• Bryce Cotton, Rodney Hood, Joe Ingles, Jeremy Evans and Trevor Booker—why of course. That’s the five-man lineup that carried the Jazz through the key run of the game and to a win. Danté Exum, Rudy Gobert and Elijah Millsap took part in the fun as well. Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors did not.

• Favors checked out 5:16 into the third quarter and Hayward checkout 6:10 into the third quarter and neither returned to the game. Both of these guys have been carrying this team and Quin has asked so much out of them in practice and shootarounds all season. They are on empty and Quin recognized it. Great call by the coach at this point of the season to realize what you have and what you don’t and let it ride. Not worth winning the game with those pieces overly worn out and instead he let the other guys get amazing experience.

• I’m going to be Debbie Downer for a quick second. The group the Jazz played in the fourth quarter for Sacramento was not good. Without going player by player, none of them other than Cousins is an NBA starter and Cousins is a miracle.

• With that said, Rodney Hood was terrific. I wrote about this in the last EMPTYING THE NOGGIN. He plays an NBA game. He’s in control. He said after the game that he has worked with Quin a tremendous amount and Quin has really talked to him about how to play in and around the paint. Quin is big about playing with balance (which is strength) and skill (handle and vision) in and around the paint as the ball handler. It allows them to react to different defenses and make plays. Hood and Hayward have the strength to do it. At times, Gordon lacks the handle. Rodney is not having that issue.

• Interesting how much Rodney mentioned Gordon’s role in his development in our postgame interview, with Gordon pushing him to be more aggressive.

• Aggressive he was with a career-high 25 points and 13 in the fourth quarter, including nine straight after the game got to 83-82 with 6:11 left. Hood then hit the technical free throw and followed with three and then a 14-foot pull-up jumper, then a nine-foot runner and the Jazz were up 92-84 with 4:24 left. It was big time.

• Another 2-for-4 3-point shooting night for Joe Ingles. If he can play 15 to 18 minutes a night, he might have a nice roll as the fourth wing to Hayward, Hood and Burks.

• Jazz were never able to strangle the Kings defensively like they have other teams since the All-Star break. Utah’s defense tonight was forcing turnovers, which is different than what they usually do. They forced 20 turnovers.

• A rough estimate had the game at nearly 100 possessions, so the Jazz allowing 95 pts still keeps the defensive rating at near 95.0, which is amazing. When you force 20% of the opponent’s possessions into turnovers and only allow five 3-pointers, allowing 48% shooting is not as bad as it looks.

• The Jazz fouled like crazy tonight. Against a good team, they would have cost themselves the game with four silly fouls in the second quarter that put them in the penalty at the 8:00 mark. The Kings didn’t take advantage as much as they should have.

• Bryce Cotton played a nice game tonight. He is crazy fast. He played with pace. Aaron Brooks is the model for Cotton, but Brooks is a bit stronger and Brooks is super tough. Don’t know if Cotton can match him on those two accounts. He played a nice game. Four rebounds in 12:30 shows some toughness.

• Jeremy Evans with a productive eight minutes: 10 points, two rebounds.

• I don’t know how George Karl deals with this. I tell you what, if I was a two-time cancer survivor and had the resume George has, I wouldn’t bother dealing with DeMarcus. I wouldn’t lose one minute of sleep over his antics or let him have a negative impact on my life. Not sure how he does that, but I hope he’s able to because DeMarcus is a sad story. God gave him a gift and he is truly miserable with the gift he was given. It’s really too bad, but he’s going to torpedo the Kings franchise.

• Fun night. The big boys got to sit and watch and three rookies, a seldom-used player, a bunch of guys from the D-League and a big monster named Rudy carried the Jazz to a win. No. 35—10 more than a year ago.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Lots of things more important than missed call

• The last non-call was terrible. That is a foul. JT Orr pointed at his foot to say Hood kicked out. Hood only kicked out because PJ Tucker nailed the right side of his body and that moved his left foot forward. It was a brutal mistake and I am certain the league will announce it tomorrow.

• A bunch of things more important than the final play happened tonight. Most importantly, Gordon Hayward took over the game late and brought the Jazz back. Hayward went 4 of 5 in the final part of the 4th quarter and had 12 4th quarter points. The Jazz are going to have to find a go to guy who can score late in games and it has to be someone with the ball in their hands. It is too hard in the NBA to get the ball into the post and it is too easy for the team to force the ball out of the post. If the Jazz are going to beat really good teams someone is going to have to step up and make those plays and tonight Gordon showed huge progress in that area

• Dante Exum was more aggressive again tonight in a tough match-up against a bulldog defender in Eric Bledsoe. He went to the basket early. He hit a pull up jumper from 9 feet out that was sweet. Another time he fooled me with a little flip shot in the lane that I thought was going to be a pass to Gobert.

• Rodney Hood again showed an NBA game. There is a huge difference between NBA skill and a NBA game. One of the signs that a player belongs is when he plays a controlled game. At times it looks slow to Rodney. Even better is when you as the ball handler can dictate the speed of the game. Hood seems to have everyone around him off balance and therefore he is controlling the speed of the play. This is big. He has already figured out how he is going to score in this league. He has the three point game. He has an in between game and he has the hercky jerky in the lane game. He is not going to the line at all. So the next step is figuring how to draw contact and get free throw attempts. He also needs to foul less and more intelligently.

• Joe Ingles is on fire from 3. 2 for 3 tonight He is 8 of his last 12 from 3.

• The real lesson on tonight is how much more the Jazz need to improve to be really good. Little plays that cost you close games were all over the place. Exum not controlling a rebound. Pick through the 18 turnovers, Rudy and Derrick with 9 of them. Not very good execution on the final play. Numerous other possessions that could have swung the game the other way. Those are the plays that will change the franchise in the next few years.

• Jazz bench tonight was Trevor Booker, Joe Ingles, a 27 year old rookie who had been released by numerous camps prior to coming to the Jazz, and 3 D-League players.

• PJ Tucker is tough. Favors was posting him a lot on the night and couldn’t take advantage of him. Favors finished 4 of 15 from the field.

• Each half mirrored each other. Jazz went on runs in the 1st and 3rd and completely shut down the Suns offense. Then in the 2nd and the 4th the Jazz had a hard time getting stops and fell behind.

• Trey Burke was missed tonight

• Little victories tonight are more important than the blown call and the mysterious late game replays. That is still what this season is about and there were lots of good things tonight.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Jazz dominant over Nuggets


  •  Jazz got revenge on the Nuggets with a blow out win at Energy Solutions Arena.  The story was defense again.  The Jazz allowed 29 points in the first quarter and then allowed 30 points in the next 30 minutes.   That is incredible.   For 60%+ of the game the Jazz allowed 1 point per minute.  Are you kidding me?


  • Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors have eliminated the rim from opponents.  In the first three quarters the Nuggets were 11 of 33 in the paint.  33% in the paint.   This is absurd.


  • Then when the Jazz know they have these two monsters in the paint they are able to get out and close on the three point shooters.  The Nuggets were bombing.  They ended up taking 33 three’s and only made 7.


  • Rudy Gobert had a nice offensive night.  This has been the big deal to me all year.  This league is underestimating the value of the dunkers.  Rudy was more than a dunker tonight but to score 20 points on 7 shots is an incredible value.   Rudy used 12 scoring opportunities to score his 20 points.   The league average is 12.84.  To be 7.2 points above average on 12 scoring opportunities makes it incredibly difficult for the other team to catch up.


  • Dante Exum was driving and dishing tonight.  He had a career high 12 assists.  If Exum can begin to make some shots and show some touch around the rim more and more of these passes are going to open up.  Tonight he showed a willingness to make mistakes and that opened the door to make some of these plays.  I believe Dante is very self aware and that much of his lack of aggression has been an understanding of what he can and can’t do.  He is not a good finisher, he is not a good mid range shooter and therefore he has not wanted to hurt the team and try those plays when it is not going to be a good end result.  He needs some more selfishness and when he adds that it will add more options to be unselfish.


  • Before the game Quin Snyder was on the floor with Dante Exum working on some of the moves and plays that were coming it in the game.   Seemed to work.


  • Derrick Favors is a force download.  He was in foul trouble all night but he played angry and he is beginning to display a lot of different offensive moves.  The games Favors had to play without Hayward forced him to be more assertive offensively and he has grown because of those.  He averaged 18 points in March a career high for a month and added 19 tonight.


  • Kenneth Faried attacked Rudy Gobert as well as any big I have seen all year.  Faried has great energy and does good stuff in the paint but has Enes Kanter passing tendencies.


  • Trey Burke was solid again tonight. He hit some really important shots when the Jazz were down early.


  • Jazz trailed this game 29-22 after 1 and then blitzed the Nuggets 59 to 30 over the next two quarters


  • Jazz go to 19-19 at home


  • Another amazing defensive night for this team.  They have a collective energy right now that is really special.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Blowout win and “What if?” with Rudy

  • Solid, professional win by the Jazz tonight. The defense was dominant from the start. The Wolves missed their final 8 shots of the first quarter and the game was over. The Wolves made a small run in the second quarter to get the game to 3 and the Jazz eliminated that in a hurry with a 15-6 run. Finally, the Jazz blitzed the Wolves to open the third quarter on a 14-0 run and then league rules said we had to play 48 minutes.
  • This was a highlight-filled game. Wiggins had a sick dunk on top of Gobert and then two plays later he tried it again and Gobert rejected the attempt and Wiggins crumpled like a deck chair. Finally, Gobert led a fast break and hit Booker with a behind-the-back pass for a two-handed slam.
  • Utah’s defense will finish March as the #1 defense in the NBA for March—they held the Wolves to 36.8% shooting and only six 3-pointers tonight.
  • Jazz are the #1 offensive rebounding team and the Wolves are 30th in defensive rebounding. The Jazz get 28% of all offensive rebounds. The Wolves allow 29%.  Tonight the Jazz grabbed 14 of 38 offensive rebound chances for 37%. This is what a top offensive rebounding team should do. Booker and Gobert both had five offensive rebounds.
  • The Jazz had 22 fast-break points tonight.
  • Trey Burke was really good again tonight. He drove to the basket and attacked the rim. The Jazz did a better job spacing the floor and the Wolves have Enes Kanter-type rim protection. Trey finished with 19 points and only took only five 3-pointers. He’s averaging over 20 in the last two games with only 2 three point shots.
  • Another tough break as Rodney Hood took an elbow to the head and had to leave with concussion-like symptoms. He just can’t get it rolling without something going wrong.
  • Back-to-back wins without Derrick Favors.
  • Gordon Hayward is ridiculous. He had 22 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals. Ho hum. He was just playing. He didn’t take over a stretch of the game. He was just the best player on the floor for the entire game. Nothing radical. Nothing spectacular. He has averaged 21-5-5 since Feb. 1 and for a good deal of it been struggling with his shot. He really should be considered for Most Improved Player and All-NBA. He did it on 15 shots in 33 minutes tonight.
  • Joe Ingles’ across-the-floor bounce pass to Trevor Booker was sweet. He threaded it through three defenders and it was right on the money.
  • Can we discuss Rudy for a moment? I love Rudy. He plays with so much fire and competitiveness. When Wiggins dunked on him, he was going to return the favor—it was only a matter of time. He loves to play. He wants to be great. Quin had an interesting comment before the game that Rudy has a good understanding of what needs to improve and he works on it.
  • Part 2 of this is crazy talk on what Rudy can be. Since the All-Star break, he’s averaging 11 points (he had 15 tonight), 14 rebounds (12 tonight), 2 assists (2 tonight), 1 steal (1 tonight) and 3 blocks (3 tonight). Now what happens when he gets a little stronger? What happens when he develops some basic offensive ability? What happens if he makes two or three plays a night out of an offensive game? Could he really become a 15-15 guy? That’s crazy? Guys don’t do that. What happens if his competitiveness means he actually becomes a little bit of an offensive threat and then he can pass out of advantage rather than disadvantage? Could he be 15-15-5 guy? That’s insane. It is remarkable what he is doing without experience, without a refined game and without strength. What’s next?
  • I realize Minnesota’s post players tonight were not rotational NBA players.
  • Solid win. Make sure you listen to the Hot Rod Hundley tribute podcast on iTunes or at Locked on Jazz.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – It’s all about the Enes no treble


  • “He got his numbers and he got the L, like always”- Trevor Booker post game about Enes Kanter


  • “He really pissed us off with those comments”  – Gordon Hayward post game about Enes Kanter


  • “I didn’t like the way Enes handled the interviews this afternoon” – Scott Brooks about Enes Kanter


  • “It was very personal. We try to stay away from those things but we all felt disrespected” – Trey Burke about Enes Kanter


  • Hayward went Urban Meyer he wouldn’t refer to Enes by name instead of calling him former Jazz player


  • Enes Kanter is an immature momentum player.  This could turn the tide on his run in OKC.  This game became solely about Enes.  The intensity was high.  Elbows were flying, pushes were being administered.   This was very physical and it all happened because of Enes comments at shoot around today.


  • Kanter said “I don’t care if they boo me”  I know Enes.  Let me tell you nothing could be further from the truth.  Enes more than any athlete I have ever covered is desperate to be loved.


  • Enes Kanter “they are not a good basketball team”  in post game.  This actually was true when Enes played for the Jazz but is not as true since he was traded.


  • Jazz won despite shooting 38% and shot 6 of 29 from the three point line and still won.  Plus, they didn’t have Derrick Favors and Hayward went 4 for 16 and 0 for 6 from three.


  • Trey Burke was really aggressive.  He drove to the basket hard and created opportunities.  The Jazz went after Kanter in the pick and roll as often as they could and Trey killed him he went 1 for 8 from 3 and scored 22 points.  This is not something he wouldn’t have done in the past.  He shot 7 free throws and that is the 2nd most of his career.


  • This was about a collective effort and they fought hard to get the win.  At the opening tip circle the Jazz starting 5 players went to all 4 of the Thunder starters not named Enes to do the pre-game greeting.  Not one Jazz player went to Enes.
  • Westbrook was great in the 1st and 4th quarter scoring and making plays.  In the 1st quarter he was hitting the roller early and often.  The Jazz took this away after the 1st quarter and Westbrook didn’t adjust.  He went quiet in the 2nd and 3rd quarter and was turnover laden.  Then in the 4th quarter he became the only Thunder player with the ball going 1 on 1 and scoring but not assisting.   He didn’t have an assist in the 4th but he was the only Thunder player to score in the final 8 minutes.  This was the ultimate example of why Westbrook is so debated.


  • This is a collective effort win.  It is an important win for the growth of this team that they bonded over the immature and “most pathetic comments I have ever heard from a player” (Phil Johnson)  and got the win.


  • On a personal note, I have been an Enes fan.  I have known all of his warts and excused them and hoped for the better.  He left himself so exposed to night that he is on his own, we have all protected him and cocooned him for the last years and were going to keep doing it but he is on his own now.