EMPTYING THE NOGGIN
- The Patrick Christopher injury is all I can think about. What a sad story. Patrick come out of Compton, California to go to California Berkley. You know already he is a special kid. Then he gets cut by 5 different NBA teams and after 3 seasons in Europe decides to play D-League so he can finally accomplish his dream of playing in the NBA. He scores his first ever NBA point in Los Angeles with 50 friends and family in the arena. Then he get his first NBA start. The storybook is awesome. At 26 he deserves all of this. He has battled persevered accomplished a ton and is a pleasure to be around. He is well rounded intelligent and understands completely how significant what he is accomplishing. And one strong close and his knee buckles, his ankle turns, his leg bends back and his knee cap is dislocated. The players on the bench squirmed away the minute it happened. The doctors quickly put a towel over the knee and Patrick laid on his back as they attended to him. What he must have been thinking? I stopped by the locker-room after the game to wish him his best and he seemed in good spirits. I hope we see him again. His journey has been tough and this is just a hurdle for a guy who has soared over most of them in his life. The rest of the game paled in comparison.
- Not sure if it was the injury to Patrick or the tenacity that the hottest team in the NBA is playing with but the Jazz seemed shell shocked to start the game. The Jazz fell behind 28-9 before battling back and got within 3.
- What was different about this game is the bench lead the comebacks and got the Jazz in the game. Double figures from 3 guys off the bench tonight. Booker, Gobert and Exum all notched double figures. Booker’s energy off the bench was terrific.
- At times tonight the defense was stifling. Exum got into Schroder and made him a complete non-factor. Gobert patrolled the middle and had his usual impact and Favors grabbed some big boy rebounds. Dante Exum had a career high 3 steals. At 6’6 he needs to be getting steals. Before tonight he only had 14 steals. That is way too few.
- It is going to be tough sledding for Gordon Hayward with these injuries. Hayward got no room tonight at all. He still finished with 18 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists but shot just 6 of 14. This felt a bit like last year with no room to maneuver.
- Down 4 in the final 80 seconds Jazz got a good look from Favors and Hayward that would have made it a single possession game and both missed.
* One big picture thought on the Hawks. I really like what they are doing. They are good. They space the floor great on offense and they wreck havoc on defense. Amazing to me they are the #1 defensive team in the NBA since December 1st. This is a testament to perimeter defense, length on the wings and playing together. They seem to have their hands in on every play. This should all be very encouraging to Jazz fans. This is year 2 in a very similar system to what the Jazz are running and they are making huge strides under Coach Bud and the system.
- Jazz held the Hawks to 41% shooting and just 8 for 23 from 3. That is good stuff. They did allow 30 free throws. But you are better off defending the shot, forcing turnovers and committing fouls in the early stages of your defensive improvement and then as you progress decrease the fouling. Jazz only allowed 24 shots in the restricted area and 4 corner 3’s in 81 shot attempts.
- The jazz have been dominating on the offensive glass recently and again tonight had 17 offensive rebounds in 53 chances for over 30% of available. This lead to 23 second chance points. The offensive rebounding is becoming a huge part of the offense and at the same time the Jazz are not allowing a lot of fast break points. It is a really good balance. Tonight the Hawks were able to get out and get fast break points with 21 fast break points but most of those were off the 14 turnovers which lead to 20 points. The Jazz are 25th in nba in points off turnovers and one of the best in transition defense. This must mean the Jazz are elite at getting back off misses. This has been a huge focus this year.
- The Jazz game plan was largely about dealing with Kyle Korver and he only got 5 shot attempts tonight. Jazz are getting better and better at executing the morning game plan at night.
- Trey Burke had one of the worst shooting nights in nba history. He went 0 for 11 from 3 which I believe is the worst 3 point shooting night without a make equaling Antoine Walker who also went 0 for 11. Trey was 2 for 19 overall. I will be curious to go back and look at the three pointers. What I saw was a Hawks defense that tilted the floor to Hayward and Trey wide open for most of those looks. You have to take them. You have to make some too. Frankily, I am more concerned on the inability to get a shot off when going one on one in the open floor on Kyle Korver or his inability to run the fast break on 2 on 1’s or 3 on 2’s. Those are things that if done better tonight would have overcome the absurd night from 3 point land. That is an anomaly. Trey has not shown to be a good three point shooter this year but he is not 0 for 11 bad. It happens. It builds on itself inside a night. His second to last one was deep in the cup and rattled out. I am not a shooting doctor but it looks to me like he is kicking his legs every which way in a fashion I have not seen before and there is not way he can be on balance in that circumstance.
- Going to be tough to get wins. Without Burks and Hood for at least the next 5 games the Jazz are going to be crazy thin. Now add Christopher and you are likely starting Joe Ingles with Hayward at the 2 and Ian Clark coming off the bench. Then add the Enes Kanter injury and the Jazz are down to Favors, Gobert, Booker and Evans or Novak as your bigs. Jazz probably will have to start Favors and Booker with Gobert off the bench with either Evans or Novak. Lots of opportunity and watching the little things will be more important than ever.