BREAKDOWN – How one hustle play changes a game

I just finished re-watching the Jazz and Bulls from last night. Fun night.

I was struck with how one play or one play linked to another can change the entire complexion of the game. With 9:15 left in the third quarter, the Jazz were still down by 15. Alec Burks bounces a tough pass to Favors in traffic. The ball is loose. Noah and Favors poke at it, then Butler joins the mix. Now it’s a 50-50 ball. Favors thinks he has it, but Butler knocks it away again and Favors continues to relentlessly battle. He maintains the possession at the 3-point line, steps forward and hits a 16-foot jumper.

If he doesn’t make this hustle play, the Jazz are down 17 after a Bulls fast break, and they are still deep in the hole and the crowd is dead. Instead, Favors hits the jumper and the Jazz are within 13.

Then the next play, Trey Burke gets a steal on a Pau Gasol pass. Gasol’s pass was a bit loose but a nice play by Trey to step in a passing lane, and then Trey hits the speed dribble up the floor.  On his way up the floor, Favors picks off a Bulls defender at half court and then as Trey hits the lane Kanter screens off Noah and clears the lane for Trey. Wide open layup.

11-point game. Crowd going nuts. All of a sudden a blowout is a ballgame.

What did it take? A hustle play. A correct defensive rotation. Two smart little plays (picks) and the Jazz were on their way.

Little plays matter. The player who doesn’t get that 50-50 ball is indirectly costing you a game. The player who doesn’t set the pick in the opening floor or screen the opposing big costs you games. These are winning plays.