EMPTYING THE NOGGIN—1 a.m. edition

  • Heck of a game tonight at EnergySolutions Arena. Jazz led from 3:00 in the 1st quarter until 3:00 left in the fourth quarter, but in the end the Grizzlies were able to shut down the Jazz and close the game on a 14-3 run to win it.
  • Lots of really good performances tonight by the Jazz. Trey Burke’s first quarter was great. The Grizzlies decided they would not allow Gordon Hayward to be a playmaker—they dropped players into the paint in non-traditional ways to prevent Gordon from making plays, and Trey picked up the slack with 10 assists.
  • The Jazz played through all of the possessions tonight. They maintained strong effort and had a ton of plays go their way that in other games they would have let slip away.
  • Trey was aggressive, got into the lane and made plays for his teammates. He also took advantage of the Memphis defense, which is not great at guarding the ball handler on the pick and roll, and hit some shots.
  • Enes Kanter played as good a first half as I have seen from him in a long time. He rebounded with the beasts of the Grizzlies inside, and he rotated correctly on defense. The only problem is that his jump shot is way off and he has lost confidence taking it. This was a good game for Enes. He equalled his season high in minutes played. However, even on night where it felt like he played well, he was -12. His +/- this year is terrible compared to how the team plays when he’s off the floor. When Kanter and Marvin were together, the Jazz couldn’t defend at all.
  • Kanter played 39 minutes tonight. Jazz are 3-24 when he plays 30 minutes this year and 7-36 when he plays more than 25. It doesn’t feel fair to put this on Kanter, but he is still learning the game every night. He is not instinctual in how he plays and it is not natural for him.
  • The Jazz only played seven players in the first half.
  • Favors was very strong tonight: 22 points, 10 rebounds, two steals and two blocks. He really bothered Zach Randolph down low and forced Randolph to the outside, where he hit two big shots.
  • Gasol and Randolph had seven assists, and Kanter and Favors had two. This is a big issue for Kanter and Favors, and one of them is going to have to learn how to pass. Kanter is beginning to see where to throw passes, but you can’t work the offense through him. And Favors is an OK passer, but again is not able to facilitate the offense.
  • I really want to re-watch the final five minutes to see what happened to us offensively. However, I can ‘t access anything right now. The Jazz led it 84-77 with 4:22 left. Kanter missed a 21-footer which is not a good shot with nine seconds on the shot clock; Burke missed a layup with seven on the shot clock; Marvin missed a 23-footer with the shot clock expiring, and suddenly the Jazz were behind. Favors committed a turnover trying to sneak a pass to Kanter in the lane, and then the Jazz were down three with 1:23 left. Burke misses the best look of the bunch—a free-throw line pull-up J, and the Jazz were down by five with :59 left. The game was pretty much over at that point.
  • A strong performance by the Jazz tonight, but when the chips were down Memphis is an experienced team that knows how to win. The Jazz were unable to get the stops they got earlier in the game and make the shots they hit earlier to stay in the game.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN—Uncontested shots again

  • If Richard Jefferson had hit any of the three open 3-pointers he missed to open the game, would the energy and the night have been different?  You never know, but I doubt it.
  • The Jazz got outworked tonight.
  • The Jazz defense has been on a steady decline for the month of March and this was the nadir.  The Pistons came in 27th offensively over the last 10 games, they were 27th in FG%, they had been shooting 31% from the three point line and tonight they shot 55%, 53% from three scored 114 points.   Crazy
  • Jazz were +1 with Kanter and Favors on the floor together tonight in 19 minutes and -21 the rest of the game. The Jazz shot 15-for-34 (and 5-for-15 from 3-point range) with Kanter and Favors on the floor tonight.
  • We talked all night on the broadcast about how bad the Pistons are with both bigs on the floor and how good they are with one of the two on the floor. Tonight this proved true as well. In the 17 minutes Drummond and Monroe were together, the Pistons were -5. In the other 31 minutes they were +25.
  • The Jazz had no fast-break points until the 4:20 mark of the third quarter.
  • Gordon Hayward was the bright spot with 32 points and six assists tonight.
  • The Jazz were 13-for-44 (29.5%) on uncontested shots tonight. The Pistons were 22-for-42 (52.3%) on uncontested looks. That is a minimum of 18 points in a 20-point game.
  • Marvin can’t make a three right now. Everything is front rim. He was 1-for-5 and is now 9 for his last 45 from deep.
  • Favors reverted back to being inconsistent. Thurl Bailey said on our broadcast that we have seen how much the Jazz miss Favors when he doesn’t play, and tonight should count as one of those nights.
  • No bench spark without Alec Burks.
  • See you Wednesday night.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN—Trey for Trey

  • This was an ugly game. If you could envision a game between one team on a six-game losing streak versus another team with a seven-game losing streak with both teams missing important pieces, then you have this one. Neither team scored for the final 3:58 of the third quarter. The Jazz went on a 5-0 run that lasted over six minutes of basketball. Both teams spent most of the night shooting under 40%. That’s all you need to know about everything but the final plays of the game.
  • Trey Burke hit the game-winning 3-pointer with 1.6 seconds left from the right corner. Gordon Hayward drove the floor and brought the defense to him and bounced it to the wing, where Burke had slid down to make himself available before burying the shot. The underanalyzed part of this play is that Trey went to the right spot and made himself available for the shot and then he was ready to shoot.  Oladipo came flying at him and Burke still was able to make the shot.
  • Trey was 2-for-12 going into the final five minutes of the game and he went 3-for-3 in the final five minutes of the game. The kid is crazy clutch. In the final five minutes of games this season he has been unreal. He has hit 30-for-57 from the field and 15-for-26 from 3-pointe range, plus 100% from the free-throw line. The most amazing part of this to me is that he does this in games where he’s not playing well—and he still makes the shots.
  • Tyrone Corbin managed the final portion of the game perfectly. Corbin and Hayward talked as Arron Afflalo was at the line and got what they wanted—and then when the referees stopped the game for a moment, Corbin brought the team together for a quick explanation of what they wanted and they got it done. Also, the Jazz played for two when they should and lengthened the game eventually got the missed free throw by Afflalo.
  • Richard Jefferson was awesome in the first quarter with 17 points. Must have been fun for him to go back in time.
  • Let’s pretend we never saw the first 45 or so minutes of the game.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN—What did we learn?

  •  The five-game “Murderers’ Row” stretch is over. No surprise that the Jazz lost all five. Really no surprise that one of them along the way was a do (vs. Houston) and impressive how they matched up in the other four.
  • Lots of weaknesses were exposed when playing the best of the West, and at the same time lots of really good things showed up over the past week from this young team.
  • Maybe the biggest thing we learned is how much better this team is if it can play with some pace. It has to defend and get stops and force turnovers to get that pace, but when these guys are able to get in the open floor, the best of their talents show up. Trey Burke showed a flash of speed I didn’t know he had.
  • Trey had a really nice five-game stretch. He has made terrific strides from his struggles of two months ago. He has changed his game. He is going to the basket more. He is more aggressive making plays. He is having an impact, and if he can get out a bit in the open floor that would be an added bonus.
  • The fight to get back in this game, which is was spurred by the increased tempo, was great to see and was a nice contrast to the Houston game.
  • Defensively, the Jazz did a lot of things they wanted to tonight and executed the shootaround game plan well. The Grizzlies were impressive—every time they needed a basket they got down low to Zach in a hurry and got a good look right at the rim.  This team has gone to two Western Conference Finals, they have won five playoff series, they know what to do when they have to get a bucket, and they have a great feel for when possessions are important. They showed that late in the game.
  • The Jazz did a great job early in the year winning close games. Tonight they didn’t deal with the final five minutes well on the offensive end. Hayward broke off a play hoping to get a jumper and turned it over. Burks tried to go one-on-one and turned it over.
  • The five youngs came on the floor with 4:00 left and down by six points—Kanter got a dunk, then a Burke turnover, Hayward miss, Hayward turnover, shot clock violation (on the Burks play) and Hayward missed 3-pointer.
  • Trey Burke’s first quarter was terrific. He scored 13 points and went to the rim on two or three plays. He was aggressive. More importantly, the defensive effort from Trey is improving tremendously.
  • Alec is tough when he is making his shots. If he improves his shot a little bit more and gets the ball with a bit more space on the floor, he is going to be totally filthy offensively. He had six rebounds and four assists.
  • One thing I really like is the rebounding potential of Burks and Hayward together.  Two things in this league are never talked about enough—wing rebounding and big man passing. These two could be very good wing rebounders—They combined for 11 boards tonight.
  • Gasol and Randolph combined for six assists—Kanter and Favors had two, both by Favors.
  • The losses are tough to handle. These guys are all competitors, but these were as close to unwinnable games as you can have. Playoff teams don’t lose these types of games at this point in the season. The Jazz battled and made significant progress against some high-level teams over this stretch.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN—Lots of positives in Utah’s loss to the Spurs

  •  The Spurs are fabulous. This is a Spurs team hitting on all cylinders. They torched the Jazz, but it was still a night with a lot of positives.
  • This was without question the best offensive night of Derrick Favors’ career. He is beginning to get an array of moves and, moreover, is going somewhere with the ball and he is going where he wants to go. He hit a tough fadeaway on the baseline. He rolled to the middle on Duncan and scored a drew a foul. He retreated out of the post to set himself up for another play. This was a big night for Derrick. It’s going to be interesting to see how he plays tomorrow as he has not been able to link these games in the past.
  • Kanter and Favors got time together again tonight. They were -5 in their opening six minutes and all of San Antonio’s points were in the paint. In the third quarter they were +2 before Favors got his fourth foul.
  • Gordon Hayward had a very nice first half. His game earlier this year against the Spurs was one of the primary things that derailed him. The Spurs gave him the mid-range shot and he couldn’t make them. It sent him into a tailspin. Tonight he came with a plan and a held with the approach for all of the first half. He finished with 17 points, six rebounds and six assists. The six turnovers are too much. They are painful turnovers as well.
  • Alec is a bonafide scorer. Think DeMar DeRozan in Toronto. He didn’t get to the line tonight, but the Spurs don’t foul.
  • Trey is getting better every night. He has made huge strides. He got into the paint to make a play. He is finding some spots to make plays. He is shooting better. Lots of positives on Trey’s end.
  • This is why this night excited me. The Jazz have shown in the last three games that they have a lot of talent. Gordon is going to get better when he plays with better players and has to carry the team less often. Favors is coming around as an offensive player. Alec is a bonafide scorer. Trey is looking more and more like an NBA point guard. This is taking shape nicely. This is a big final 15-game stretch for them all to continue to grow and improve. The pieces are in place. They compliment each other for the most part. There are a lot of pieces here to play with for the coaches and management.
  • The Jazz made huge strides defensively, and that has completely fallen off. Coming into the game, teams are shooting 50% this month and 42% from 3-point range. Tonight the Spurs shot 63% and went 10-for-16 from 3-point range. That is incredible.
  • Three nights down on “March’s Murderers’ Row.” Tonight will be interesting because it is a back-to-back and I hope these guys fight. Hard to get hammered each night.  These are superior teams and the jazz have showed a lot of fight and played with them in a lot of phases of the game.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN—Night two of ‘March’s Murderers’ Row’

  • Night two of “March’s Murderers’ Row” and the Jazz fall to the Clippers. Great teams are not losing this game at this time of the year. Last time, the Jazz got “Dirked” and this time they got “Pauled”—or it is “Chrised“?
  • This was a terrific game. You want entertainment? This had some of the best entertainment of the season. The highlights were out of this world. Evans knocked an over-the-top pass to Jordan on a fast break—he skied up to tip it off the glass, and it lead to a Jazz fast break where the Jazz turned it over and the Clippers came back the other way for what looked like a Collison layup until chase-down-block man Gordon Hayward BLOCKED IT. He didn’t just block it, he sent it to into the second row over the Clippers’ bench.
  • Another one later in the night—Blake Griffin had a vintage Blake Quake follow dunk.  Then Favors answered it on the other side with a vicious right hand jam. Love the answer from Favors. That is a super big deal that he fired back at attacked the basket unintimidated after Griffin’s dunk.
  • The Jazz played a good game tonight. Defensively, they held the Clippers (the No. 2 offensive team in the NBA, and the No. 1 team over the last 10 games—a team that has been scoring 115 points per game) to 96 points. The Clippers got it going in the third quarter, hitting 14 of 18 shots.
  • The Jazz led it 70-60 with 3:30 left in the third, and the thought went through my mind that maybe the Jazz could pull this off. It must have crossed Chris Paul’s mind also, because he took over and the Clippers promptly went on a 17-2 run. L.A.’s defense also amped it up late.
  • The Jazz don’t have a go-to player who can take over a possession and make a play, and that showed in the fourth quarter when the Clippers got into the Jazz and held them to 15 points. Utah was slowed down by the full-court pressure Darren Collison put on Trey.  It slowed down Utah’s offense and allowed the Cippers to switch on defenders. The Jazz couldn’t beat the mismatches.
  • Kanter and Favors started very well together. Favors got saddled with foul trouble. In the first quarter, the Jazz led it 22-15 when Favors went out, so they were +7.  In the third quarter, they were -2 before Evans came in for Kanter.  In the fourth quarter, the Jazz were even with the two on the floor. For the night, the Jazz were +5 with Kanter and Favors on the floor together.
  • Getting beat tonight is not something to be upset with. For most of the night the effort was terrific. A few plays will stick in your craw, however. A huge Willie Green transition three happened in the third quarter because a player jogged back instead of making the effort to get all the way back, and then he was a step late to get to Green. A soft inbound pass that gets intercepted, turnovers above the free-throw line that lead to points—all of those things are a bummer.
  • Utah had 20 turnovers that led to 31 points.
  • Kanter had a great game on the boards with 15—the second highest of his career—but was only 5-for-17 shooting. Gordon Hayward had a great game passing with 10 assists—his sixth time with 10+ assists this year—but was only 2-for-8 shooting. Alec Burks had 10 points, but more turnovers (five) than field goals (four).  My point is that all of our guys played well in different aspects, but also got exposed in other areas against the hottest team in the league.
  • Interesting to watch the Clippers just faceguard Gordon Hayward with Willie Green in the fourth quarter. They decided they would not let him get the ball and make plays.  Doc Rivers’ fourth-quarter goal was to take Gordon out of the game, and he did it.
  • Fun night at the arena.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN—Lots of really good performances and an awesome legend

  •  First of five games against Western Conference playoff teams who can not afford a loss to the Utah Jazz. The Jazz did very well tonight. They battled all the way until two minutes were left. The game had 18 lead changes, 17 ties and for only one possession did a team lead by more than two possessions.
  • The best part of the night was the Jazz taking advantage of the weaknesses of the Mavericks. There are two levels of NBA success. First, you have to be good enough to take advantage of the other teams weaknesses, either scheme or personnel. Second is you become good enough to dictate the matchup yourself. We’re not at the second one yet. The Jazz doing the first was a good sign. The Mavericks are 29th in the league in restricted area FG% defense and 28th in FG% defense in the paint. Tonight the Jazz had an awesome night in the paint, scoring 56 points. In addition, the Mavericks are one of the worst teams in the NBA at defending the ball handler on the pick and roll. Trey took advantage with 20 points and six assists. This is a really big deal. If you can’t take advantage of weaknesses, it is an issue.
  • Kanter was solid off the bench tonight—18 points and 11 rebounds for the night. He is not holding his defensive verticality, though he thinks he is. He is getting better defensively, though the numbers are still startling when he plays lots of minutes—whether this team wins or not. This is simply a sign that he still has a lot of development ahead of him, but his offensive skill is becoming clear.
  • The Jazz played a lot of the fourth quarter with Burke, Burks, Jefferson, Kanter and Favors. Gordon Hayward stayed on the bench. I have not talked to Coach Corbin, but my thought is that without Marvin on the floor the Jazz needed a shooter on the floor. With Kanter and Favors in the post and Trey and Alec at the guards, those are four non-shooters. Jefferson is a 42% 3-point shooter. Plus, Jeffferson’s ability to be in the corner for a three spreads the floor. Jefferson is one of the top five corner-three shooters in the NBA, and Hayward is one of the bottom five corner-three shooters, so when it was decided that Burks was going to stay on the floor to create, it may have meant that Hayward’s lack of shooting prevented Corbin from putting him back on the floor. I don’t know this for a fact, but it seems like a reasonable explanation. You are welcome to disagree with it, but it was not without some logic—and moreover some reasonable logic.
  • Alec Burks had a career-high eight assists.
  • Sometimes games are really basic: make shots. When the Mavericks led 95-93 with 3:51 left, Alec Burks got a wide-open three and missed, and then Ellis (who is a lower percentage 3-point shooter than Burks) buried his and the Mavericks led it by five. Switch it around and the Jazz are up by one with the ball and 3:20 left. Crazy how sometimes it is so simple.
  • Hayward played 35 minutes and played well. He missed two good-look threes in the fourth quarter. One would have put the Jazz up by six and the other would have tied the game. Gordon is 11-for-47 on 3-pointers in the fourth quarter this year.
  • Dirk is fabulous. It is really an honor to watch him play, call games he plays and he a part of the NBA that includes Dirk. He went 11-for-13 for 31 points … are you kidding me?!  He’s the 12th all-time leading scorer in the history of the NBA. He’s 35 years old and I can’t see him slowing down anytime soon. His work ethic is in the class of Karl Malone. His dedication to his craft is equaled only be the greats of the game. It is a pleasure to watch.
  • See you Friday for the Clippers.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN—Jazz see old friends and fall to them as new foes

  • Fun night at EnergySolutions Arena to start off a great week of NBA basketball.  Millsap, Korver and Carroll all coming back to play in Salt Lake. The crowd loved seeing them and we got a close, exciting game in the end.
  • The Jazz played dead early (which is very common after a long road trip) and then fired out of the third quarter and went on a 28-16 run to get back in the game. They had the lead heading into the fourth quarter. Utah’s third-quarter run was initiated by a good defensive effort that allowed them to get out into the open floor and make a bunch of plays in the fast break. In the half court they ran it through Enes Kanter, and he was very good. He made a few nice plays in the post, and then when they started to double he passed out nicely and created opportunities for his teammates with his post presence.
  • Huge sequence of the game: it was tied at 96-96 and then Favors had an awesome block of Teague but the ball squirted out to Antic, who kicked to DeMarre Carroll for a 3-pointer to take a three-point lead. On the next possession, the Jazz executed well and Marvin got a straight-down-the-barrel, wide-open look from three and he front-rimmed it. The Jazz got another stop and then Marvin had another good-look three and it rimmed out as well. Korver followed with a jumper on a tough look in front of the Jazz bench and the Jazz were down by five points without much time to come back.
  • Marvin is shooting only 25% from 3-point range over the last seven games.
  • Gordon Hayward had a slow start and turned it into a strong game with 13 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and two steals. He also had five turnovers.
  • The Jazz had a miserable time guarding Kyle Korver to start the game. He had Richard trailing him, while Burks went under … and nothing was working. Korver was lighting the Jazz up.
  • Burke had 21 in the second half after a two-point first half. He went to the rim more and attacked a few times in the open court.
  • Utah got the fast break going in the third quarter but in the fourth quarter became a half court slow-down team. Utah’s pace of play for the season is 27th and has been slower in the recent stretch.
  • Four assists for Alec Burks, who is playing with a nice rhythm and is not forcing the game. He has made enormous strides.
  • Marvin and Richard got their game back tonight. Marvin had 18 points and six rebounds, and Richard had 15 points and had some nice open-floor plays.
  • Remember how awesome it was to have Kyle Korver closing out games on the line?
  • DeMarre Carroll was 3-for-5 from behind the arc. He has made 75 this year. He made 20 last year, seven the year before that, and zero the two years prior to that.
  • Millsap has attempted 159 3-pointers this season. He went 2-for-4 tonight.