes both 64% of the time and misses one 32% of the time or both 4% of the time. When you shoot the two you are banking on that 36% chance coming up, and that might be a better chance than a forced 3-pointer. If you are down five you MUST shoot the three or you are banking on the 4%.
  • A ton to talk about in this game. I hope I hit it all. Lots of really good signs and lots of room for improvement. Also, how cool would have that been if Hawyard’s shot had gone in?