EMPTYING THE NOGGIN—Over early

  • 9-0 by the first timeout and the game was over shortly after that. This was a non-contest in OKC today. Credit the Thunder: rather than approaching the game with a “Hey, these guys aren’t very good, let’s see if we can sneak by” attitude, they came out with “Hey, we are a ton better than these guys—let’s bury them and end it early” approach. That’s impressive and the sign of a mature team ready for a championship run.
  • Durant is so terrific. He glides effortlessly through the game and is in complete control at all times.
  • Utah’s first two shots of the game were missed layups—Hayward and Burke missed at the rim. Then Burke missed a three, Favors turned it over and Hayward missed a 20-footer and boom, its 6-0. Kanter missed a 17-footer and Favors got the rebound and Kanter missed a 20-footer and it’s 9-0. The problem isn’t that they settled for jumpers—it’s that they didn’t make them.
  • Enes Kanter is 14-for-44 (32%) from outside of 15 feet over the last 20 games. Over the last 10 games he’s just 5-for-23 (22%). This correlates to his increased time on the floor and the larger burden he is carrying.
  • March has been a disaster defensively for this team. The numbers are glaring:  51% shooting overall, 45% from 3-point range and giving up 105 points per game. The Jazz have allowed 114 points per 100 possessions defensively, up from 106 in February. The interesting thing is that they started forcing turnovers again just as their defense collapsed. The defense ranked 29th in March, the FG% defense was 29th and the 3-point% defense was 30th.
  • The reason for the defensive collapse isn’t clear. Is it an increase in Kanter and Favors playing together? Is it guys being asked to do more than they have ever done before and just being worn out? Is it the veterans being asked to do too much and they were the anchor and they are out of gas? Is it playing against better teams that are not taking nights off anymore? Is it systematic? Is it a rookie point guard? Is it the losing? It’s probably all of these things coupled into a complete ball of developmental year wax, and this is how it turns out.
  • I really don’t know how to value our offensive numbers today. The game was never close and every NBA team comes close to scoring 90 points and grabbing 45 rebounds over the course of 48 minutes. It just happens. So how much of Kanter’s 18 points and 12 rebounds, or Favors 8 points and 13 rebounds, or Jefferson’s 17 points are just because somebody has to score and rebound? I really don’t know how to value those numbers.
  • Hayward has played hard all through March and has had good performances to show for it. Today his shot looked way off and he adjusted to dish out six second-quarter assists. He finished the game with nine assists.
  • Knicks tomorrow. Losing is hard on people.