EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Exum injured, toughness and a running game

SUMMARY: In their first pre-season game against an NBA team the Jazz showed their new approach and ran away from the Phoenix Suns 112-101
• Dante Exum was injured in the opening portion of the game. He got caught in the air around the basket and went down hard on his shoulder. He banged his feet in pain and then popped up grabbing his left shoulder and ran to the locker-room. At this moment the official word is left shoulder injury. This is a serious bummer considering the work Dante put in during the off-season and his effort to break through this season. Quin Snyder said he is heading for imaging but if you saw his shoulder it didn’t look good.

• The biggest thing that jumped out to me tonight is the Jazz are tougher than they have been in the past. Ricky Rubio battles for loose balls and is always in the mix. Donovan Mitchell, Thabo Sefolosha, Joe Ingles, Rudy Gobert and more are always scrapping. This team has a toughness to it.

• The Jazz lead 28-25 after the first quarter and then ran away with the game in the 2nd quarter. They lead by as many as 22 in the 2nd quarter 65-43.

• Phoenix was not a good transition defensive team last year and that seemed to be the case again tonight. The Jazz are really focusing on running off of the opponents misses and they were able to do that tonight

• The Jazz dominated the offensive glass. They had 19 offensive rebounds on 54 chances for 35% offensive rebounding rate. Moreover, they scored 26 2nd chance points. This might be a bit of the model on how the Jazz are able to be successful offensive team this year. They dominate the glass and then hit some threes and that makes for at least an average offense.

• I had the game at 98 possessions and the Jazz allowed 101 points so the defense was solid but not great tonight.

• Rodney Hood started slowly, but managed to fit his grove and lead the Jazz with 19 points on 7 of 12 shooting and took 4 free throws as well.

• Alec Burks continues his strong pre-season with 19 points, 6 rebounds and 1 assist. With Dante Exum out Burks may find himself with a roll in the rotation and with some serious playing time.

• Ekpe Udoh and Joel Bolomboy had really strong 4th quarters to close out the win. Earlier in the day, Udoh said he was one of the best defenders in the world and tonight he showed that to be true. His really long. His length impacted a lot of shots that I don’t think guys thought he could impact. He plays good position basketball and he plays really smart basketball.

• Joel Bolomboy continues to play well. He has shown a variety of parts to his game. He hit another three. He played off the bounce. He showed his rebounding.

• Rudy Gobert had 3 assists to lead the team.

• Donovan Mitchell was forced into playing the point guard with Exum and Neto out of the game and it impacted his shooting. He went 3 for 16 from the field. Nothing to worry about it. He was generally in control and the shots weren’t forced or selfish.

• Overall a good night. The Jazz are trying to run and they were able to do it against Phoenix. If they couldn’t run v. Phoenix then it would be a problem.

• Devin Booker really doesn’t like playing Joe Ingles.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Jazz win over Kings in solid effort

SUMMARY: As expected the Utah Jazz were the superior team in a pre-season match-up with the Sydney Kings rolling to a harmless win.
• Huge focus by the Jazz to increase tempo after misses. The Jazz did this early in the game and ran away to a big lead. However, they were unable to sustain that for the entire night and that is what is so hard about trying to be a running team is maintaining that level of energy for the entire night.

• The coaching staff wanted to make sure the Jazz never let the Kings get comfortable. They did this perfectly in the 1st quarter and took a commanding lead. However, in the 2nd quarter the Kings got more comfortable and outscored the Jazz in the 2nd quarter. The game got down to 9 points in the 3rd quarter before the Jazz took control.

• The Jazz played vertically at the rim all night. They were playing about the box all night. Ricky Rubio and Joe Ingles were feeding Rudy Gobert all night. It will be interesting to see against an NBA team with bigger guys if the Jazz are able to do the same thing.

• Dante Exum played tenacious defense in the 2nd half of the game and played with great juice.

• Alec Burks 4th quarter was super exciting. He unofficially had 5 assists in the quarter. More importantly, he played the game a step ahead. He was seeing plays as they happened or even before they happened. His weakness in the past has been and he has self-admitted this, that he didn’t know where he was going so none of his teammates knew where he was going. Tonight, it was against lesser talent, but he was really sharp and played ahead of the game.

• None of the stats are official but we had Rodney Hood for 23 points.

• Jazz played Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert to start the 1st and 3rd quarter. Otherwise, the Jazz played Joe Johnson and Jonas Jerebko as the stretch 4 for most of the night. It will be really interesting to watch how the Jazz use their bigs and how much Favors and Gobert play together. Favors was the other center when Gobert was on the bench for much of the night.

• Donovan Mitchell was quiet in the 1st half. In the 2nd half he had some really nice plays. He went on a one on one drive and right when it looked like he going to force a shot he found Epke Udoh wide open for a dunk. Then the next play he spaced perfectly and hit a catch and shoot 3.

• Ricky Rubio is such a good passer the Jazz players are getting balls in places they never imagined. Both Favors and Gobert made great passes to the corner on mid rolls. This is a must because Rubio is going to get them the ball on the roll and if the defense shifts they have to be able to adjust and make that pass to the corner.

• The Sydney Kings were great fun. Andrew Gaze, the head coach, had a wonderful attitude and fun pre-game press conference. It was interesting to hear them talk about the different ball and the impact it had on their practices. Tom Garlepp joined us for our pre-game show and was a kick as well.

• The Kings gave the Jazz exactly what the Jazz needed. The Kings put up resistance and forced the Jazz to play the game correctly. They had enough talent to push the Jazz and the Jazz got a lot of tape they can learn from in game #1.