EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Ton of great stories out of Jazz win in Denver


  •  Solid bounce back win for the Jazz with a ton of feel good stories.


  • The Millsaps spent a good deal of their childhood in Denver.  Paul had a teacher he always saw when the Jazz came to Denver.  Elijah told the story of going to library and if they checked out enough books they could win tickets to see the Nuggets.  For Elijah tonight was the night he returned to his “hometown” and to play in the arena he dreamed of playing in.  He is really establishing himself as an NBA player and he is only going to learn more and more about how to be successful in the season.  Three D-League rosters, Shanghai, Philippines and Isreal and now he is in the NBA


  • Bryce Cotton after an incredible season at Providence where he averaged over 40 minutes a night in conference play, dropped 36 on North Carolina in the 2nd round of the NCAA and then he went undrafted and after showing his talent in Austin he made his NBA debut and scored.


  • Jack Cooley probably never dreamed he would score an NBA point.  A recruited but not that heavily player out of high school, a 4 year career at Notre Dame that averaged 2 pts and 2 rebounds his freshman year, 3 points and 3 rebounds his sophomore year and then after a solid junior and senior year went undrafted and played last year in Europe.  Where they gave him a dog to keep him company and the night before he left he had his stuff stolen (the thieves knowing when he was leaving and that he couldn’t do anything about it) so he keep the dog.    Made his NBA debut and scored.


  • Trey Burke had his 3rd strong game in 4 nights and was hitting the mid-range jumper


  • Denver has lost 18 of 20 and looks as disinterested as any NBA team I have seen in a long time.


  • Rudy had huge impact again tonight.   Denver had no plan on how to deal with him.  They tried to go at him early and then they just stopped going into the lane.  Denver shot 5 of 21 from the field in 1st quarter with Rudy playing all 12 minutes


  • Jazz are allowing 87 pts a game over the last 7 games.


  • Jazz came in over the last 10 games as the 9th  best defensive team in the NBA and the Nuggets ranked 29th offensively and the game played as you would expect with the Nuggets scoring 34 pts in the first half.


  • Really nice to see Rodney Hood playing in a rhythm and with a level of comfort.  He hit 3 more three’s and has now hit 6 in the last two games.  He has hit his open shots, he has shown a drive game and as he gets more comfortable you will see a good pick and roll game.


  • Jazz blew the game out in the 3rd quarter and the night was over early


  • Hayward had 7 turnovers tonight and has 13 in 2 games.


  • Favors 21 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks is a big time night.


  • Denver is really awful and the Jazz took advantage.  That is exactly what they should have done.  Solid performance.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Winning is hard

  • Learning how to win is a process as well. The Jazz were not sharp. They lacked focus or, in the words of Quin Snyder, the Jazz were “mentally weak, weak-minded, lacked mental toughness and were looking to blame others.”
  • The Jazz controlled the game despite all the turnovers and other problems for most of the night. They led by eight at the end of the first quarter and by six at the end of the half. The Lakers tied it in the third and were tied five times, but the Lakers never got the lead and then the Jazz spurted out to a nine-point lead at the end of the third quarter before collapsing in the fourth.
  • The Jazz had one field goal in the final seven minutes and the Lakers closed on an 18-6 run.
  • The Jazz have not been good offensively in the final five minutes of close games all year. They are shooting 35% (and 18% from three) in the final five minutes of games within five points.
  • Turnovers were because the team didn’t have the focus it needed to have.  Everything was a step off. Gordon led the team with six turnovers.
  • Ron Boone talks in POSTCAST about how the Lakers guarded the pick-and-roll differently than other teams have because Rudy Gobert is not an offensive threat. It will be interesting to see if other teams do this as well. Tune into POSTCAST to hear what Ron said.
  • Joe Ingles only played 15 minutes and was out most of the second half.
  • Trey Burke started the second half for Danté Exum.
  • Elijah Millsap sparked the Jazz in the later part of the third quarter and had 10 straight points to build the Jazz lead to nine. He finished with a career-high 17 points. Plus, he added another seven rebounds. His rebounding has been incredible.
  • Rudy Gobert’s constant complaining to the officials is going to wear thin with Quin.
  • Utah’s free throw shooting has been poor for an extended stretch.
  • One play showed how much Rudy still has to gain with strength training. The Jazz missed and Gobert tried to grab the rebound, but he can’t grab it because he was being jostled and has no foundation of strength. This is harder the taller you are. But then the rebound went to Favors and he was strong enough to collect himself and thrust through the traffic to the basket for a foul. Rudy has no foundation yet.
  • Trevor Booker’s missed dunk was a huge game-changer.
  • Jordan Clarkson is good.
  • Trey Burke couldn’t get the runner and the floaters going tonight and instead fell back to his 2-for-8 night.
  • Bummer to lose this one after the wins against Portland and San Antonio, but a stark reminder that winning is hard and takes mental focus every night. Every possession matters if you want to be great, and the Jazz were very weak in valuing possessions tonight.


  • Wow.  Wow Again.  The Spurs last lead was 8-7. The Spurs never went on a run of 5-0 or more. The Spurs never scored more than two baskets without a Jazz bucket.  This is incredible. The Spurs had to have tonight. They had lost two in a row and 3 of 5. They had two days off. They had to have this. After they got hit hard in the first quarter, the Spurs threw everything at the Jazz and even when it felt like the Spurs were making inroads, you would look up and the Jazz were back up by double digits.
  • The Jazz have started seven games with Favors and Gobert as the front line—in three of those the Jazz have held the Bulls, Blazers and Spurs to season lows in points.
  • Danté Exum was brilliant on the pick-and-roll defensively tonight. Utah’s game plan was to drop the big early, forcing Duncan to pop and Parker to make the pass back to Duncan either to play dribble hand-off or rotate to the other wing. They wanted Parker out of the middle. Exum did this so well the Spurs simply stopped running the play. They tried to move Parker to the top and make him play from the top. Parker was a non-factor
  • Gordon Hayward took 10 free throws in the first half—the most he has ever taken in a half in his career.
  • The Jazz dealt with some adversity tonight. The calls didn’t feel like they were going their way and the Spurs were getting into the Jazz—but the Jazz were able to fight through all of those moments.
  • Quin matched Millsap to Manu tonight and Manu went 3-for-9. Millsap is a game-changing defensive player.
  • The defense is the work of everyone. Gobert is obviously fabulous, but for the last two games the Jazz have been playing five guys together with amazing energy.  They had 14 steals tonight. The last two nights have been two of the biggest steal nights of the season. The Spurs and Blazers are both above average at taking care of the ball.
  • The Jazz have had great point guard play the last two games. It makes all the difference. Trey Burke had 23 points tonight after 19 v. Portland. He’s hitting the mid-range shot and the paint non-restricted area. This is career-changing for Trey.   He has hit 28% of these this year and the last two nights it has been a weapon. He has been working very hard on these shots.
  • The speed Danté showed chasing down Parker was absurd, and his pass to Derrick Favors late in the game coming right to left on the baseline and bouncing back to right block was something you can’t teach.
  • Rudy sprinting the floor early twice for dunks changes the game. Rudy also made a great pass to Favors in the paint for a dunk.
  • A lot of quiet nights that were big—Ingles with three steals, 10 points and two huge threes. Favors had 14 points and 10 rebounds plus 3 steals and a block on Duncan when he came helpside as Gobert was guarding Duncan. This play changed the way the Spurs went at the basket
  • The Spurs got into the paint and were aware of Gobert all night.
  • Elijah Millsap has 36 rebounds in the last 5 games.
  • Trevor’s energy was again amazing.
  • This team might be really good. We’re on our way. Last year we had 25 wins. Maybe we get to 35 this year without injuries and 45 is in play for next year. If you’re a top defensive team in the NBA, you win games. Couple that with Quin’s offensive mind and you are building something. Lots of pieces need to be added and lots of combinations need to be built and it will still be a journey, but wow how the world is different right now than it was when the year started.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Jazz are brilliant v. Portland

  • A remarkable performance from the Utah Jazz. Defensively, the Jazz completely dominated the game.The Blazers scored 24 points in the 1st quarter and then scored 52 in the next 36 minutes. The Blazers shot just 17-for-56 after the first quarter. One of the league’s best 3-point shooting teams shot just 2-for-18 from three after the first quarter. This was complete defensive domination. Stunning.
  • Beating really good teams in the final 30 games of the season is hard to do.  The Blazers slip from third to a tie for fifth with the loss. These guys have no margin for error they are coming hard. The game was 65-59 to open the fourth quarter and it felt like time for the Blazers to flip the switch—and instead the Jazz went on a rookie-led 20-2 run. Ingles hit a bucket; Exum, Hood and Millsap followed with threes; and then Millsap added another three and the Jazz had run away from the Blazers.
  • Trey Burke was as good as he has ever been in the middle of the floor. He hit floaters in the lane that have eluded him all year. All season he has hit on just 25% on paint nonrestricted shots, but tonight he made those shots and it forced the Blazers to react.
  • The Jazz ran the pick-and-roll from the top very well. Favors took the ball on the roll and was a force. Favors finished with 16 points and nine rebounds.
  • Rudy Gobert was a huge part of the night, but the big story has to be how good Utah’s defense has become both with and without Gobert. The Blazers shot 35% with Gobert on the floor and 38% with Gobert off the floor tonight. Utah’s offense shot the same with and without Gobert.
  • Having Favors or Gobert on the floor for all 48 minutes is very helpful for the defense.
  • The Jazz had 11 steals tonight and were super aggressive on defense.
  • The defense was a five-man effort tonight. They rotated terrifically all evening. The game plan on Aldridge was executed perfectly. Quin asks a lot out of these guys with the game plan and they are beginning to figure it out. This is a now a smart group of basketball players. This will allow them to maximize what Quin wants.
  • Elijah Millsap has Tony Allen comparables. He hit three 3-pointers tonight. If he can shoot, he’s going to be a nice NBA player. He’s a mistake waiting to happen with the ball in his hands, but his defense is elite and fearless.  If he can make a catch-and-shoot, pass without mistakes and DEFEND like he is right now, he could be Utah’s Tony Allen.
  • Nice to see Rodney Hood out there.
  • The key run of the game was in the third quarter when the Jazz beat up on the Blazers starters. For the Blazers to win, they have to beat you with their starters and survive with their bench.
  • Gordon Hayward had 10 third-quarter points.
  • Trevor Booker’s box score doesn’t look great, but his energy was amazing. It changed the game.
  • The Jazz are 14-15 over their last 29 games. This team is making incredible strides.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – A game symbolizes the first half


  • This game really symbolized the whole first half of the season.  The Jazz have significant flaws as a team that can be exposed and where by Dallas defense but the collective group is trying very hard to do the right thing each night and play with consistent effort and this keeps them in games.


  • Free throw shooting and turnovers were a killer tonight.  The Free Throw shooting is a real issue.  It has been going for a long stretch of games.  Tonight in the 4th quarter the Jazz went 6 of 12 from the line and 11 of 21 for the game.


  • The turnovers are more explainable because Dallas is the 3rd best defense in the NBA at forcing turnovers.   The Jazz committed 19 tonight and with the lack of shooting on the roster the floor spacing disappears which creates turnovers.  Gordon Hayward had 6


  • The Jazz battled back to get the game within 2 with 1:34 left.  Hayward turned the next possession over and then Millsap got caught on the baseline with no where to go.


  • Dallas looked composed and knew where they wanted to go late with the veteran crew they had on the floor.


  • I have no idea what happened on the final play.   Down 3 there is no reason for Gordon to drive the lane and try to get a pass to Favors.   The original play was a mess from the beginning, Hayward had to signal to Trey to come back to the ball and then the spacing and timing was all off.   But Hayward has to know the situation and that they had to shoot a 3.


  • The Mavericks hands were everywhere defensively.  This is the most underrated untalked about part of good defense is active hands. Watch Atlanta and how awesome their hands are and how they are in specific places based on what pass is most likely or what they are trying to deny.


  •   Dirk looked like old Dirk.  I had never seen that before.  He still understood what his team need and what the game needed and grabbed 14 rebounds, 12 on the defensive end.  What a great team player and superstar.   Without that the Mavericks lose and he knew that.


  • Derrick Favors needs the all-star break and a chance to rest his beaten body as much as anyone on this team


  • Trey Burke bounced back from his 0 for 10 game and came out firing hitting a three right away and nailing 4 of his 6 three attempts.  The kid is fearless.  He did the same thing after the Atlanta game when he was 2 for 19 and came out and torched the Wolves.


  • Hayward almost had a triple double – 12 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists.


  • Steve Novak has been a valuable piece in the last two games.


  • Big man minutes tonight – Favors 33; Gobert 26; Kanter 18; Booker 18


  • Jazz 9 first quarter points were a season low points in a quarter.  The Mavericks were switching everything on the perimeter and doubling the post and the Jazz were slow to react to both of those defenses.  The switching eliminating the pick and pass game and the doubles in the post were the first time someone had doubled in the post all season and the bigs were a bit panicky in how they reacted at first.


  • JJ Barea


  • Have a nice all-star break.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Gordon, Gordon Gordon


  •  Gordon Gordon Gordon Gordon !!!!! This is just awesome to watch.   For the last few years I have been talking about how we are all on a journey with this young core and with some patience you get to watch them develop, watch them add to their games and watch them evolve as a player.  It is a really terrific fan experience to be along for the ride when one of your players is so committed to the game and his career that you get to experience the growth and reference where he has come from.  This is where we are with Gordon.


  • Gordon has had some big nights over the years.  OKC last year, etc.  But this stretch is completely different.  He is demanding the game comes to him.  He is impact the entire flow of the game with his play.   He is the focal point of the other team’s game plan and he has no regard for it.   This is a big time 10 game stretch.


  • For the first in his career Gordon has dropped 30 in back to back games.  First Jazz player since Al Jefferson to go back to back 30 in a Jazz uniform (March 2011)


  • My favorite play of the night is the essence of Gordon.  Gordon came back in the game in the 4th quarter coming off a huge third quarter.  I MEAN A HUGE THIRD QUARTER.   He came off the pick and roll and the Pelicans were basically doubling him with the big holding to Gordon and the guard chasing over the top.   Gordon took two dribbles back and then came back off the pick the other direction not to get a look, but to expose the defense with a perfect pass to Favors who rolled the lane for the dunk.   How good is that.   Gordon played the game right.   When I worked with Nate McMillan he would always say “Don’t beep the game (he didn’t say beep) if you do it will beep you”  Forcing a shot because you are hot and you want to see if you can make another shot for your own heat check is beeping the game.   Playing the defense for its weakness is playing basketball and respecting the game.


  • The admiration Gordon is building from his teammates is going to allow him to be the leader everyone has wanted from him.   To lead your game has to match and tonight was that type of performance.  He picked the team up in the 3rd quarter and willed them back into the game.


  • In the midst of Gordon’s run Derrick Favors is linking a sequence of games he has never accomplished in his career.  I think these are related.   Tonight, Favors had 18 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal and 2 blocks.    7 games ago the Jazz started a stretch of games against the best team in the West.  Over those 7 games Derrick is scoring 17 points, grabbing 7 rebounds, dishing 2 dimes and steal a ball while blocking 2 shots.  Plus he is shooting 54%.  This is against Blake, LaMarcus, Gasol, Bogut, etc.


  • Before Gordon grabbed the game the Jazz were in serious trouble.  The inexperienced guard line of Burke, Exum and Millsap were incapable of handling Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans and the Jazz bigs weren’t able to take advantage offensively of Asik and Ajinca.   It looked very unlikey for the Jazz.  They trailed by 14 and were making no inroads.


  • The Jazz guards were 4 for 39.  Trey Burke was 0 for 10.


  • Elijah Millsap had a great defensive game but he is a long way away on offense.  He is not able to drive and he has no mid range game.  He is going to have to figure out how he fits offensively in the NBA game.   Let him have time it has been about 12 games.  He is beast defensively.


  • I knew Steve Novak was going to have a good night.  Follow me on twitter.  He had time to prepare.  He knew he was going to play and he knew he was going to play the 3, which he didn’t the other night.   He is a veteran and once he was able to go into preparation mode you knew he would be ready.  This was a good win match-up with Dante Cuningham and Luke Babbitt as the wings


  • Jazz went 2 for their final 17 in the 2nd quarter.


  • Another double double for Enes but I am not clear on if he had a good game or not.  I did like that his mid-range jumper that has escaped him for over 20 games returned.


  • Good road win and big time performance from G



  • Jazz jumped on a beaten team early and controlled the whole game.   The Jazz won this won going wire to wire and it was never in doubt.  Sacramento is a mess.


  • This was only the 2nd 4 game in 5 night stretch for the Jazz this season and last time they got run out of the gym in Charlotte.  Nice growth by the Jazz to come out with energy establish control of the game early and then never give into the fatigue.   It is much easier to play from ahead.


  • Sacramento style and constant whining makes for a terrible game to watch.


  • Remember all the things I wrote about Gordon Hayward last night.   Cut and Paste them tonight. He was great again.  Tonight he dropped 30 and kick the crap out of Rudy Gay.  If that was the match-up of the night it was a complete beat down.   Gay quit.  Gordon soared.   Gay finished 1 for 8 with 4 points while Gordon Hayward had 30 on 13 of 23.


  • I know the numbers say Sacramento is better defensively with DeMarcus Cousins on the floor but his disinterest for extended stretches is a killer.


  • The Jazz bigs were great.  Favors had a solid night despite foul trouble with his 3rd 20 point game in the last 5 games and he added 9 rebounds, a career high tying  5 assists and 3 blocked shots.


  • Kanter was very good setting the tone early on Cousins that it was going to be a hard night.   Interesting choice by Quin to go with Kanter starting on Cousins and did a nice job keeping him out of the paint, not fouling and making Cousins work.  At the same time he added his part with 17 points and 13 rebounds.


  • Without Joe Ingles as well as Alec Burks, Rodney Hood and Patrick Christopher the Jazz started Elijah Millsap and he played 36 minutes.  He did not commit a turnover.  He had 7 rebounds and 3 assists.


  • Steve Novak got some run at the three and it didn’t look comfortable.


  • After playing 5 straight games against the best offensive teams in the NBA the Jazz clamped down on the Kings holding them to 39% shooting, 23% from 3 (3-13) and only allowed 90 points.


  • I would never want DeMarcus Cousins on my team and if I was Damian I would be pissed.


  • 2 more huge tests before the all-star break.   The positive moments continue to come.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Gordon, More Gordon and More Gordon


  • Gordon Hayward is playing a different game than he has ever played.   Why ?  Is he made that he wasn’t considered as an all-star?  Did he just realize how good he can be?   Walk though his game right now.  He is on from three and near 40% from the season so you have to close out on him.   He has become strong enough that he can take the hits while drive to the basket.   He can stop on a dime and hang in the air to create a shooting pocket on a drive in the lane and most of all he can jack it at the rim.  The last one might be the most important.  This is what separates a nice college player from an nba stud.  When G puts the ball on the floor there is a chance that he could take you all the way to the cylinder and put it on your head.   With that threat people cover your drive differently.  This is what allows G to stop and pop.  His strength is so improved that when he stops on a dime he is able to hold his body position, stay square and make the shot.    He has the whole package.


  • More Gordon.  Tonight he imposed his will on the game.  That is the difference between a solid player and a star.   Last year, the game and the opponent dictated what Gordon would do.  This last few weeks Gordon is dictating what happens in the game.   This is big time.


  • More Gordon – The dunk on Plumlee was stupid.


  • The Jazz got victimized by three items tonight.   Marcus Morris had a career night with 24 points and 12 rebounds and there was no sign that he was going to do.   We gave him a few open looks early and he has been miserable shooting the three since Jan 1st.   However, he got rolling.


  • Second the Suns who had struggled with the three since Jan 1st busted out.   They hit 14 of 27.  That is a lot to overcome.  The Jazz got victimized by the corner 3 for 7 three’s tonight.


  • Thrid, the Jazz didn’t get anything going on the offensive glass.  Credit to Phoenix who is a bad defensive rebounding team.   Teams are changing what they do to deal with the Jazz offensive rebounding.  The Jazz got just 6 of 40 chances on the offensive glass.  That is just 15% of all chances and the Jazz usually get nearly 30%.   Jazz got just 6 second chance points and have been averaging around 13.  That is the difference in the game.


  • Dante had a nice first quarter.  Exploding into the paint a few times.


  • Thomas and Bledsoe wanted to part of the paint.  A great way to look at defense is what shots you prevent them from taking as much as how you defend the shots that are taken.   This would be the Rudy corralary.


  • Jazz did a lot of things well.  They played with pace when it was available getting more fast break points than the Suns.  The Jazz negated the Suns fast break for most of the night allowing just 15 fast break points.  The Jazz eliminated the paint and held the Suns to 28 points in the paint.


  • Trey Burke has to find a way to turn his 2 for 13 night into a 3 for 9 or 4 for 10.   2 for 13 kills your team.    At least you have to find a way to get to the line.


  • It was cool to see Chris Johnson bust out and have a really strong game.   He is on the final day of a 10 day contract and I don’t know what will happen but seems strange to use his 2nd 10 day in the all-star break.   He played like a guy who has had 9 stints with an NBA club realizing it was a chance to be seen and he was terrific.  Love guys like this.


  • Impressive win by Phoenix.  3 game losing streak.  Tight playoff battle.  Back end of a back to back.   Sometimes the other guys deserve a tip of the cap.