Emptying the Noggin – Jazz win their 6th straight and 7th straight at home

Emptying the Noggin
• If the season ended tonight the Jazz would be in the playoffs. They are in the 2nd place in the Northwest Division and have won the season series with the Denver Nuggets.

• The Jazz energy is amazing on a nightly basis. This is growing on itself. The schedule is brutal but winning is creating a momentum of itself. At this point I think these guys want to play every day.

• The Jazz defense was not good in the 1st quarter and they started to play in the 2nd quarter and in the 3rd quarter they were great. They held the Nuggets for over 6 minutes without a field goal in the 3rd quarter in the run that ended the night. The Nuggets shot just 9 of 24 in the 2nd quarter and 8/24 in the third quarter.

• The night long execution was terrific for the Jazz. They moved the ball, they shared they found the open man and they crushed the Nuggets shooting over 60% for most of the night.

• DEVIN HARRIS DUNKED

• The three ball fell this evening. The Jazz hit 7 of 15 from three and Gordon Hayward hit 2 of 3 and Harris hit 2 of 4.

• At the open of the broadcast we talked about Ty Lawson being the key to the game and the Jazz held Lawson to 2 of 8 from the field and had 6 turnovers. When the Jazz have beat the Nuggets they have controlled Lawson.

• Devin Harris play on the pick and roll in the 2nd quarter changed the night. He sliced up the Nuggets defensively and it changed the game.

• Phil Johnson mentioned numerous times how much Favors was trying to pass. Favors is just playing know instead of being worried about making mistakes. He is busting out. He is so gifted that he makes plays that are out of the realm of possibility look easy.

• The Jazz are largely on fire because the younger players are stepping up a different level while the veterans continue to play very well. Jefferson had a great game tonight. He was 11 of 16 and has linked together a huge month of March shooting well over 50% and the averaging close to a 20/10. Devin Harris is on top of his game. Paul Millsap is Paul Millsap. Jamaal Tinsley is a very good backup point guard. CJ has contributed good minutes for this team tonight he had 12 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks.

• Gordon’s line the last two nights are just absurd. He has been the best player on the floor for most of the last two games. He dropped 15 points on 7 shots tonight. He added 7 rebounds (14 in the last 2 games) and 7 assists (12 in the last two games), he also added 2 steals and 3 blocks. Hayward the 7th player this year to have type of box score, LeBron, Josh Smith, Marc Gaosl, Tim Duncan, Big Al and Durant.

• Burks has added a ton to this team. 15 pts in 18 mins – he is a great scorer off the bench.

• Super team win. The Jazz are getting better every time they step on the floor. This is the toughest part of the schedule and the Jazz are coming through it with flying colors.

Final note – for all of you who participated in our little social media trash talk – great job.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Jazz win 5th in a row in Sacramento

Emptying the Noggin
• 5 in a row – 3 games over .500 – huff and puffy on the playoff door – WOW WOW WOW

• The Jazz road wins are now +1 to the home losses that is what has to happen to make the playoffs.

• Derrick Favors dominated the game for the end of 1st quarter and into the second quarter. Hayward dominated part of the 4th quarter. After the game Hayward said that Jeff Hornacek has been telling them to stop just playing the game but owning the game and owning possessions they are doing exactly that.

• I have begun to refer to Derrick Favors as Dwight Howard lite. He is having enormous impact on the game defensively and I really believe he will be able to anchor an elite defensive team. He is super gifted and he sees the game well defensively. At the beginning of the year the goal for him was to be ready to dominate a quarter by next year. He is there it is just on the defensive end rather than the offensive end. The opponent shooting percentage when he is in the game has to be dramatically low.

• Gordon Hayward on the post game talked about how absurdly poor Favors offensive game was when he was in New Jersey in summer league just two years ago and the growth to what it is now and it makes you believe he could be an offensive player as well. He has a better offensive game than Cousins who just shoots jumpers.

• Devin Harris and Jamaal Tinsley combined for 14 assists and 2 turnovers

• Al Jefferson tip in to win – just like in Toronto

• Defensive rebounding has been the calling card on this win steak and tonight it was not the case. The numbers are skewed by the one possession where the allowed 7 offenisve rebounds, yes 1 possession with 7 offensive rebounds but it was still a major issue tonight. It doesn’t matter how well you play defense if you don’t defensive rebound

• The Jazz missed 13 of their first 14 shots of the 4th quarter and won. They hit 4 of the final 5. With 1:17 left Jefferson hit the Jazz 2nd field goal of the 4th quarter, next possession with 51.7 left Devin Harris hit a left angle jumper to put the Jazz up two and then down 1 after Throton’s three Burks hit a shot with .08 left to give the Jazz the lead. Then Jefferson’s tip in to win after the Harris miss.

• Yes Alec Burks with 8 seconds left in the game to put the Jazz ahead. Love him. Fearless. These are big moments closing games. He shot just 3 of 10 and shooting percentage as a wing as a rookie is tough, Kobe, Durant and LBJ all shot around 40% so this will not be the last time, but the kid has it. He also had 6 rebounds. Burks and Gordon combined for 13 rebounds. A must without Josh Howard

• Gordon Hayward played great defense again in the 4th quarter. He matched up on Tyreke Evans and he didn’t put up the shut-out that he had against Durant or Kobe but he forced him into numerous misses. Not sure the totals will watch Synergy if I get time tomorrow to see if I can find it

• Smarts won this game for the Jazz. On the final play with .9 seconds left both Hayward and Millsap left their man the moment the ball was inbounded and went to Thorton to bother the shot both astute enough to know that no pass could be made and so guarding there man was irrelevant.

• DeMarcus Cousins is bacon short of a blt. He lives in his own universe. He is a beast but he hurts his team a ton. He is a bad offensive player, a great rebounder and everyone loves his “talent” but I don’t see it. He makes an amazing play for a big man when he goes coast to coast with the drive behind his back and finishes but that is an irrelevant play for a big man. That is not what a 6’11 guy does to help you win. It is cute it is neat and it would be great on Harlem Globetrotters but it is irrelevant in how the game is played and what a big man does. He killed the Kings tonight. Jefferson abused him in the post – One of the key plays of the night he doesn’t get back on defense and Hayward attacks the rim for two free throws. That is costing your team points. He is a team killer.

• Things don’t look good for Jimmer. They are playing the style that should match him. They are playing fast, they are playing open and they are sharing the ball and he still isn’t having an impact. He really struggles on a pick and roll because he gets doubled and can’t get rid of it. His handle is way to loose to play with the ball. He can shot and he is a shot maker but I am having a hard time seeing how he is going to get those shots. He looks a lot like Eddie House is his career path at this point.

• Hayward is one of the smartest players I have seen – he just gets the game and where opportunities are on the floor. He is playing great ball and all numbers are trending in the correct direction. Tonight 36 mins, 18 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists with a steal and a block . If you look down the list of players this year who have put up 18-7-5 it is a special list of players.

• I am having crazy thoughts on how good I think Derrick Favors is going to be.

• This team is talking playoffs. It is the conversation now on the bus and around the team. They are focused on the task. It is amazing to me how hard they have played every night this year. This is a remarkable run. Enjoy it.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Jazz beat the Thunder shut down Durant

Emptying the Noggin

• The Jazz just beat the Lakers and the Thunder in back to back games

• Kobe went 3 of 20 v. the Jazz and Durant went 6 for 22. Neither of them got to rim at all. The Jazz were helping well and cutting the drive off. Forcing them into jump shots. Hayward was terrific on Durant late in the game. Durant didn’t not score in the 4th quarter and he averages 7 points a game in the 4th quarter.

• Jazz have won 6 in a row at home and 3 in a row overall

• Paul Millsap has been great. His defensive hands have been terrific. Tonight he battled against much bigger guys and had them on their heels and then late in the game he made the big offensive plays. Millsap had 10 of 16 from the field. He was the go to guy tonight. Jazz don’t win a lot when Jefferson goes 5 of 16 but Millsap did the work tonight. To Al’s credit he went to the line 4 times and hit his free throws to make his shooting more acceptable.

• Tony Parks had a great story after the game about Al Jefferson by passing the final play and asking to have it run to Paul Millsap instead. Neat moment for this team.

• Hayward had a tough game shooting but made two amazing passes late in the game, he hit Millsap off a cross screen below the basket and then hit Jefferson on a floating pass off a front. The entry pass is an underrated skill and Hayward has it.

• The Jazz are really going to miss Josh Howard’s rebounding. Hayward and Miles did a nice job with that tonight. Hayward had a career high 8 rebounds and CJ Miles had 5 rebounds.

• Phil Johnson talked on the post game show that this was one of the better execution games the Jazz had on the offensive end.

• Favors, Hayward and Burks are great defensive players. Hayward and Burks are the best perimeter defenders on the roster and Favors is close to an elite level big man defensively already. Favors is really good on the defensive end. As he learns more he is going to be a special defensive player. The Jazz have a very strong defensive core for the future.

• Tonight Favors was amazing defensively. He covers the pick and roll with aggression and takes teams out of what they want to do. One of the best was when he forced Harden into a fadeaway three in the right corner off the pick and roll because he had nothing else left.

• The game changed on a three play sequence in the third quarter when Jefferson got the ball in the post. He patiently waited as the double team showed and he hit Harris for the three and they did it three times in a row. Harris who is shooting a career high from three hit all three. The Thunder had to switch Sefolosha on Harris – it worked and put the Jazz on their heels.

• However, late in the game they didn’t want to leave Harris from out side and this allowed Jefferson to get the Thunder bigs in foul trouble and that was huge in this game.

• Jamaal Tinsley played very well tonight and had the play of the game. He came off the pick and roll and bounced the dribble through the legs of Nazr Mohammed and picked it up on the other side and hit a floater.

• Tyrone Corbin deserves a lot of credit. He has kept this roster happy and balanced some very difficult issues and he has come out of the other side with a team that plays incredibly hard and is together.

Emptying the Noggin – Jazz beat the Lakers at the Staples Center

Emptying the Noggin
• 4th game in 5 nights and a win. A win in LA. A win with Favors, Kanter and Burks playing major roles in the win. A win in LA with Kobe missing the game tying shot. A win to snap the Lakers 5 game win streak. A win to make it 4 out of 5. A win that makes the future seem very bright. WHAT A WIN !!!!!!!

• The defense tonight was terrific. For the second straight night the Jazz defended great. Going into the game against Golden State the Jazz were the worst defensive team in the NBA for the month of March. Tonight they were great. They forced a remarkable 24 turnovers, 10 in the 1st quarter, 7 in the 2nd and the 3rd. They held the Lakers to 45% shooting after allowing 50% in the opening games of the month. They only allowed 7 offensive rebounds in 38 chances (18%) and 3 of those were in the 4th quarter.

• CJ Miles, on his 25th birthday, had the best defensive game I have ever seen him play. He broke Kobe’s rhythm. Kobe was off. It is what happens when you are old. But the Jazz never let him get comfortable. What Jazz fans experienced with Kobe this season is the essence of aging in the NBA. You don’t just lose it like a running back in the NFL, you just don’t have legs on more nights in a season. We have seen Kobe drop 40 and we have seen Kobe put up one of the worst performances of his NBA career. Gordon Hayward defended Kobe very well to open the 4th quarter when he tried to assert himself on the game and went 0 for 5 with Gordon guarding him. On only one play all game did he end up in a better position after dribbling.

• Burks 4th quarter play was fearless. He said it best today. I left college because I believed I could play in this league. He shows it every time he gets on the floor. The drive from the top of the key past Kobe and into traffic for a three point play was awesome. Hitting the three. 13 points in the 4th quarter on 6 of 6 shooting. Love this kid. He is going to score in the NBA.

• Kanter was terrific in the 3rd quarter. The Lakers single teamed him the best center in the NBA and he scored and scored and scored. He beat a single team. Think about this at 19 years old he was good enough in the post that if you single team him he beats you. He even showed a variation off his only move. He went 3 for 3 with 6 points. He finished the second half with 11 points, 4 rebounds in 14 minutes

• Paul Millsap took a huge burden tonight on the offensive end with Al Jefferson out and played against Pau Gasol very well. He has figured out how to attack him. His finishing line tonight was unreal – 24 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 steals and 2 blocked shots.

• Hate to leave anyone out tonight – huge team effort. Harris controlled the game and the tempo of the game. Howard made a bunch of big shots. Evans had a super block. Tinsley was cool but not as good as the last few nights.

• Tyrone Corbin’s job keeps getting tougher. Does he banish Raja Bell to the bench? Raja behavior has been an issue and he hasn’t played well since his injury. Can he just be benched. What do you do with Al Jefferson? Derrick Favors is a starter for this team for the future. Can you tell Al that you went to a funeral after averaging 20 points and 50% shooting you are now coming off the bench? The team’s improved defense with Jefferson out of the line-up is not a coincidence. Jefferson really struggles defending in space. Favors is very strong at guarding the pick and roll in the open areas. Now he also has a point guard issue. Tinsley has played well and run the team well, Watson is healthy. What does Tyrone do? Tyrone has done a great job of keeping everyone happy this year. Holding onto the depth of this roster has been vital to this team overachieving this year. The Jazz have played the fewest 40 minute games of anyone in the NBA and have lost the 2nd fewest player games. Those items are related. I am not sure if there is a good answer to any of these questions. We all can claim we know the answer but lots of pieces going into this. How it impacts the locker-room, who he needs later, etc. These are incredibly difficult decisions.

Emptying the Noggin – After Favors and the Jazz beat the Warriors

Emptying the Noggin
• We can all love intangibles, we can all love guts but it takes a really special talent to catch the ball on the run on a pick and roll make the catch at 8 feet rise up through traffic take contact and dunk. That is just insane.

• The play Gordon Hayward made to change the game was one that only elite talents can make. A trailing block, a coast to coast dribble and then in traffic rising up to slam it home. That is what high draft picks bring to the table.

• Derrick Favors was marvelous tonight. He is becoming a very good pick and roll offensive player. More importantly , he owned the glass. He was the best player on the floor. Even the shots that didn’t go in seemed like they had a chance.

• 23 points, 17 rebounds 2 assists, 1 steal and a huge block shot on the final play of the game in 33 minutes for Derrick Favors. Have to assume Derrick Favors is the youngest Jazz player to ever lead his team in point and rebounds in the same game.

• Favors had only taken 3 free throws in his NBA career in the final 2 minutes of a game within 4 points when he went to the line to tie the game. He hit it.

• In the first half Derrick Favors had 6 free throws. Al Jefferson has shot 6 free throws in 6 games all season (Jazz are 5-1 in those games)

• Jazz closed the game with Harris, Hayward, Burks, Favors and Millsap

• Millsap had a miserable night getting shots and carrying the load without Jefferson. He stayed in the game and kept battling. It was the essence of Millsap. Struggling due to his lack of height but battling and staying in the game with work to be able

• Tinsley was very good in the first half. He was not as strong in his second half stint but he has done a really good job.

• Tyrone Corbin’s job is getting more and more difficult every night. Tonight as we headed to overtime I wondered if he was going to go to Tinsley instead of Harris. Which means that every position now has a player who is playing as well as the other player at the position.

• Kanter had 13 rebounds in 20 minutes and played super good defense on David Lee. He broke Lee’s rhythm and he never re-gained it.

• The Jazz didn’t allow an offenisve rebound in the 2nd half of the game.

• Alec Burks notched 29 vey solid minutes. He was solid. That is it. Solid. He shouldn’t need to or be expected to be great every night. He is a rookie, he is growing and tonight he was solid and held his own.

• Tyrone Corbin told me before the game he likes how Burks and Hayward play together and how they are learning to play together.

• Tyrone did a nice job tonight stretching out the minutes of Enes Kanter to give Favors and Millsap enough rest and he used Evans against a small line-up where he could be effective.

• I hate to point this out on such a fun night but the Warriors are not a good team and they were playing on the back end of a back to back. The Jazz shouldn’t really struggle to win a game like this. However, they played a lot of young guys who made mistakes as well as the great plays we saw. That kept the game close. The offense really struggled without a guy they could go to. Millsap couldn’t do it. Favors can’t do it, yet so the team really struggled to score, shooting 42%.

• The key however is learning to win. Gaining an identity for these young players for the future. Kevin O’Connor talks about meaningful minutes. These are meaningful minutes and Hayward, Burks, Kanter and most of all Favors are a little different right now then they were when the night started.

Emptying the Noggin – After the Jazz win over the Wolves

Emptying the Noggin
• GREAT WIN !!! Character, Fight, Determination, Perseverance – We are Utah Jazz !!

• This is a huge win for so many reasons. They win the season series with the Timberwolves. Had they lost they would have dropped two in a row to Western Conference playoff opponents and been on the verge of being out of the race. After the end of regulation to hold together and win in overtime is team building.

• Best moment of the night was the team huddling at mid court before going into the final timeout of the overtime. They just needed a moment tonight to share the victory. Love that. Harris, Burks, Hayward, Millsap and Favors finished the game.

• Millsap had 8 steals tonight – 6 of them in the final 12:38 he was on the floor. Kevin Love hurt his thumb on his left hand and after that Millsap took advantage and was swiping the ball left and right. Millsap is just the third Jazz player to ever have 8 steals in a game, Kirilenko and Stockton the other two. Stockton did nine time. Kirilenko once. Millsap is the first forward since 2006 to get 8 steals in a game.

• The Jazz tried to lose this one. Hayward missed the free throw, the offensive rebound and then an unbelievable missed layup by Millsap . The Jazz ran a gorgeous out of bounds play. Hayward set a bone crushing pick on Pekovic and Millsap was wide open at the rim for a game winning layup and it went swirled out. The Wolves closed on a 13-2 run to push the game to overtime. It was eerily similar to the Jazz collapse in Minnesota.

• Kevin O’Connor talks about “meaningful minutes” these were very meaningful minutes.

• Alec Burks played 31 minutes tonight. Scott Layden gave him great praise at halftime for being ready and playing with focus and inside the game. He finished with 15 points on 6 of 8 shooting and he played very good defense. He believes he can play. Everytime he gets on the floor he just re-enforces his belief and he is right. The kid can score.

• Favors defense tonight was game changing. His energy on the offensive glass lead to a career high 16 rebounds but his 8 defensive rebounds might be the most important aspect of his game. Favors also had a career high blocks. He did this in 22:36 of playing time. He is really coming into his own.

• Corbin ran a crew of Tinsley, Burks, Hayward, Favors and Kanter and then with Millsap for an extended stretch. They played great defense. This team has been dreadful defensive team recently and this was refreshing.

• Gordon Hayward had another really strong night – 26 points on 9 of 17 shooting. He is playing much more confidently and he willing to fire the shot up without the hesitation he had going earlier this year.

• Jamaal Tinsley has stayed in great shape with a crazy routine of running 6 miles on a treadmill before shootaround on game days and then going to the gym at 3:00 with Scott Layden and shotting for an hour before going back and running more at the arena since he has not been playing. It has kept him ready and he has been able to perform. He has been really terrific for the Jazz in the three games he has gotten considerable minutes.

• Al Jefferson battled on the glass, despite not having a good shooting night. He is not a good defender in space and I am not sure he is going to become one but he must hustle on all the other plays.

• The defensive rebounding tonight was as important as anything the Jazz did. Minnesota had zero offensive rebounds in the 1st quarter and only 2 in the first half. Only 4 by the end of the third quarter. This was vital against a good offensive rebounding team.

• Wesley Johnson was drafted ahead of Gordon Hayward

• Martell Webster is your over dipped oreo

• I will say this again. The Jazz have a chance to make the playoffs because they have such a significant home court advantage. If the Jazz can match have the same amount of home losses as road wins they make the playoffs

Emptying the Noggin – Jazz lose in Phoenix

Emptying the Noggin
• If there has ever been a fan base who understands the value of a point guard and what a great point guard can do the game it is us and we saw it first hand tonight.

• The Jazz played really hard tonight and battled. They are getting better on the road and improving the effort, they just couldn’t combat what the Suns presented.

• Nash was brilliant. He is never off balance, he is never out of control. He doesn’t just find the open man he waits and finds the open man when he is completely wide open.

• The Jazz made two runs tonight but they were both when Nash was off the floor and we playing Sebastian Telfair at the point instead of Nash.

• In the locker-room after the game the Jazz still hadn’t figured out how to guard him and didn’t seem to know what else they could have done.

• The guys kept saying if you do this than he does that and if you do that then he will do this. You have to pick your poison and Nash was able to make the plays to take advantage of every thing the Jazz tried. The only thing left was switching and that wasn’t going to work. The Jazz went over the top of the screens to avoid Nash shooting but then he was able to turn the corner and get in the paint and once he turns the corner you are in a lot of trouble.

• The Jazz need to defend better – over the last 8 games the Jazz are allowing opponents to shot over 50% and shot over 40% from three in the 8 games of March. Suns shot 34 of 58 from the field after the 1st quarter –

• Since March of 2003 Steve Nash has hit 99 of 101 free throws against the Utah Jazz and 55 straight since March 2006

• Paul Millsap had really good active defensive hands. Offensively, he went 1 on 1 more than I have seen out of him in a while and very rarely made any headway in his moves.

• Jamal Tinsley played the final 23 minutes of the game and scored 11 points and had 8 assists.
Tinsley ran the show well and Devin Harris didn’t return.

• Alec Burks got his second straight DNP. I am not one who believes he would be hurting the team if he was on the floor or that he would be playing below the level of the guys getting minutes but I don’t see or understand all of the things taking place so I must be missing something.

• Frye and Gortat scored 51 on 30 shots compared to Millsap and Jefferson who scored 36 points on 34 shots.

• Derrick Favors is coming along. He is doing it against all second team guys but it is coming along. He is making quicker moves in the post. He is more confident. He is using his size and power. He has been the best player on the floor a lot of the time recently. Now it is time for him to play the top tier guys and see how he does with it.

• Jefferson has been killing second tier guys but Gortat tonight gave him a hard time and he couldn’t get rolling.

• Gordon Hayward is continuing to be solid – he was 5 of 8 from the floor and scored 13 points. Over the last 10 games he is shooting 52% scoring 11 points and get 4 rebounds and 2 assist.

• Kanter had his first solid night in a while. This is important for Kanter as he was really struggling. Tonight he was 4 of 5 and had 5 rebounds.

• Bottom line tonight Steve Nash dominated the game and controlled the outcome.

Emptying the Noggin – 37 hours before the Trade Deadline

This is basically an empty the noggin of the trade deadline as it moves insider 37 hours of the 1pm Thursday deadline.
Thursday I will host a Vokle Q and A the hour before the trade deadline, starting at noon. Today I hosted one that ht on many of the issues.
Here are a collection of thoughts as we get near.
• Thank goodness Kevin O’Connor moved Deron last year. What Orlando is going through seems hellish. The quotes from Stan Van Gundy today are so telling “There’s no questions about our games. Nobody cares if we play well or don’t play well. … It’s all, ‘Is Dwight going to stay?’ ” “The thing that has bugged me more than anything this year: Nobody even gives a damn about the results of our game. Nobody cares.” What a miserable existence

• One of the things O’Connor talked about was that he made the Deron trade when he did is that he thought it was the last time he could make the trade before Deron was able to dictate the deal. Orlando is trying to move Dwight to Chicago, Dwight won’t play along. Dwight to LA, no dice.

• Atlanta is the most interesting team to me at the deadline, they insist they are under a mandate to unload contracts to get under the luxury tax but why would they want to pay the luxury tax if they are 6th in the East and have very little chance to beat Miami or Chicago. The player that intrigues me on this roster is Marvin Williams. The Jazz have always liked Marvin Williams and he could be made available.

• What do the Jazz have to offer. CJ Miles and Josh Howard are expiring contracts. In most cases I don’t think Miles brings a team great value other than the expiring contract so the Jazz would have to take a player back who has more than 1 year left on their contract in order to make the deal worth it for the other side. The same goes for Raja Bell, the Jazz would likely have to take back more money than what they are giving in a Raja deal.

• If the Jazz are going to get a rotation player that helps the club they will have to be taking on salary. I would be surprised if the Jazz have the pieces to do it otherwise.

• Teams to watch in the next 36 hours. What is New Jersey going to do? They are playing a big game of chicken with Deron Williams just as much as Orlando is with Dwight Howard. Dallas is the team sitting out there that makes both those teams very uncomfortable. If Dallas moves Shaun Marion they will both freak out. If Marion is moved I would look for Orlando to do whatever deal they have on the table for Dwight and if it is not to New Jersey then look for New Jersey to move Deron.

• In addition, New Jersey doesn’t have the cap space to get Dwight and Deron done with moving some pieces. Jazz could try to swoop in for Anthony Morrow or Johan Petro with CJ Miles expiring deal.

• The rumored deals that have been mentioned all make sense for the Jazz. The idea of Raja Bell to the Clippers for anything and maybe even nothing makes sense. CJ Miles to New Jersey for Anthony Morrow matches up to what we were just discussing. Not sure who moves the meter on Minnesota though Wayne Ellington has been mentioned and he is a decent 4th or 5th wing who can shot. Josh Howard is in demand but the Jazz aren’t just going to dump him to clear space for players the way they might with some other pieces so teams would need to give the Jazz something of value in return. The only thought I would have on Josh is I think he is unlikely to return next year so if a decent pick or something of value is offered the Jazz would have to view that as increasing an asset and that is worth making a deal for.

• These all match what we would anticipate. The next thing that happens in this final stage before the deadline is two things converge to make deals happen. First, some owners jump in and say I want to get the $ straight on my roster and secondly, some GM’s can’t help themselves and have to make moves.

Emptying the Noggin – Jazz beat Pistons at home

Emptying the Noggin
• The Jazz have a legitimate shot to make the playoff because they have a superior home court advantage. I really believe a .500 record makes the playoff can the Jazz win enough road games to equal home losses. If so …….

• Al Jefferson was fantastic tonight on a really special emotional night. He lost his grandma this weekend who he last saw on Thanksgiving. Tonight he pointed to the crowd each time he scored and he said hi a lot. He missed 2 of his first 3 shots and then hit an insane 13 of his next 15.

• Jefferson just killed Greg Monroe – he went to the weezy hook, he dropped step baseline, he went up and under and then he went pull jumper over him. Monroe had no concept of what to do next and had no answer this changed the game.

• Because Monroe couldn’t guard Al Jefferson, the Pistons tried to go with Ben Wallace on Jefferson, but this meant the Jazz could over play Rodney Stuckey on the high pick and roll with the big because they didn’t need worry about Wallace who is non offensive player. Then when the Pistons adjusted back to Monroe to help the offense, Stuckey was not in rhythm and the Jazz were able to load up Jefferson and get him going again to close out the game.

• CJ Miles got it rolling tonight. So good to see. He is just a good guy and you want him to do well. He is also so aware of when he plays badly that it is evident that he also enjoys the good games more than most. Tyrone Corbin’s commitment to CJ has been almost inexplicable but tonight it paid off. The Jazz have almost no outside shooting and very few shot makers and Tyrone believes that is what CJ can bring if he gets right.

• 4th quarter defense returned tonight. The Jazz won games earlier this year with 4th quarter defense, they were the best in the NBA in 4th quarter defense in January and the worst in February. This was a nice change. The 2nd and 3rd quarters were not good defensively. The Pistons were 24 of 39 in the 2nd and 3rd quarters.

• 4th quarter was a pretty good game. No team scored on back to back possessions in the 4th quarter until the Jazz broke through with about 3:30 left in the 4th. The game was tied at 77, 79, 82, 85 and 87 and then the Jazz broke through .

• Paul Millsap had 5 steals tonight he was great and active defensively to start the night.

• Enes Kanter is really struggling. However, with the condensed schedule his 10 mins is really important to the health and fatigue of the other bigs.

• Considering how unreal and contrasting CJ Miles home/road splits are I wonder if Tyrone would ever platoon a player home and road. Won’t happen but the numbers beg for it.

• Favors put together some really nice moves again tonight. He is doing a great job adding pieces to his offense. He has added moves and he is quicker and more confident with the moves. He needs to improve his jumper and his defensive rebounding. He is 20 – give it some time.

• Hayward played well tonight off the bench and did a nice job defensively on the few possessions he guarded Rodney Stuckey. Hayward’s length really helps him defensively. He is much farther ahead defensively than I would have expected. He still needs to work on his offensive game.

• Devin Harris was terrific he is really pushing the tempo, playing his game and creating opportunities for himself and forcing teams to alter the way they deal with the offensive glass with his speed.

• Here comes the stretch of the season. Phoenix Wednesday, Minnesota Thursday and Golden State Saturday with the Lakers Sunday – Jazz could be 8th or 13th by the end of the week.

Emptying the Noggin – Jazz finish road trip with loss to Bulls

Emptying the Noggin
• Hard to have imagined anything other than a 2-3 road trip. I thought the guys played hard in all 5 games of the trip. That is a huge part of winning in this season is putting out huge effort. Talking with people around the league they all talk about that the Jazz play hard.

• The Jazz just don’t have the offensive muster to handle the top defensive teams in the NBA. The Jazz spent all of training camp working defense but in the opening four games of the season it became very clear this team would have a hard time scoring and that was clear in the last two games against the top defensive teams that Jazz still struggle to put points on the board.

• The Jazz are 19-21. I still am so impressed that this team has battled to a nearly .500 record.

• The Bulls were too good tonight. They are #1 team in the East for a reason and they showed it. Even without Noah their defensive rotations were solid and they closed windows in a hurry.

• Paul Millsap’s activity was the best I have seen in the last 10 to maybe 20 games

• Gordon Hayward is going to have to figure out how he is going to score in the half court in this league, is it as a shooter, is it off the dribble, will he be able to score in the paint or will it have to be pull ups.

• Kyle Korver put on a show he torched Josh, Gordon, CJ and Alec. He ran Alec off picks he had never experienced, CJ left him open for three mysteriously and Howard got caught numerous times on all of Korver’s tricks. He had the stroke and Rose feed him the ball.

• Derrick Rose is fabulous. He controls the game, he exploded when needed. He can get anywhere with the ball. He is a scoring point guard but involves his teammates and keep the game flowing.

• The Jazz have become a very poor statistical defensive team and it needs to be rectified. The Bulls shot 56% and the night before 53% to Philly and even Charlotte who is the worst offensive team in the NBA shot 47%. This is trending the wrong direction.

• Looking back on the road trip big quarters were an issue. Bulls shot 12/15 in the 3rd quarter. Sixers were 11 of 18 in the 4th; Charlotte shot 10 of 15 in the 4th; Cavs shot 11/19 in the 3rd quarter and Dallas were 12 of 20 in the 3rd and 10of 19 in the 1st

• Cj Miles had a miserable road trip shooting 7 of 34 (21%)

• Favors took just 1 shot tonight. Not sure why this is, did Chicago defensively take him so far out of what he does that he didn’t get any looks or was he not involved. Taj Gibson defended him and he is the best post defender on the Bulls other than Noah.

• Burks finished the road trip 11/24 and Hayward finshed over 50% shooting and averaging about 12 pts a game