Thoughts of Utah Jazz Radio Play-By-Play Announcer David Locke
EMPTYING THE NOGGIN—What did we learn?
The five-game “Murderers’ Row” stretch is over. No surprise that the Jazz lost all five. Really no surprise that one of them along the way was a do (vs. Houston) and impressive how they matched up in the other four.
Lots of weaknesses were exposed when playing the best of the West, and at the same time lots of really good things showed up over the past week from this young team.
Maybe the biggest thing we learned is how much better this team is if it can play with some pace. It has to defend and get stops and force turnovers to get that pace, but when these guys are able to get in the open floor, the best of their talents show up. Trey Burke showed a flash of speed I didn’t know he had.
Trey had a really nice five-game stretch. He has made terrific strides from his struggles of two months ago. He has changed his game. He is going to the basket more. He is more aggressive making plays. He is having an impact, and if he can get out a bit in the open floor that would be an added bonus.
The fight to get back in this game, which is was spurred by the increased tempo, was great to see and was a nice contrast to the Houston game.
Defensively, the Jazz did a lot of things they wanted to tonight and executed the shootaround game plan well. The Grizzlies were impressive—every time they needed a basket they got down low to Zach in a hurry and got a good look right at the rim. This team has gone to two Western Conference Finals, they have won five playoff series, they know what to do when they have to get a bucket, and they have a great feel for when possessions are important. They showed that late in the game.
The Jazz did a great job early in the year winning close games. Tonight they didn’t deal with the final five minutes well on the offensive end. Hayward broke off a play hoping to get a jumper and turned it over. Burks tried to go one-on-one and turned it over.
The five youngs came on the floor with 4:00 left and down by six points—Kanter got a dunk, then a Burke turnover, Hayward miss, Hayward turnover, shot clock violation (on the Burks play) and Hayward missed 3-pointer.
Trey Burke’s first quarter was terrific. He scored 13 points and went to the rim on two or three plays. He was aggressive. More importantly, the defensive effort from Trey is improving tremendously.
Alec is tough when he is making his shots. If he improves his shot a little bit more and gets the ball with a bit more space on the floor, he is going to be totally filthy offensively. He had six rebounds and four assists.
One thing I really like is the rebounding potential of Burks and Hayward together. Two things in this league are never talked about enough—wing rebounding and big man passing. These two could be very good wing rebounders—They combined for 11 boards tonight.
Gasol and Randolph combined for six assists—Kanter and Favors had two, both by Favors.
The losses are tough to handle. These guys are all competitors, but these were as close to unwinnable games as you can have. Playoff teams don’t lose these types of games at this point in the season. The Jazz battled and made significant progress against some high-level teams over this stretch.