EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Jazz finish East Coast trip at 3-1

  • A 3-1 East Coast road trip. Impressively, this team is not blinking. They’re not taking steps back. They aren’t doing anything to make you believe what we’re seeing isn’t real and going to last.
  • This is super exciting to be a part of this process. To watch Coach Snyder’s system begin to take hold. To watch the player development on so many levels and to realize that what we are seeing is real.
  • So much fun to be a part of this.
  • Gordon Hayward thinks he’s the best player on the floor right now. He’s taking over games. He’s finding the smallest gaps that are Harden gaps. Small little windows and he is making plays.
  • Derrick Favors’ move to the 4 might be as big a story as Gobert moving into the starting lineup. Derrick has become an offensive force in the post and is making plays from all over the floor. He put up another 20-10 line. He’s averaging close to 19-8 since the All-Star break. He’s so solid right now and what he’s doing defensively is big-time.
  • The Nets’ primary offensive set is a low post up for Deron or Joe Johnson that can become a low pick-and-roll with Brook Lopez. The Nets only got to the play once the entire game. The Jazz’s preparation every night is impeccable. Coach Snyder and his staff find a key part of the opponent’s offense and find a way to blow that up and disrupt the entire offense. Against Milwaukee, they took away a certain pass to start their offense. Tonight, Gordon and others did an amazing job fronting Joe Johnson and not allowing him to catch the ball in the post. This dislodged Brooklyn’s entire flow and they got very little of what they wanted tonight.
  • The game was a one- point game at 78-77 with five minutes left. This was the perfect script for things to fall apart—but the opposite happened. Hayward scored five straight and seven points in Utah’s 14-2 run. The Nets had an experienced, veteran team on the floor in what should have been a must-win (though they didn’t act like it at all). The Jazz made every play and ran away.
  • Elijah Millsap makes some of the most fearless steals.
  • Joe Ingles and Millsap do a lot of little things well, but both of them have been cut by at least four teams in the last few years and they are now starting and closing games for this team. It’s remarkable that Quin and his staff are finding ways to make these players productive parts of a winning team, and it’s a tribute to them to understand how to be successful in the NBA.
  • Danté Exum had a nice offensive game tonight. I have vowed that I’m not commenting on individual nights in connection with his development. However, his consistently remarkable play defensively has to be mentioned. He shut Deron down tonight. He handled Conley well in Memphis. He was strong on Parker v. San Antonio, and the list goes on and on. Each night he moves his feet with such alacrity and grace and makes plays that are terrific.
  • Utah’s defensive starting lineup of 6-6, 6-8, 6-8, 6-10 and 7-1 is a big part of this story as well.
  • The Jazz have won 7 of 9 since the All-Star break and 20 of their last 37. I think the second number is a bigger deal.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Take a win and go home



  •  Take the win and go home.  This game was super ugly and had no flow.  This might be how we are going to play.   A bad defensive team can be victimized by talented professional players who get hot, but the Jazz are a good defensive team that exposes the weaknesses of teams and players and that showed tonight.


  • Jazz are now 19-17 over the last 36 games.   This is an extended stretch of above .500 basketball.  Moreover, we are getting better over the 36 games.   Since the all-star break the Jazz are 6-2.  Since Feb 1st the Jazz are the #1 defensive team in the NBA.   There are a lot of these nuggets and they all tell the same story the Jazz are good and getting a lot better.


  • Gordon Hayward had another mammoth game.  25 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists and only 1 turnover.  What is nuts about this is he is going this with a starting guard line that has no on floor gravity at all.  Ingles and Exum were 2 for 7.   Burke was 3 for 12.   How Gordon Hayward finds space to make any plays is remarkable.   What happens when he is playing with a 2 guard that can shoot or a true penetrating point guard.


  • Hayward hit 2 of 3 from 3 largely because he got back to the angle right 3 where he is hovering around 50% on the season


  • Elijah Millsap changed the game with his defense, making three plays in a row that pushed the Jazz to their lead.


  • The Jazz are stealing the baseline pass to the corner at a very high rate.  This shows they are playing 5 man defense.  I wonder if Rudy and Favors are eliminating the passing lanes back to the top with their length and this is the only outlet for the ball hander.  It is a great read by the defensive player to get into that passing lane.


  • Derrick Favors couldn’t dominate the undersized 76ers in the post.


  • Since the all-star break the jazz have their lowest offensive rating with Rudy Gobert on the floor.  This is still a work in progress for the Jazz to figure out how to floor space and use Gobert and Favors offensively.   It is crazy hard to do when non shooters are on the floor.


  • The Jazz are playing offense with Hayward as the only shooter and maybe Hood, otherwise everyone else is below 33% from three or 40% from the field.   The Jazz always have at least 3 non shooters on the floor which makes it very hard to run a flow offensive system.  Remarkable they can get anything done.


  • Trey Burke 3 for 12.   He just hasn’t found an ability to avoid these games.   One pops up every few games and almost all of the his 5 and 10 game trends come right back to his season shooting numbers.


  • Rudy Gobert has 55 rebounds in 3 games.


  • Jazz win against a hapless team but wins are good.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Do it enough and it becomes real


  •  This is getting real.   For 34 games we are 18-16.  Since Feb 1st we are the #1 defensive team in the NBA.   Over the last 9 games we are allowing 85 pts a game and have won 7 of 9.   Since All-star break the numbers are just crazy.


  • To win a game on the road against an elite team you have to have the big dogs deliver.  Hayward had 13 points in the 3rd quarter to get the Jazz going and Favors then carried the mail home in the 4th quarter with an array of offensive moves.  Memphis coach Dave Joeger  about Favors and Hayward “they were excellent in the second half. I thought individually they just rose up and they were tremendous”


  • This might have been the best offensive sequence I have seen from Favors.   Back to back post moves early in the 4th stretched the lead to 7.  Then he hit a 10 foot turnaround to bring it back to 6 after a Memphis surge and then the capper a 13 foot jumper off an Exum give to cap it.   He had 8 4th quarter points to seal the win


  • Gordon Hayward had a miserable first half and couldn’t buy a shot.   He answered with a 15 points, 4 rebound, 4 assist, 3 steal 2nd half.   Big time.


  • The Jazz interior defense was crazy good.  Memphis shot 22 of 52 in the paint.   IN THE PAINT.  They were 5 of 12 in the first quarter.  5 of 12 again in the 2nd and 6 of 16 in the 3rd quarter.  Through 3 quarter they were 16 of 40 IN THE PAINT.


  • Without Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol had to be the offense and he couldn’t get a rhythm.  Gasol finished the night 6 of 15.    Conley is the bell weather for the Grizzlies, in wins Conley shoots 47% and 44 % from 3 and in losses he shoots 39% and 26% from 3.  Tonight, he was 4 for 11 and 0 for 2 from 3.   Dante Exum was spectacular on Conley.  Trey Burke had a good game on him as well.


  • Rudy !!!!! Absurd.   15 points, 24 rebounds.   I took a huge step recently and thought he could average 10 pts, 10 rebounds and 4 blocks.  Now I wonder if that is not enough.   He is getting better around the rim as an offensive player every game.  He is understanding his spacing and his floor placement and how to make himself available.  He runs – RUDY runs.   His rebounding is ok right now and he is still grabbing huge numbers.  He is going to be so much of a better rebounder when he gets stronger over the next years and he is already grabbing a ton.  He could become a DeAndre Jordon rebounder.  Rudy grabbed 33% of all rebounds when he was on the floor tonight.  That is crazy


  • Dante Exum made three of the best defensively plays I have seen from a point guard.  The most obvious was an open floor transition defense of Mike Conley where he picked his pocket and then collected it for an outlet pass.  He got switched on Jeff Green and Green started left and spun back to his right and Exum cut him off on both.  On the left side of the floor Dante was guarding the ball and they ran a wing to wing pick and roll and he got back out on the shooter to affect a three.  The kid has special talent.


  • Rudy threw the best outlet pass of the season to Gordon after one of his rebounds.


  • You leave Slow mo Joe open and he is nailing it.


  • Rodney Hood played with a confidence tonight.  He had 13 off the bench and is a good defender as well.


  • Jazz got another 7 steals tonight.  They are playing collective defense at a really special rate.


  • Wonderful to see Jeremy Evans get time and contribute.


  • One NBA executive told me he see no reason why the Jazz aren’t top 25% defensive team next year.  That makes you a legit contender for the playoffs and on the road to great things.   This is incredible.   I am blown away at how this has taken place and with the speed it is taking place.


  • Quin is really special.  I hope everyone is aware that Quin is really special .

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Tough wins are better wins


  •  What a game.  Yes, tons of turnovers and missed shots but this might have been the two best defensive teams going head to head.  The Bucks are the #2 defense in the NBA for the season and no one has been better than the Jazz defensively for a while.  Couple that with neither team having an individual player who is going to dominate a possession and this is the game you get.  I kinda loved it.

*  The Bucks are the #1 team in the NBA at forcing turnovers.  Not that surprising that the Jazz committed 23 of them tonight.   What is stunning is the Jazz forced 23 of them tonight.

  • It is hard to play defense when you are not scoring and these two teams amped their defense up even higher every time they didn’t score.  It was sort of awesome.


  • Derrick Favors couldn’t have made more big plays late in the game.  Huge blocks defensively.  An offensive rebound put back in traffic for the biggest basket of the game.  The rebound on the following possession.   Wow he was BIG !!! 16 points, 12 rebounds, 3 steals and 3 blocked shots.


  • This was a mentally hard win on a back end of a back to back.   Quin talks a lot about moments where the team wouldn’t have been able to do that before.  This is one of those nights. The Jazz couldn’t have won this game as many as two weeks ago.


  • The 5 man defensive communication with the Jazz is incredible. The Jazz are really tight on the rotations.  They are running some very complicated switching systems and they are doing them perfectly.


  • I have no numbers on this but Derrick Favors got switched on a small numerous times and they did not beat him very often if ever.


  • Trey Burke has been very good since the all-star break.   One of the reasons Trey has been so bad defensively is teams were putting Trey in the pick and roll with Enes Kanter and it was a disaster.   His defense has been much better when he is put in a pick and roll with Favors, Gobert or Booker.   We might need to re-evaluate what Trey can do defensively.  Time will tell I it is because of something Trey has developed.


  • When Trey is good the Jazz win.   Tonight he was very good offensively – 23 points when no one else could find a window to score.   He had 6 assists and just 1 turnover.


  • Rodney Hood closed the game


  • Elijah Millsap had the best 0 for 6 game – 7 rebounds and 3 steals.  Millsap ability to cover the main pick and roll ball handler has helped alleviate the burden on Trey Burke defensively.


  • 6 offensive rebounds for Trevor Booker. The Jazz are the #1 offensive rebounding team in the NBA and they are best offensive rebounding when Trevor Booker is on the floor.


  • Gordon Hayward had a tough shooting night but there was nothing soft about his play.  He gamed it hard at the end.


  • Jazz have won 6 of 8 and 16 of the last 31.


  • I really like this win.  Maybe like this win more than San Antonio or Portland.  This is not a better team but it is a tougher team and nothing was going right for the Jazz offensively and they won the game defensively.  That is a huge statement of who this team is becoming. The pride they are playing with is impressive.   Wins when things are going wrong are the sign of a good team.   Jazz showed that tonight.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Ton of great stories out of Jazz win in Denver


  •  Solid bounce back win for the Jazz with a ton of feel good stories.


  • The Millsaps spent a good deal of their childhood in Denver.  Paul had a teacher he always saw when the Jazz came to Denver.  Elijah told the story of going to library and if they checked out enough books they could win tickets to see the Nuggets.  For Elijah tonight was the night he returned to his “hometown” and to play in the arena he dreamed of playing in.  He is really establishing himself as an NBA player and he is only going to learn more and more about how to be successful in the season.  Three D-League rosters, Shanghai, Philippines and Isreal and now he is in the NBA


  • Bryce Cotton after an incredible season at Providence where he averaged over 40 minutes a night in conference play, dropped 36 on North Carolina in the 2nd round of the NCAA and then he went undrafted and after showing his talent in Austin he made his NBA debut and scored.


  • Jack Cooley probably never dreamed he would score an NBA point.  A recruited but not that heavily player out of high school, a 4 year career at Notre Dame that averaged 2 pts and 2 rebounds his freshman year, 3 points and 3 rebounds his sophomore year and then after a solid junior and senior year went undrafted and played last year in Europe.  Where they gave him a dog to keep him company and the night before he left he had his stuff stolen (the thieves knowing when he was leaving and that he couldn’t do anything about it) so he keep the dog.    Made his NBA debut and scored.


  • Trey Burke had his 3rd strong game in 4 nights and was hitting the mid-range jumper


  • Denver has lost 18 of 20 and looks as disinterested as any NBA team I have seen in a long time.


  • Rudy had huge impact again tonight.   Denver had no plan on how to deal with him.  They tried to go at him early and then they just stopped going into the lane.  Denver shot 5 of 21 from the field in 1st quarter with Rudy playing all 12 minutes


  • Jazz are allowing 87 pts a game over the last 7 games.


  • Jazz came in over the last 10 games as the 9th  best defensive team in the NBA and the Nuggets ranked 29th offensively and the game played as you would expect with the Nuggets scoring 34 pts in the first half.


  • Really nice to see Rodney Hood playing in a rhythm and with a level of comfort.  He hit 3 more three’s and has now hit 6 in the last two games.  He has hit his open shots, he has shown a drive game and as he gets more comfortable you will see a good pick and roll game.


  • Jazz blew the game out in the 3rd quarter and the night was over early


  • Hayward had 7 turnovers tonight and has 13 in 2 games.


  • Favors 21 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks is a big time night.


  • Denver is really awful and the Jazz took advantage.  That is exactly what they should have done.  Solid performance.