EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Bryce Cotton on the hammer dunk

• A fun way to the end the season at EnergySolutions Arena. Great energy all night. Lots of highlights. The Jazz play hard every night with this crew.

• Really cool night for Bryce Cotton. He plays super fast and with great tempo. He’s a good shooter. He’s troublesome due to his speed. He works hard and is trying to overcome his lack of size. He said it well after the game: “I’m just a kid trying to prove himself time and time again.”

• With everyone sitting out, Rudy Gobert was the best player on the floor and he looked like it. 20 points, 17 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal and 3 blocked shots.

• Cotton finished with 21 points on 8-for-15 shooting, and he added 2 rebounds and 4 assists.

• Cotton had the dunk of the season—an alley-oop from Rodney Hood which he caught high above the rim with his left hand and hammered home. It was a play they used to run for Cotton in Austin.

• Utah’s defense clamped down in the third quarter, and that ended the game.

• After shooting 3-for-15 from three in the first half, the Jazz hit all six in the third quarter.

• Danté Exum and Rudy Gobert have played 81 games this year.

• Chris Johnson looks like he’s going to try to make a living out of making corner threes, and that’s a smart way to make it in the NBA.

• Why the Mavericks played “Hack-a-Cooley” on a night when they didn’t bring their primary players is way beyond me.

• Jazz controlled the turnovers a little better tonight with just 15.

• Great to be with the home crowd again tonight. Thanks for all the great energy at the arena. Nothing beats a home game.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – This season …

• This season. What an incredible year filled with different stories and remarkable performances. Tonight the Jazz had a line-up of Bryce Cotton, Elijah Millsap, Chris Johnson, Jack Cooley and Jeremy Evans that spurred on the 4th quarter run that won the game. Incredible. This is a culture win. The foundation has been built for a program that has an expectation of how you are going to play, what style you are going to play and the type of effort that is expected from the team.

• None of this happens unless Trevor Booker has an out of body experience. Boy did he ever. 19 points in the first quarter was the 3rd most by any player in the 1st quarter all year. Booker had only scored more than 19 points in a game 7 times before tonight and he dropped 19 in the 1st.

• Trevor Booker joined the Jazz with 1 career three pointer. He has hit 28 this year. Consider this for a moment. In his first year from 10+ feet Booker shot 15% since then from 16+ has been nearly 40%. The work he has put in to improve his shooting has been incredible. Kevin McHale said it very well this year you either improve or you are out of the league. Booker has found what he has to do to be successful in this league and has improved in those areas.

• This was a cool night. The Jazz jumped the Blazers early when the Blazers thought they could walk through this game because the Jazz were without Hayward and Favors. The Jazz had a 10 point lead at halftime. The Blazers came to get this game in the 2nd half. They didn’t have LaMarcus but they went after this one. They took the lead and the Jazz answered and took control of the game. Amazing to re-gain this game after the Blazers took control.

• In the 4th the jazz played with great tempo and scored 34 in the 4th. Bryce Cotton brings a fast tempo to this team.

• The Jazz lived on the Bryce Cotton/ Jack Cooley pick and roll for a good deal of the 4th quarter.

• One of the reasons the Jazz rested Hayward and Favors was to give other guys opportunities and the main one is Rodney Hood. Hood has played over 30 minutes in 4 straight games. He has had the ball in his hand at the end of games. He has had to control the game as a first year player and he has answered the bell. What this last month will do for his development is terrific. Tonight he had 21 points (averaging 20 for 5 games) and hit on 7 of 13 shots with only 1 three point shot. Instead tonight he answered a question I asked earlier of whether he could start going to the foul line more. 8 free throw attempts.

• Hood also had a career high 8 assists. 8 assist and 1 turnover. He hit Booker a ton early.

• Jeremy Evans 15 minutes, 12 points, 5 rebounds and an assist. He has played very well recently when he has been given stretches. He is never going to gain weight and at times it is an issue but he is able to make an impact every time he is on the floor.

• Portland forces opponents the take the most mid-range shots in the NBA – the Jazz tonight took 31 of their 79 shots in paint non restricted or mid range. This is just 39% of their shots. The Jazz took 61% of their shots in the “smart” areas tonight (restricted and three’s) the Blazers usually only allow 52%. That is good work.

• The Blazers only allow 31% of their opponents shots in restricted area and the Jazz got 39% of their shots in restricted. Plus the Jazz shot 42 free throws.

• This season …….

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Great test as Grizz were in a must win

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN
• If it is a foul at the 8:14 mark of the 1st quarter it is a foul at the :01 second mark of the 4th quarter. That is what the league is trying to establish. It will be interesting to see what the league report says but I think it will say that Gasol fouled Hayward. This is a huge step in the right direction for the league. There has been a long belief that the league has a different set of rules in the final minutes. You hear broadcasters all the time say “You don’t call that foul at this point of the game.” The league is trying to eliminate that idea. That is what the 2 minute report is for every close game. Make the officials call the game correctly or be publically scolded. It is working. The no call on Rodney Hood by JT Orr and the call tonight are related. Evidentally, their was a similar play in the Spurs/Rockets game. Will be interesting to see how the league comes out on these? I didn’t understand why the league did these reports when it first started but I understand now and it is a wonderful step.

• This was a terrific game. If Memphis won they held #2 by themselves, if they lost they would have fallen all the way to 6th. Marc Gasol said after the game these are all playoff games for them with this much seeding on the line. The Jazz played with the Grizzlies for huge portions of the game.

• The game had 14 lead changes and 9 ties and neither team ever had a double digit lead.

• Quin Snyder said after the game it was about the last 5 minutes. With 5:30 left the game was 82 all. The Grizzlies shot 3 for 11 in the final 5:30 of the game with 1 turnover. That is big time defense from the Jazz. Back to back plays the Grizzlies went to Randolph isolated on Favors. The Jazz brought no help and Favors made the defensive plays.

• The Jazz offense in the final 5:30 was 2 for 9 with 3 turnovers and only baskets came on fast break baskets at the 5:15 mark and the 4:43 mark. At the 4:43 mark Gobert scored on an alley-opp and the next Jazz points came when Hayward hit the first two free throws.

• This is going to be the yin and the yang of the Jazz future. They are elite defensively but they struggle to score. As they try to add scoring will they be able to maintain the defensive prowess. Will the players simply mature enough to become better down the stretch? Will they get to know each other better and be able to make the correct reads? These are at the crux of the decisions that confront the front office in the off-season.

• After a big first half Rodney Hood went 2 for 8 in the 2nd half and 0 for 3 in the 4th quarter when the Memphis defense zeroed in. Hood is playing great and showing all sorts of NBA skills but it is still a process and a rookie is going to struggle in “playoff” type moments.

• Marc Gasol was the best player on the floor. He is 1st team all-nba. He did what an all NBA player should do in this circumstance. He lifted his team and carried them in a must win situation. His 2nd half was 9-5-3. All of those 9 points came in the 4th quarter.

• Joe Ingles is still on fire.

• Tough night for Trevor Booker – 0 for 4 in 15 minutes and 4 fouls. He is so great with his energy and his effort and his toughness but he lacks a little still to be able to impact the likes of Randolph and Gasol.

• Nice 15 minutes from Bryce Cotton. 11 points and dang is he quick.

• Solid performance against the #2 team in the West that had to win. Hayward was great by the way. The last free throw is easy to talk about but when you are doing that make sure you mention the 27 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists against the #4 defense in the NBA

I forgot — the play by Rudy Gobert to close the first half is one of the most athletic incredible plays I have seen in the NBA. He set the pick for Hayward on the a three on the angle left and then he rim dove and got the offensive rebound. Missed the follow dunk recovered and jammed. Insane. He set the pick outside the three point line.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Jazz win a game they should

• Really a dud of a game. Sacramento without Rudy Gay or DeMarcus Cousins lacks the skill of an NBA team. The Jazz have reduced the minutes of their main guys. The Jazz locked down for five minutes and won the game. That is what it takes when you are the superior team.

• Sacramento has been killed by shooting guards all year and Rodney Hood got them for the second straight game.

• George Karl wanted this game to get to the fourth quarter, but the fourth quarter was completely controlled by the Jazz.

• The Jazz played a lot of different combinations on the floor that they don’t usually use, and it showed as they had a ton of turnovers and didn’t play offensively with a lot of force. This is largely because they don’t know each other that well.

• Gordon Hayward played just 20 minutes, but Quin Snyder is not planning on shutting him down. It’s clear, though, that they are reducing his load.

• Rodney Hood had another 20-point night. He also had a career-high 8 rebounds and 4 assists. He hit 3 of 7 from three. He had been struggling from three so it’s good to see him hit a few.

• Favors was the best player on the floor and in his 22 minutes he was totally dominant.

• Joe Ingles is playing really playing well in the second half of the season. He’s hitting his three well over 40% and he does a ton of other items as well.

• Andre Miller is still terrific to watch.

• Not a lot to this game. Jazz win.