EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – George Hill sticks it to Pacers

Summary: The Utah Jazz get a wire-to-wire over the Indiana Pacers. The game was not close and the Jazz led by 10 or more for most of the night. The final score was 109-100.

  • George Hill — playing his first game against the Indiana Pacers after being traded — had the second highest scoring output of his NBA career with 30 points. He dominated Jeff Teague, who padded his irrelevant numbers in the fourth quarter. This was Hill’s third back-to-back since coming back from the foot and concussion injuries and the first one where he looked correct. He is getting back to being the George Hill that was dominating for the Jazz.
  • The Jazz are 15-1 when Gordon Hayward and George Hill both play and the average score is 104-93. The Jazz are now 17-4 when George Hill plays. The Jazz are now tied for fourth in the Western Conference.
  • Gordon Hayward completely outplayed Paul George tonight. Hayward had 27 points on 13 shots. Thurl Bailey pointed out on the broadcast that you almost never see him take a bad shot. He plays completely in the team concept and has the team’s intentions as his top concern all night.
  • Paul George quit tonight with six minutes left. He went iso-ball on Joe Ingles and when he didn’t get a foul call, he committed an intentional foul on George Hill so he could argue his call and then got a tech. Moments later, he fouled out with 6:00 left in the game. The Pacers were -18 when Paul George was on the floor tonight. He is a great player but he wasn’t tonight and the Pacers are now 22-21.
  • Derrick Favors and Alec Burks looked better tonight than they have all year. Favors gave the Jazz an awesome first half performance. He had 8 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists, but it was very impactful.
  • Alec Burks was really good on the offensive end tonight and gave the Jazz a huge boost. He had 13 points on 5 of 8 shooting. He grabbed four rebounds; Rebounding guards are so important.
  • The Jazz got 14 rebounds from Hill, Ingles and Burks.
  • The Jazz played a little Burks, Hayward, Ingles, Johnson with Gobert tonight. That is another new lineup.
  • The story tonight was the Jazz’s focus, attention to detail and composure against a team that didn’t have those items.
  • Rudy Gobert got 11 rebounds, his 30th straight game with 10 or more rebounds. Only five players have done this in 20 years.
  • George Hill had a fabulous night against his former team, hometown team, favorite team as a kid. He drilled the Pacers with 30 points and his team dominated.

Emptying the Noggin — The Jazz keep winning close games

Summary: The Jazz won their fifth straight game and third over Dallas this year with an overtime win in Texas. The game was a tough, closely-fought game with 10 ties in the fourth quarter.

  • Rudy Gobert finished the night with 27 points and 25 rebounds. It was the first 25/25 game for a Jazzman since Al Jefferson against Dallas, with the last one in the NBA coming from Dwight Howard last year.
  • Gobert was incredible. He was completely dominant on the offensive glass. Dallas played Dwight Powell, who is close to being a three at center, and Dirk at the five. Rudy has to abuse them and that is exactly what he did. Rudy had 10 offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter and the overtime period. Moreover, Rudy showed amazing ability to finish around the rim tonight and displayed some good moves to get himself opportunities. His offensive game has more to it than is being recognized.
  • The game was tied at 76, 78, 80, 81, 83, 89, 91, 93 and 98 in the fourth quarter.
  • The Jazz’s back up point guards are struggling and Quin Snyder closed the game after George Hill fouled out with Hayward, Hood, Ingles, Diaw and Gobert. I love the idea of putting my five best players on the floor and letting them figure it out. Without Hood, Hayward is initiating a large part of the offense late in games so you can play without a traditional point guard.
  • This game was foul-heavy in the fourth quarter with seemingly every possession going to the line.
  • JJ Barea was a pain in George Hill’s side. He drew foul after foul and got George into foul trouble. Barea pulled his calf muscle and was not able to return. It changed the tide of the game a bit.
  • The Jazz are winning close games. Tonight, we had 10 minutes of clutch time. Rudy’s offensive rebound was the weapon tonight. In the final five minutes of regulation, the Jazz scored on 6 of 10 possessions, two of which were offensive rebounds. In overtime, they scored on 7 of 9 possessions; Gobert’s offensive rebounding was unstoppable.
  • The Jazz did a nice job not turning the ball over against the number one team at forcing turnovers in the NBA.
  • The Jazz were even with Rudy Gobert off the floor tonight. This is huge. The Jazz are almost always positive with Rudy on the floor so if we can stay even or positive when he is off, there will be lots of wins.
  • Gordon Hayward had 26 points and some big shots late in the game. He got to the line for eight free throws, which were vital.
  • Joe Ingles is averaging nearly 13 points a game as a starter, plus he had three steals. Those are huge plays in one-possessions games.
  • Joe Johnson hit the biggest shot of the night: The Jazz were down three and Rudy Gobert was at the line. Gobert missed both free throws with 1:50 to play in overtime. The rebound came all the way out to Rudy and he passed it to Joe Johnson who quickly released a three to tie the game at 107.
  • Dallas didn’t score over the final 2:05 of overtime. The Jazz closed on an 8-0 run that started with the Joe Johnson three.
  • Dirk Nowitzki played his second back-to-back of the season. In the previous one, he played 12 minutes and was 2 for 8. Tonight, he had the worst shooting night of his NBA career, going 1 for 13. He had a good-look three to tie the game with :10.9 seconds left. I don’t care how many he had missed tonight, it felt like it would go in and it didn’t.

The Jazz have won five in a row. Three of them were clutch games (within five points with five minutes to play). These are the games the Jazz struggled with a year ago. Don’t underestimate closing with Boris Diaw and Joe Johnson.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Brilliant plays lead to close win for Jazz

Summary: The Jazz win a league-leading fifth come-from-behind road win with numerous clutch plays to overcome a hot Phoenix Suns team, 106-101, for Utah’s fourth straight win.

  • The Jazz started the game on a 10-2 run, but that would be the only easy part of the night. The Suns got rolling after that and the first wave off the Jazz bench was really poor and Utah trailed by four points at the end of the first quarter. The Jazz struggled with the Suns’ pace and guard pressure all night and headed to the fourth quarter trailing. The game was tied at 86, 88, 90, 92, 94 and 99 before the Jazz closed on a 7-2 run.
  • The amount of mammoth plays late from the Jazz were the story of the night. With 3:16 left, Gobert caught a bullet from Hill and was pushed in the back hard but found a way to finish and to make the free throw to put the Jazz up by two points. The Jazz fell behind by one when TJ Warren ripped Gordon Hayward and dunked on the other side. Joe Johnson hit a three with :49.8 seconds left with no time on the shot clock. It was contested and a tough look. Hayward nailed two free throws to make it a three-point game. With 7.9 seconds left, Rudy blocked a Chriss drive to the basket to secure the win.
  • Booker’s line looks like he had a comfortable night, but nothing could be further from the truth; Joe Ingles was all over him all night. Booker has become such a good scorer that he is able to produce on nights when nothing is comfortable.
  • The Jazz’s offense got the job done late. They scored on 7 of 10 possessions in the final five minutes for a total of 16 points.
  • Rudy Gobert was unreal tonight. He dominated on the offensive glass. He impacted plays at the rim. He was a force on the defensive glass. He made numerous offensive plays as well. He finished with 18 points, 17 rebounds and four block shots. Without Tyson Chandler on the floor, you have to take advantage and that is exactly what Rudy did.
  • Quin Snyder tried a lot of things tonight. His first subs were Dante, Alec and Trey and that didn’t go well. He came back with Neto for Exum and Diaw for Lyles. Both of them had strong nights that were vital for the win.
  • Joe Johnson was super in the fourth quarter. With Rodney Hood out, the Jazz will need Johnson to play well for the next few weeks. Joe had 10 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter.
  • Alec Burks was not as good tonight as he was the other night. The road back is going to have bumps along the way.
  • The Suns played a pace that had the Jazz on their heels for a lot of the night. They got into actions and put pressure on the Jazz early in the clock. Once the Jazz were able to get the game in a half court, they were able to slow it down. Numerically, the game was a slow-paced game, which is telling because it really felt like Phoenix was on the push all night
  • The Jazz had just eight turnovers.
  • The Suns closed really small with Bledsoe (who was great all night, 31-9-9) Booker, Barbosa, Tucker and Chriss.The Jazz stayed with Gobert and played Diaw and Johnson as the power forwards. Diaw had most of the clutch-time minutes.
  • Four in a row, three close ones in a row. In this league, you start winning because you think you are supposed to win.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Hayward and Gobert continue to amaze

THIS IS A ROUGH DRAFT EDITION THAT WILL BE REPLACED WITH THE FINAL VERSION BUT IN THE MEANTIME ALLOWS YOU TO HAVE SOMETHING

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN
Summary: Despite a sluggish defensive-less start the closed out in a big time fashion with a 13-0 run to win their third in a row with a 114-107 win over Orlando
• The Jazz allowed 65 first half points to a team ranked 27th in the league offensively. Igor Kokokskov at halftime said he couldn’t even recognize the team that was the floor. The Jazz were passive defensively and it let the Magic get a rhythm and feel good about themselves. Elfrid Payton was a tough cover for the Jazz with a career high 28 points .

• Stretch 5s are hard on the Jazz. They pull Rudy Gobert out of the paint and it exposes some of the weaknesses of the Jazz defense. A stretch 5 and a penetrating point guard are a tough combination on the Jazz right now.

• Gordon Hayward and Rudy Gobert are simply awesome.

• Gordon Hayward notched 23 points, 5 rebounds and 7 assists. He was being guarded by Aaron Gordon who is a really long athletic defender. The progression of Gordon’s game is one of the most remarkable stories of this NBA season. He has gotten better and better every year. But not a little bit better. He has gotten mammoth amounts better. He is a bonafide beast on the floor right now. He has developed each of his skiills, his strength and his footwork to an elite level. He has become a 20 point every night guy. That is insanely hard to do in the NBA. It is even more remarkable when you do it inside of the team concept every night without an ounce of selfishness. It is even moreso when you look at his background as a player who was never a scorer and was drafted because he made his teammates better. He still does that. He makes his teammates better every night while controlling the game with his offense.

• Rudy Gobert is in the same realm. 19 rebounds tonight. His 27 game streak of 10 rebound or more is the 6th longest streak in the NBA over the last 20 years. THE LAST 20 YEARS !!!!!!. Tonight he added 19 points. He did it on 9 shots. He was 5 of 7 from the line. Two years ago the Jazz played the Magic and he played 11 minutes. It still has not been 2 years since the Enes Kanter trade. To make this jump in a span of two years is unthinkable.

• Alec Burks played regular rotation minutes with Joe Johnson getting the night off for rest. He played 15 really good minutes and finished with 8 points and 6 rebounds. That is really exciting. He looked super. He is an athlete this roster doesn’t have.

• Late in the game Gordon Hayward drove the lane and found Derrick Favors on the left baseline about 15 feet from the basket. Favors took one dribble and EXPLODED. EXPLODED like we haven’t seen all year and for most of the second half of last year. He went up and was way above the rim for a dunk and a foul. Listening to Derrick after the game with Tony Parks I was left with the impression that he might not of known if he could do that. Sometimes you need the moment to take over the mind and the body and prove to you what you are capable of. Derrick has been getting better every night and tonight he had 17 points and 6 rebounds.

• Rodney Hood went down with a really scary injury to his right knee but the initial word of the locker-room sounds relatively encouraging that he has a hyperextended knee. However, he will be re-evaluated tomorrow and we will know more then.

• The Magic lead this game 42-29 at the end of 1. The Jazz took a 5 point lead in the 2nd but the Magic worked back to a 1 point halftime lead. The Jazz then fell down 9 in the third before taking a 1 point lead going to the 4th. The Jazz seemed to be in control up 5 in the 4th but the Magic surged to 5 point lead with 4:07 left and then the Jazz answered on a 13-0 run.

• The 13-0 run ran from the 3:37 mark and the Magic had the ball up 5 but turned it over. Not having Fournier was a big loss at this point for the Magic. Hayward went 3 for 3 from the line in this stretch and is now 19 of 20 in the clutch from the line this year. Hawyard then assisted Favors on the dunk and then Hill hit Hood for a corner 3. Joe Ingles wrapped it up with 2 more threes.

• Jazz win their third straight and 4th in 5. 2-0 on a run of 11 straight games being favored.

Emptying the Noggin — Jazz get super win against a super team

Summary: In a tremendous basketball game, the Utah Jazz prevailed over the World Champion Cleveland Cavaliers, 100-92. The game had runs, defensive strategy, coaching moves and star level play in a nice win that was filled with entertainment.

·       There is no way I will be able to cover everything that happened in this game, here but here goes an attempt. From a game flow stand point, the game was even until the Jazz went on a 21-8 run to close the second quarter and led by 15 at the half. Then, Cavaliers went on a 17-0 run to take the lead in the third, and the Jazz answered on a 16-0 run and the Jazz led by nine going into the fourth quarter.

·       Impressively, the Jazz never let the Cavaliers in the game in the fourth quarter. Utah took the lead to 15 by the 8:37 mark and the Cavs didn’t get it down to single digits until the 3:54 mark when they got it within eight. That lead was trimmed to six points, but Rodney Hood answered with an enormous three and that was it for the world champs.

·       The key moment of the game happens with the score at 35-33 in the second quarter. Quin Snyder opted to go small, bringing in Joe Ingles to play with Hayward, Hood and Hill. This was done to combat the pick and roll coverage of the Cavaliers and the game changed. The Jazz went on a 21-8 run to close the second quarter. The Cavaliers stayed big the entire time with Thompson and Love on the floor with LeBron at the small forward. The Cavs were trapping the pick and roll ball handler with two men and the Jazz were able to get the ball out of the double team and then move the ball well enough that they got open looks. They hit Rudy a few times and then hit three three-point shots (Hood made two and Hill one) to take the 15-point halftime lead.

·       The key to this is getting the ball out of the trap and the Jazz guards did a nice job with that.

·       The Cavaliers got the game down to one in the third quarter and Joe Ingles entered the game again with the same small lineup as the second quarter and the same thing happened.  LeBron was rolling at this point — and I MEAN ROLLING!!!! He was terrific. By the end of the quarter, the Jazz were up 75-66 and had taken control of the game.

·       As I mentioned, LeBron was killing it. He had 12 points in the first 5:12 of the third quarter. From the time the Jazz went small with Ingles and Hayward defending LeBron, LeBron went 1 for 4 from the field. Ingles had the assignment for most of the possessions.

·       Gordon Hayward answered LeBron with his own run. With the game tied at 60-60, Hayward hit a shot to make it 62-60 with 5:47 left. He wasn’t done. He hit back-to-back threes to make 68-60 on his own personal 8-0 run. Hayward scored 10 points in 3:30 to take control of the game.

·       Rodney Hood hit numerous big fourth quarter shots and had 10 fourth quarter points. It was great for Rod, who has been struggling.

·       The Jazz’s small defensive lineup got the Cavaliers out of their game as they tried to post Love, so they played more one on one and the offense wasn’t its usual machine.

·       The Jazz instituted three different pick and roll coverages tonight depending on personnel. I am sure the Cavs know what they are at this point, but just in case, I will leave out the details. What is impressive is over the course of the game, I only saw the Jazz blow the coverages about three times. This is hard depending on what personnel was involved in the play the Jazz changed what they were doing and possible where it was on the floor. It can be hard for players to remember all the personnel, so if player X is involved, I do this and if it is player Y, I do this, but if it’s Z, then it is another coverage. This seemed to break the Cavs from their rhythm. As the night went on, it felt like the Cavs figured out some of the Jazz approaches and then the Jazz defense executed well enough to get stops.

·       This is a player’s league, and if Rodney doesn’t make shots and Gordon doesn’t have the amazing end to the third, the Jazz don’t win. This game was a real testament to the what Quin Snyder and his coaching staff are able to do in preparation and what they are able to get their players to do in the midst of a highly emotional game.

·       The other Quin Snyder move was calling a play for a corner three for Rodney Hood at one of the biggest moments of the game. Not only did it work, but it is the type of play where a coach buys a lot of loyalty from a player.

·       Hayward shot 10 of 12 for 28 points. He also had 9 rebounds.

·       Quin Snyder complimented the wing play defensively.

This is a super win for the Jazz. They were 6-12 against above .500 teams going into tonight.  Now, they play 11 games that are all possible wins on the schedule. This could be a spark to a streak.

Emptying the Noggin — Jazz suffer their 1st loss with Hayward and Hill starting

Summary: The Memphis Grizzlies shut down the Jazz’s offense and controlled the game for an 88-79 win.

·       This games was an incredibly slow-paced, physical battle, which is common when these two teams get together. Last time in Memphis, the Jazz jumped out early; This time, the Grizzlies got the early jump. Playing from behind in these kinds of game is brutal.

·       In the half court, the Jazz don’t have a lot of guys or much of anyone who can just beat you off the dribble or be a pure pick-and-roll scorer. So when teams start switching everything, the Jazz fall into a one-on-one game because they have a mismatch, but most of our guys don’t dominate those mismatches and then the offense gets stagnant. When the Jazz moved the ball side to side and worked the entire floor tonight, they got much better looks, but that is hard to do when playing a really physical defense that is holding and grabbing and impeding your movement.

·       The best offensive play of the night was when the Jazz ran through some action. Hayward came off a pick with the ball and Zach Randolph switched on him. Memphis realized it was a bad matchup so Marc Gasol stayed in a zone on the side of the floor Gordon was on. Gordon drove on Zach, engaged Marc and then threw a cross court skip pass to the right corner to George Hill.   Hill’s man was forced to slide over onto Rudy because Gasol had gone to help Zach. The only problem was that Hill missed the shot, but that is how the Jazz need to attack switching — by getting the opponent into a scramble not beating guys one-on-one.

·       I’m not surprised George Hill was a little less super tonight. The second game back from an extended lay off is always a tough game for players. The last time we played the Grizzlies, Mike Conley was in the same situation and had a tough night.

·       The last time the Jazz played the Grizzlies, Marc Gasol was 4 of 22. Tonight, he came out early with a designed plan to go at Rudy. Rather than playing back to the basket or shooting outside threes, he went right to his comfort spot — 15 feet out on the left wing — and if Rudy gave him any space, he fired and he hit. That is the essence of an All-Star. It was actually pretty cool to watch Gasol navigate the game understanding what had happened when he faced Rudy before.

·       Memphis is good. The Jazz haven’t taken care of many games against teams above .500 yet this year.

·       The Jazz’s offense has not been very good recently. The easy answer is they haven’t had George Hill and frankly, that is most of it. However, it is worth keeping an eye on. Gordon is the main scorer on this team. Who is second? Who is third? Where are the points coming from? There is still a lot of getting to know each other and understanding who is who. It’s too bad this is taking place 41 games into the season.

·       Rodney Hood has never played well in Memphis. For his career, he is shooting 33% in Memphis, so this is not the place for him to bust out of his doldrums. This stretch was induced by the sickness and the hamstring, but it is now building on itself. I was hoping when he made his first shot tonight, it was a sign of a big night. Defensively might be where he should focus to get himself rolling.

·       I’m not sure how the organization views the D-League team, but both Alec and Dante need court time and game action. It seems like this is a prime spot to utilize the D-League team being in Salt Lake City. They are home Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday this week. Dante could get 100 minutes of game action. Alec could play Wednesday and get 30 minutes, if his minutes restriction would allow it. He might not play Friday since he might not be able to go Saturday for the Jazz if needed. I don’t know the details, but court time seems like a good idea. Court time with freedom to make mistakes is really the key here.

·       The game changed when it was a six-point game closing the third quarter and then Jazz allowed Daniels to get free for a three and then turned it over and Carter hit a three to turn it into a 12-point game going to the fourth quarter. A team as good as the Grizzlies is not blowing that game like Minnesota did Saturday.

·       The Jazz were +3 with Rudy on the floor and -12 when he was off the floor. To me, this is the key to the rest of the season — being able to play when Rudy is off the floor.

·       Trey Lyles is shooting well over 40% from three since Dec 1.

·       Going 2-3 road trip isn’t great. It isn’t terrible. It’s right in the middle.

·       This was the Jazz’s first loss when Hayward and Hill both played.

Emptying the Noggin — Healthy Jazz win it down the stretch against the Wolves

Summary: The Jazz came from 13 down to catch the Wolves with numerous improbable plays and won 94-92 in the first game with a healthy lineup since Dec 20, 2014.

·       The Jazz trailed by 13 late in the third quarter. The Wolves have lost the most amount of 10+ leads of any team in the league (12), and the Jazz methodically walked the game down into range and then made all the plays late to win it.

·       There were numerous key plays late in the game. Joe Ingles got isolated defensively against Zach LaVine with the Jazz up by two and played it perfectly. He said post game that he just didn’t want him to shoot a three and that is such a smart heads-up play by Joe.

·       Derrick Favors was huge. He was able to hit numerous jump shots and then nailed a mammoth corner three late in the game. Favors finished the quarter 3-4 for seven points. The Jazz were down seven with the ball and 2:23 to play, and Favors hit a 20-foot jumper. On the next possession after a Minnesota turnover, he buried a corner three to make it a two-point game.

·       With the game tied, Favors missed a six-footer and Gobert tipped it in with :27.5 seconds left to give the Jazz the lead, 94-92.

·       The Jazz’s defense got stops late in the game. The Wolves didn’t score for the final 3:35. Their last field goal came at the 4:41 mark when LaVine put the Wolves ahead, 91-83.

·       The Jazz closed the game with Favors and Gobert for the final 3:35.

·       George Hill returned and was terrific. He finished with 19 points — 10 in the fourth quarter — five rebounds and seven assists. He was +10 and the Jazz were -8 when he was on the bench.

·       Getting George Hill back made a difference on the turnover front as the Jazz committed just 10 turnovers in the game. Hill had just one turnover to his seven assists, and Ricky Rubio is a tough defender to battle against.

·       Derrick Favors’ 34 minutes are the most since he’s played since he started back-to-back 30 minute games and then got the bone bruise on his knee.

·       Minnesota doesn’t play its bench at all.

·       The Jazz didn’t have a lot of thrust or focus in their game in the first half and it got worse when the Wolves got out and ran a bit in the third. The Jazz just weren’t at the usual or necessary level of detail.

·       Favors had three steals and Ingles had four.

·       Joe Ingles closed the game for the final five minutes in place of Rodney Hood again.

·       The Jazz (Hayward) have defended Andrew Wiggins really well over the past seven games with Wiggins shooting just 37%. Tonight was more of the same and Wiggins he finished 6 of 19.   Wiggins shoots just 37% off the bounce and the Jazz force him into that game.

Emptying the Noggin — Jazz’s lack of experience shows up in Toronto

Summary: The Raptors dominated the fourth quarter behind Kyle Lowery and beat the Jazz, 101-93.  Lowry was unstoppable in the fourth quarter, scoring 16 of his game-high 33 points.

·       The Jazz led almost the entire game. The Raptors took their first lead at 89-88 with 3:44 left in the fourth. The Jazz started fast and took a nine-point lead into the second quarter. The lead was down to four going to the half and just two by the time the fourth quarter started.

·       The Jazz’s offense just couldn’t get rolling late. Joe Johnson hit a bucket at the 7:26 mark and the Jazz scored five points in the next five minutes: Hayward had two free throws and Hood hit a three. In that span, the Jazz went 1-4 with four turnovers. There was a lack of composure getting into the offense and getting good looks.

·       Shelvin Mack was terrific all night, taking advantage of the Raptors’ defense. He worked himself to the right side of the floor, which is what he prefers. He handled the match up with Lowry well. However, when it got down the final possessions of the game and it was Lowry time, it was a lot to ask. Lowry is an All-Star and Mack has played great and has developed a really solid game, but Lowry is as tough as they come. For those final minutes, it was a huge mismatch.

·       The Jazz didn’t defensive rebound as well as they usually do. The Raptors’ second half was a dominating performance on the offensive glass. The Raptors got 12 offensive rebounds and the Jazz had 16 defensive rebounds.

·       The Jazz’s second half shooting was tough. They went 12 of 33 and Hayward and Johnson went 7 for 13. The rest of the team was 5 for 20. The Raptors were over-playing Gordon and doubling him off the pick-and-roll, which should open up chances for other guys.  Mack did it in the first half but it didn’t hold for the night.

·       The Jazz were only -1 when Gobert was off the floor tonight. The Jazz’s ability to be successful when Favors is at center is going to be vital for the season. Tonight was better than it has been all year. Finding a big combo with Favors at the five is vital in the next stretch.

·       The Jazz’s desperation for good point guard play became obvious again tonight when Quin closed the final four minutes without a point guard.

·       The Jazz had a great defensive night on DeMar DeRozan. Hayward had the assignment most of the night and DeRozan went 8 for 26.

·       Lowry was the beast late in the game. He wants it right now.

·       Valanciunas had one of his best games of the year with 18 points and 13 rebounds. He was a huge force inside to match Gobert. He had eight offensive rebounds.

·       The Jazz played 11 players in the second quarter. That is not a great way for players to stay in rhythm, but Quin is trying to give everyone a chance and some involvement.

·       Alec Burks got his first points of the season on a tough jumper and hit 2 of 3 from the line.

·        Rodney Hood’s number this year are all slightly below last year. I think that is hamstring and sickness related for killing nearly three weeks, but the Jazz need him to get rolling.

·       Winning in Toronto is a tough task. They have been through a lot. First round playoff series losses, two game 7 wins last year and an Eastern Conference final — they have had a ton of experience.  The Jazz don’t have that to fall back upon. It shows.

Emptying the Noggin — Jazz can’t slow down Celtics in Boston

Summary: Boston’s offense destroyed the Jazz’s defense, and the Celtics cruised to an easy win over the Jazz.

·       The Jazz found no answer for Boston’s offensive system all night. Boston plays a five-out offense where all five players are playing outside the paint. A player will cut through the lane, but then never stop in the paint and the offense continues with five out and the lane wide open. This sent the Jazz for loops we haven’t seen all year. Boston was able to get dribble penetration into the paint and then when the Jazz’s defense shifted into the lane to help, they ended up in a complete scramble.

·       The Jazz are the second best team at not allowing three-point shots to be taken by their opponents, allowing just 26.8% of opponents’ total shots to be threes. Tonight, Boston took over 40% of their shots as threes. The Jazz couldn’t control the ball and once that happened, it was over and Boston was bombing away, making shots.

·       Isaiah Thomas is unreal. He had a career high in assists. Again, he got into the paint, broke the defense down and could then throw it back out for a three. In his case, it was a direct pass to a basket with 15 assists. For many others, the pass led to another pass and another pass and the Celtics just kept getting looks.

·       The Jazz’s transition defense was not as good as usual to start the game, and at the same time, the Jazz had no presence on the offensive glass. The Jazz had zero offensive rebounds in the first half and the Celtics came into the game the worst defensive rebounding team in the NBA.

·       The Celtics were the first team who had a defense designed to take away Rudy Gobert. They had a body or two on Rudy on every roll to the basket. They switched a lot of pick and rolls so the guard or wing was big enough to stay between Rudy and the basket. This is where it would be nice if Rudy had some sort of the offensive back-to-the-basket game to take advantage of the smaller player. The Celtics eliminated the roll of Rudy. This is going to happen in the playoffs.

·       Gordon Hayward had a nice offensive game. He got cheers from the Boston crowd that sent Jae Crowder into a twitter tantrum after the game. Crowder was awesome tonight, hitting on all five of his three-point attempts.

·       Derrick Favors looked better tonight. He had a bit more bounce offensively. Defensively, he still seemed anchored to the ground a bit. His passes were great — he had his career high assists in the game.

·       The Jazz had a season-high in assists and had a really good offensive game. They just couldn’t get stops.

·       Joe Johnson took over and was unguardable for a while. The Jazz are going to need Joe Johnson to be this aggressive offensively until Rodney Hood can be a consistent night-in and night-out offensive scorer.

·       I loved Rodney Hood’s six free throws.

·       The Jazz went eight minutes without a point guard tonight with George Hill absent and it didn’t work out. In those eight minutes, the Jazz were a -10. The Jazz were trying to take advantage of Thomas defensively and didn’t have the personnel to do it. The last seven healthy starting point guards had crushed the Celtics. The problems were defensive and getting stops with these lineups.

·       Alec Burks didn’t play. There are not a lot of minutes for Alec right now. Quin is going to make an effort to get Alec on the floor, but he is rusty and probably can’t be expected to be very good for a while so it’s hard to find him time. There also aren’t a lot of minutes at the big man positions. If Favors is playing up to 30 minutes and Rudy is playing 36, then that is 66 of the 96 total big minutes accounted for. That leaves just 30 minutes to be divided between Lyles, Diaw and Johnson/Ingles (if we play small).”

·       This was the Jazz’s second worst defensive performance of the year — only the Miami game was worse by the numbers.

·       This game was the Jazz’s inability to stop the Celtics. The offense was really good with big additions from Diaw, Johnson and Favors. The defense never showed the slightest sign of stopping Boston, allowing a 126.9 defensive rating.

Emptying the Noggin — Jazz get their 4th win in a row

Summary: With the game tied going into the fourth quarter, the Jazz dominated the fourth and pulled away for a routine win over the Brooklyn Nets.

·       Quin Snyder won his 100th game of his NBA career tonight, and his moves were a large part of it.  Snyder decided to open the second half with Boris Diaw instead of Derrick Favors. That didn’t work because the Nets didn’t guard Boris and he didn’t knock down shots. Then, Quin went to Lyles as the four and that didn’t work either. Finally, he decided to go with Ingles/Johnson at the power forward along with Favors or Gobert at center, which changed the game for the Jazz.

·       The Jazz put the defensive clamps down against the Nets in the second half. In the first half, the Jazz did a poor job containing the ball and stopping the quick penetration of the Nets. In the second half, they were vastly improved and that helped them control the game. It ended up being a very good defensive night for the Jazz.

·       Hayward carried the Jazz through the third quarter, scoring 13 of the Jazz’s 20 points. The Jazz’s offense was brutal through portions of the third quarter; They couldn’t knock down shots and couldn’t get into any sets. Everything was dying late in the shot clock.

·       Hood opened the fourth quarter with a scoring burst after starting the night 2 for 11. Mack also hit a few big shots in the fourth, mostly his right-handed floater on the right side of the floor.  Hayward added a few to get himself another 30-point game.

·       Hayward came out in the first quarter and was dominant, then took over the third and scored when he needed to in the fourth. He has passed 30 points five times this year and 18 times in his career.

·       Trevor Booker played with a ton of energy tonight and was terrific for the Nets. He seems really happy about where he is. It was great to see Trevor before the game. He might be the most liked player in the league.

·       Joe Ingles has done so much for this team. He has played point guard, has been a defensive stopper, and he was the power forward and grabbed nine rebounds tonight.

·       The use of four different guys — and none of them being Derrick Favors — at the four in the second half shows the versatility that this roster has for Quin Snyder.

·       Rudy Gobert had 15 points and 16 rebounds while holding Lopez to 14 — 7 points below his season average.

·       I loved that Joe Johnson hit the three that clinched the game.

·       Alec Burks returned for three minutes tonight. I’m not sure where his minutes come from. His only shot was a buzzer-beater attempt. He seemed to struggle a little containing the ball on the dribble.

·       Jazz win their fourth in a row, and now the road trip starts to get really hard.