EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Big picture then a deep dive

• 20th loss of the season where a game was within 5 points with 5 minutes left. Most in the NBA. This is incredibly frustrating. I am with you on that. In a moment I will break down this game but let’s go big picture for a second. This team was built with the primary goal of development over all other issues. Therefore, players were not added to the roster that were going to cut into the minutes of Exum, Burke, Burks, Hood, Hayward, Favors and Gobert. Lyles was drafted and that eliminated adding a veteran stretch 4 to the roster. Then Exum gets hurt and the Jazz are suddenly crazy thin at point guard and there aren’t any on the market. Then the injuries hit and the lack of depth on the roster shows itself in a ton of close game loses. Do we win if Alec plays the minutes of CJ and Ingles tonight? I don’t know but it wouldn’t hurt that I am certain. The point is the close losses as painful as they may be are probably a really good sign. With a little roster buildup (see Toronto) and hopefully a few less injuries a lot of these losses become wins. Does it make any easier to deal with right now? Maybe not but the point of the season was development and discovery and the players and organization are learning a ton.

• The Jazz late game issues are mostly defensive issues. The Jazz are 27th in the NBA defensively in the final 5 minutes of a close game and tonight the Celtics scored 17 points in the final 5 minutes. I don’t have an answer for why. When I have gone back and watched sometimes what I see is almost overzealous play.

• This was an amazing game. Neither team lead by more than two possessions from the 6:37 mark of the 2nd quarter. The 4th quarter had 9 lead changes. The game was tied at 83, 85 and 87 and then the next 8 scores were changes.

• Jazz allowed 57 points in the 2nd half

• Boston forces the most amount of turnovers in the NBA and the Jazz have had huge turnover issues as of late. But tonight the Jazz only committed 10

• Hayward and Hood combined to shoot 10 of 37. The Boston wing defenders of Smart, Bradley and Crowder are terrific.

• Interesting coaching matchup late in the game. Without Kelly Olynck the Celtics had been unable to stretch the floor but in the 4th quarter Brad Stevens went with Crowder at the 4 and Sullinger at the 5. This forced Favors out on Crowder and Gobert guarding Sullinger who plays on the outside. This happened with 4:48 left in the game and it worked well for the Celtics. Sullinger who had shot terribly hit a 21 footer, on the next possession the Jazz bigs were lifted and Thomas got straight to the basket for 2, Then Crowder got a fast break layup when he outran Favors down the floor, then the killer was Crowder hit a three with :30 left to put the Celtics up 1.

• Avery Bradley made an amazing play blocked Hayward in the post. Gordon is a not a great post up player but once Bradley was guarding Hayward he was unable to straighten up and try to drive on him because he is smaller and quicker.

• Trey Lyles had 18 points and 10 rebounds. At one point he scored 12 straight points. The Jazz played a three big rotation of Lyles with Favors and Gobert. This will be the big man rotation for the Jazz next season.

• Shelvin Mack made some mammoth buckets late in the game including a three. He was 8 of 13 shooting. He may turn into a higher percentage shooter than we anticipated. Mack is a bonafide rotation point guard. This is a really good get by the Jazz

• Trey Burke got a CD-Dnp for the first time in his career. Quin said before the game that he wanted to get down to 2 point guards. He did that going with Mack and Neto. Neto played terrifically. Trey was a total pro after the game as he has been his entire career.

• The Joe Ingles and Chris Johnson struggles are really hurting the Jazz bench crew. Joe is 2 for his last 12 from 3 and slipped below 30% since Jan 1st. CJ has missed 8 straight from 3 and is a career sub 30% three point shooter.

• Rodney Hood is living a different world being on the front page of the scouting report. 8 games since he has scored 20 points. He was 4 of 17 tonight.

• Another close game against a really good team. Wish the Jazz could have grabbed it. Speaking of grabbed did you see what Amir Johnson did to Rudy on that rebound.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Jazz with a bad loss v. Nets

• Jazz assistant coach Zach Guthrie said it well at halftime the Jazz were too casual and they played like they could roll out and just beat the Nets. However, the Nets who had won 4 of their last 8 and was the 11th best offensive team over the last 10 games are not the Nets didn’t play with any concern earlier this year. They took control of the game and despite lacking Joe Johnson so in turn having no idea how to close they beat the Jazz.

• This is a really bad loss in the realm of the playoff picture. The Jazz have a very unforgiving schedule and to lose one of these at home against a team you would think you could beat means the Jazz will have to find games they aren’t expected to win. They will need to win a few of those types to make the playoffs

• The Jazz offense has no flow. I don’t know if it is defenses or the addition of Shelvin Mack but the offense has no flow right now. The offense was below 40% for most of the night and the three point shooting was 5 for 20

• Rodney Hood got going in the 4th quarter but prior to that he wasn’t rolling at all. He likes to play with the ball in his hand and it seems having Shelvin on the floor has disconnected his flow. I think at the same time scouting reports have changed and after he scored 20 or more in 8 of 11 teams are defending him differently

• When you are making a comeback some plays are bigger than others and fast break opportunities are huge. The Jazz ran a really poor fast break in the 4th quarter with a chance to ignite the crowd and those missed opportunities are tough to overcome.

• Jazz bench is thin but it should be better than the Nets bench

• Rudy Gobert is a superb defensively player but he has gambled for steals twice recently in close games and they have lead to layups or dunks by the opponents. Tonight he reached to the outside of Lopez and Lopez who when he is on the left block wants to go left shoulder then had a clear lane to the basket. Rudy is trying to make a great play with his length, but as he plays more he will learn when is the right time to make that play and when he is better served to just play fundamental basic basketball.

• Turnovers were brutal again tonight. There were all different sorts. Some were Mack still not knowing his teammates, he had 4 and he and Rudy have not quite figured it out yet. Some were offensive fouls, Hayward had 2. Some were Rudy not catching he had 4. And there were a ton of other loose plays that lead to a total of 21 turnovers

• Trey Burke didn’t play in the first half for the 2nd straight game and when he played in the third he went 0 for 4 and the Jazz were outscored by 7 points. Neto was also 0 for 4 in 13 minutes.

• Rudy had a huge stat line – 12 points, 19 rebounds, 6 blocks. He and Favors made Lopez life super difficult tonight. Thaddeus Young caused the Jazz the most trouble with 21 points.

• Tough bad loss. Jazz already have to win some surprising games and now they need another to make up for this one.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Brilliance of the Spurs

• Jazz lost to a fabulous team tonight. Spurs defense has been elite all season and they showed it again tonight. The Spurs followed the script of their season. They are the #1 defensive team in the league overall but they are even better in the 1st and 2nd quarters. They dominated the 2nd defensively holding the Jazz to 12 points. This is what they have done all season.

• The Spurs have lead by double digits in 48 of 58 games. They averaging winning by 12.5 points. They have won 37 of their 49 wins by double digits. They are great. It is the 19 straight year they will have a winning record on the road, they are undefeated on back end of back to backs, it is endless. They are a far superior team.

• Nothing happens by accident against the Spurs. When Favors has 17 shot attempts that is because they were willing to give Favors 17 shots. When Chris Johnson, Shelvin Mack and Trevor Booker get wide open threes it is because the Spurs are willing to let them take those shots.

• Hood and Hayward were the focus of the Spurs defense and neither had any room at all tonight. Whenever they came off the pick and roll the Spurs big shadowed while the originally defender crowded from behind. The help defense prevented any rim rolls and thus the shot that was available was Favors mid range shot. The Spurs made it this way.

• Favors did a great job of taking advantage of what the Spurs were offering and it wasn’t easy. He made a ton of great moves. He had a wide array of offensive plays. He had developed his offensive game at a terrific level. Last 6 games he is averaging over 20 points per game.

• Rodney Hood is very clearly on the scouting reports. After being 20 or more in 9 of 12 games he has not broken 20 in 5 straight games.

• Gordon Hayward continues to struggle against the Spurs

• Kwahi Leonard shut down whomever he was guarding. When he was on Hayward Gordon was quiet and once he switched on Rodney Hood went silent.

• Leonard showed the complete array of skills tonight with an awesome 29 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steal game.

• Tim Duncan changed the game in the 2nd quarter with his offensive rebounding taping misses and keeping them alive.

• Jazz played really really well for most of the night until they were outmanned and worn down by the brilliance of the Spurs.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Jazz in OT over the Rockets

• Much needed fabulous win tonight for the Jazz. Rockets are one of the best clutch teams in the NBA, they had won the 2nd most of any team in the league. For the Jazz to go toe to toe with the Rockets down the stretch and win is a great win.

• The amount of enormous plays tonight from the Jazz is endless. Hood hit two mammoth threes, Trey Burke had an incredible 4th quarter, Favors grabbed a loose ball for a dunk, Mack hit a tough floater and then had the offensive rebound follow that was the difference. And I am missing a ton.

• This was a really interesting game. Both teams played small for 11 minutes of the game. Hayward and Ariza’s were the 4s on each side playing with a one big Howard and Favors.

• Ariza is an incredible defender and Hayward was able to have a great night. Gordon scored 28 points on 7 shots. He is only the 2nd player since 1983 to two that and the 4th player to have 26 or more on 7 shots, 3 of them are Jazz players Dantley, Stockton and Hayward.

• Shelvin Mack got the start. He scored 17 points and added an element but at times it was obvious he hadn’t played with the guys and wasn’t sure where they were. This lead to 6 turnovers. He is usually an incredible assists to turnover guy. He missed two corner threes late in the game. He is not a great shooter but he is also probably gassed playing at altitude and playing 32 minutes

• Rodney Hood hit two incredible threes. The first time Howard switched on him and he pulled over the top of Dwight and the second time he pulled over Harden. The first one came with :54 seconds left in regulation to give the Jazz a 2 point lead and then in overtime with :51 seconds left he gave the Jazz a 3 point lead

• Jazz offense late in the game was awesome against the Rockets who were the 3rd best defensive team in the clutch this season. In the final 5 minutes of the game the Jazz had 10 possessions and scored 11 points and in the overtime they had 7 possession to score 11 points.

• Jazz have won 7 straight at home

• Derrick Favors had the huge offensive rebound and follow to keep the Jazz up three but he also had an offensive rebound on a Hood miss with 2:02 left that lead to a Shelvin Mack floater with 1:36 left

• Jazz had plenty of mistakes tonight. They were turnover prone early but corrected it as the game went on, they missed some defensive assignments. They missed the way to play hack a in the 2nd quarter, they left guys when they shouldn’t have and they allowed Harden way too easy a score late in the game. This are the details they will continue to work on

• Gobert was not impactful tonight against Dwight Howard

• James Harden is a truly incredible scorer. With the entre defense focused on him he is able to still drop 42. The key is that he is a very willing passer.

• Hayward shot 15 free throws and made 13. He has made the 2nd most free throws of anyone in the NBA in February

• I am sure I have forgotten a ton. Amazing outlet pass by Booker, great swing pass by Lyles. Jason Terry big three to tie, Jason Terry’s final shot was deep in the cup and I mean deep in the cup and came out.

• Jazz played Hack a in the 1st quarter to gain an extra possession and hit a three on that possession you think those points mattered.

• Trey Burke was awesome in the 4th quarter – he had 11 points and nailed two threes.

• Super good win. Most of our guys have never played in a game this big in the NBA in their current rolls. This is an important win. It doesn’t put the Jazz in the playoffs but the loss would have made the road super tough.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Jazz Blazers in fantastic battle

• Tough one tonight, more because of what a great win it would have been than anything else. The effort was terrific, the game plan was superb. The Jazz made a ton of plays and it was a great game. The 4th quarter itself had 7 ties and 8 lead changes. Great basketball game

• Blazers grabbed 23 of a possible 49 offensive rebounds. An incredible 46%. The Jazz usually only allow 23%. The Blazers ended with only 24 second chance points, only because they had 23 chances but it was the killer of the game.

• Shelvin Mack made his Jazz debut and was terrific. Wow was he ever. He finished with 14 points, 6 assists and 3 rebounds. He played the pick and roll well. He got into the lane and hit a runner. He had a drive to the basket where he had enough size to get his shoulder by the defender and then the defender is done. He was a +14 on the game.

• This game was very similar to the last game in Portland. The Jazz defensive game plan on the Blazers was terrific. Lillard and McCollum couldn’t find a rhythm in the 1st half and the Jazz made the Blazers do things they don’t regularly do. This is the exact same thing that happened the last time we played Portland. In that game the Blazers made adjustments altered their offensive approach and scored 32 points in the 3rd quarter, tonight they did the same helped by a Dame Lillard explosion and had 33 points in the 3rd.

• The more I think about this I think it might explain why the Blazers are so good this year. The dynamic duo of a back court is able to play in numerous different manners and when someone takes one of their main actions away they are able to counter into another. It makes them very difficult to defend.

• The Blazers got two huge hoops late off dribble handoffs from Plumlee to Lillard. One was a broken play and Lillard came down hill late in the shot clock got the handoff going straight to the basket and got a layup. On the next one the Blazers inbounded to Plumlee and Lillard came straight downhill at Plumlee for a handoff and a lay-up. The big on the play has to step out a bit and alter the route of Lillard. The concern is that Plumlee is a good enough ball handler he could turn and drive for a dunk if he feels separation but I think you have to step out and at least impact Lillard. The other choice is for the big to recognize the play and drop back faster but that is tough quick read. It is why the Blazers ran the play. Terry Stotts is good.

• The first one of those came with :42 left and made it 109-107 and the second was the game winner making it 111-109 with :23 left and the Jazz weren’t able to tie it.

• Hayward was 2 for 3 in the clutch tonight. He is 17 of his last 28 in the clutch (under 5 minutes 5 or less points)

• Quin did a lot of interesting things tonight with the offense. He ran a 1/3 pick and roll numerous times which the Blazers switched putting Lillard on Hayward and Hayward was able to over power Lillard into the paint. Interestingly, Kevin Pelton on our broadcast (filling in for Ron who was on tv) pointed out that Lillard is actually a good post up defender on bigger guys but struggles when the play happens with more room on the floor and the Jazz gave Hayward the ball at 15 feet at the free throw line. The one time the Jazz posted Hayward, Lillard poked the ball out of bounds

• Rodney Hood had another strong offensive game, playing terrifically in small areas of space.

• The Jazz have now lost 18 games this year that have been in clutch time. The interesting thing is that it is on the defensive end that the Jazz are having a hard time. They are 27th in the NBA defensively in clutch time. The Blazers scored 17 points in the final 5 minutes tonight. The 27th defensive ranking might be a little misleading, because the Jazz have played from behind a lot and had to do a lot of fouling, but tonight the Jazz allowed 17 points on 12 trips down the floor. The Jazz only got 3 stops on the final 10 offensive possessions by the Blazers before the Jazz starting fouling.

• For the first time this year Quin used a very smart, but not esthetically pleasing, strategy of fouling a poor free throw shooter in the final seconds of the quarter to gain another possession. It is a really smart play. The only problem was the Blazers counter with the same strategy on Rudy Gobert. The only problem was the Jazz didn’t grab the rebound on the Plumlee miss in the first half and so the Blazers got an extra possession and scored. Also Davis went ¾ from the line while Gobert made just 1 of 2.

• Trey Burke shot 2 of 7 tonight. He is 6 of 24 from the field since the all-star break. He did knock down 2 threes and he played with more pace. For the first time in his career playing time is not guaranteed. If he doesn’t play well he is not going to play. Same for Neto who had a tough night with a -13 but continues to shoot the ball very well at 53% over his last 10 games.

• Chris Johnson’s energy is awesome and impactful.

• 10 more free throws for Gordon. He has made the 5th most free throws in the month of February of anyone in the NBA. He had another 20 point night with 21.

• Portland is really good. That backcourt is tough. They have won 14 of 17 and 10 of 11. They now hold the tiebreaker against the Jazz.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – As good as the Jazz can be

• Super strong performance by the Jazz. Possibly as good an offensive defensive combo as they have had all year. Boston had won 10 of 12. They had been scoring 114 points per game over the last 10 games and tonight the Jazz held them to 93.

• Rudy Gobert’s interior defense was just terrific. He impacted the Celtics early in the game and that altered the approach by the Celtics the rest of the night

• Jazz committed 8 turnovers in the first quarter and then only committed 8 for the next three quarters. The Celtics came in 4th in the league at forcing turnovers and a night after committing 23 they controlled the issue and that allowed them to win the game.

• Jazz shot 54.4% and hit on 10 of 23 from three. This is against the 3rd best defense in the NBA. The Celtics are 4th best EFG% defense in the NBA

• Jazz opened the game up on a 15-2 run in the 3rd quarter that included contributions from everyone

• Derrick Favors never got engaged last night and tonight he has dominate. Favors had 23 points, 10 rebounds and a career high 6 assists. The Favors passing is vital when a team doubles or hedges the ball as much as the Celtics do then Favors gets the ball with an advantage and someone is open

• Quin Snyder’s message pre-game was to be aggressive if you get tentative against the pressure you will make mistakes. The Jazz were very aggressive tonight and that helped them

• Neto had a super game. It was a though he wanted to make a statement that he still deserves time with the acquisition of Mack. He went 5 for 5 with a career high 15 points.

• Hayward can’t find his shot. Yet he is still putting 20 on the board every night. It is a huge development in his game

• The Celtics came out with the intention of taking Hood and Hayward out of the game. They did a good job of this in the first half of the game. The Jazz bench had a really good game in the first half. Chris Johnson hit two big threes, Trevor made some plays, Burke pushed the tempo . This was major and may have opened the game up for Hayward in the 2nd half.

• Bradley, Crowder, Turner and Smart are as good a group of wing defenders. This was a tough matchup and the Jazz handled it.

• The Jazz got the ball up the floor much more quickly tonight. Trey Burke was great at it in the 2nd quarter.

• Derrick Favors was a +28.

• Strong win. Big games against Portland and Houston coming up next

One more thing. Great moment late in the game. Jazz were up 15 and Hayward was pushing with about 2:47 left. The right play might have been to pull it out and our court mic picked up Quin yelling at Gordon “Go show them what you got.” It is the essence of Quin’s coaching in one moment. He gives these guys such confidence and this is why they play hard every night.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Wizards run past Jazz

• Jazz got blasted the by the Wizards tonight. The Wizards entire game is based on forcing turnovers. They are 29th in FG% defense and 30th in 3pt FG% but they are 3rd best in the NBA at forcing turnovers and that is how they get their offense. The Jazz committed a season high 23 turnovers.

• John Wall is a 3 time all-star and can be as good as any point guard in the NBA and tonight was completely dominate. The Jazz point guards had no chance against Wall and got completely out played by Ramon Sessions as well. Wall had 17 pts, 6 rebounds and 11 assists to go with his 4 steals. Ramon Sessions had 13 points. The Jazz point guards had a tough night. Neto was 1 for 5 with 4 turnovers and Trey Burke was 1 for 8 with 2 turnovers. He did have 7 assists.

• Jazz stayed in the game until a 12-2 run by the Wizards to open the 3rd quarter

• Wizards had an insane 34 fast break points. That is the Wizards game and the Jazz let them play it

• The Wizards had only played Nene and Gortat together 58 minutes together all season and had been miserable together. Tonight they were terrific. Nene was a force offensively going to the basket from the left block to the right side of the basket and Gortat was an defensive force while still finishing on the offensive end with a solid 22 points and 10 rebounds but his 5 block shots were the big impact

• Favors didn’t get engaged in the game until the 4th quarter.

• Jazz made just 4 three point shots going 4 of 15.

• The turnovers by the Jazz got absurd at times. Passes off guys heads. Pass to a wide open corner 3 shooter who dropped the ball out of bounds over his head.

• Rudy Gobert had 16 points and 12 rebounds (6 offensive)

• The length of Garrett Temple and Otto Porter caused both Gordon Hayward and Rodney Hood issues.

• Jazz weren’t able to add any wing depth at the deadline. Until Alec Burks comes back that is going to be a burden on Chris Johnson and Joe Ingles.

• Jazz got whitewashed today and they play the exact same type of team tomorrow after a 4:30 flight tonight to get home. Tough sledding.

LOTS OF EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Jazz win remarkable game in Dallas

• Wow what a win. First win in Dallas since Jan of 2010. Only 5th time in 2 years and 62 tries a team has beat Dallas when trailing going to the 4th quarter. It is incredible to look back at how many plays the Jazz made to win this game.

• The obvious two are the shots by Hood and Hayward but it goes so much deeper. To come back from 9 down to win on the road against a good team takes huge amazing efforts and they happened.

• The Hood 3 from the left corner to tie the game is a play the Jazz either put in or refined during shootaround today. They literally practiced it with the ball coming into Trey Lyles and making him make the decision. Lyles set an incredible moving screen on Deron to free Rodney for the look from the corner.

• The Hayward game winner was perfectly executed. It got a switch with Zaza on Gordon. It used all the clock. You have to make sure at that point that you don’t give Dallas any chance at all and that is what the Jazz did. I loved that Quin left the bigs Favors and Gobert in on that play because it forces Dallas to have the bigs on the floor and then if they are switching you can get that match-up that Hayward got on Zaza. Lots of times coaches put 5 shooters on the floor but if you execute it right you don’t have to

• Chris Johnson has won two games for the Jazz this year with hustle plays on rebounds. He saved the ball in the Bulls game and tonight he did it again chasing down a ball to keep a possession alive.

• Favors had a huge 4th quarter 11 points on 5 of 6 shooting

• Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors worked the pick and roll and tore apart the Mavericks defense. Hayward had 3 assists in the 4th quarter and then 7 points as well.

• Rick Carlisle tonight after the game “That’s a team on the rise. That’s a team that is the future of our league and they made a strong statement tonight.”

• The fight and battle the Jazz showed tonight to be down by 15. Get hit by the incredible barrage of shots the Mavericks threw at them and to come back and take the lead but again be on the ropes and make the plays and stay engaged enough to pull out the win is really awesome.

• Rudy Gobert jam follow was something else late in the game.

• Jazz managed the end of the game perfectly

• The game was within one possession for the final 7:15 of regulation and all of overtime. That is 12:15 seconds of basketball with neither team up by more than 3.

• Rodney Hood got a mismatch on Raymond Felton and killed him. Hood is learning how to get his shot whenever he needs to and under duress. He has scored 20 in 7 of the last 10 and had only done that in 4 of the previous 39. He is a weapon. Not many guys have this type of stretch and then have it disappear. I have been hesitant to get too excited but he changed after the terrible game in Minnesota.

• With Hayward and Hood the Jazz are able to go at mismatches at the wing position and then if the other team has a big that can’t guard the Jazz can bring that big into the pick and roll. With the full complement of players the options are pretty endless

• Jazz defense in the 4th quarter was subperb. They got the Mavericks into the half court and shut them down. The Mavericks didn’t make a three in the 2nd half of the game after making only threes in the first quarter of the game

• The Mavericks had an answer for each adjustment the jazz threw at them. The Jazz cut off the drives early and the Mavs made threes then the Jazz closed out harder and the Mavs starting driving and finally the Jazz made the last adjustment and slowed down the Mavs in the 4th.

• Mavs ran the same set a lot with Deron and Dirk on the left wing and then Felton would pop out and come off a Zaza pick. That is hard to guard a multiple pick and roll and the Jazz did a pretty good job of it.

• Gordon Hayward had a tough start to the night and stayed engaged and fought through it and made the plays late. We will talk about his game winner but he made an incredible defensive play when he got switched on Dirk and denied the pass into the post and It killed Dallas possession. You need every one of those to win

• Deron was beasting Neto play after play and Neto came right back at him and drew a foul to get to the line. The kid has a lot of fight.

• Trey Lyles torched Dirk tonight. Killed him. Dirk had no chance guarding him. He pumped faked him twice, he nailed a jumper, he drove on him. He took him all night. He played huge minutes in the 4th quarter paired with Favors to lead the Jazz comeback.

• Jazz only played a point guard 30 of the 53 minutes tonight.

• Derrick Favors had 6 assists

• Hayward went 5 for 7 in the final 10 minutes of the game, all clutch time. He is now 15 of his last 24 in clutch in the last 6 games.

• Dirk Nowitzki didn’t have a field goal for the final 7 minutes of the game

• A great win for 7 in a row. Fought the whole game. Last road win this was v. the Clippers and that was right before all the injuries started.

• Jazz are 7-3 on the road with both Gobert and Favors with wins over Atlanta, Clippers, Indiana and Dallas.

• I could keep going. I’ll reach watch the game tomorrow and write more

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Solid win in mucked up game

• Solid Professional win for the Jazz tonight. The Suns aren’t good. They only have one choice but to muck up the game and the Jazz dealt with that and won convincingly.

• Jazz started the night 10-0 and the game was over. The Suns made a surge late but really had no chance to win the game.

• Gordon Hayward dominated the first quarter of the game. PJ Tucker is a tough defender. He is really physical and one of the few guys in the NBA that guys back away from. The minute PJ Tucker checkout out in the first quarter Hayward went nuts. He scored 14 points in the quarter 11 in final 6 minutes of the quarter.

• Jazz were able to get whatever wing rolling that PJ Tucker wasn’t guarding.

• Neto opened the game great again. 4 for 4 in the first quarter and he was a point off his career high for the night. He played 37 minutes tonight with Trey Burke back in Salt Lake City with the flu.

• Phoenix did some strange things tonight. They did a whole 5 man substitution. Then they played a lot of trapping zone. These things don’t work in the NBA. Earl has little choice right now with how his roster is put together so you can’t judge him for these moves but playing all 5 bench players and no starters has shown to be an issue in the NBA and there is a reason no one plays a trapping zone. But Phoenix is so short handed that they have to try things

• The Suns played Hack a Gobert and Rudy stuck it to them. He split the first free throws and then split it again before making the next 6 and going 8 for 10 on the 5 trips to the line.

• I believe tonight was about a 92 possession game so the Jazz defense allowed less than a point a possession again tonight.

• The Jazz defense in the third quarters of this win streak has been incredible allowing 33% shooting and tonight they held the Suns to 7 of 23 from the field to continue the stretch

• Jazz are really riding the starters right now with Hayward at 38, Favors at 30, Gobert at 34, Hood at 35 and Neto at 37 minutes of play. The Jazz need to find a way to get some solid bench minutes. That maybe what the trade deadline for.

• Hayward and Hood took 35 shots for 47 points That is really solid.

• Jazz didn’t commit a turnover in first 12 minutes and lead 31-12 after 1

• Hack A Gobert was awful and the league is clearly looking into a rule change but it is going to be really hard. Under 2 minutes Rudy Gobert ran up to pick for the ball handler and Tyson Chandler grabbed him and was called for an off ball foul sending Gobert to the line with under 2 minutes but it was really a Hack a Gobert. How they are going to legislate this out of the game is going to be very difficult.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Insane defense does it again

• Jazz win their 5th in a row and end the homestand at 5-1. When the homestand started the Jazz were not healthy yet and I said no matter the health of the team they had to go 4-2 or 5-1 to stay in the playoff race. The team is far healthier and now they are in the 8th spot of the playoffs

• The jazz defense in the 2nd half of the win streak has been incredible. The Jazz have been allowing 38.5 points in the 2nd half and tonight allowed 37 points.

• The Favors and Gobert combination is something amazing. Tonight they combined for 8 blocks and 7 steals. Those are remarkable numbers

• When the Jazz were losing close games they weren’t making the plays on the defensive end. Missing Favors and/or Gobert late in games was killing the defense. With both of them on the floor the Jazz have been able to make the defensive stops. The offense has been making plays late in games the whole time. Now they are getting the support of the defense as well.

• Three huge plays late in the game offensively. Neto had a gorgeous pass to Gobert for a dunk with 4:42 left to put the Jazz up 1. Bucks answered. Then Neto hit a three off a nice pass from Gobert with 4:02 left to give the Jazz a 2 point lead. Then Hayward hit a cold blooded ruthless three with 3:16 left to put the Jazz up 5. Hayward just walked into the three and the minute Jabari Parker went under on the pick he nailed it.

• Quin Snyder looks for match-ups late. The Bucks were switching everything so he ran picks to get Parker onto Hayward and then would run a pick and roll that made Parker and Monroe the primary defenders.

• The Bucks length and quickness was giving the Jazz fits all game. The passing lanes were closing faster than the Jazz realized and they were throwing the ball away a ton. The switching defense stagnated the Jazz offensive flow.

• Antetokoumpo is one of the best open court players in the NBA and the Jazz did a decent job cutting off his routes and making him play through a wall.

• Jabari Parker was really disappointing. His only field goal was on a jam follow on a miss. His dribble pull up game was not impressive. He didn’t impact the game. At best he is going to be Glenn Robinson

• Rodney Hood and Jerryd Bayless exchanged blows in the 2nd quarter. Hood scored 13 points in the quarter on 6 of 10 shooting. Bayless went 3 of 3 from three and had already hit 2 in the first quarter. Hood lead the Jazz with 23 points.

• Jazz trailed after the 1st quarter again. They have not lead after 1 since the Knicks game

• Gobert is scoring 14 points a game over the last 10 games. This might be the single most important thing with the team right now. If he is a threat at the rim it opens up spacing and shots on the outside. Moreover, he was 6 of 7 shooting. If he is scoring 15 points on 9 scoring opportunites that is a really big deal and makes the Jazz hard to beat.

• Favors 10 defensive rebounds are mammoth.

• Jazz played 8 minutes without a point guard

• Jazz bench wasn’t scoring tonight. They shot 2 for 15.

• Solid win. Ugly is the new beautiful. 5 in a row.