EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Jazz lose opener in Detroit but show positive signs

• Always a bummer to lose the first one. However, all the signs of what is going to make the Jazz a good team were prevalent tonight. The Jazz played monster defense stretch down the stretch. The balanced the scoring of Favors, Burks, Hood and Hayward was evident. In a lot of ways, if you’re a 50-win team you win this game, but if you’re still in the process (as we are) you have a hard time coming up with this game.

• The Jazz’s defense for the final eight minutes tonight was awesome.

* This was a slow-paced game. Very limited fast-break chances. Utah’s defense was about one point per possession at 92 points and near 92 possessions, which is pretty strong.

* The Jazz were the #1 offensive rebounding team in the NBA last year, grabbing 29% of offensive rebounds. They were also #1 in the NBA in putback percentage. This’s a large part of the Jazz offense. Trevor Booker is a large part of this. The Jazz got only four offensive rebounds tonight.

• The Jazz started Neto and Hood, and the starting lineup had a really good start to the game. The defense was fabulous and the game was flowing. When the bench came into the game, things got a little out of whack. The Jazz missed Trevor Booker’s presence in a lot of ways tonight.

• Rudy Gobert looked like Rudy Gobert again for the first time this year. He was active, he impacted the paint, he rebounded the ball and he made an offensive play or two. This may be as difficult a matchup as he will have all year. Andre Drummond is mammoth.

• Derrick Favors was terrific. Can he score with Rudy on the floor? The answer was most certainly yes tonight. He was a force in the post against Detroit’s undersized stretch 4s. This is really important. If teams are going to play this stretch game with undersized 4s, then Favors has to abuse them in the post and he did exactly that.

• Ersan Illysova may have won the game for the Pistons taking four offensive fouls tonight.

• What are the chances of a career 39% free throw shooter making six in a row? Since you asked, the chances of that are 0.3%—not 30%, but 0.3%.

• Detroit is going to be tough for people. I think they make the playoffs in the East.

• The shot distribution for the Jazz was off tonight. Hayward needs to get more looks. Hayward should be our leader in possessions used, followed by Favors, Hood and Burks in some combination.

• Raul Neto did a nice job as the starting point guard. He made his two threes, which were the only threes the Jazz made all night. Neto was +12 tonight. He plays a nice floor game and finds people. He looked every bit an NBA starting point guard tonight.

• Rodney Hood was 0-for-7 from 3 (really 0-for-5 and then two bombs out of desperation). However, the five were good looks. He needs to knock those down. The Jazz need to be better than 2-of-12 from three. Only 16% of the Jazz’s shots were threes, and the league average is going to be near 25% this year. Alec didn’t attempt a three tonight.

• The Jazz lost the most games of any team last year by five points or fewer, and only came from behind to win in the fourth quarter three times all year. However, the late-game offensive execution was better than last year. The final numbers will be 3-for-8 shooting in the final five minutes, but that includes Hood’s two desperation 3-point attempts. The Jazz were 3-for-6 from the field and 3-for-4 from the line with two turnovers before that time. Not great, but better. Alec made some big shots, and Gordon had a great driving layup.

• The Jazz were down by five with five to play—hard to win that.

• With Trevor Booker out, the Jazz played a lot of small lineups with Ingles or Hayward at the 4. The Jazz didn’t play either or Withey or Pleiss tonight .

• The Jazz played well tonight. They need to refine some things. This is probably not a game they should be expected to win.