EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Gritty Jazz pull over overtime win v. Portland

SUMMARY: Grit defined the Jazz win over Portland, 112-103, as Rubio and Mitchell carried the offensive load.
• This was a great game. The Jazz seemed dead on a few occasions in the fourth quarter and relentless fought to stay in the game. This is becoming the signature of this team, the grit and resiliency to stay engaged throughout a game.

• The defense is the calling card on this team. They held one of the best offensive teams in the NBA to under a point per possession tonight. The Blazers final offensive rating was 95.4. To do that to a team as loaded as the Blazers offensively is unheard of in the NBA.

• Ricky Rubio is emerging to be a completely different player in Utah than he was in Minnesota. The question is whether this is a continuation of the second half of last season or something completely different. He has scored 20 or more in three straight games and the only other time he ever did this in his career was in March of last year. He scored 30 for the second time in his career and has only scored over 25 five times in his career. He has now scored 20 or more in 10 of his last 24 games of his career.

• And it’s not just how much he’s scoring, it’s how confidently he’s doing it. He pulled up for 3 in transition in the first half, and did the same down by six points with less than 2:00 minutes to play and nailed it. He did it one last time in overtime when the Blazers went under on the pick he stopped at the top of the key for the final dagger. He is playing unleashed.

• Donovan Mitchell is having quite the start to his NBA career. In the 8th game of his career, the Jazz ran the first three plays of overtime to him and he came through on two of the three. Mitchell shot 9 of 21 and 4 of 10 from 3 and finished with 28 points. There is still a long way to go for this kid, but the flashes he is showing are real and super exciting.

• The Jazz are tied for first in the Northwest.

• The Jazz had a chance to win in regulation but had a really bad turnover late. They had a rebound with :11 seconds left with the game tied but Ingles rushed an outlet pass to Rubio who then traveled as Lillard cut off his path. There is no need to rush in those circumstances, but this team is still new to these moments. This is how they lost the Minnesota game.

• Instead, Rudy Gobert came to the rescue. Lillard worked his way into the paint and Gobert blocked the shot to force overtime.

• Thabo Sefolosha is a remarkable player and commands the respect of his teammates. He leads the defense and guarded Lillard for the entire overtime. He was playing the power forward on offense and the point defensively. He is so long and so smart. He was ranked one of the best wing defenders in the NBA and he shows it.

• When the Jazz had Sefolosha on Lillard and Rubio on McCollum, the intensity was remarkable. They blow them off their spots and altered every angle the Blazers wanted to take. Plus, the Jazz still had Mitchell and Ingles on the floor with the most dominating defensive player in the NBA, Rudy Gobert.

• Rodney Hood went 0 for 11.

• Joe Ingles had 7 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 blocks.

• Jonas Jerebko got 20 minutes tonight in place of the injured Joe Johnson and was really good. He hit two 3s and plays with a lot of energy.

• Damian Lillard took over the fourth quarter and was impossible to guard. By the end of overtime, he looked like he was tired from all the different Jazz defenders’ harassment.

• The Jazz are 5-0 at home with wins over Denver, Oklahoma City and Portland. Those are really important.

• The Jazz have a real chance to be the number one defense in the NBA. If they are…