EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Quin Snyder is showing his brilliance

SUMMARY: After a back-and-forth second quarter, the Jazz exploded and never looked back en route to a 106-77 routing of the Denver Nuggets.
• The Jazz trailed by one point at the half and outscored the Nuggets 58 to 28 in the second. It was stunning. Frankly, it was stunning from both the Jazz and the Nuggets.

• The Jazz continued the exceptional ball movement that started in Orlando and has led to high level 3-point shooting. Over the last eight games, Utah had taken 38% of their shots as 3-point shots and made 40%. Tonight, they took 32 of 87 shots as 3-point shots (37%) and hit on 14 of those for 44%.

• Derrick Favors was great. He is annihilating big centers with less movement. Jokic is not good laterally and Favors made him look super slow all night. This is the same thing he did to Vucevic in Orlando, Mozgov versus Brooklyn, Henson versus Milwaukee and Lopez versus Chicago. Derrick has been a beast. He was great on the roll tonight. He had a big job on the defensive glass. He is finishing at the rim back at the 70+% rate he did before last year’s injuries.

• Remember two years ago, there were days when we wondered if Derrick was the best player on the team? He is playing at that level right now on both the offensive and defensive end.

• The offense has been much of the focus since Rudy’s injury and how the Jazz have performed with a stretched floor. Tonight, they were just as good defensively as they were offensively.

• Part of me is wondering if this is the stretch where we are seeing the pure brilliance of Quin Snyder. Maybe we saw it last year when with all those injuries and gimpy George Hill, Quin found a way to get that team to over 50 wins. This stretch feels really masterful. His offensive schemes are finally playing with a stretched floor. He had it a little with Joe Johnson last year in the second half of the season as a stretch 4 and the Jazz were unguardable at times. They are again. Coming into the game tonight, the Jazz were the third best offensive team in the NBA over the past eight games. The offensive rating was 118 tonight and will likely go up. Quin has always wanted to play with a stretch floor, but the roster he has forced him to play with two big and adapt. When Favors was out last year we saw this offense. In the first round of the playoff the Jazz were unguardable and now again for a 9 game stretch with a group would never be classified as a offensive group they are unguardable. Quin Snyder is ahead of the game and we are seeing what he is capable of building.

• The Jazz are doing things offensively that no one else in the league is doing and Quin is pushing teams’ defensive principles into areas of confusion, allowing the Jazz to take advantage of that to get amazing looks.

• In six of the last nine games, the Jazz have had 14 3-point makes or more.

• In seven of the last nine games, the Jazz’s offensive rating has been above 110. Only the Warriors averaged more than 100 for the season.

• Over the last nine games, the Jazz are shooting above 50% on corner-3s.

• Tonight, they did it without Rodney Hood, Rudy Gobert, Joe Johnson and Dante Exum.

• Joe Ingles’ passing was incredible. He used ball fakes like a magician to open up opportunities.

• Ricky Rubio took 10 shots and has not taken more than 10 shots in eight games.

• Jonas Jerebko and Thabo Sefolosha have been a forceful power forward combination. They played 40 minutes, shot 7 of 15 (Jonas was 6 of 10) were 3 of 7 from 3 (Jonas had all 3), had 12 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals (both Thabo) and scored 17 points. This night it was Jerebko that did most of the damage on the corner 3s but on other nights, it has been Thabo.

• Royce O’Neale got a ton of time with Rodney Hood out and hit three 3-pointers, including two corner 3s and had a career high 11 points.

• The Nuggets’ offense is handoff-based and the Jazz blew it up. The Jazz’s offensive is a pick-and-roll advantage-based offense and they scorched the Nuggets.

• This was a stunning performance by the Utah Jazz. To blow out the Nuggets by 30 while being shorthanded is unheard of. Being 5-4 without Rudy is unthinkable. Having the best offense in the NBA over a nine game stretch with this set of players makes you believe Quin Snyder is a mastermind.

• The Jazz have discovered something. How all the puzzle pieces fit for the rest of the season and with everyone healthy is unclear.