EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Jazz defensive buy in give them win over Thunder

SUMMARY: The Jazz’s stifling defense frustrated and derailed the Thunder offensive train on the way to a 96-87 win.
• This game was dominated by the Jazz’s defense. The Thunder went 11 minutes from midway through the 1st quarter to midway thru the 2nd quarter with only one made field goal. ONE field goal in over 11 minutes.

• The Jazz held the Thunder to .93 pts per possessions; The league average is 1.07. The worst in the league last year was 1.007 the Jazz held the Thunder to .93. That is incredible.

• In the first half, the Jazz broke up the Thunder’s actions and that forced the Thunder into more isolation basketball than they wanted to play. Early in the broadcast, the Thunder were hitting shots that the Jazz wanted them to take and they were low percentage, off-the-bounce, midrange shots. As the game went on, those same shots stopped going in.

• The Jazz’s offense is still not being very efficient, but the defense for these three games has been so great that they very well could have won all three. The offense is hitting shots at a very high rate, but they are not going to the line and they are turning the ball over at a very high rate.

• The Thunder’s offensive players never got comfortable. Anthony went into isolation mode and got rolling a bit early in the 4th quarter. However, he took 26 shots, while George took 19 and Westbrook took just 11. George has a set play where he comes off a pin down for a right wing catch-and-shoot 3. The Jazz guarded it as well as you can with his talent level. He was 3-9 from 3.

• Westbrook pulled out of fast break chances numerous times to play the facilitator. On one level, this is Westbrook trying to figure out where he fits with this team after his all-him, all-the-time season last year. On the other hand, the Jazz were getting back defensively, building a good wall and making it a forced shot if he pushed into the lane.

• Gobert makes so many guys make the extra pass and it is a turnover so often.

• Ricky Rubio plays with a passion that carries a team. He plays with an unquenchable desire to win. He makes the right play. He will shoot when he should, even if he isn’t a great shooter. Quin Snyder has given Ricky a great level of confidence in how he plays and great freedom to run the team and manage the game. Rubio played 37 minutes on the second night of a back-to-back.

• Joe Ingles led the Jazz with 19 points on 5-9 from 3 tonight; He is 12-19 for the season. He was not good last year on back-to-back games, so this is a nice step for him.

• The Nuggets’ offense last year was a 110 and they were a 100.5 versus Utah; Minnesota was a 108.1 and they were a 104.6 versus Utah; Oklahoma City was a 105 and should have gotten better and they were a 93.4. The Jazz are holding teams to an average of eight points below their usual points per 100 possession rating of a year before. Last year, the best team in the NBA was 5.5 points better than average.

• Favors has been very good and very active in the opening three games.

• Ekpe Udoh is a plus-minus machine: +11 tonight in 15:30. He is close to +50 in three games.

• The Jazz had five guys in double figures. Rubio took the most shots at 14. Seven guys took six or more shots. This is a team of pure balance.

• The Jazz only took 14 free throws and I believe five of them were technical free throws.

• The Jazz had 11 steals. Three of those came from Sefolosha who is showing he is still an elite defender.

• This was a great win tonight by the Jazz. Quin is asking these guys do something that is really hard, which is to defend and defend really hard. To get a win tonight and play these three teams as closely as they have to start the year shows the players that Quin is correct that if they defend they can win.