EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Thunder strike down on the Jazz

  • Tough night for the Jazz. A good start for the Jazz and then the Thunder upped the ante defensively and the Jazz couldn’t figure out how to respond. Gordon Hayward said it best after the game when teams get physical they have to be giving something up, but the Jazz haven’t figured out what that is and how to take advantage of the physical play.
  • So why is that? I don’t have an answer, but here are a few ideas. My first guess is confidence. This team has not had a lot of good moments together, and so when things start to go wrong they aren’t sure how to react.
  • My next guess is time together. They don’t have the relationships on how to react as a unit on the floor. Most times are new experiences and they don’t have a track record on how to get through things.
  • Third is talent. Somethings breaking that kind of pressure is one guy making plays and busting the defense, and we don’t have that guy. Hayward tries to will the team and he is becoming better and better each time, but to survive, this group has to play together. They have to make plays together and that gets back to the first two issues.
  • The Jazz scored 25 points in the first 8:57 of the game and 50 points in the next 36  minutes. Once they lost their way, the Thunder wouldn’t relent and the Jazz couldn’t find a rhythm.
  • The hustle plays that ignited the Jazz in the game against the Bulls were not there tonight. In fact, the opposite happened. The Thunder made those plays and gained those extra possessions.
  • The defensive breakdowns were unreal. Tough offensive nights with the current inexperience are going to happen. Somehow, this team has to learn that when the offense breaks down the defensive effort has to intensify. This is the ultimate defense has to create the offense. However, when the defense breaks down and you are taking the ball out of the net, the opposing defense is set for each possession.
  • Alec Burks’ +/- stats are a little disconcerting. He was -18 tonight and the other starters were ok. Hawyard was +2, Kanter was +1, Favors was -4 and Burke was -7. The reason it is disconcerting is that in last four games Burks +/- is -22, -7,-12 and -18. So in the last 124 minutes he has been on the floor the Jazz have been outscored by 59 points and when he has been on the bench the team is +17.
  • The Jazz bench scored 3 points. That is the biggest difference between a championship/playoff caliber team and a developing roster. On developing teams, benches are built for the young prospects to play and the bench to support them. On championship/playoff teams, the bench is built to win games.
  • Here’s the major issue for the Jazz and the rotation. In the 12 minutes Gordon Hayward was on the bench, the Jazz scored 12 points. That’s 48 points for a game!!!! In the 36 minutes he was on the floor, the Jazz scored 70 points.  Still not great, but that’s an average of 23 points per a quarter.
  • The Jazz need to find another player to play with the bench players and be able to score. I can promise you Quin is working hard on different options and equations to make this work, but it’s tough. Not a lot of easy answers to this one. Does Danté come in early for Trey so Trey can play with second unit? Do Danté and Joe come in so Alec and Trey or Alec and Gordon can play with second unit? I’ve always admired how Frank Vogel was able to leave four starters on the floor for huge amount on minutes each night, but I’m not sure how you do that with this crew. Quin had four starters on the floor for 30 minutes tonight. Hard to do much more than that.
  • The Starters were on the floor together for 23 minutes, and in those 23 minutes the Jazz were outscored 48-47. The other 25 minutes were the issue. In the 30 minutes the Jazz had at least four starters on the floor, the Jazz were -2. In the other 18 minutes it was -13.
  • Gordon Hayward is having a great month of November, and in the past he has struggled early in the season and gotten better. 24 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals. I’m sure he’ll want to talk about the 8 turnovers and 7 missed free throws as making it a bad night, but he carried a huge burden tonight.
  • Jazz coaches talk negative plays. The Jazz allowed 21 points off turnovers and 18 second-chance points. Those accounted for 39 of the Thunder’s 97 points.
  • Bad night. It was the Thunder’s bench crew’s final chance to show their value before Russell returns, and KD is right around the corner—and they were impressive.

TIPOFF – November 26 – Little plays and the restricted area

Utah Jazz radio voice and Jazz NBA insider David Locke looks at the NBA 5 and then digs deep on the little plays that win a game and Alec Burks’ play in the restricted area.

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.

TIPOFF – November 25 – Comeback hurt from start

Utah Jazz radio voice David Locke gives you the NBA 5 and then looks back at Utah’s performance against the Bulls.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Three fatal turnovers negate the comeback

  • Another amazing game. What a season. We certainly have had our share of excitement.
  • Lots of great things to mention in the comeback but three turnovers are the story of the night—the first two turnovers to open the game lazy automatic passes by Alec Burks and Enes Kanter that Jimmy Butler intercepted and took the other way for dunks and Trey Burke trying a behind the back loose bounce pass to Enes Kanter’s feet with the game on the line. That’s the difference between winning and losing.   Guys were amazing. The effort was terrific, but that is the difference between winning and losing. Simple as that.
  • The opening two turnovers set the tone for the night. The Bulls were like a sharks smelling blood and the Jazz got panicky for the entire first quarter. The Jazz committed 10 turnovers allowing 18 points in the first half. They didn’t match the physical play of the Bulls. I commented on the broadcast they were starting each possession with bad field position. They started each possession so far outside the 3-point line they couldn’t get the offense started
  • The Jazz trailed 9-0 early on, 16-4 midway through the fist quarter,a dn 30-14 heading into the second quarter. They trailed by 21 at 45-24. In the third quarter they trailed 60-43 and then they battled all the way back. They took their first lead at 80-78 early in the fourth quarter. A game that had no ties and no lead changes up to that point had 5 ties and 6 lead changes when it was over.
  • Third quarters this year the Jazz have been great and they were great again tonight.  Outscoring the Bulls 36-22. Then we had an incredible fourth-quarter battle.
  • Hard to single out guys tonight, but a few guys were really good. Derrick Favors was a beast. He had a big-time move on Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah when he rolled to the basket with a gorgeous finish off a Trey Burke give. He finished with 21 points and 15 rebounds, and was huge on the boards late.
  • Trey Burke started breaking the paint in the third and fourth quarters and it changed the game. His season may have changed when he got punked by Kyle Lowry in Toronto, and since then he has fought back and broken the paint and made plays.   He had great confidence in his jumper tonight. When he pulled it you could tell he felt it was going to go in.
  • Trey had another 10 assists. He’s averaging about 8 assists a game over the last 6 games. Big time playmaking.
  • Jimmy Butler took Gordon Hayward out of the game. Ron Boone said it in the opening moments of the broadcast that this was going to be  an interesting night to see how Gordon handles the physical play, and he went 2-for-11 and only had 1 assist. Chicago took him out of the game.
  • Joe Ingles has been getting more and more time and tonight he played with a little pizzazz. Earlier this year he was playing as though he wondered if he belonged and not making mistakes; tonight he let it rip a little and made a bunch of big plays. He took 9 shots and only 3 of them were 3-pointers. Ingles got going when he torched McDermott and then kept the momentum going. McDermott might be one of the worst defenders he will face all year.
  • The Bulls allow the fewest 3-point shots of any team in the NBA and the Jazz only got 9 three attempts.
  • Enes Kanter made two plays tonight the excited me about Enes. First, he rotated perfectly defensively from the weakside baseline and stymied a Bulls play. Second, he had a great screen-out of Joakim Noah late in the game. And let’s not forget Kanter’s absurd dunk late in the game.
  • Pau Gasol looked fabulous. The Lakers have to wonder why they choose Bynum and Howard over Gasol.
  • Up 1 with the ball with 27 seconds left you can’t commit a fatal turnover (above the free-throw line—they always become points).
  • The comeback was awesome. It would have been a huge win. The Jazz would have gone to 6-9 with OKC, Clippers, Toronto, Denver and Orlando coming  up. They could have gotten close to .500 and really started to believe. They might have been rushing things a bit and it showed with the mistakes made that cost the team the game.

TIPOFF – November 24 – AD, AB and AK

Today’s edition of TIPOFF includes a conversation about Anthony Davis, Alec Burks as this year’s Gordon Hayward, and the possibility of trading for AK.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Jazz get run by the Warriors

  • This one was over in a hurry. A 12-0 start by the Warriors and it was done. The Warriors came in waves and the Jazz were unable to handle it. So much of what we hear about with the Warriors is the offense and the “Splash Brothers” but this is a great defensive team. They completely de-railed Utah’s offensive structure.
  • The Warriors were switching 1 thru 4 on all picks and the Jazz didn’t know how to react to this.
  • The Jazz aren’t setting as solid picks as they set earlier in the year.
  • Andrew Bogut is so good.  He might be the most under appreciated player in the NBA.  He knocked Favors completely off his game.  Bogut is such a great rim protector and the Jazz couldn’t get into the paint.  In the opening quarter the Jazz shot 3 of 8 in the restricted area.  The Jazz have been one of the best teams in the NBA at shooting in the restricted area and the Warriors are one of the best at defending the restricted area and we know which end won the battle.
  • One the interesting parts of this match-up was the Jazz take the 3rd highest percentage of smart shots (restricted and 3’s) and the Warriors force opponents to take the fewest amount of smart shots.  The Jazz opening the night with shots of 8 feet, 14 feet, 19 feet, 9 feet,  and 17.   So the Jazz opened with 5 mid range shots and 3 turnovers.  The Jazz didn’t get a shot in the restricted area until the 7:33 mark.
  • The Warriors opened the night with 5 of their first 9 possessions as fast break possessions.  They came out running and outlet passing and the Jazz looked stunned by the speed.  The road trip and the OKC game was against mostly half court teams
  • Hayward had a nice strong third quarter.   He showed some good leadership in the way he battled down 20 in the 3rd.
  • This game was not as close as the final score.
  • For most of the first half the Jazz forced just 1 turnover and committed just 2 fouls.   I am not a big believer in just looking at those numbers and making a proclamation but it seems to tell a story about the Jazz level of force.
  • Dante Exum made some super special passes tonight.  He made a bounce pass in the paint that was a back handed bounce pass to Derrick Favors in the lane.    Dante didn’t shoot well and still does not have a field goal off the bounce outside 10 feet this year.
  • The Jazz need Trey Burke to find his game.  This is not going to last.  He is much better than 32% and 27% from three but it is getting long.   13 game stretches is 16% of the season.
  • The Warriors are in a different class than the Jazz right now.   The same thing we saw with the Mavericks and the Rockets.  This is a good reminder of how long this process is going to be and it is going to take some patience.