EMPTYING THE NOGGIN—Night two of ‘March’s Murderers’ Row’

  • Night two of “March’s Murderers’ Row” and the Jazz fall to the Clippers. Great teams are not losing this game at this time of the year. Last time, the Jazz got “Dirked” and this time they got “Pauled”—or it is “Chrised“?
  • This was a terrific game. You want entertainment? This had some of the best entertainment of the season. The highlights were out of this world. Evans knocked an over-the-top pass to Jordan on a fast break—he skied up to tip it off the glass, and it lead to a Jazz fast break where the Jazz turned it over and the Clippers came back the other way for what looked like a Collison layup until chase-down-block man Gordon Hayward BLOCKED IT. He didn’t just block it, he sent it to into the second row over the Clippers’ bench.
  • Another one later in the night—Blake Griffin had a vintage Blake Quake follow dunk.  Then Favors answered it on the other side with a vicious right hand jam. Love the answer from Favors. That is a super big deal that he fired back at attacked the basket unintimidated after Griffin’s dunk.
  • The Jazz played a good game tonight. Defensively, they held the Clippers (the No. 2 offensive team in the NBA, and the No. 1 team over the last 10 games—a team that has been scoring 115 points per game) to 96 points. The Clippers got it going in the third quarter, hitting 14 of 18 shots.
  • The Jazz led it 70-60 with 3:30 left in the third, and the thought went through my mind that maybe the Jazz could pull this off. It must have crossed Chris Paul’s mind also, because he took over and the Clippers promptly went on a 17-2 run. L.A.’s defense also amped it up late.
  • The Jazz don’t have a go-to player who can take over a possession and make a play, and that showed in the fourth quarter when the Clippers got into the Jazz and held them to 15 points. Utah was slowed down by the full-court pressure Darren Collison put on Trey.  It slowed down Utah’s offense and allowed the Cippers to switch on defenders. The Jazz couldn’t beat the mismatches.
  • Kanter and Favors started very well together. Favors got saddled with foul trouble. In the first quarter, the Jazz led it 22-15 when Favors went out, so they were +7.  In the third quarter, they were -2 before Evans came in for Kanter.  In the fourth quarter, the Jazz were even with the two on the floor. For the night, the Jazz were +5 with Kanter and Favors on the floor together.
  • Getting beat tonight is not something to be upset with. For most of the night the effort was terrific. A few plays will stick in your craw, however. A huge Willie Green transition three happened in the third quarter because a player jogged back instead of making the effort to get all the way back, and then he was a step late to get to Green. A soft inbound pass that gets intercepted, turnovers above the free-throw line that lead to points—all of those things are a bummer.
  • Utah had 20 turnovers that led to 31 points.
  • Kanter had a great game on the boards with 15—the second highest of his career—but was only 5-for-17 shooting. Gordon Hayward had a great game passing with 10 assists—his sixth time with 10+ assists this year—but was only 2-for-8 shooting. Alec Burks had 10 points, but more turnovers (five) than field goals (four).  My point is that all of our guys played well in different aspects, but also got exposed in other areas against the hottest team in the league.
  • Interesting to watch the Clippers just faceguard Gordon Hayward with Willie Green in the fourth quarter. They decided they would not let him get the ball and make plays.  Doc Rivers’ fourth-quarter goal was to take Gordon out of the game, and he did it.
  • Fun night at the arena.