EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Jazz making consistently strong efforts


  • Solid performance from the Jazz tonight.  Before the game Quin Snyder talked about in Sacramento when he say something that told him the team was turning the corner.  He talked about the club making 3 or 4 plays in row correctly rather than 1 every now and again.   Since then the Jazz have been much better.  Tonight they did it defensively.   Sequences of the game tonight the Jazz was exactly what they talked about doing in shootaround.


  • Some of the best defensive execution plays were Kanter digging in on Vucevic and then getting back out on Frye.   Hayward had a play where he got into the legs of the cutting Vucevic and then got back out on Harris forcing him to give up the look and the Jazz made the next rotation to the next shooter.   This happened on numerous occasions tonight where the Jazz were sharp defensively.


  • I didn’t think Orlando played with a lot of zest tonight.  They are not a great offensive team.  They may not have been forcing the Jazz into numerous defensive efforts but the efforts they had the Jazz defended terrifically.   These are big steps for this team.   The system they are being taught are good and they have to believe they will work and they have improved at them greatly.


  • Jazz defense shifted as well as I have seen it all year.  The key to shifting is getting back and recovering and they are doing that with more and more effort.


  • Good night for Enes Kanter.  Guarding the premier stretch 4 in Channing Frye and holding him to just 9 points and I think two of the three’s may have come when he was being guarded by someone else.  Late in the game, the Magic went small and Tobais Harris played the three and Quin Snyder had enough faith in Enes to leave him on the floor.


  • One of the biggest plays of the game was with 5:00 left the Magic had the game down to 6.  Fournier missed a layup, Hayward grabbed the board and pushed the tempo.  The pass came to Kanter in the middle of the paint and he threw a bullet pass while on the move to the left corner for Alec Burks for a dagger 3 that put the game back to 9 points.  Awesome pass.  Great catch and shoot.  Playing with pace


  • Jazz played with pace much more than they did earlier in the season.  One thing they have asked is if Trey Burke is outside the 3 point line when the shot goes up to sprint down the floor rather than come back for the ball and let someone else bring the ball up the floor and then they will get the ball to Trey.  It has helped the tempo a great deal.


  • Another major play was with 3:23 left the Jazz had the ball up 8 and Hayward worked the possession and then hit Favors at 14 feet right side and quick release confident jumper by Favors put the Jazz up 10 to virtually clinch this game.


  • Gordon Hayward has become the master at the hard drive into the lane and then stop on a dime and hit the jumper.  73% of his 4th quarter baskets are unassisted this year.


  • Favors 23-10 – the 8th time he has 20 or more this year and he did that only 10 times last year.


  • Good bench night.  Jazz got 28 points off the bench tonight.


  • Story of the night is the consistent effort.  The Jazz took the lead at 12-10 and never let it go.  They were ahead by double digits for most of the night.  The Magic made runs and surges but the Jazz always answered and took control of the game without every letting the Magic feel as though they had a chance to win.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Jazz put together 48 strong minutes


  • A Fabulous 48 minute performance from the Jazz in Miami.   The Jazz controlled this game throughout and it was really never close.  The Jazz hit 6 straight shots in the middle of the 1stquarter to take a double digit lead they held for virtually the entire game.


  • The game swung in the 1stquarter when Dwayne Wade left the game and the Heat didn’t get a single field goal when Wade was on the bench.  In fact thru 3 quarters the Heat had just 1 field goal, a Marion Chalmers fast break when Wade was on the bench


  • The Jazz elected to hold the single coverage on Wade and not allow any of the other Heat players to play in space and get good looks.  Wade was awesome.  Jazz players after the game were in awe of how great he was.  Wade dropped 42 the most he has scored in a game since December of 2010 but the rest of the Heat did nothing.


  • Wade shot 12 of 19 and the rest of the Heat were 15 of 51.


  • Gordon Hayward in his own way matched Dwyane Wade’s brilliance tonight.  Hayward had 29 points, 6 rebounds and 7 assists.  It is remarkable how often Hayward is having big nights this year.  I am not sure many people thought he was capable of being a guy who ever put 29-6-7 on the board not to mention doing it with some regularity.  Hayward is beginning to get some signature moves.  When he drives into the lane and stops on a dime and fades back slightly it is nearly unguardable.  It takes incredible strength to make this play and hold body position to make the shot.    Gordon is doing really big time stuff right now.  He is averaging 19 points a game, 3 points more than a year ago.  He is only taking .4 more shots a game.  He is taking more threes and shooting more free throws, a great combination.


  • Dante Exum is making strides.   Exum played 12 consecutive in the 1sthalf and finished the night playing 24 minutes.  Dante has played 20 plus minutes in back to back games and he has scored in double figures in back to back games.   He has hit 9 of his last 12 from the floor.   Stats don’t tell the story he looks different on the floor.  He is become a bit more assertive and it is clear that he is going to get more and more leash from the coaching staff.  Some nights he is going to be good and some nights it will be too much to ask.


  • Rudy Gobert gave the Jazz a really strong 19 minutes and the Jazz played Favors and Gobert together when Booker got ejected late in the 2ndquarter.  Made me wonder about a three big man rotation.  It is going to be hard to keep Kanter and Gobert off the floor right now.


  • The biggest offensive plays of the game came from Kanter.  Kanter  hit a corner 3 and then on the next possession drove at Williams on the right baseline and curled into the lane for a short shot.   Kanter has the mid-range shooting game.  He is adding the one dribble drive to the hoop from the top.  He showed a little something new on the baseline drive and he has some post moves which the Jazz didn’t use tonight.   He is growing impressively.  Couple with further body development over the next year and you have a bonafide scorer in the league.  Can he be a Zach Randolph


  • This league is about making shots and the Jazz made their 3 point shots tonight with 14 three’s equaling a franchise record.


  • Biggest overall thing tonight was the consistent performance.  The Jazz have had too many “out for lunch plays”  and tonight they had almost none or at least very few.  This is a major difference from the last few nights.  The Jazz have played really good basketball for 88 of their last 96 minutes.   If they can learn how to play with this focus we will see more of this.


  • Having Derrick Favors is helpful

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Living in paint failing in the end


  •  Jazz played with much better pace and played a really strong 40 minutes of basketball tonight.  I think they felt how Quin wants them to play.   Trey got a lot of good looks because of the pace and they got into the paint a great deal for the first portion of the game.  The Pelicans are a terrible defensive team and the Jazz took advantage of that.


  • The Jazz lived in the restricted area for most of the game.   They took over 50% of their shots in the first three quarters in the restricted area and got 10 in the 4thquarter but only had 4.   The Pelicans allow the most shots in the restricted area of any team in the NBA, at 38%.  The Jazz took it to a higher level tonight.


  • Unfortunately, the Jazz are not at a defensive level yet where they can slow down one of the best offensive teams in the NBA.  We have seen this with Dallas, Golden State, Toronto and others and the Pelicans are the 6thbest offense in the NBA and the Jazz couldn’t slow them down


  • Enes Kanter was very good on the offensive end.  His shot is well enough respected that he was pump faking and driving to the lane and getting a lot out of the 15 foot one dribble to the baset.  Enes finished with a career high 29 points on 12 of 22 shooting and took very few outside shots.


  • Once Tyreke Evans got rolling and they isolated him mid block and brought Anthony Davis over on the pick and roll it becomes almost impossible to guard.  The Pelicans were able to milk this play time and time again,


  • Jazz lead it by 14 with 11:25 left in the 4thand by 9 at 99-90 with 8:00 left and the Pelicans went on a 13-2 run.  4 straight baskets by Tyreke Evans in transition. Then the Jazz quieted the storm and it was a 2 point game with 2:20 left after Kanter hit two free throws. Anothny Davis then scored 7 straight points, two baskets off assists from Tyreke Evans.


  • Trey Burke scored 14 points in the first quarter the most he has scored in any quarter of his career.


  • Alec Burks fourth quarter is one to forget.  1 for 8 shooting with 2 turnovers.


  • Jazz got good production off the bench with double figures from Exum and Booker. This might be the first close game of the year where the Jazz had two double digit bench scorers.  New career high for Dante Exum.


  • Ryan Anderson burned the Jazz for 6 three pointers tonight.  He had been struggling but he got great looks in transition and the Jazz were slow to close on him.


  • Joe Ingles has not scored in 4 games.


  • Anthony Davis awesome – 31 points 9rebounds 3 blocks.   It was subtle for a while and then dominant at the end.


  • Gordon Hayward has lost his three point stroke.  He was 0 for 3 tonight and is now 4 of his last 25 from the behind the three point line.


  • Dante played 20 minutes.  Had another flash to the basket and hit another three.


  • Time to take our talents to South Beach

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Is Washington the model for the Jazz?

  • Strong effort from the Jazz.  I’ve been saying for two years that I think the Wizards are the model for the Jazz. The Wizards drafted John Wall and were patient and let him become a star. When he was ready to be a star, they surrounding him with veterans and in the meantime drafted Bradley Beal, who’s going to be another star.  The key to what they’ve done is that they are good defensively and have been the entire time Randy Whitman has been the head coach. Not clear why Whitman doesn’t get the credit he deserves for being a terrific defensive coach.
  • Worth noting that if the Wizards are my model, we still have a long way to go. The key is Danté Exum, who’s our version of John Wall. However, from a timing standpoint Danté is the same as where Wall was at Kentucky, and after Wall entered the NBA the Wizards were a 20-30 win team for another three years. So if that is the model, then the Jazz have another three years after this year before they’re ready to make the jump into the playoffs and then another one or two before they make a run as an elite team in the Western Conference.
  • Rudy Gobert got the start for the injured Derrick Favors. Gobert held his own, playing a career-high 31 minutes. His plus/minus was not as good as it has been and Utah’s defensive numbers with him on the floor were not as good as they have been. This is simply the difference in playing front-line guys vs. backups. Rudy played well. He had an impact. He altered shots. This is a huge jump for Rudy. He was not a 30-minute-a-night player in France. The jump he has made this year from non-rotation to rotation player has been terrific, and he has been terrific. What is being asked out of him as a starter is even larger. Understanding that, he had a strong game.
  • Since we’ve done this every night, let’s do it again. With Rudy on the floor, the Jazz shot 17-for-47 (36%). With him on the bench, they shot 13-for-31 (42%). At this moment I can’t get the defensive numbers. I will update as they become available.
  • Trey Burke broke the paint more than I’ve seen him in the past. He makes things happen more when he’s able to get in the paint. Tonight he only had two assists, but it felt like he created a lot of plays.
  • The nightly getting beat backdoor and fatal turnovers (turnovers above the free-throw line) are killers every night.
  • The Jazz held the Wizards to 15 second-quarter points (a season low )and 37 first-half points (another season low). But the Wizards notched 30 in the third quarter and 56 total in the second half.
  • Jazz lost the third quarter 30-16. It was the first time in a long time the Jazz lost the third quarter.
  • Gordon Hayward has lost his stroke from three—he’s 3 for his last 24.
  • Love the nine free-throw attempts from Gordon and the eight from Alec, but a little bummed that Kanter and Trey never got to the line. So hard to be efficient without getting to the free-throw line.
  • I feel like Alec Burks is better playing with better players. The idea that he’s the second-unit scorer that I’ve always thought was his role might not be the answer.  When he plays with better players the creases are made from their action and he’s able to get to the rim. When he’s on with the second unit it feels forced and hard for him to get gaps to the basket because none of the other players are making the defense adjust.
  • It’s really enjoyable to watch Rodney Hood each night trying to figure out what he can and can’t do in this league.
  • The Wizards are the fourth-best defensive team in the NBA and they clamped down on the Jazz tonight. Jazz shot just 38.5% and hit only 5-for-17 from three. The first half the jazz took care of the ball pretty well and had a super defensive half, but in the second half they started turning it over with seven TOs in the third quarter that led to 11 Washington points. The Wizards got eight of their 11 fast-break points in the third quarter.
  • Jambalaya is spicy. New Orleans is next.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Lots of little victories in Jazz battle with Heat


  •  Incredible how these Jazz games all resemble each other.  Poor 1sthalf followed by awesome comeback with a furious finish.   It sure is entertaining and it is a great learning experience for this team.


  • On the final in bound play the Heat front block each player on their route and down 3 you can’t cut back door because you need to get outside the three point line.   Great defensive strategy by the Heat.   The key players who executed it perfectly were Deng, Bosh and Wade.  They have been in big moments and know how to execute in the key moments.


  • Lots of little plays by the Heat tonight that showed the experience they have gained over the past 4 years and those are big in one or two possession games.


  • Derrick Favors left the game with a sprained ankle late in the first quarter and didn’t return.  Huge for the Jazz to stay in a game like this without Favors.  Jazz are 0-10 over the past two years when they are without Favors for an entire game.  To comeback from down 16 and make it a game is a great effort.


  • Rudy Gobert is having a huge impact  on games.  Tonight he played a season high 25 minutes and scored 9 points (a terrific 5 of 6 from the line), grabbed 11 rebounds, HAD 4 ASSISTS, 1 steal and 5 blocked shots.  Gobert Land is becoming a really imposing place.
  • The defense was incredible with Gobert on the floor.  With Gobert on the floor the Heat shot 15 of 39 (38.4%) and when he was on the bench they shot 21 of 33 (63.6%).  That is having an impact.   However, when Gobert is on the floor the offense still doesn’t run quite right.  With Gobert on the floor the offense shot 17 of 44 (38.3%) and when he is off the floor the Jazz shot 17 of 33 (51.5%)


  • Enes Kanter has linked together a really nice stretch of games.  He is a bonafide offensive player.  The Heat are interior weak and he took advantage with 25 points and 8 rebounds on 10 of 17 shooting.  He is able to punish some players.   No assists in 36 minutes is not great and that is an area that needs development but he is making strong offensive plays and making a good effort on defense.


  • The Heat trap all the pick and rolls and this makes it difficult for the ball handlers.  Trey Burke had a tough night and though Gordon had a nice line tonight it didn’t feel as though he was impacting the game.


  • Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh grabbed a hold of the game each time the Jazz got close and make a series of plays that put the Heat back in control.  Champion plays.


  • The two missed free throws by Alec were tough.  Down 4 with a gift from the Heat and only making 1 of 3 changed the strategy the rest of the way.


  • The Jazz offense needs to add some urgency to its possessions particularly late in games.  Overall, we are in the opening stages of a new era and too often the Jazz are just playing to execute correctly and be in the right places instead of really playing with an urgency or a force. That is the next step.  It will come.  This was another strong night with a lot of little victories in the 48 minute battle.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Lots of victories tonight

  • That’s a fun way to end a nine-game losing streak. This was a complete effort.  Everyone had a part, and the guys stayed engaged for the complete 48 minutes.  At no point did the Jazz let the game get away.
  • Key portion of the game was early in the second quarter when Gordon Hayward went out of the game and the Jazz were able to score. The Jazz have not been able to score for most of the season with Hayward on the bench, and this prevented the Jazz from having another second-quarter collapse.
  • The Spurs only hit four 3-pointers the whole night and only one in the second half. Tony Parker being out of the game restricted the ability of the Spurs to collapse the defense and get it out to shooters. At the same time, there were numerous plays where the Jazz cut off the penetration with good help defense and still got out to bother the shooter.
  • Derrick Favors really impressed me tonight. He struggled against Tim Duncan early and only increased his effort and desire to impact the game. This is a hard night for a big like Favors. They play solid defense. The slip lanes are not there. They protect the rim. They don’t get called for fouls and they don’t break down. For Favors to work through the night and impact the game the way he did is a huge sign of where he is headed.
  • Crazy night—the officials called traveling, a moving pick and three seconds in the key all on Tim Duncan in the same game. Have to assume in his 17-year career that has never happened.
  • The two calls late in the game against Favors were as bad as I’ve ever seen in this league. They were no-doubters. Usually when I’m upset about a call there is a little “well maybe.” Not on these. Just brutal.
  • Rodney Hood has been a little better each night. Tonight he took three strong drives to the basket. On one of them he elevated and tried to pack it with one hand. I didn’t know he could do that. It was really impressive—a level of athleticism that I haven’t seen. It’s very encouraging.
  • Rudy Gobert had a good night again impacting the game. Gobert Land is a nasty place for people to go.
  • Hayward showed the strength driving to basket tonight. He’s able to make so many plays that he couldn’t make a year ago. Gordon has scored 74% of his fourth-quarter baskets unassisted this year. That’s exactly what he couldn’t do a year ago.
  • While talk radio and Twitter are killing Enes Kanter for his defense, the narrative inside the team is very different. The narrative inside the team is that Kanter is making big steps—that he’s making a continual effort to learn how to play the game right and that he’s improving a great deal. His playing time is reflecting that.
  • Strong win tonight for the Jazz. Wins are more fun than losses, but the little victories are still what’s important. Had the Jazz fallen late, the night would have been about the fight and the effort and growth—steps toward the system and numerous individuals making strides.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – The dreaded high pick-and-roll

  • Sorry for no Noggin or Postcast last night. My computer has shut down and died.  This is the second computer of the season. We’re only 20 games into the season.  At this rate I’m going to go through eight computers this year, and that’s not good. I could make some bad jokes that my computers have the lasting power of our defense or something like that, but it seems unnecessary.
  • The Jazz are now 4-29 when missing any of the following over the last two years:  Trey Burke, Alec Burks, Gordon Hayward or Derrick Favors. This team is not built to sustain injuries. It’s built to allow the players to develop, and this is the downside of building a team for development.
  • Just look at last night—Rodney Hood played well and did some good things. Then Ian Clark becomes Hood’s backup and the second unit becomes Exum, Clark, Ingles, Booker and Gobert. Oh my, how do you score? And sure enough, with Clark on the floor last night the Jazz were -7  in eight minutes.
  • The Jazz starters outscored the Magic 26-24 in 14 minutes last night. This is a re-occurring theme. The Jazz front line guys are in the game playing pretty well, and when we start adding 1 or 2 or 3 bench guys onto the floor, the game slips away.
  • The second quarter was a problem again for the Jazz. The game really changed when the Magic went back to their starters in the second quarter with Frye, Oladipo and Fournier, and they were +11 in that stretch.
  • Rodney Hood’s mid-range jumper to open the game was his first mid-range jumper of the season. Nothing official on the status of Alec Burks, but it seems like it might be another few weeks. These will good moments for Rodney Hood to discover what he can do in this league. It was important for him to make some shots and get going. Now he can relax and just play.
  • Derrick Favors has been really good this year. Last night he finished with 21 points, 13 rebounds and 5 blocks. Not a lot of guys can do that. He’s playing elite-level basketball. The last five games, he’s averaging 18-9 while shooting 63%. He’s doing everything well. He has increased his mid-range shooting from 31% to 43% and is at 50% over his last 10 games. He’s making 73% of his shots in the restricted area—one of the highest rates in the NBA—and his defense was terrific last night.
  • Trey Burke had a tough time with Victor Oladipo, but offensively he really battled and impacted the game. He assisted 52% of the field goals when he was on the floor.  He broke the paint with regularity in the second half. He started the night 1-for-10 shooting but stayed in the game kept battling. Six free throws by Burke is a great sign of how hard he worked to get to the rim.
  • Tobais Harris is a nice player. He brings a terrific compliment of post play and outside range. Really liked him out of Tennessee and he’s getting better every year. Great pickup by the Magic when they traded away J.J. Redick. Great example of how an organization shouldn’t try to skip steps. Terrible trade by the Bucks.
  • Andy Larsen had a nice note at Salt City Hoops about what a slow pace of play this game had.
  • The high pick-and-roll defensively is still a real problem. It’s interesting to rewatch the game and see little pieces of progress in the game. One play, the weakside defender doesn’t come over to the nail (middle of free-throw line) to bump the roll man and so the roll man gets a layup. Next play, you see the weakside defender fix the mistake and get to the nail. Those are little pieces of progress. Plus, guys in the NBA are good. Kanter stepped into the lane to bump the roll man on one play and busted up the play. The next time he did it again and Oladipo found Frye open for the three. Teams are going to run the high pick-and-roll until the Jazz can figure out all the ways to defend it. Right now this team stops the first option and then teams go to options two and three and the guys don’t have that down yet. Pick-and-roll is tough to cover.


  • Two things we know for certain. The Jazz are not ready defensively for the top level offensive teams. The Raptors, the #2 offensive team in the NBA, surpassed all of the opponent highs set by the Mavericks (the #1 offensive team in the NBA). Second, Utah’s depth is not able to keep the Jazz in games. The script each night is very similar, the Jazz play fairly well early in the game and then when the substitutions start the game begins to slip away and gets away entirely in the second quarter.
  • This team needs to learn how to put its will on a game. However, that is much easier said than done. Golf seems to be the most common analogy, but it could be anything. If you have failed at something in the past and you are uncertain of yourself, it is hard to dive right in with all your gusto. Take a big fall on a ski hill and then next time you come down that same run you are tentative. Pull back-to-back drives into the trees and how are you feeling on the next tee box? That’s where the Jazz are at this point. They lack a confidence to play with the type of vigor they need to play with.
  • The Raptors are really good. They are 15-4 and the best in the East, and with the energy in Toronto that exists after last season they are going to be a tough out in playoffs. What they did tonight is what really good teams do. They were playing a team that is not as good and they came out and put the hammer down. They had not been playing defense well recently and they tightened that area up while dominating the game. Kyle Lowry was terrific.
  • I admire Coach Casey—when he finds a play that works he never leaves it.  High pick-and-roll here we go again.
  • The Jazz started fine, but the Raptors went on a 9-2 run to close the first quarter and a 19-8 run to open the second quarter. Game over. That’s the 18-point difference that ruled the night. Everything else was window dressing, as they say.
  • Realize the Jazz opened the night with a kid who has played 8 NBA games trying to guard Kyle Lowry, who’s an eight-year veteran and heading to an All-Star Game. The rest of the roster was a point guard who has played one year and 19 games, two four-year “veterans” and a guy starting for his first year.
  • Players doing things for the first time in the NBA are not usually very good at what they’re doing. If a player is inserted in the starting lineup for the first time as a regular, it takes a while. If a player is a lead dog for the first time, it takes a while. Who are the two players on the Jazz that are handling themselves well? Guys who are doing the same thing for the second straight year—Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward.
  • It’s not pleasant to be down by 15 or more every night, but make sure that we are being realistic to what this team as constructed with its youth is capable of doing.
  • Lots of good things are happening. Rudy Gobert, who has played 63 games in his career, is showing signs of being a defensive force in the NBA. He still has a long way to go. Trey Burke, who has played 88 games in his NBA career, got out of a huge shooting slump for one of the first times in his life and will grow from that.  Danté Exum, who is 19 and has played 19 games, is showing all the signs of why he was drafted fifth overall, and people believe he could be terrific. Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors, who have played enough to know what to anticipate in this league, have been good (in fact, very good).
  • Take a second and imagine Gordon or Derrick surrounded by veteran experienced players, and they would be fabulous.
  • It’s a process. We knew it was a process. And it’s not an easy process. There is no magic pill. It doesn’t get fixed right away. There will be many more nights like this and more losing streaks, but there is a lot good going on in the midst of this.