EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Defensive effort doesn’t get offensive support

SUMMARY: The Jazz made just 4 of 33 shot attempts in the second half, yet remarkably stayed in the game until the end.
• It feels as though four made field goals in a half might be close to an NBA record. It is the fewest field goals ever allowed by the Miami Heat in a half. The NBA record for fewest field goals in a game is 18.

• Honestly, I have no idea why we are having such a hard time scoring. Is it bad shooting, lack of spacing or is it building on itself? The spacing is not good. There’s not another team playing two bigs with similar skill sets like Favors and Gobert, so spacing is hard to come by. On the other hand, we don’t have great shooters so at some point it is just an inability to hit shots.

• Quin Snyder tried some interesting things tonight when he used Favors more in the pick and roll early in the game to get Favors some mid-roll action. If Favors is spacing to the outside and the other team isn’t honoring it, Gobert is going to have a tough time getting the roll to the rim.

• The Jazz were breaking the paint and moving the ball early and the game had a pace to it. As the night went on, that disappeared. The Jazz want to get into the paint early in a possession and then work off that advantage but they don’t have enough players who are capable of doing that.

• The Jazz wanted Ricky Rubio to keep his dribble alive with the Nash dribble along the baseline to create opportunities around the rim. It had a flash of possibility but it also led to some turnovers.

• Ricky Rubio has to be better. He was 0 for 5 with five turnovers. He is 9 of his last 40 and one of his last nine from 3. More than the shooting issues, I am stunned at how sloppy he has been with the basketball. It felt as though his five turnovers tonight were avoidable without being conservative.

• Rudy Gobert took a hit to the side of his knee and looked really bad, but somehow he was able to come back in the game and play the final portion.

• The Jazz were great defensively. To have this type of offensive futility and stay in a game is hard to fathom. They were up three when Gobert blocked a Whiteside shot but with :04 on the shot clock, Waiters came off a pick and hit a tough corner 3 to tie the game. The Heat then proceed to go on a 10-0 run to blow the game open in the final moments.

• Rodney Hood shot eight free throws tonight. He has taken 18 in two games and he is now 32 of 33 from the line this season.

• Unfortunately, Rodney missed 11 straight shots to end the night.

• Joe Ingles had a nice well rounded box score again with 4 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals.

• The Jazz forced 21 turnovers.

• Alec Burks had his best game of the year with 22 minutes and 4 of 8 shooting. He continued his awesome 3-point shooting this season hitting 2 of 2 and had 12 points.

• Donovan Mitchell hit the first two shots of the night and then went 3 for his next 12.

• The Jazz had no offensive rebounds in the first half and four for the entire game. With the decrease in offensive rebounding around the league, I believe the offensive rebound has added value then it has had in the past and it may be the answer for the Jazz to be a viable offensive team. The Jazz came into the game 23rd in the league in offensive rebounding. It may need to be a focus so the Jazz can get some put backs and pound people inside.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN — Jazz shooting goes wayward

SUMMARY: Disastrous shooting night overwhelms Jazz in loss to the Sixers 104-97.

• Unlike the last two losses tonight’s issue was not the defense, it was offense. The Jazz had a tough offensive night from the beginning and never got going. There was a brief spurt when the Sixers cleared their bench letting Jahill Okafor and Nik Stauskas play and the Jazz got the game back to even, but the Jazz were never able to get a rhythm.

• The Jazz were off all night. They had mental breakdowns both offensive and defensively that are not something we are accustomed to seeing from this team. Cross-court passes in the back-court that are intercepted and become slam dunks. Inbound pass to the from the right wing to the midcourt that is easily intercepted for a fast break dunk. Letting guys get back door or not covering some basic slip plays that lead to dunks.

• The defense was pretty good most of the night, but it was a victim of breakdowns like the aforementioned plays. There was also a Redick wide open three in transition or a wide open Saric off an inbound pass.

• Re-watching this game I will be really curious to see if it was everyone or one player that wasn’t engaged in the game.

• The Jazz shooting was dreadful. In order of shot attempts, Mitchell was 3 for 21, Rubio was 4 of 16, Ingles 6 for 16 and Hood 4 for 14

• A troubling note is the shooting percentage for the season for our leading shot takers are the following – Mitchell 34.4%; Hood 39.1%; Rubio 39.1% and from three-point range they are the following Hood 37.7% (which is good), Mitchell 31.7% and Rubio is 29.8%.

• Ricky Rubio was 0 for 5 from three and is 1 for his last 14 from three.

• Mitchell’s 3 for 21 night is a rarity. He is just the 33rd player since 1983 to make 3 or fewer field goals with 20 or more attempts. He is just one of 5 players to do it taking 1 or fewer free throws. The list of players who has done it is some of the best names in the NBA. It happens.

• I didn’t think the shots by Hood, Mitchell or Rubio were out of the natural offense. They took the shots the defense gave them they just didn’t convert. In fact, Rodney Hood had 10 free throw attempts tonight which was a career high.

• Joe Ingles was 6 for 16 and I thought he tried to go outside of his usual game to help the team, but it is asking a lot for him to play in that fashion.

• Gobert is not getting the rolls to the basket because the defense is collapsing in the paint and he can’t even get to the rim. There was a play in the 2nd quarter where Rubio threw a perfect pass to Gobert on a pick and roll and he was 8 feet away with 4 people between him and the rim.

• Thabo Sefolosha plays so hard every night and makes so many good plays. He is great cutter off the ball.

• It is only the 4th time the Jazz have ever shot 30.3% or below and shot 23.1% or below from 3. 200 v. Lakers and 2005 v. Knicks.

• Collectively poor night. The offense is going to be a season-long tussle. It is good the defense stay strong for the most part.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Harden has a night for the ages

SUMMARY: James Harden put on a historic performance as the Rockets blew out the Jazz
• Only one player has ever scored more points on 25 shots in NBA History than what James Harden did tonight, Michael Jordan.

• Only one player has ever had 50 points, 10 assist and shot better than 75%, Wilt Chamberlin.

• Tonight’s performance has only been matched by the two greatest players to ever play the game.

• Harden had 56 points and 13 assists. 9 of his 13 assists were for three point shots. Total that together and Harden contributed directly to 91 points.

• James Harden was incredible. He scored in every manner. He started the night doing a lot of scoring in the mid range and in the paint non restricted area which is usually what you want to force him into. Then his confidence grew and he was unreal. Driving to the rim around Gobert. Making three after three, even when they were contenst.

• After the 1st quarter Harden had 22 points on 8 for 8 shooting with 4 three pointers and 2 for 2 at the line. He had 4 assists in the 1st quarter as well. All of those threes were for three point shots. He contributed 34 points in the 1st quarter alone.

• By halftime had missed a shot, two in fact. He was 10 of 12 for 30 points. He had made another three without a miss and two more free throws. Then he added 3 more assists for a total of 7.

• By the end of three quarters he had gone over 50, with 54 points. Now he had 13 assist, 9 of which were for three point shots. Not a lot of players in NBA history have notched 54 points in 3 quarters of basketball. Not to mention on 18 of 21 shots.

• He scored 50 points on 20 shots which had only been done one other time in NBA history.

• It was the best offensive player in the NBA dominating a game at the highest level. Talking to people around the Rockets who have covered him his entire run in Houston, they called tonight the best performance of his career.

• The Jazz had a few offensive stretches tonight where the ball stopped moving and they tried to play 1 on 1. This was usually caused by the switching defense of the Rockets, but this team is not filled with one on one players.

• Donovan Mitchell continues to wow people. He was very solid tonight . The three best plays he made tonight in my mind were passes. He has very good vision and as he learns how to not turn the ball over and open up his passing it will be more and more evident. We saw the Rockets double him off the pick and roll and this was the first time a team has done that. The next steps in his progress will be seeing different defensive approaches. He is close to being the first name mentioned in a scouting report.

• Derrick Favors had two three pointers, a first in his career.

• Take out his first quarters and Rodney Hood is playing really well. But he can’t get started yet. He is 4 of 19 in the first quarter and has only scored 10 points all year. The rest of the game he is 37 of 82 for a solid 45%

• Jazz played Thabo Sefolosha as the back up power forward tonight.

• Tony Bradley got his first NBA time but didn’t get his first points.

• This night is about Harden.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Gritty Jazz pull over overtime win v. Portland

SUMMARY: Grit defined the Jazz win over Portland, 112-103, as Rubio and Mitchell carried the offensive load.
• This was a great game. The Jazz seemed dead on a few occasions in the fourth quarter and relentless fought to stay in the game. This is becoming the signature of this team, the grit and resiliency to stay engaged throughout a game.

• The defense is the calling card on this team. They held one of the best offensive teams in the NBA to under a point per possession tonight. The Blazers final offensive rating was 95.4. To do that to a team as loaded as the Blazers offensively is unheard of in the NBA.

• Ricky Rubio is emerging to be a completely different player in Utah than he was in Minnesota. The question is whether this is a continuation of the second half of last season or something completely different. He has scored 20 or more in three straight games and the only other time he ever did this in his career was in March of last year. He scored 30 for the second time in his career and has only scored over 25 five times in his career. He has now scored 20 or more in 10 of his last 24 games of his career.

• And it’s not just how much he’s scoring, it’s how confidently he’s doing it. He pulled up for 3 in transition in the first half, and did the same down by six points with less than 2:00 minutes to play and nailed it. He did it one last time in overtime when the Blazers went under on the pick he stopped at the top of the key for the final dagger. He is playing unleashed.

• Donovan Mitchell is having quite the start to his NBA career. In the 8th game of his career, the Jazz ran the first three plays of overtime to him and he came through on two of the three. Mitchell shot 9 of 21 and 4 of 10 from 3 and finished with 28 points. There is still a long way to go for this kid, but the flashes he is showing are real and super exciting.

• The Jazz are tied for first in the Northwest.

• The Jazz had a chance to win in regulation but had a really bad turnover late. They had a rebound with :11 seconds left with the game tied but Ingles rushed an outlet pass to Rubio who then traveled as Lillard cut off his path. There is no need to rush in those circumstances, but this team is still new to these moments. This is how they lost the Minnesota game.

• Instead, Rudy Gobert came to the rescue. Lillard worked his way into the paint and Gobert blocked the shot to force overtime.

• Thabo Sefolosha is a remarkable player and commands the respect of his teammates. He leads the defense and guarded Lillard for the entire overtime. He was playing the power forward on offense and the point defensively. He is so long and so smart. He was ranked one of the best wing defenders in the NBA and he shows it.

• When the Jazz had Sefolosha on Lillard and Rubio on McCollum, the intensity was remarkable. They blow them off their spots and altered every angle the Blazers wanted to take. Plus, the Jazz still had Mitchell and Ingles on the floor with the most dominating defensive player in the NBA, Rudy Gobert.

• Rodney Hood went 0 for 11.

• Joe Ingles had 7 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 blocks.

• Jonas Jerebko got 20 minutes tonight in place of the injured Joe Johnson and was really good. He hit two 3s and plays with a lot of energy.

• Damian Lillard took over the fourth quarter and was impossible to guard. By the end of overtime, he looked like he was tired from all the different Jazz defenders’ harassment.

• The Jazz are 5-0 at home with wins over Denver, Oklahoma City and Portland. Those are really important.

• The Jazz have a real chance to be the number one defense in the NBA. If they are…

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Jazz dominate 2nd half v. Mavericks

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN — Jazz adjust in the second half to roll over Mavericks

SUMMARY: The Jazz turned a 14-point first half deficit into a blowout win over Dallas Mavericks, 104-89.
• The Jazz defense took control of the game in the second half, holding the Mavericks to 36 second-half points and 14 of 35 shooting. More impressively, Utah limited the Mavs’ 3-point attempts to 10, only allowing them to connect on three.

• Rodney Hood followed a trend he has had all year which is a slow first quarter and a good third quarter. However, tonight he took the good third quarter to a brand new level, finishing with 20 points in the second half. His third quarter ignited the Jazz on 10-2 to start the third quarter and never cooled off.

• Rudy Gobert had his best night of his career last year against Dallas with 27 points and 25 rebounds and tonight he might have surpassed it with a 6 x 4. He finished with 17 points, 12 rebounds, a career high six assists and a season high six blocks. The Mavericks regularly drove to the basket and threw it back out because of Gobert’s presence. This is a huge part of why Dallas turned the ball over 24 times.

• In pregame, Quin Snyder said that the guys had to guard their yard and not get put in the blender. This meant stopping guard penetration, because if they get into the paint and everyone has to help them, the defense looks like it is out of sorts. The Jazz were over-helping in the first half according to Coach Snyder. The Mavericks hit on 9 of 14 in the first half and in the second half, they weren’t getting the same looks.

• Ricky Rubio has scored 20 points in back-to-back games and got rolling a bit in the second half. He hit on 8 of 15 and 4 of 8 from 3 to finish the game with 20 points and six assists. Rubio’s defense was the best part of his game, and he had four steals. Before the game, Dallas head coach Rick Carlisle talked about how hard it is to switch defensively on Rubio because he gets his hand on so many balls. There was a play tonight where Rubio was switched onto Dirk. Dirk got the ball in the post and Rubio reached around and got near the ball or made contact and ruined Dirk’s rhythm on the shot and he missed. It is a subtle play, but it is what makes the Jazz an elite defensive team.

• In every game this year, the Jazz have had defensive stretches where they completely shut down their opponent. They did it again tonight Dallas scored four points in the first seven minutes of the third quarter. The Jazz did that again in the middle of the fourth when Dallas scored six points from the 7:40 mark to the when the white flag went up with a minute left.

• Rudy Gobert was +32; Rodney Hood and Joe Ingles were +30.

• J.J. Barea had 17 points in the first half and was giving Donovan Mitchell fits defensively. On back-to-back possessions, Mitchell strayed away (over helped) and J.J. moved just far enough away to get wide open 3s and he couldn’t miss.

• Thabo Sefolosha has a huge impact on the game defensively with his length.

• In the Jazz’s first two offensive possessions of the game, Rudy Gobert hit a 15-footer and Derrick Favors hit a corner 3. They made both but it was Dallas getting Utah to take the shots they wanted the Jazz to take. As the night went on, the Jazz dictated where they were going to get their looks offensively.

• Turnovers have been a big issue, with the Jazz turning it over on about 20% of their possessions. Tonight the Jazz only turned the ball on 13.9% of their possessions.

• This was a solid win to run away in a game when they were down and being outplayed. This home stand is all about winning the games they need to win.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Mitchell soars, Defense stifles, Jazz win

SUMMARY: Donovan Mitchell excites the crowd, defense holds down Lakers and Jazz break a two-game losing streak to win 96-81.
• The talk around the town will be Donovan Mitchell. As the second quarter was winding down, Alec Burks pulled up for 3 and missed. Out of nowhere, soaring above the defense, Mitchell rose up above all others and packed down a one-handed follow jam. The Lakers turned it over and with the crowd still roaring, Mitchell pulled for 3 and hit the bottom of the net. Vivint Arena erupted. The Donovan Mitchell experience has started.

• Quin Snyder made two really interesting moves late in the game and both of them worked out. He stayed big with Favors and Gobert against the small, fast lineup of the Lakers. Quin has been reluctant to close with both bigs but he went with it tonight and it was successful. The Jazz were able to handle the Lakers’ speed and they dominated the offensive glass in the second half of the game.

• Quin also closed the game with Donovan Mitchell rather than Rodney Hood. Mitchell came through late in the game with a big corner 3 and some great drives to the basket. Mitchell finished the 4th quarter with seven points on 3 of 6 shooting and had an assist.

• The impressive thing about Mitchell tonight was that he was really struggling coming into this game. Seeing him after the game in Phoenix, he looked really down for the first time and was befuddled by why he was having such a hard time. He was struggling early in this game to finish around the rim and then he exploded. It is a sign of his mentality. He is confident and fearless. That is what allowed him to have the game he had this evening: 22 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals on 9 of 16 shooting.

• The Jazz’s defense is really the story of the night. They held the Lakers to an offensive rating of 91 (read as 91 points per 100 possessions). The league average is 107 and the best in the NBA defensively last year was 100. The Lakers shot just 5 of 22 from 3 and hit on just 5 of 16 shots in the 4th quarter. The Lakers avoided Rudy Gobert all night. The Lakers EFG% was 41.4% — league average is 51%.

• Joe Ingles put together a very impressive line tonight with 13 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals. He hit on 3 of 7 from 3 and is now an incredible 18 of 35 for the season.

• The Lakers were playing on the back end of a back-to-back and three games in four nights against the Jazz. Tonight’s game was played at a very slow pace. The unofficial pace was 90 possessions, which is 10 lower than league average and even five lower than what the Jazz average. The Lakers had been playing at a pace of 106.5 possessions.

• Quin Snyder made some subtle changes to the rotation tonight. He took Rubio out in the first quarter earlier than he has been and brought him back in the same quarter. Instead of Neto, Snyder went to Mitchell allowing Alec Burks to get some minutes. The Jazz have really struggled with first quarters and tonight they scored 31 points, The last three on a Donovan Mitchell buzzer beater.

• Ricky Rubio had 21 points, 7 in the 4th quarter. He hit 6 of 13 and 4 of 7 from 3.

• The Jazz continued to turn the ball over at an alarming rate. Tonight, they turned it over on 21% of their possessions. This is not sustainable. It has to be rectified as the year continues and the players get to know each other better.

• Rudy Gobert looks like he had a quiet night with 6 points and 8 rebounds. His presence rolling to the basket is what opened the Jazz up for 30 3-point shots. The Lakers were taking away the roll and the Jazz were hitting shooters on skip passes to open 3-point shooters when the Lakers took away the roll.

• Derrick Favors had a double-double. He had six all of last season. His last one was March 3rd versus Brooklyn. Favors is finishing at the rim at a very high rate that shows how healthy he is.

• It is not a coincidence that Mitchell had a strong game playing against kids his same age tonight instead of playing the grown adults he has been facing many nights in the NBA. This is still a process and he is going to have ups and downs. Tonight sure was exciting.

• This was a solid win. This season will largely be defined by the how the Jazz do against the teams they should beat.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN — 24 turnovers why did they happen in Jazz loss to Phoenix

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN — Too many turnovers kill the offense

SUMMARY: Jazz turnovers derailed the offense and cut short their defensive effort against the Suns.
• There are lots of different things you can look at in this game, but at one point in the third quarter, the Jazz had turned the ball over on 25% of their possessions. One of out of four times down the floor, the Jazz weren’t getting a shot off. The negative effects of turnovers on an offense are often overblown. However, tonight it didn’t feel like the Jazz turnovers were on plays that would have become layups or open looks, they were miscommunications or failed pitches or stepping out of bounds. I probably need to review all of these to make sure that is true, but that is my feeling without reviewing any film.

• Why are the Jazz committing so many turnovers? This is above my pay grade, but here are a few hypotheses: The shorten training camp with a lot of new faces has led to a lack of connectivity; The lack of one-on-one players means the Jazz need to have more actions and movements and passes to be able to get open looks; The lack of spacing means that the passing lanes are narrow and therefore leading to an increase in turnovers; The accelerated pace is getting the team out of rhythm. I am really not sure on which of these is the issue. There are others as well, such as Mitchell being inexperienced and playing too fast, Neto having played very little with anyone this season because of injury after Dante’s injury, Rubio learning his teammates, etc.

• The Jazz defense continues to be remarkably good. Even tonight in the midst of lots of turnovers and misses, the Jazz were holding the Suns to under a point per possession for the entire night. The fact that the Jazz cut the Suns lead to five at one point with the offensive woes they were having is an incredible testament to the defense.

• The game paced at over 100 possessions.

• One surprising element tonight was the Suns’ ability to get on the offensive glass. The Suns got 30% of their own misses which is a high rate. The league average is about 25%.

• Alex Len played really well for the Suns — the best I have seen him play.

• Rodney Hood got back in the swing of things tonight: 22 points tonight on 16 shots attempts and seven of those shot attempts were 3s. Plus, he went to the line four times. That is close to the perfect balance and shot distribution for Rodney.

• Rudy Gobert had 16 points, 14 rebounds and 5 blocks.

• The Jazz bench didn’t give its usual bounce tonight. They were 3 of 18 shooting with eight turnovers.

• Not an excuse, but the Jazz have played five games to start the year and have not been in the same city for more than a day. It isn’t brutal like some of the old four games in five nights but it hasn’t been that easy either. Coming right out of training camp, this could be a tired team. The schedule gets a bit more gentle before they head East in 10 days.

• The Jazz shot 6 of 25 from 3. This is the only area where I think they could be a bit fatigued. A bunch of guys are going to shoot better as the year goes on. Rubio is 5 of 22 on the season, Joe Johnson is 2 of 12, Donovan Mitchell is 3 of 18, Thabo Sefolosha is 3 for 12.

• This was a tough loss. The Jazz got the Suns at the wrong time coming off the coaching change and some home practices with the Jazz having travelled. However, the turnovers are a real issue that is making it hard for the offense to be good enough to support the defensive effort.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Jazz go cold v. very good Clippers

SUMMARY: The Clippers’ 18-2 run to open the second half carried them to a runaway win over the Utah Jazz, 102-84.
• The Jazz’s defense was great for most of the night; They held the Clippers under one point per possession and had them shooting an EFG% well below the league average. The problem was the Jazz still couldn’t get ahead. The offense just couldn’t knock down shots.

• At halftime, the Jazz were down one point after an incredible defensive first half. Trying to shut down an NBA team for 48 minutes at that level is impossible. These guys are too good. When the defense digs into someone the way the Jazz did to the Clippers, you have to be able to build some wiggle room for when the Jazz’s offense goes dead. At one point, both teams’ offense was at .8 points per possession. If you are holding someone to .8 points per possession, you need to be able to take a substantial lead.

• The opening of the third quarter was a combination of the Jazz missing shots and the Clippers making shots to swing the momentum LA’s way. This was the ultimate make-or-miss league game; The Jazz got good looks to open the second half and missed them. After an Ingles turnover, Mitchell, Rubio and Ingles all had good look 3-point shots and missed. In the same stretch, the Clippers scored on a Rivers drive, Beverly buried a 3 and Jordan got a put back dunk. That’s how easy it is to go from down one to down double digits.

• The Clippers may be very good. They are deep. All of their players (other than Wesley Johnson) are above average offensive players and Gallinari, Jordan, Lou Williams and Blake Griffin are high-level efficient offensive players.

• The Clippers’ 4/5 pick and roll with Blake and Jordan is really hard to guard.

• The Jazz’s offensive actions are getting looks. The good news is we aren’t seeing possessions get bogged down and result in no looks at all. The numbers just equaled out on the Jazz tonight. Coming into the game, the Jazz were third in the league in EFG% and that was always unlikely to last.

• The Jazz were 3 of 21 from 3 at one point and finished 7 of 28.

• The Jazz got the game within seven points with 6:38 left and I wondered how the Clippers would close without Chris Paul. Well, wow, did they ever. They scored on 7 of 8 possessions, Blake hit a contested 3 and Rivers made a tough driving layup. After a Blake missed 3, Beverly hit a nifty move in the paint, Rivers hit a 3, Gallinari added a 17-footer and Beverly shot the lights out with a 3. Pretty awesome.

• Donovan Mitchell hit his first NBA 3. It took 14 tries and then he hit three in a row. Mitchell had 19 points, but 20 shots to get there seems like a lot.

• Joe Ingles was under the weather, playing just 18 minutes and Rodney Hood was out with a mild left calf strain.

• Ekpe Udoh had a positive plus-minus again: +8. In 16:43, he had 4 blocks, 2 rebounds and 3 assists.

• Thabo Seflosoha had his 16th career double-double and was one rebound off his career high with 12, 10 on the defensive end.

• Three turnovers by AB in 15 minutes is too many as is four by Ingles. The Jazz had 18 turnovers tonight and currently rank near last in the league at taking care of the ball. Mitchell had four, getting stripped twice late. Rubio had three.

• The offense struggled in the first half and then it went dry in the third. This is the concern for the Jazz this season. It feels as though they have to find the guy who has it going. In the first quarter, it was Rubio. It wasn’t clear who it was in the second and then it was no one in the third. The high turnover numbers, low free throw attempts and no offensive rebounding due to focusing on transition defense is putting a lot of burden on the shooters.

• Big picture: Jazz opened with Denver, Minnesota, Oklahoma City and the Clippers — all teams expected to content for the playoffs — and won two of the four. The Clippers are the best of the four teams and showed that. For the Jazz to get two of these four is a great opening stretch.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Jazz defensive buy in give them win over Thunder

SUMMARY: The Jazz’s stifling defense frustrated and derailed the Thunder offensive train on the way to a 96-87 win.
• This game was dominated by the Jazz’s defense. The Thunder went 11 minutes from midway through the 1st quarter to midway thru the 2nd quarter with only one made field goal. ONE field goal in over 11 minutes.

• The Jazz held the Thunder to .93 pts per possessions; The league average is 1.07. The worst in the league last year was 1.007 the Jazz held the Thunder to .93. That is incredible.

• In the first half, the Jazz broke up the Thunder’s actions and that forced the Thunder into more isolation basketball than they wanted to play. Early in the broadcast, the Thunder were hitting shots that the Jazz wanted them to take and they were low percentage, off-the-bounce, midrange shots. As the game went on, those same shots stopped going in.

• The Jazz’s offense is still not being very efficient, but the defense for these three games has been so great that they very well could have won all three. The offense is hitting shots at a very high rate, but they are not going to the line and they are turning the ball over at a very high rate.

• The Thunder’s offensive players never got comfortable. Anthony went into isolation mode and got rolling a bit early in the 4th quarter. However, he took 26 shots, while George took 19 and Westbrook took just 11. George has a set play where he comes off a pin down for a right wing catch-and-shoot 3. The Jazz guarded it as well as you can with his talent level. He was 3-9 from 3.

• Westbrook pulled out of fast break chances numerous times to play the facilitator. On one level, this is Westbrook trying to figure out where he fits with this team after his all-him, all-the-time season last year. On the other hand, the Jazz were getting back defensively, building a good wall and making it a forced shot if he pushed into the lane.

• Gobert makes so many guys make the extra pass and it is a turnover so often.

• Ricky Rubio plays with a passion that carries a team. He plays with an unquenchable desire to win. He makes the right play. He will shoot when he should, even if he isn’t a great shooter. Quin Snyder has given Ricky a great level of confidence in how he plays and great freedom to run the team and manage the game. Rubio played 37 minutes on the second night of a back-to-back.

• Joe Ingles led the Jazz with 19 points on 5-9 from 3 tonight; He is 12-19 for the season. He was not good last year on back-to-back games, so this is a nice step for him.

• The Nuggets’ offense last year was a 110 and they were a 100.5 versus Utah; Minnesota was a 108.1 and they were a 104.6 versus Utah; Oklahoma City was a 105 and should have gotten better and they were a 93.4. The Jazz are holding teams to an average of eight points below their usual points per 100 possession rating of a year before. Last year, the best team in the NBA was 5.5 points better than average.

• Favors has been very good and very active in the opening three games.

• Ekpe Udoh is a plus-minus machine: +11 tonight in 15:30. He is close to +50 in three games.

• The Jazz had five guys in double figures. Rubio took the most shots at 14. Seven guys took six or more shots. This is a team of pure balance.

• The Jazz only took 14 free throws and I believe five of them were technical free throws.

• The Jazz had 11 steals. Three of those came from Sefolosha who is showing he is still an elite defender.

• This was a great win tonight by the Jazz. Quin is asking these guys do something that is really hard, which is to defend and defend really hard. To get a win tonight and play these three teams as closely as they have to start the year shows the players that Quin is correct that if they defend they can win.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Old man Crawford does in the Jazz

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN — 4th quarter comeback not enough against Minnesota

SUMMARY: Jamal Crawford’s 17 4th quarter points carried the Wolves to a win in aclose game win over the Jazz.
• The most important information after the game is that the Rodney Hood has a calf strain and it will be re-evaluated tomorrow. According to the Tribune, the Achilles has been ruled out as a possibility.

• The Jazz held a 1-point lead and a good chance to win the game when Rudy Gobert had a defensive rebound with :32 seconds left in the game. Gobert seemed to frantically pass the ball toward Joe Ingles, but instead the ball went out of bounds and the Wolves got another shot. On the inbound pass, Jamal Crawford hit a catch-and-shoot corner-3 over the outstretched arms of Thabo Sefolosha.

• The Jazz had five 4th quarter turnovers, which were crucial in the loss.

• Minnesota went on a 12-0 run at the end of the 3rd quarter that put them in control of the game.

• The Jazz were really impressive defensively. Minnesota — who is loaded with talent — was forced into tough look after tough look. The Jazz defense was long, getting deflections and altering the Wolves’ shots. At the same time, it was an effort for the Jazz to score. This felt like a good example of what the season will be like.

• When Minnesota got rolling, it was hard for the Jazz to come back. It is really hard to stifle a team for 48 minutes.

• The Jazz have played two bad defensive teams according to last year’s numbers and had a tough time scoring. The burden on the defense is significant.

• The Jazz showed nice fight. They trailed 90-80 with 5:33 left and were able to get back in the game and eventually took the lead.

• Derrick Favors scored eight straight points in the 4th quarter and did it with a nice combination of hitting jump shots and getting to the rim.

• All five Jazz starters scored in double figures.

• The Jazz shot the ball well; Their EFG% was well above average for most of the night. They didn’t get to the free throw line much in the first three quarters and had just six free throws in that time. That is a going to make it tough to have good offensive night.

• Joe Ingles hit 4-5 from 3.

• Rodney Hood had a sequence of three straight 3-pointers. They were all set up by great floor work from Ricky Rubio. One was a set play where it was clear Rubio knew he was going to Hood the whole time. The others were great vision and perfect passing.

• Nineteen turnovers is too many.

• Rudy Gobert had 10 points in the first half and then was scoreless in the second half. It will be interesting to see if the Wolves did anything in particular to take Gobert out of the game. Favors starting getting looks in the second half.

• Ekpe Udoh had an amazing stretch of basketball, blocking three shots in one stint. In 15 minutes, he was + 12 again. He was + 23 on the first night.

• I don’t know how long Rodney will be out and have no idea how the Jazz will replace him and Dante at the same time.