EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Thanks

To Jazz Nation,

Thank you for a wonderful season. This has been a great ride, watching the years of building and work come to fruition. Watching Gordon grow from the scrawny kid from Indiana to an All-Star. To see Rudy Gobert become a bona fide threat in the NBA. Admiring Quin Snyder and his coaching staff and their incredible effort and preparation. There are so many memories.

Your passion drives me every day to give everything I have to this job. I sincerely hope you feel that from me. Thank you. It has been an honor and privilege to bring you Jazz basketball for this season. I’m excited for opening day 2017.

David

Emptying the Noggin — The Warriors’ MVPs win the game

Summary: The Warriors’ MVPs answered the bell late with an incredible performance from Kevin Durant.

  • In his postgame press conference, Quin Snyder said, “We played better than we did the first two nights and uh… uh…” He proceeded to give more of an answer but had he stopped right there, it might have summed up everything in this series. The Jazz did so much tonight and played so hard and “uh… uh…”

 

  • The game was 80-79 with 5:57 left and from that point forward, the only Warriors points were scored by Durant and Curry. They outscored the Jazz 22-12 in the final 5:57. The Jazz missed shots but the Warriors were just remarkable late in the game.

 

  • The exciting thing for Jazz fans is the foundational pieces for the Jazz — Gordon Hayward and Rudy Gobert — have been incredible in the playoffs. The fight these two have shown is awesome. Gordon is a different player than he was when the playoffs started. He did it again tonight. He simply carried this team when he realized others were making plays. He had 29 points and six assists. He was super aggressive against amazing defense. He hit and took tough shots. He played with a confidence and swagger that will carry him to big places next year.

 

  • Gobert is proving he is ready for the moment. He was a force again tonight. He was 7-8 from the field and had 21 points and 15 rebounds. His effort never wavers. His pursuit of excellence is tremendous. These two guys have shown they are ready for these moments and the Jazz have a bright future with these two. Now, the front office has to build a team around them and add the pieces that fit. The third piece who compliments what they do is vital.

 

  • The key stretch of the game was when Utah was down three, 82-79, and Hayward drove into the lane, three players collapsed on him and he swung to a wide open Boris Diaw who missed an 18 footer. Then Curry hit two free throws to make it a five-point game. Gobert hit two free throws to make it a three-point game again and after a stop, Hayward drove again, the defense collapsed again and he made a great pass to the corner to Joe Johnson who missed a 3, then Durant pulled from 19 to make it a five-point game. After Hayward hit three free throws to make it a two-point game, Curry hit a 3-footer. Hayward missed and Durant followed with a two and it was an eight-point game with 3:19 left. The night was over.

 

  • The Jazz shot 12 of 39 in the second half of the game.

 

  • Durant was incredible. On a night when Curry was just 6 of 20 and Thompson was 1 for 9, the Warriors now have Kevin Durant to score 38 points, grab 13 rebounds and carry them to the win.

 

  • Rodney Hood is now 36 of 100 in the playoffs and 13 of 48 from 3. Tonight, he was 1 for 8. He is now 2 for his last 22 from 3.

 

  • Shelvin Mack played 37 minutes in the place of George Hill. Mack is a battler. He has been a third-string pointer guard his entire career until he came to Utah. He has been incredible for the Jazz. He has been asked to start in the Western Conference semifinals against the greatest set of talent ever in NBA history.

 

  • Joe Johnson went 3 for 12. The speed of the Warriors and the length of Durant, Iguodala and Green make it hard to manufacture his usual looks.

 

  • The Jazz held Curry and Thompson to a combined 7 of 29 from the field.

 

  • Boris Diaw continues to be an amazing +/- player for the Jazz in playoffs. He was +3 again today for the Jazz.

 

  • Shelvin Mack was +6 in 37 minutes and in the 11 minutes he was off the bench the Jazz were -17.

 

  • This is a deflating loss because the Jazz are giving so much of themselves on the court and battling with such gusto and the Warriors continually have too much firepower. They answer each run. They make the huge shots. When one guy is off, there are plenty of others to step up. They do everything so fast and so well defensively. They are a superior team.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN — Draymond makes the Jazz pay

Summary: The Jazz picked their poison and the poison got them beat. The Warriors take a 2-0 series lead with a 115-104 victory over Utah Thursday night.

  • Every time Draymond Green uses a possession to take a shot, it is better than if Klay, Steph or Durant take it. Green was a 30% 3-point shooter this season. The Jazz dropped off Green to try to cut of the Warriors’ penetration and attack of the rim, and he made them pay by making 5-8 from 3. The Jazz’s strategy is the right one. If Draymond Green goes 5-8 from 3, the Warriors win. It is really that simple. Draymond Green has made these shots in the playoffs at a higher rate than in the regular season, but it all comes down to making reasonable choices to give yourself the best chance to win.
  • The Jazz got blitzed early in the game again; They were down 12-3 at the first time out. The Warriors kept putting it on Utah and led it 33-13 near the end of the first quarter. From there, the Jazz fought and showed great grit to keep battling. However, every time the Jazz huff and puff, the Warriors blew the house down. It is hard to tell if the Warriors are just so good they are toying with you or if the Jazz are really making inroads throughout the game. To me, it seems like the Jazz are making progress and staying with the Warriors, but every time it gets close, Golden State stretches their lead back out.
  • Gordon Hayward was brilliant. I thought he was as good as his 40-point game versus the Clippers in the first round. In Game 1, he played rushed — he seemed out of rhythm in the shots he was taking. He was terrific tonight. He was assertive. He played with a calmness and confidence, knowing what he was going to encounter. Along with his incredible offseason work, he made a bunch of changes to his game preparation and film work. It has paid huge dividends. His growth is remarkable. I am on top of the Gordon Hayward fan club, but I honestly never thought he would be this player.
  • The Jazz were 4-18 to start the night in the final seven seconds of the shot clock. Then, they picked up the pace and started pushing the ball up the floor. Throughout the year, the Jazz have been able to make defenses shift, create overcompensation to their actions and then take advantage. That doesn’t work against the Warriors. Instead, the Jazz got into early actions and took the first looks they could get. It worked much better.
  • The Jazz’s offensive rating (points per possession) in each of the first two games has been a notch above what the Warriors allowed for the season. Since the Jazz were ranked 12th offensively this season, that makes some sense. What the Jazz have not been able to do is get their defense to have an impact on the Warriors’ offense. They will need to do that if they are going to win a game in the series.
  • The Jazz are not getting the shooting from Hood and Ingles they got during the season. The big jump in Joe Ingles’ game this year was his ability to hit the 3 off the bounce. In the playoffs, however, he is 1-12 on 3- pointers off the bounce. He is also 4-17 if a defender is within six feet of him, according to Stats Vu. This is the playoffs. Joe doesn’t have a quick release, and teams aren’t giving him room so it is hard for him to get looks. He was 1-2 tonight. Rodney is the opposite story: He is being left open and he is not making the 3. He has made just 27% of his 3-pointers this postseason. Prior to tonight’s 0-5 performance, Rodney was 2-10 if a defender was within four feet, but was 6-19 if the defender was within four to six feet. Without George Hill, the Jazz need those shooters.
  • Dante had some solid play tonight and did some nice things. He knocked down a shot. He drove to the basket. He has to get a left hand dribble. It is really obvious how little he wants to use his left hand.
  • Kevin Durant and Steph Curry scored 48 points on 28 shots. They can’t lose if this happens. It is virtually impossible, mathematically.
  • The Jazz are battling one of the greatest teams ever compiled in NBA history. If we were playing anyone else, I would have felt as though we had turned the game in our favor at halftime and were on our way to a comeback. Against the Warriors, that thought is fleeting.
  • Saturday night will be fun. An underdog crowd is a fun crowd.

Emptying the Noggin — Warriors dominate the Jazz

Summary: The Warriors show signs of being an all-time great team with a dominating performance.

  • The contrast in speed from the Clippers to the Warriors was tremendous. It seemed to stun the Jazz in the early moments of the game, though Utah got more adept as the night went on. Early on, it led to the Jazz committing a bunch of turnovers, and those turnovers are points the other way every time.

 

  • The Warriors’ defense is incredible. They switch more than any other team in the NBA and are at a disadvantage. The Jazz were never able to penetrate the switching defense. The hope was to break the paint for the purpose of creating points for others and it happened very rarely in the first half. In the third quarter, the Jazz got a little better at breaking the paint and creating points.

 

  • For Jazz fans, it has been hard to understand why Draymond Green could win defensive player of the year over Rudy Gobert. Once you watch him in person, it becomes more evident. Rudy is equally as impactful, but, wow, is Draymond something else. He ends up on the ball all the time. I’m not sure anyone on the Jazz scored on him all night. He seemingly never guards his man and yet is always guarding someone and it is usually the man with the ball.

 

  • The Warriors weren’t out of the ordinary tonight and they were in complete control. The Jazz got them to shoot only 7 of 29 from 3, their offensive rating was their season average and their defensive rating was their season average. This is what the Warriors do every night. What happens when they are good?

 

  • Hayward and Hill had poor shooting nights, which could change the Jazz’s ability to stay in the game and control the Warriors’ ability to run.

 

  • The Warriors EFG% in transition is over 75% and they turn about 25% of all missed field goals into a fast break. If, for 1 of every 4 misses the Warriors average 1.5 pts per possession, then taking away a few misses changes the game a good deal.

 

  • Rodney Hood had a really nice stretch in the third quarter.

 

  • The Jazz want to force the Warriors to get out of their passing system and go one-on-one at times, and Utah couldn’t dictate that tonight. The Warriors assisted on 29 of their 33 two-point field goals.

 

  • The Warriors hit the Jazz with a 9-0 to open the game and the Jazz fought back to get within one point, but the Warriors closed the first on a run and then hit the Jazz with a 12-4 run to open the second quarter. After that, the Jazz only got the game under 10 points on two occasions and never for longer than a minute.

 

  • The Warriors opened the game with immense pressure on the ball, particularly on Rudy outside at 35 feet. It disrupted what the Jazz were trying to do.

 

  • The Warriors have two of the top five players in the league and four of the top 15 or 20. A team with this much talent has ever been compiled. If the 72-win Bulls lost Jordan, they were a 50-win team with Pippen. If this team loses Curry or Durant, they are still a 67-win team.

 

  • The last time the Warriors lost a game they were trying to win was March 10 versus Minnesota when Durant was hurt. Since then, they have won 20 of 21 games and the one loss was to Utah when they pulled all the starters after the third quarter.

 

  • With all of this Warriors love, most of the people I talked to who covered the Warriors thought the Jazz were really good tonight.

 

  • Game 2 on Thursday.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN — This team was built for today

Summary: The Jazz win the series.

  • I don’t even know where to start. There are so many things to write about. There is the pure admiration of this group and the coaching staff and the incredible effort under adverse circumstances the entire season and series. The constant effort throughout the season has been exceptional. The team was built for today and it answered.
  • From an X&O standpoint, the Jazz played more aggressively on the pick-and-roll with the big up. It allowed a few more Jordan dunks, but it took CP3 out of his rhythm and none of the other Clippers did enough to cause the Jazz issues.
  • The Clippers only led this game at 3-2 and 5-4. The Jazz controlled most of the first quarter and the Clippers tied the game at the end of the first, but the Jazz regained control in the second when Chris Paul took his break and Utah led by seven points at the half. The Jazz only allowed the Clippers 15 points in the second quarter. The Jazz’s offense exploded in the third with a 33-point quarter and a 15-2 run. Coming into Game 7, this was a series that was within two possessions 75% of the time. Today, the Jazz were in complete control.
  • Derrick Favors was the MVP today. With Gobert completely eliminated (read however you wish) by foul trouble and only playing 13 minutes, the Jazz needed Derrick to be terrific and he was. In some ways, as Ron pointed out, Favors was the more important big in this series. He is better at playing up on the pick-and-roll and he has a better chance to hit a midrange jump shot that DeAndre will give up every possession. In the series, Favors was 1-10 from outside 10 feet but today he nailed a few midrange shots. In addition, the amount of times on the broadcast that I said “Favors cuts off the path” was enormous.
  • This is a great day for Gordon Hayward. He and Derrick have been through the entire rebuild. It was really hard at times. It was seriously unpleasant. Today, Gordon completed an unreal series where — despite all the talk of Chris Paul — an argument can be made that he was the best player in the series. Similar to Paul, the Clippers’ defense was set to take him away and they couldn’t do it. In the six games he played, he averaged 27 points, eight rebounds and three assists. He shot an incredible 47% FG and 46% from 3. He hit on 43-45 free throws. It is unusual that a player gets better and more efficient in the playoffs. This is where all of his offseason conditioning really may have had a positive impact. For those fans that have been with this team each step of the process, Hayward’s growth is really a remarkable story.
  • The Clippers went 6 for 25 from 3. Rivers, Redick, Pierce, Crawford and Speights were a combined 5-18. That was huge.
  • George Hill had a really good series. Today, the Jazz were +21 when he was on the floor. He shot 48% from the field and 39% from 3. He nailed some really big shots in this game when the tide felt like it might turn.
  • The Jazz made a huge run in the third and when the Clippers tried to mount their comeback, the Jazz were in the penalty and were able to quell the rally with free throws.
  • Quin Snyder used the Jazz’s depth to their advantage. They grabbed two minutes from Neto, three from Mack, three from Withey and eight really solid minutes from Dante Exum. This was huge. The Clippers were running on fumes. The effort that Paul and Jordan had to put out without Griffin was otherworldly, and the Jazz’s use of depth became a big part of this game.
  • Joe Ingles was 2-3 from 3. Rodney Hood was 4-6 and 1-3 from 3. Both hit really big shots in rallies that pushed the Jazz to a big lead.
  • Boris Diaw had the Jazz’s best plus minus of any Jazz player in the series. He did so many good things and hit his shots. He hit 56% of his shots and was 5-10 from 3. Playoff Boris.
  • The crowd at the Staples Center was a nonfactor. It never really felt like a Game 7 environment. Now, we move to the two loudest arenas in the NBA.
  • The Clippers fell behind by enough that Rivers had to go to his offense-only lineup and the Jazz kept scoring and scoring. The lineup matchups he tried to avoid with Jamal Crawford and JJ Reddick on the floor at the same time were back and the Jazz went at all of them. Joe Johnson kept going against Jamal Crawford time and time again.
  • What happens next for the Clippers is one of the biggest offseason stories. Will Carmelo join Blake, CP3 and DeAndre? Will Blake move on? Will Melo replace Blake? Will CP3 decide that after five first round losses in nine years that he has to go play for a winner and take a pay cut? What will Ballmer do and what is the Clippers’ place in the LA sports market if it loses stars?
  • Off to the Bay Area. If you are going to beat the Warriors, you have to do four things: Slow the game way down, cut off the play at the rim, get a high offensive rebounding rate and have to have multiple pick-and-roll ball handlers. The Jazz have all four. The last thing you have to have is a lot of luck. The Warriors might be the best team ever compiled in NBA history.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN — The Clippers control Game 6

Summary:  The Clippers controlled Game 6 for the entire second half and forced a Game 7 with a 98-93 win over the Jazz.

  • The Jazz made a flurry late but this game wasn’t really that close until then. The Clippers led by three or more possessions for most of the second half in a slow-paced game. The Clippers — playing with their lives on the line — played inspired basketball and the Jazz have some very serious questions they need to answer.
  • The Jazz’s number one weapon in the first part of the series was the lineup with Joe Johnson at the power forward. This lineup was negated in Game 5 with an offensive rating of just 93.5 and in Game 6, the Jazz were -18 with that lineup on the floor.
  • In the regular season, the Clippers only allowed Rodney Hood to get four catch-and-shoot shots in 30 attempts, but in the playoffs, they have allowed him to have at least 25 in six games. This either is because the Jazz are doing something dramatically different or because the Clippers have decided they are okay letting Rodney Hood shoot. Moreover, Rodney has not made a shot in the midrange all series, so when the Clippers run him off the line it hasn’t been productive.
  • The Jazz have yet to come up with an answer to the Chris Paul pick-and-roll game and the reason is because he is the best point guard in the game since John Stockton or Magic Johnson. There may not be an answer for this. The Jazz have put a huge focus on cutting the head off the snake but the snake is awesome and it is not easy to do. Chris Paul scored 29 points and had 8 assists tonight.
  • In a playoff series when things happen more than once, you have to begin to assume there is a reason. Joe Ingles has not scored it either of the last two games and is now shooting 32% in the series and below 30% from 3. The Clippers may have figured out how to take Ingles out of the offense. The other angle is that how Joe Ingles looks reminds me a bit of how he looked in the games after guarding LeBron James for 36 minutes in Cleveland. Guarding Chris Paul and JJ Redick is a big ask and his offense has been impacted. Quin Snyder pointed out earlier that JJ Redick’s defense is the amount he makes you work on offense.
  • The Clippers are allowing Rudy Gobert to catch the ball at 15 feet and forcing him to make plays from that spot at 15 feet. This is new for Rudy.
  • Every series is about matchups and how teams can create answers to cover the weaknesses as the series continues. The Jazz don’t have an answer for the Clippers and the Clippers may have found an answer for the Jazz.
  • The key stretch of the game was in the first quarter when the Jazz were playing really well. The Clippers took Chris Paul out of the game and they were +6 when Chris Paul was on the bench. They let CP3 rest for a long time and it showed in the end when he was still able to contribute.
  • The Jazz made a furious rally late. The Clippers led by 14 with 4:00 left and just about blew that when Chris Paul threw away back-to-back passes and Hayward hit a big 3. The Jazz had a shot when Joe Johnson missed a 3 over DeAndre Jordan that would have tied the game. It looked good but Joe Johnson proved to be human tonight.
  • The Jazz’s offensive rating in this game was 104. Here is what the series looks like for the Jazz offense:

Game 1: 105 offensive rating

Game 2: 102 offensive rating

Game 3: 121 offensive rating

Game 4: 119 offensive rating

Game 5: 105 offensive rating

Game 6: 104 offensive rating

  • Austin Rivers return has had a big impact on the series. Rivers is guarding Hayward and doing an okay job which is allowing Mbah a Moute to guard Joe Johnson. Maybe more importantly, by starting, Rivers took some of the ball handling duties from CP3 and relieved the pressure on him.
  • Hayward had 31 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists on 9 of 20 shooting.
  • George Hill was +7 in a 5-point loss and had 22 points in the game.
  • The Clippers got great supporting players performances: Rivers, 13 pts; Mbah a Moute, 13 points; Crawford, 12 points and Speights, 9 points. The Jazz didn’t get the same production from their role players, which is surprising because you usually get these at home. Ingles was scoreless, Johnson had 9 points, Hood had just 4 points, and Favors had 2.
  • The Clippers have done this before and it looked like it.
  • Game 7s are awesome. Let’s hope it is one to remember.

Emptying the Noggin — The Jazz had every answer

Summary: The Jazz withstood the Clippers’ furry and numerous adjustments to hold onto a vital Game 5 win in gutty fashion.

  • What an incredible win. Ron Boone said it best right after the game: This team showed fight tonight. The Clippers came after the Jazz tonight and the Jazz were the better team with every answer.

 

  • The key stretch of the game was when the Jazz took an 11-point lead early in the fourth quarter. The Clippers rallied on a 11-0 run, got five free throws from Redick before Chris Paul hit back-to-back 3s to tie the game with 7:43 to play. The Jazz came out of the timeout with a Hayward 17-footer and then Hood hit a 3, followed by a Hayward 3 while getting back-to-back stops to take the lead back to eight points. The Clippers never got the ball with a chance to tie after that.

 

  • The two biggest plays of the game were when the Jazz were up by two points with 3:04 left and George Hill missed a 3. Gordon Hayward flew in and tapped the rebound out to Joe Johnson, who put the Jazz back up by five points with a 3. A three-point game, George Hill and Hayward went to the ground to get an offensive rebound got tangled up with Chris Paul and drew the foul on Paul. Hayward then hit two free throws to put the lead back to five points. Both of these were relentless hustle plays.

 

  • Joe Johnson did it again. With :36 left in the game, the Jazz were up by two points with the ball and the Clippers were guaranteed another possession. Joe Johnson took it to the middle of the lane and faded back from 13 feet and hit the shot to put the Jazz up by five with :19 seconds left.

 

  • Hayward was terrific again. He had 11 points in the first quarter and finished with 27 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals.

 

  • This was a defensive game. The last two games were all offense, tonight was defense. Rudy Gobert and DeAndre Jordan had a huge impact on the game and the ability of either team to get where they want to go on the floor.

 

  • The Jazz only allowed three offensive rebounds tonight in 39 chances and only four second-chance points.

 

  • The Clippers made a ton of adjustments: They trapped the Jazz on pick and rolls, they doubled Joe Johnson and they played with really small lineups. The Jazz had answers to each of these. The double teams and traps gave the Jazz some issues early, and then they settled down. The Jazz got a ton of 3-point attempts off the Clippers actions and took 36 3-pointers over the course of the game. They got a ton of open looks that they will take in any game, but only made 13. Those same looks are going down at home.

 

  • The Clippers started Mo Speights in the first half and then tried Paul Pierce in the second half. Boris Diaw actually went at Pierce on a few possessions.

 

  • Austin Rivers returned and helped the Clippers’ lineups defensively. They are able to have good defensive crews on the floor which they couldn’t do before Rivers returned.

 

  • Rudy Gobert had five steals.

 

  • Quin Snyder’s use of personnel, plays out of timeouts and game planning cannot be underestimated in this series. Quin is putting out lineups that are giving the Jazz a slight edge throughout the game, getting matchups that he wants and are advantageous to the Jazz.

 

  • The Jazz were +7 when Chris Paul was on the bench for the 10 minutes he sat tonight; The Jazz were +14 in the eight minutes DeAndre Jordan sat.

 

  • The fourth was an offensive quarter; The Jazz went 9 of 19 with five 3-pointers while hitting 9 of 10 from the line (super clutch from George Hill and Gordon Hayward) and the Clippers went 9 of 15 with four 3-pointers while hitting on 12 of 15 free throws.

 

  • The Jazz went dry early and missed eight straight shots to close the first quarter, or they would have been in control earlier.

 

  • The Jazz took control in the second, stretched it in the third and then after the Clippers’ flurry, controlled the fourth.

 

  • Game 6 is going to be really interesting. I don’t know what the next move from the Clippers is going to be. It feels like they tried a lot of things tonight and I am not sure they made any progress in dealing with Hayward or Johnson, and if the Jazz knock down some of the open looks they got when they’re at home, it could get very exciting.

 

  • Winning Game 5 was a must and the Jazz got it done.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN — An incredible win, an incredible series

Summary: Down by seven with 7:37 left and trailing the series two games to one, Joe Johnson checked in the game and the series changed possibly forever. The Jazz win it, 105-98, and tie the series at two games apiece.

  • This is incredible. INCREDIBLE. INSANE. REMARKABLE. MIND-BLOWING. This team… How do they do it? Joe Ingles said it after the game, they have no choice, but at some point you would think they would blink. You would think they would say, okay you gave us that 800th punch to the gut and it was more than we can handle. They are unbreakable. Rudy Gobert goes down 11 seconds into the series and they win Game 1. Chris Paul rips their heart out at the end of Game 3 and then Gordon Hayward is struck by food poisoning and somehow this team manages to find a win.
  • This series has had more turns that a ride at Magic Mountain. All of a sudden, despite playing two of the next three on the road in LA, there is a possibility this series is pointing in the favor of the Jazz. For the first three games of the series, when the Jazz were without Rudy Gobert, the Clippers were the better team. With the Jazz getting Gobert healthy and the Clippers without Griffin, there is a legitimate chance the Jazz are the better team.
  • The Jazz trailed 87-80. The Clippers were having their way. Chris Paul was on the verge of a triple-double. Jamal Crawford was having his night. The Jazz couldn’t get stops and losing tonight felt like the end. Then came Joe Johnson. Joe hit an 8-foot floater, followed it with a 3, another floater then a tough turnaround jumper and the Jazz had tied the game at 87-87. He wasn’t done. He hit another paint floater to make it 11 straight points. Ingles followed with a 3 on a Joe Johnson pass and the Jazz were up two points. Joe kept dishing with a pass to Hood for a 3 and the Jazz were up by 5 with 2:13.
  • There was a cool moment after the game when Joe Ingles circled back to find Derrick Favors who had a tough Game 3, but has given this team everything he has had the last four games and tonight was incredible. Favors had 17 points and six rebounds in 24 minutes. Favors was active and terrific. Doc Rivers singled Derrick Favors out for his huge game.
  • Rudy Gobert returned and played 24 minutes. His impact was obvious he had 15 points and 13 rebounds.
  • The Jazz have figured out how to score in this series. The Jazz couldn’t score in the regular season or much of Game 1 in this series, so that’s big. Now, on back to back nights, they had an offensive rating near 120.
  • Joe Johnson: 28 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists. This is a really special player. He had 12 of 17 shooting. Joe Johnson is 22 of 29 in the paint this series.
  • Gordon Hayward had food poisoning and played just nine minutes. He left the bench with about five minutes left in the first half and at halftime, Quin Snyder said Gordon was throwing up.
  • Joe Ingles had a career-high 11 assists. He did a wonderful job running the high pick and roll.
  • Chris Paul is remarkable. He was so dominant at the end of Game 3. Moreover, in that game he saved the game on two different occasions when the Jazz had all the momentum. He did the same thing tonight on two different occasions when the Jazz had the momentum and the crowd was going bananas. He feels the game better than anyone I have seen in the NBA. He is incredible. Maybe he didn’t have a sixth save in him tonight.
  • The Clippers offense died in the fourth quarter. They did a nice job of getting the ball out of Chris Paul’s hands.
  • The Jazz made some really cool adjustments to stop the roll of DeAndre Jordan tonight. It will be interesting to see if they can hold for the next three games of the series.
  • Rivers went small with Luc Mbah a Moute at the four to cover Joe Johnson and played Paul, Crawfod and JJ Redick with DeAndre Jordan. The Jazz are short on wings without Hayward and Burks. The Clippers really miss Austin Rivers when they go to these lineups. He would change who they are. The Jazz were able to counter this lineup.
  • Rodney Hood was having a brutal night and then he nailed enormous shots. He doesn’t have big game experience and it seemed like the environment might be getting to him. Instead — and in a manner that represents the team not having another choice ­­— Quin didn’t have another choice, and Rodney had to keep going so he had no choice, and he made two enormous plays.
  • Dante Exum played and hit an incredible 3 that in a game that was big.
  • Mo Speights missed a 3 that would have given the Clippers a 10-point lead. It was the only possession all night where either team could have taken a double-digit lead.
  • This was an incredible win in what is an incredible series in what has been a season without reason.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – So much right until it wasn’t

Summary: This was a crushing loss for the Jazz on a night where almost everything went well until things came undone during a 15-0 run by the Clippers in the fourth quarter. The Jazz lost Game 3, 111-106.

  • The team that wins Game 3 wins the series 74% of the time, so there is no doubt how much this one hurts.
  • The Jazz did so many things well tonight. They got off to a great start, led by Hayward’s incredible first quarter. They got a superstar game they needed from Gordon Hayward and played with better spacing, take 34 3-point shots. Dang it. They did so many things well tonight and then the drought happened.
  • The Jazz went cold at the 7:50 mark of the fourth quarter. They got stuck in isolation basketball and the Jazz are not a good isolation team (27th in the NBA this season). They went over five minutes without a field goal and Chris Paul took over the game in that stretch. The Clippers went on a 15-0 run and that won the game for the Clippers.
  • Chris Paul finished with 34 points. His understanding of time and score is remarkable. In the first half with the game seemingly slipping away, he willed the Clippers back into the game on two occasions. With Blake Griffin out, Paul took 15 shots in the second half. He is the best in the NBA at what he does and it showed tonight.
  • Gordon Hayward had a remarkable night. He set a Jazz playoff record with 21 points in a quarter to open the game. He finished with 40 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists. He scored 40 points on 21 shots. He went to the line 11 times. He was outstanding. The Jazz ran a ton of actions and got him on back doors, got him freed off Favors picks and found ways to get him space. Hayward picked up his second foul early in the quarter and Quin Snyder decided to roll with him and he made that move look remarkable.
  • Derrick Favors played a season high 38 minutes against DeAndre Jordan. Derrick has never wanted to be a center. He has always said he is not a center. This series, he is matching up against the biggest center in the NBA and the wear and tear is evident.
  • Blake Griffin went out of the game late in the second quarter. The problem with this is it means the Clippers’ offense becomes almost exclusively pick and roll with Chris Paul, and the Jazz are not defending that action very well. They tried a little bit of everything tonight and I don’t think they found an answer. Favors is not capable of playing a drop big and defend the rim from DeAndre Jordan. The hedging or playing the pick roll square have not been a great answer.
  • Raul Neto played the back-up point guard minutes in the second half and made two huge shots (for 5 points) in three minutes.
  • The Jazz put a lot of focus on floor spacing and getting open catch-and-shoot looks over the last few days and they got 34 3-point attempts tonight. Many of them were catch-and-shoot. There were great adjustments to how the Jazz were running some actions.
  • This was a purely offensive game. Both teams had offensive ratings over 120. The Jazz figured out how to score on the Clippers tonight, something that has been an issue through the year. The adjustments made by Quin Snyder were terrific.
  • George Hill got his offense going tonight hitting on 9 of 15 and 4 of 6 from 3 for 26 points.
  • The Jazz switched defensive assignments with Joe ingles guarding Chris Paul and George Hill guarding JJ Redick. Redick stayed quiet again tonight going just 2 for 5.
  • Jamal Crawford got rolling for a stint in the third quarter and it gave the Clippers a bounce they haven’t been getting. He hit three straight shots.
  • The Jazz led the game by 13 at the end of the first quarter, by nine at the half, by two points heading to the fourth and lost by give. The Clippers swung the game 18 points in the final 36 minutes but almost all of it was in the 15-0 run in the fourth quarter.
  • Chris Paul had 10 points and 0 assists in the fourth quarter
  • The crowd was amazing. The building had an energy 45 minutes before tipoff and it never stopped. Five years of waiting for this night and the fan base showed its best performance.
  • This one stings. To win the series, the Jazz have to win another one back in LA now. The Jazz got an all-time performance from Gordon Hayward, they found a way to score on the Clippers and Chris Paul was still too good to be denied.
  • See you Sunday.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN — Jazz fall in Game 2 to Clippers

Summary: The Clippers hit the Jazz with a hammer early and the Jazz never could break through and put pressure on and LA, falling in Game 2 — 99-91.

  • The Jazz showed a lot of the same fight and resiliency that won them Game 1, but they weren’t able to make enough plays to gain control of the game. They cut the game to six points on six different occasions in the fourth quarter, but were never able to make the Clippers feel the heat. It would have been really interesting to see if the Clippers would have gotten tight.
  • The Jazz had three shots that felt like they would have changed the game that were all great looks and they didn’t go. George Hill had a half wide open transition 3 at the end of the first that would have cut it to four points. At 8:44 in the fourth quarter, Joe Johnson got a great look that would have cut it to four points but missed, and with 5:51 left Hayward had a great look off of an Ingles steal that would have cut it to three points.
  • The Clippers played with great force early in the game. They came out a ball of fire, ran the floor and played with great tempo. This subsided as the game went on, but it will be interesting to see if they can maintain it at altitude. They came out like a team playing to survive.
  • Chris Paul is the best player in this series, Blake Griffin might be the second best and that is going to be a really tough issue for the Jazz throughout the series. Paul is particularly tough. He has seen everything that a team can throw at him. He is able to get where he wants to go on the floor despite the Jazz trying to work him into his weaknesses.
  • DeAndre Jordan was a beast tonight. He was able to get behind the defense and play above the rim. He had seven dunks. This is certainly a case of not having Rudy Gobert. Derrick Favors does a ton of things well, but he is not great at protecting the rim in the drop pick-and-roll coverage. I am not sure how the Jazz solve this issue the rest of the series without Rudy.
  • One other area of concern is the Jazz only got three offensive rebounds in the game tonight. It is really hard for the Jazz to have a good offensive night without some action on the offensive glass. The offensive rating tonight was a 103. It probably needs to be over 108 to win games in this series, maybe 100 without Rudy. If the Jazz could get one more offensive rebound a quarter and convert three of them, they hit that number. With Rudy, the offensive rebounding is a large part of the Jazz’s offense. Without it, the Jazz move from an average offense to a below average offensive team. The catch is the Jazz are really trying to get back defensively.
  • I loved that the Jazz got a bunch of 3-point looks tonight. This has been a real problem for the Jazz in their five games versus the Clippers. If the Jazz can start to get those shots off, then their margin for having a good night is greater. The Jazz took 25 of 70 shots (36%) from behind the arc. This is a big development for the rest of the series.
  • The Clippers defended Joe Johnson a bit differently, digging more and not letting him have as much space.
  • The Clippers are really missing Austin Rivers. If he returns, it is a big advantage for the Clippers.
  • Jamal Crawford and JJ Redick went 5 of 19 from the field. These guys have really been struggling in the last 11 playoff games for the Clippers. It’s a bad script for LA.
  • The Clippers’ starting lineup is the second best five-man lineup in the NBA and they were +12 tonight with the starters on the floor and -4 when they were off.
  • A huge stretch of the game was closing the first half when Chris Paul got his third foul and in the final 3:33 with Paul on the bench the Clippers stretched the lead by one rather than the Jazz making inroads to make the game close.
  • The Clippers had 60 points in paint after having 40 in Game 1.
  • This is going to be really tough without Gobert. It takes away a lot of the Jazz’s offense with the rim-rolls and the offensive rebounding, not to mention his impact on defense. I haven’t looked at the numbers, but the Jazz have not shown they can defend when Withey is at center in this series.
  • If the Jazz continue to play that hard and with that focus, they have a chance in this series. This was a good performance with a lot of positives.
  • Be loud Friday.