EMPTYING THE NOGGIN and POSTCAST – Jazz never solve Hawks defensive riddle

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN
SUMMARY: A close game turned into a blowout quickly as the Hawks defensive scheme flustered the Jazz all evening.
• The game was 61-60 in the 3rd quarter with 3:05 left when everything fell apart. The next thing you knew the Jazz were down 26, 95-69 to the Atlanta Hawks. The run was 34 to 9 in a span of 9:47 and that was the night.

• The run started with Dennis Schroeder attacking the rim the moment Rudy Gobert left the game and then it never stopped. This has been a problem throughout the season the inability to make the plays to slow down the opponents runs. In addition, the Jazz don’t have the offensive fire power to come back from these deficits so it just compounds itself when things start to go wrong.

• The Jazz didn’t start well tonight. They didn’t make a field goal until the 6:48 mark of the 1st quarter when Joe Ingles hit a three. Ricky Rubio was 0 for 5 with a turnover in the first 7 possessions of the game.

• The Hawks did some interesting thigs defensively and it had a huge impact. When a team runs a pick and roll the defensive big has a few choices. He can trap the ball handler (blitz) he can play at screen level (up) or he can drop usually stay the level of the offensive teams big and retreating with the ball handler. The Hawks took it a step further and had their big retreat into the paint immediately. This forced the Jazz into mid range shots and kept them off the rim. This eliminated Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favor’s rim rolls. The Jazz ball handlers were unable to engage the big enough to have them release and create space for either of the bigs.

• The wild part of the night is the Hawks defense also denied the Jazz getting any three point shots. The Jazz only took 15 threes in the game. Previously, the season low was 21 and 23 after that. This is a tremendous difference.

• The Hawks trailed the ball handler off the pick and roil so they couldn’t stop for the off the bounce three point shot. Then they came off the other shooters or non shooters and clogged the lane eliminating most of the passing lanes.

• Donovan Mitchell really struggled tonight. He had 6 turnovers and 0 assists. In addition, he missed his rim finishes tonight. The sagging defense of the Hawks got him into trouble in the paint. The wing defenders of Kent Bazemore and Taurean Prince were a tough athletic match for Donovan tonight. They are both long and strong.

• Atlanta does two things well offensively. They shoot the corner three the best of anyone in the NBA at 44% and they play well off turnovers. They continually got corner 3 attempts and made 9 of 14 on the night and missed their last two. The Hawks also are 23rd in offense after an opponent make, 23rd after an opponent miss but 7th off an opponent turnover. The Jazz turned it over 17 times leading to 22 points by the Hawks.

• The Jazz have struggled to be resilient inside game this year. They have trailed by 10 the 5th most of any team in the league and 4-23 in games they trail by 10 or more, only Philadelphia and the Lakers have fewer wins when trailing by 10.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Utah Jazz offense explodes and ends the Los Angeles Clippers win streak

SUMMARY: Jazz offense explodes and carries the Jazz to a strong 125-113 win ended the Los Angeles Clippers win streak.
• Jazz scored a season high points in a quarter with 39 in the 1st quarter, they scored the most points they have scored in a half with 76 points. They came close to equaling their season high against the Clippers earlier this season with 125 points.

• In many ways the Jazz defense early in the game got the offense going. The Jazz were taking Lou Williams out of the game with a double team on him every time he came off a pick. This slowed the Clippers pace of play and forced them later into the shot clock then they are usually comfortable with and it forced them into mistakes which the Jazz took advantage of and turned them into points.

• Three unsung heroes tonight. Alec Burks got playing time with Rodney Hood out of the game with a leg contusion and had a superb game. Burks had 15 points, 6 rebounds and took 8 trips to the free throw line in 18 minutes. Royce O’Neale played 12 minutes and scored 8 points on 3 for 3 shooting to go with 2 rebounds and a steal.

• It would be a stretch to say those are Rodney Hood’s minutes as many times the two were on the floor together. However, they aren’t getting minutes when Rodney is playing and they combined for 30 minutes and 27 points on 7 of 10 shooting. That is very strong work in place of Rodney.

• Raul Neto is the other unsung hero. He has been solid all season long.  The Jazz are consistently playing better when he is on the floor.  He breaks the paint with regularity and creates opportunities.  He doesn’t gamble offensively or defensively.   The Jazz are +19.4 per 48 minutes when he is on the floor.  Not sure this translates to larger minutes because he is being used carefully.  However, most of it on the defensive end where the defensive rating with Neto on the floor in 92.4 compared to 107 when he is off the floor.  Both of those seem really far out of whack.  

• Donovan Mitchell scored 23 tonight which is his 21st game of 20 or more. He is the 3rd player in the last 20 years, Tyreke Evans and Blake Griffin to accomplish this.

• Joe Ingles had 21 points tying his career high. Joe buried 5 threes on 10 attempts.

• Donovan Mitchell’s passing is great. He is days away from a 10 assist game. He had 7 for the 2nd straight night.

• Jazz got great balanced rebounding and took advantage of the Clippers lack of DeAndre Jordan to score 15 2nd chance points. Favors lead the way with 12 rebounds, 7 for Gobert, 6 for Rubio, Burks and Jerebko, 5 for Johnson and Mitchell.

• Favors had another double double with 14 points and 12 rebounds.

• Rudy Gobert looked good in his 2nd game back on a back end of a back to back.

• The Clippers put together a push late in the game, but Jerebko got a big 3 and Gobert blocked a Lou Williams shot and released out for a dunk.

• Lou Williams had 31 points and 10 steals, this has been done twice according to basketball reference since 1985 and if you add the 7 assists no one else has ever had this box score line.

Rudy Gobert terrific in return but Jazz can’t stop Knicks in 117-115 loss.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN

SUMMARY:  Jazz fell to the New York Knicks 117-115  despite a tremendous return for Rudy Gobert

Jazz had a furious rally back late in the 4th quarter and had three three point looks on one possession with :30 left to tie the game but none of them went down.  Donovan Mitchell forced a poor look three, but Rubio sprinted across the lane for the rebound and found a wide open Joe Johnson for three, he missed.  The Jazz got the rebound and kicked to an open Joe Ingles and he missed and the Jazz were done.  Two of the Jazz best three point shooters for the tie and it didn’t go down.

On the previous play with :49 left Joe Johnson got a wide open corner 3 looked and that missed as well.

The Jazz defense was not good enough tonight. The Knicks offensive rating is a 107.  Tonight it was a 114.  The Jazz defense needs to be better than average to win games and a better than average defense tonight would have had the Knicks in the 102 range.

The Jazz changed the starting lineup tonight and went with Ricky Rubio, Donovan Mitchell, Rodney Hood, Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert. The first quarter struggles didn’t end as Jazz trailed 14-9 at the first substitution. In the third quarter it worked better as the Jazz went from down 6 to up 3.

Rodney Hood scored very well in the first half of the game and finished with 18 points, but has been having a hard time with a chin calf issue, thus the tape he has been wearing on this leg and he was unable to finish the game and will be re-evaluated tomorrow. This is really too bad since he was inserted into the starting line-up tonight and it is important for he and Donovan to figure out what they can do to compliment each other’s games.

Rudy Gobert returned tonight was terrific. He had a huge impact on the game both offensively and defensively.   The Knicks grabbed Rudy and didn’t want to let Rudy dunk.  Jeff Hornacek has always talked about not allowing dunks when on the road and that seemed to be the strategy tonight to not allow Rudy to get follow dunks.  He went to the line time and time again.  His defensive presence was obvious as for the first time in weeks players drove to the basket and then couldn’t get a shooting window so they forced in traffic passes.

The Knicks run a left side dribble handoff where Courtney Lee came from the corner for the handoff and curled tight into the lane time and time again in the third quarter. It allowed Courtney Lee to end up with 13 points in the 3rd

The end of the 3rd quarter was the game changer as the Jazz went from up to down 7 as we headed into the 4th

Donovan Mitchell had a tough night. He couldn’t find the room to have the impact he has had in some of the past games and his off the dribble three is not a very high percentage shot right now.   The Knicks even went under on a few high pick and rolls and dared him to shot.  He missed.

These three home losses to the Knicks, Pacers and Pelicans are going to make a playoff push hard to come by for the Jazz. They are 5 wins behind the Clippers for 8th and 5 wins ahead of the Kings for last in the West.

Donovan Mitchell joins elite company as Jazz blow out Kings

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN
Summary: Jazz get back on winning track against young and inferior Sacramento Kings

• Donovan Mitchell wowed another crowd tonight. In the first half he had 11 points some of which made the crowd go ohhh then the third quarter came and he completely took over the game. He added another 11 in the third quarter and then 12 in the 4th quarter for a 34 point outburst.

• He did it without the three point shot. Mitchell hit just one three all night, a banker. He scored only 7 of his 34 points outside of the paint.

• This was Mitchell’s 5th 30 point game of the season. In the last 30 years the only players who have 5 30 point games in their teams first 44 games during their rookie season were David Robinson, Shaq O’Neal, Blake Griffin, LeBron James and Allen Iverson. All of these guys were #1 picks. All of them are going to the Hall of Fame. This is incredible company.

• Donovan continues to improve in areas where he has struggled. He struggled early in the season finishing at the rim. Since then he has mastered that to a rate of 66% around the rim. Now he has added a paint non restricted area shot as teams have cut him off from the rim. These are tough looks, the lowest percentage in the NBA. However after shooting poorly on those he has now added a floater and is scoring at a high rate on those shots.

• Donovan shot 13 of 15 on 2 point shots

• Sacramento is not a good team and Garrett Temple didn’t play who is their best on ball defender so Donovan was feasting on a rather porous defense.

• The Jazz hit the three point shot again tonight. Prior to tonight over the last 13 games the Jazz were hitting just 30% of their three point shots, last in the NBA. Tonight the Jazz were 12 of 29 from three for 41%.

• Rodney Hood had a nice offensive night with 25 points on 9 of 16 shooting and hit on 4 of 9 from three. Rodney also had 8 rebounds.

• Joe Ingles found his stroke going 4 of 7 from three after struggling to start the night.

• The Jazz three point defense continues to struggle as the Kings hit on 13 of 21 from three and Bogdan Bogdanovic was the main culprit going 6 for 6 from three. Bogdanovic had 25 while Willie Cauley Stein had 26.

• Royce O’Neale was +13 for another great +/- night

• Jazz took a 23-21 lead at the end of the 1st quarter when Rodney Hood hit a buzzer beater. Then they stretched the lead with 29-21 second quarter and eventually got the lead to 20 points in the third quarter before cruising to the win.

• Jazz were the superior team tonight and took care of a win they had to get against a Kings team that will make a strong push for worst record in the NBA.