Emptying the Noggin after the Jazz lost to the Spurs

Jazz now have something in common with the last 11 Spurs opponents.  They lost.

Jazz battled really well tonight. Effort was really strong.  That was pretty complete 48 minute effort from the Jazz.

The epitome of the Spurs is the final play where Richard Jefferson hits the three.  The Spurs made the extra pass. 4 spurs players touched the ball.  Gary Neal bypassed a look and got a better look for Richard Jefferson, an 11 year veteran who has played in at least 2 NBA championships and he buried the three.   That is how you win in this league the Spurs are just that good.

The Jazz defended the high pick and roll and the side pick and roll very well tonight.  This was a nice improvement from the last few nights.  Super progress in that regard.  Nice job by the coaching staff to have a shoot around today and make adjustments to the game plan.

Matt Bonner caused some problems for the Jazz with the pick and pop early in the game, but the Jazz adjusted and took that away as the game went on.   It is a tough cover.  Bonner hits the three’s when you try to help stop Parker and then when you are scared to leave Bonner Parker makes it always to the rack.

The Jazz made the right call to not foul with a 5 second differential with the game clock  despite being down by 2.  Your chances are better to get a stop than to get missed free throws and try to answer with threes on the other end.

Gordon Hayward made the wrong call to go to the rim with the Jazz down 5, you have to shot a three there because you have to assume the opponent is going to make 1 of the 2 free throws after you intentionally foul.

Those are going be talked about but they are not as important as a lot of other aspects of the game.

Josh Howard and CJ Miles were needed badly tonight after Gordon Hayward got two fouls in the first two minutes and Raja Bell was unavailable and they both stepped up.  CJ had a really nice stretch or two and drew some fouls and played a good game tonight.  Josh Howard had a positive impact on the game.  He hit a shot or two, got to the foul line and had a nice steal late in the game.

Tim Duncan may be 15 years in the league but he still impact a tremendous amount of possessions on the defensive end of the floor.  It is impressive how he takes away angles and makes players miss shots they think they can make

Jazz got 2 field goals in the final 5 minutes of the game – After Jefferson scored on back to back possessions with 5:04 left the Spurs decided to double team Jefferson in the post and the Jazz weren’t able to capitalize on that double team.  From there the Jazz had little else to be able to run other than a pick and roll at the top with  Harris and Jefferson and Jefferson missed that 15 jumper.   The side pick and roll is not an option as the Spurs defend that as well as anyone in the NBA and Duncan covers too much ground.   The disappointment is that Millsap was not in a position to take advantage of Bonner tonight.  Bonner is a good defender but that is the match-up you would hope to exploit.   Give the Spurs a ton of credit for their ability to play team defense.

Those were terrific minutes for Hayward, Burks, Favors and Kanter to experience.

I would like to see Favors take a step toward forcing himself on the floor.  He is giving Coach Corbin a choice right now and I would like to see him force himself on the floor.

Greg Popvich manages a terrific game.  He is so strong at how a game plays out.

Kanter’s defense on Tim Duncan was good tonight.  What a neat experience for Kanter.

Sure there are a ton more thoughts – I will discuss at Tip Off or whenever they come up.

Jazz Bigs Combo tonight – Millsap and Jefferson played 33:16 were +2  = Kanter and Favors played 7:17 were -1; Jefferson and Favors played 4:17 were -4;  Millsap and Kanter played 2:26 were -1.

INSIDER – Notes from a conversation with Enes Kanter

Yesterday before the Jazz game with Houston I spent some time with Enes Kanter. We don’t hear much from him so I wanted to share a little about how he is doing and some of his thoughts. Sometimes there is a language barrier so I could have misunderstood, but I believe this is a correction depiction of our conversation.

He Skypes with his parents about twice a week. Both are working full time jobs so he doesn’t think they will be able to come visit this season. If they do it would be at the end of the season. His younger brother is in school in Boston so he can have a collegiate basketball experience without NCAA interference.

He doesn’t have a lot of friends still in Turkey. He doesn’t Facebook or doing any of that so it limits his communication. He came to the US to go to prep school trying to get eligible for the NCAA and bounced around, he was in West Virginia, then took another short stop and then ended up in Simi Valley.

The best game he has ever played was the U16 world championships when he crushed Jonas Valanciunas. He averaged 23 and 17 in that tourney. He might have been speaking of the U18 championships I am not sure.

He said this is the first time he has ever played people as strong as he is and he really noticed the night the Jazz played Minnesota and he hit Pekovic , who is 6’11 and 290.

The hardest thing for him so far has been just playing again after not playing for so long. At times the game feels fast for him. He still says he is not comfortable.

His bad game in New York he was sick.

I will share more with you as I get to know Enes better.

Emptying the Noggin after the Jazz lost to Rockets

This game got away.  The final score is really misleading to what the game was tonight.  The game was within 2 with 5 minutes left and had been within 2 for almost the entire evening.  The game had only three runs, 2 by the Rockets and 1 by the Jazz otherwise it was completely even throughout the game.

The disappointment in this game was some plays that lacked the necessary attention to detail that it takes to win on the road.  CJ with back to back fouls flying at Courtney Lee, but more why was he leaving CJ Miles leaving their best three point shooter who is known as a corner three point shooter.   Millsap three attempt with 3 minutes left down 8 seemed like a bail out possession where the effort to get a better shot was more than the team could handle.

This team is going to make plays that make you scratch your head, they are going to lose focus, they are going to have moments where they don’t understand time and score.  That is inevitable when you are young. I am just surprised by who the players were who had those moments.  Cj and Paul have to be the mainstays.

Prior to the final 5 minutes the Jazz did a lot of things very well.  They defended really well for most of the night.  Raja Bell put Kevin Martin in hell and he couldn’t get out and he just wanted to get away from it.  Raja quest going into the game is to break his opponent. We have talked about it and that is truly what he is trying to do and he knows when he is getting close and how to do it and he broke Martin tonight.   Martin had one field goal on an alley opp for most of the night.

Overall, the defense was really very good.  Lowry made shots – he hit 7 of 8 from three.  The Rockets made the extra pass on a bunch of key possessions where the Jazz defended well and rotated correctly but the Rockets made a pass extra.  Scola is crafty inside and got some good looks on the defense.

Unfortunately, Bell crossed the 30 minute mark and the adductor went again.  The play where Millsap shots the left corner three and Scola leaked out, the ball was thrown over Bells head and when he opened up to run and go after it, boom.  The groin went.  He took himself out immediately but it doesn’t look good.   In the past that has been a week or two for Raja.

Raja continued his streak tonight and hit a three, the longest running streak in the NBA will have to be on hold.

Without Raja the Jazz are going to need something out of CJ or Josh and they are getting nothing right now.  Josh got a put back but then made plays that weren’t  team oriented and ended up playing on 5 minutes.  CJ had two great blocks but went 1 for 5 and is not 4 for his last 21.  CJ is grinding he is coming out early before every game putting in the work, but can’t find the stroke.

The Jazz had zero point in the paint in the 3rd quarter. The Rockets made adjustments at the half and the Jazz bigs couldn’t react.

The Jazz bench was how the Jazz were winning games earlier this year and that is not producing right now.   The bench shot 6 of 30. Derrick Favors went 1 for 7.   He is not the same player on the road as he is at home.   The jazz need Favors to give them something on the offensive end and he has to learn where he wants to ball and what he is going to do with it.  He does too much of everything still and not enough of a go to move.

Earl’s shooting has not been the same since the ankle and he is battling a really bad cold.  He was not the spark he has been in the past.

Gordon asserted himself on the game in 1st quarter with 4 assits but then didn’t in the second half after sititng the entire 2nd quarter and that is the opposite of how he has been impacting games.

I have a feeling I might be typing this time and time again,  Burks is playing with players that are as good an athlete as he is for the first time in his career and he is going to have to learn how to make shots.  He is shooting – 41% which is not surprising for a wing rookie, that is what Durant, Kobe and LeBron all shot.

Player almost always get to their career numbers by the end of the year, but this year the % will all be down a little bit because of the compacted season.   So which players are going to get to the back of the basketball card, CJ Miles 38% (career 42%),  Howard 36% (41.8 since the injuries),  Jefferson 48%  (career  50%),  Watson 42% (career 42%)

The youngsters are hard to gauge, Favors is at 49% (51% career), Hayward is at 42% (46% career) they both need to be taking steps forwards so they can take a big jump year 2 to 3 or year 3 to 4.