EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Jazz torch the corners in win over Bucks

Summary: The Jazz blow out the Bucks en route to a 104-88 win. The Jazz had a game plan on how to attack the Bucks and killed their defense while stifling the Bucks’ top 10 offense.

  • The Bucks allow the most corner three-point attempts in the NBA and the Jazz went right after the Bucks’ over-shifting defense and exposed them all night. The Jazz took 20 corner three attempts tonight, making nine. The idea of taking 20 corner-three attempts is a remarkable amount. The Jazz have only taken 10 or more of those shots five times this season. The Jazz took 26% of their shots as corner-threes and the league average in 7.5%. The Jazz take about seven a game and went nuts tonight. They were really open as well.
  • The Bucks started 210 pound, 7-footer Thon Maker at center and got away with it because Rudy got two early fouls and left at the 9:06 mark of the first quarter. After that, Rudy crushed the Bucks’ bigs, overpowering them and getting to the rim all night. Plus, he had five offensive rebounds. Rudy finished with 26 points and 15 rebounds. He was dominant.
  • Gordon Hayward started the night strong and then coolly finished the night with 27 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals. He had 12 in the first quarter to control the game while Rudy was out and then scored with ease the rest of the night.
  • The Jazz forced 17 turnovers tonight. They have begun to force more and more turnovers — an area where they were deficient earlier this year.
  • Giannis did not have a good night. Hayward was assigned defensively and honestly, I’m not sure if he was that good or not. However, tonight the Greek Freak was 2 for 10 with just 9 points in 39 minutes. This is consistent night in and night out that opposing small forward do not have good nights against the Jazz.
  • The Bucks have lost 9 of 10.
  • The Jazz have been great all season against below .500 teams and they are now 23-5 v. below .500 teams.
  • Joe Johnson was great tonight. His passing in the first half opened up the Jazz’s offense. Coach Igor singled him out at halftime for his great floor work. He then schooled Jabari throughout the third quarter and finished with 14 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists.
  • Joe Ingles had three more steals tonight.
  • The only downside tonight is Rodney Hood hyperextended his knee again and will have an MRI in the morning, according to Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune.
  • This was a solid blow out win tonight for a rested Jazz team.
  • The Bucks haven’t won in SLC since October of 2001.

Emptying the Noggin — Memphis wins like pros

Summary: The Jazz got outdone in an old-school Grizzlies win led by Conley, Randolph and Gasol: 102-95.

  • This is not great. The Jazz have lost two home games to Western Conference teams that were below them in the standings — Oklahoma City and Memphis. These are games you need to win if you are trying to get home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. In both cases, the best players of the opponent (Westbrook, Conley and Gasol) were superior to the Jazz’s rising stars.
  • The Jazz are now just 8-14 against +.500 teams. This is well below their placement in the standings. The Jazz are terrific against teams that are below .500, 22-4, one of the best records in the league. However, they have not been able to get over the hump against the better teams with consistency.
  • Derrick Favors didn’t play tonight.
  • The Jazz played a lot of Hill, Hood, Hayward, Johnson and Gobert in the second half. This is a lineup that many of us thought would be the closing lineup for the Jazz this season. It had only played 13 minutes this season coming into the game and 10 of those were in November.
  • This is a great win by Memphis. They lost last night in Portland and had lost 5 of their last 8. They are on the second stop of a long, six-game road trip. Their veterans realized they had to win. They have so much experience together over the years and were able to summon all of it tonight in a much needed win.
  • Gasol was terrific tonight. Zach Randolph had a season high. Mike Conley dominated the fourth quarter, scoring nine points and seven in a row in the key portion of the fourth quarter.
  • The Jazz’s offense is 29th in the league in second quarters and tonight, the second quarter was another struggle: 5 of 19 shooting and just 16 points. I have no idea what is causing this. The Jazz were built entirely with the concept of being able to put out a complete 48-minute line-up, so it is strange that the Jazz are having such a stark issue in the second quarters of games.
  • For all my talk of offense, so far the issue tonight was on the defensive end. The pace of the game was 84 possessions which is incredibly slow. The Jazz play the slowest pace in the league at 93.5 possessions. The league average offensive rating is 104 pts per 100 possessions. Tonight, the Grizzlies’ offense was at 124 pts per 100 possessions and the Jazz were scoring at 116 pts per 100 possessions.
  • Alec Burks had another double-figure night with 15 points on just 4 of 5 shooting. However, his five turnovers were not good. The Jazz were +1 in the minutes Alec played at the point guard.
  • Gordon Hayward was only 4 of 13 tonight.
  • Rudy Gobert went 9 for 9 from the free throw line. Rudy had five FGA tonight; He had just three last time versus Memphis.
  • This is really an impressive win by the Memphis Grizzlies. They were pros tonight and understood how important the win was. Memphis wins the season series, 3-1, and avoid a losing streak on the road trip.
  • Losing to Memphis and OKC at home is not great. The Jazz are home for the next two.

Emptying the Noggin — The Jazz’s offense is just good enough to win

Summary:  The Jazz, led by all-star Gordon Hayward, beat the Lakers 96-88 in a non-descript game. I am so happy for Gordon. He committed himself to accomplishing this goal in the offseason and with tireless work, he has taken his game to a new level and has become an All Star. It is really a testament to commitment and work.

  • This one is not very complicated. The Jazz are a superior team to the Lakers, and while they didn’t play very well, they played well enough to never be threatened by the Lakers.
  • The Jazz are not making shots and the offense is not very smooth right now. They hit on just 6 of 26 from three and hit on only 41% of their shots.
  • Alec Burks and Joe Ingles were terrific off the bench. The team plays so well when Ingles is on the floor. Alec Burks played the fourth guard spot tonight (Hill, Hood, Ingles) and is bringing an offensive aspect to the team that the Jazz have not had this year.
  • Burks had 11 points in 13 minutes on 5 of 9 shooting.
  • Teams generally only play four guards and if Ingles and Burks are both going to play, then the Jazz are going to have to play a portion of the game without a true point guard. Thursday, the Jazz were +10 when they played without a true point guard so it was successful.
  • Hayward had 24 points and shot 9 of 10 on his free throws.
  • Rudy Gobert had a season-high six blocks and a new 10+ rebound streak has started.
  • This game really didn’t have much to it. The Jazz led by seven points at the end of one quarter. The lead was four points at the half, 10 at the end of the third, and they won by eight. The game was never truly in doubt.
  • Jazz closed with Hill, Ingles, Hayward, Diaw and Gobert. It is going to be different each night depending on match-ups.
  • Quin Snyder said after the game he doesn’t think the team is playing very well. He is accurate. They did play well enough to win tonight however.

Emptying the Noggin – Fatigued Jazz Lose 2nd in a Row

Summary: The Jazz — playing four games in five nights — looked like a tired bunch for most of the night and fell to the Denver Nuggets, 103-93, splitting the season series at two games apiece.

  • The Jazz weren’t very good tonight. They weren’t sharp. They didn’t throw themselves into the game. They didn’t have a lot of bounce. They didn’t make shots. It was a group that lacked a lot of juice.
  • In all likelihood, this will be the final time in franchise history that the Jazz play four games in five nights. The league is starting the season two weeks earlier in order to eliminate this situation. The league has already done a lot to get rid of these games as teams aren’t very good when they play four games in five nights. The Nuggets weren’t a particularly fresh team, having played six games in nine nights, and this was really ugly basketball for much of the game.
  • When the Jazz led it midway through the second quarter, you could feel that they didn’t have it. I said on the air that the Jazz were on the verge of being down 10 by halftime if something didn’t change and sure enough, that is what happened.
  • The Jazz sent the Nuggets to the line time and time again in the second quarter. Playing defense with your hands and not your feet is the quickest way to commit fouls, and the surest sign that you are tired.
  • Rudy Gobert’s rebound streak came to an end after being extended on a review of Monday’s game film.
  • Nikola Jokic was terrific: 23 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals and 3 blocks. He is incredibly skilled offensively.
  • The Jazz made a run in the fourth, and if one of two shots had fallen, maybe the night would have ended differently. George Hill had a wide open three on a Denver breakdown with 3:16 left and the Jazz down by six points. He missed it. Then, Hill had a wide open three from the right corner with the Jazz down four points with 2:23 left and it didn’t go. Hill has been so good, but tonight the shot didn’t fall. He went 6 of 18 and 1 for 6 from three.
  • Hayward had a poor night: 2 for 10 and nine points. The Jazz aren’t going to win a lot when Hill and Hayward shoot 8 of 28 from the field. It’s rather remarkable that with that shooting night, I can find two shots that might have changed the night.
  • Derrick Favors had an awesome third quarter tonight with 16 points on 7 of 7 shooting and took Jovic to school. Favors was great in the paint and his mid-range jumper looked excellent. Jokic is still a very poor defensive player and Favors was able to take advantage.
  • This was the second straight solid night for Alec Burks. He is bringing an element the Jazz haven’t had off the bench and is really scoring. He uses a lot of possessions in a short period of time and those possessions have been being used fairly well, so he needs to stay efficient.
  • The Jazz have lost two games in a row. I wouldn’t worry too much about this. The Jazz have three more games during this stretch where they were favored for 11 straight (turned out they weren’t favored tonight) and if they can go 9-2 in that stretch, it is a really good run.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN — Jazz execute plan but Westbrook too good

Summary: Russell Westbrook willed the Thunder to a 97-95 win over the Utah Jazz with a 38 point, 10 rebound, 10 assist performance and the game winning shot with 1.7 seconds left.

  • Russell Westbrook was incredible. The Jazz’s defensive plan was good: They wanted to keep him out of the paint. As a result, he only had five shots in the paint and only made one of them. The Jazz made him make tough looks that he doesn’t make at a high percentage.
  • Westbrook is much less good as the shot clock goes on and the Jazz were able to get him to take 14 of his 29 shots in the final seven seconds of the shot clock. He made just five of those 14 attempts. These are the shots you want to make him take.
  • In a one-possession, one-play game, shooting 5 of 21 from three is a big deal. If the Jazz make 7 of 21 — which would still be below their average — they win the game.
  • Hayward hit a three to tie the game on a gorgeous play, and then Westbrook came down of a super high pick and roll and got free to his right to pull up for the game winner. Ron Boone thought it was a moving pick on Steven Adams. I’m not sure George needs to go under that pick and get caught by Adams. It is a hard call that far away from the basket as the pick was set near the logo.
  • Alec Burks missed a good look corner three on the final play.
  • The Jazz entered the game with the best win-loss record in games decided by five points and the second best record in games within three points with five minutes to play.
  • The Jazz were down one point with :20 seconds left when Westbrook missed a jump shot, but Adams got the rebound and the Jazz had to foul Westbrook.
  • Westbrook missed 13 shots in a row at one point in the game.
  • Dante Exum got the run at backup point guard and played with a lot of aggressiveness on offense. He was completely overmatched trying to guard Westbrook, but who isn’t. He is not hitting the three and tonight he was 1 for 4. However, he had great assertiveness on offense.
  • Hill and Hayward didn’t have good shooting nights. Hill was 2 for 10 and 0 for 4 from three and Hayward was 6 of 17 from the field and 2 for 6 from three.
  • The Thunder ran the ball at the Jazz and had 20 fast break points in the first half. They finished with 25, which is a season high for all Jazz opponents.
  • The Thunder were only -2 when Westbrook was on the bench. A key section of the game was when Payne hit a three and Oladipo hit a pull up jumper right before Westbrook re-entered.
  • The Jazz led by seven points with 6:20 left and it felt like the Jazz were in control.
  • Alec Burks played a large roll tonight. He closed the game for the first time all season and had 13 points, two rebounds and two assists. He has had a nice flow to his game the last two games. He played 24 minutes off the bench.
  • Favors had a double-double, but Rudy’s rebound streak came to an end.
  • Westbrook was too good. The Jazz had a plan and they executed the plan, forcing him into shots they wanted him to take. The Jazz’s defense had a decent rating for the night. Offensively, the Jazz didn’t make enough shots and never had a great offensive rhythm.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – George Hill sticks it to Pacers

Summary: The Utah Jazz get a wire-to-wire over the Indiana Pacers. The game was not close and the Jazz led by 10 or more for most of the night. The final score was 109-100.

  • George Hill — playing his first game against the Indiana Pacers after being traded — had the second highest scoring output of his NBA career with 30 points. He dominated Jeff Teague, who padded his irrelevant numbers in the fourth quarter. This was Hill’s third back-to-back since coming back from the foot and concussion injuries and the first one where he looked correct. He is getting back to being the George Hill that was dominating for the Jazz.
  • The Jazz are 15-1 when Gordon Hayward and George Hill both play and the average score is 104-93. The Jazz are now 17-4 when George Hill plays. The Jazz are now tied for fourth in the Western Conference.
  • Gordon Hayward completely outplayed Paul George tonight. Hayward had 27 points on 13 shots. Thurl Bailey pointed out on the broadcast that you almost never see him take a bad shot. He plays completely in the team concept and has the team’s intentions as his top concern all night.
  • Paul George quit tonight with six minutes left. He went iso-ball on Joe Ingles and when he didn’t get a foul call, he committed an intentional foul on George Hill so he could argue his call and then got a tech. Moments later, he fouled out with 6:00 left in the game. The Pacers were -18 when Paul George was on the floor tonight. He is a great player but he wasn’t tonight and the Pacers are now 22-21.
  • Derrick Favors and Alec Burks looked better tonight than they have all year. Favors gave the Jazz an awesome first half performance. He had 8 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists, but it was very impactful.
  • Alec Burks was really good on the offensive end tonight and gave the Jazz a huge boost. He had 13 points on 5 of 8 shooting. He grabbed four rebounds; Rebounding guards are so important.
  • The Jazz got 14 rebounds from Hill, Ingles and Burks.
  • The Jazz played a little Burks, Hayward, Ingles, Johnson with Gobert tonight. That is another new lineup.
  • The story tonight was the Jazz’s focus, attention to detail and composure against a team that didn’t have those items.
  • Rudy Gobert got 11 rebounds, his 30th straight game with 10 or more rebounds. Only five players have done this in 20 years.
  • George Hill had a fabulous night against his former team, hometown team, favorite team as a kid. He drilled the Pacers with 30 points and his team dominated.

Emptying the Noggin — The Jazz keep winning close games

Summary: The Jazz won their fifth straight game and third over Dallas this year with an overtime win in Texas. The game was a tough, closely-fought game with 10 ties in the fourth quarter.

  • Rudy Gobert finished the night with 27 points and 25 rebounds. It was the first 25/25 game for a Jazzman since Al Jefferson against Dallas, with the last one in the NBA coming from Dwight Howard last year.
  • Gobert was incredible. He was completely dominant on the offensive glass. Dallas played Dwight Powell, who is close to being a three at center, and Dirk at the five. Rudy has to abuse them and that is exactly what he did. Rudy had 10 offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter and the overtime period. Moreover, Rudy showed amazing ability to finish around the rim tonight and displayed some good moves to get himself opportunities. His offensive game has more to it than is being recognized.
  • The game was tied at 76, 78, 80, 81, 83, 89, 91, 93 and 98 in the fourth quarter.
  • The Jazz’s back up point guards are struggling and Quin Snyder closed the game after George Hill fouled out with Hayward, Hood, Ingles, Diaw and Gobert. I love the idea of putting my five best players on the floor and letting them figure it out. Without Hood, Hayward is initiating a large part of the offense late in games so you can play without a traditional point guard.
  • This game was foul-heavy in the fourth quarter with seemingly every possession going to the line.
  • JJ Barea was a pain in George Hill’s side. He drew foul after foul and got George into foul trouble. Barea pulled his calf muscle and was not able to return. It changed the tide of the game a bit.
  • The Jazz are winning close games. Tonight, we had 10 minutes of clutch time. Rudy’s offensive rebound was the weapon tonight. In the final five minutes of regulation, the Jazz scored on 6 of 10 possessions, two of which were offensive rebounds. In overtime, they scored on 7 of 9 possessions; Gobert’s offensive rebounding was unstoppable.
  • The Jazz did a nice job not turning the ball over against the number one team at forcing turnovers in the NBA.
  • The Jazz were even with Rudy Gobert off the floor tonight. This is huge. The Jazz are almost always positive with Rudy on the floor so if we can stay even or positive when he is off, there will be lots of wins.
  • Gordon Hayward had 26 points and some big shots late in the game. He got to the line for eight free throws, which were vital.
  • Joe Ingles is averaging nearly 13 points a game as a starter, plus he had three steals. Those are huge plays in one-possessions games.
  • Joe Johnson hit the biggest shot of the night: The Jazz were down three and Rudy Gobert was at the line. Gobert missed both free throws with 1:50 to play in overtime. The rebound came all the way out to Rudy and he passed it to Joe Johnson who quickly released a three to tie the game at 107.
  • Dallas didn’t score over the final 2:05 of overtime. The Jazz closed on an 8-0 run that started with the Joe Johnson three.
  • Dirk Nowitzki played his second back-to-back of the season. In the previous one, he played 12 minutes and was 2 for 8. Tonight, he had the worst shooting night of his NBA career, going 1 for 13. He had a good-look three to tie the game with :10.9 seconds left. I don’t care how many he had missed tonight, it felt like it would go in and it didn’t.

The Jazz have won five in a row. Three of them were clutch games (within five points with five minutes to play). These are the games the Jazz struggled with a year ago. Don’t underestimate closing with Boris Diaw and Joe Johnson.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Brilliant plays lead to close win for Jazz

Summary: The Jazz win a league-leading fifth come-from-behind road win with numerous clutch plays to overcome a hot Phoenix Suns team, 106-101, for Utah’s fourth straight win.

  • The Jazz started the game on a 10-2 run, but that would be the only easy part of the night. The Suns got rolling after that and the first wave off the Jazz bench was really poor and Utah trailed by four points at the end of the first quarter. The Jazz struggled with the Suns’ pace and guard pressure all night and headed to the fourth quarter trailing. The game was tied at 86, 88, 90, 92, 94 and 99 before the Jazz closed on a 7-2 run.
  • The amount of mammoth plays late from the Jazz were the story of the night. With 3:16 left, Gobert caught a bullet from Hill and was pushed in the back hard but found a way to finish and to make the free throw to put the Jazz up by two points. The Jazz fell behind by one when TJ Warren ripped Gordon Hayward and dunked on the other side. Joe Johnson hit a three with :49.8 seconds left with no time on the shot clock. It was contested and a tough look. Hayward nailed two free throws to make it a three-point game. With 7.9 seconds left, Rudy blocked a Chriss drive to the basket to secure the win.
  • Booker’s line looks like he had a comfortable night, but nothing could be further from the truth; Joe Ingles was all over him all night. Booker has become such a good scorer that he is able to produce on nights when nothing is comfortable.
  • The Jazz’s offense got the job done late. They scored on 7 of 10 possessions in the final five minutes for a total of 16 points.
  • Rudy Gobert was unreal tonight. He dominated on the offensive glass. He impacted plays at the rim. He was a force on the defensive glass. He made numerous offensive plays as well. He finished with 18 points, 17 rebounds and four block shots. Without Tyson Chandler on the floor, you have to take advantage and that is exactly what Rudy did.
  • Quin Snyder tried a lot of things tonight. His first subs were Dante, Alec and Trey and that didn’t go well. He came back with Neto for Exum and Diaw for Lyles. Both of them had strong nights that were vital for the win.
  • Joe Johnson was super in the fourth quarter. With Rodney Hood out, the Jazz will need Johnson to play well for the next few weeks. Joe had 10 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter.
  • Alec Burks was not as good tonight as he was the other night. The road back is going to have bumps along the way.
  • The Suns played a pace that had the Jazz on their heels for a lot of the night. They got into actions and put pressure on the Jazz early in the clock. Once the Jazz were able to get the game in a half court, they were able to slow it down. Numerically, the game was a slow-paced game, which is telling because it really felt like Phoenix was on the push all night
  • The Jazz had just eight turnovers.
  • The Suns closed really small with Bledsoe (who was great all night, 31-9-9) Booker, Barbosa, Tucker and Chriss.The Jazz stayed with Gobert and played Diaw and Johnson as the power forwards. Diaw had most of the clutch-time minutes.
  • Four in a row, three close ones in a row. In this league, you start winning because you think you are supposed to win.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Hayward and Gobert continue to amaze

THIS IS A ROUGH DRAFT EDITION THAT WILL BE REPLACED WITH THE FINAL VERSION BUT IN THE MEANTIME ALLOWS YOU TO HAVE SOMETHING

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN
Summary: Despite a sluggish defensive-less start the closed out in a big time fashion with a 13-0 run to win their third in a row with a 114-107 win over Orlando
• The Jazz allowed 65 first half points to a team ranked 27th in the league offensively. Igor Kokokskov at halftime said he couldn’t even recognize the team that was the floor. The Jazz were passive defensively and it let the Magic get a rhythm and feel good about themselves. Elfrid Payton was a tough cover for the Jazz with a career high 28 points .

• Stretch 5s are hard on the Jazz. They pull Rudy Gobert out of the paint and it exposes some of the weaknesses of the Jazz defense. A stretch 5 and a penetrating point guard are a tough combination on the Jazz right now.

• Gordon Hayward and Rudy Gobert are simply awesome.

• Gordon Hayward notched 23 points, 5 rebounds and 7 assists. He was being guarded by Aaron Gordon who is a really long athletic defender. The progression of Gordon’s game is one of the most remarkable stories of this NBA season. He has gotten better and better every year. But not a little bit better. He has gotten mammoth amounts better. He is a bonafide beast on the floor right now. He has developed each of his skiills, his strength and his footwork to an elite level. He has become a 20 point every night guy. That is insanely hard to do in the NBA. It is even more remarkable when you do it inside of the team concept every night without an ounce of selfishness. It is even moreso when you look at his background as a player who was never a scorer and was drafted because he made his teammates better. He still does that. He makes his teammates better every night while controlling the game with his offense.

• Rudy Gobert is in the same realm. 19 rebounds tonight. His 27 game streak of 10 rebound or more is the 6th longest streak in the NBA over the last 20 years. THE LAST 20 YEARS !!!!!!. Tonight he added 19 points. He did it on 9 shots. He was 5 of 7 from the line. Two years ago the Jazz played the Magic and he played 11 minutes. It still has not been 2 years since the Enes Kanter trade. To make this jump in a span of two years is unthinkable.

• Alec Burks played regular rotation minutes with Joe Johnson getting the night off for rest. He played 15 really good minutes and finished with 8 points and 6 rebounds. That is really exciting. He looked super. He is an athlete this roster doesn’t have.

• Late in the game Gordon Hayward drove the lane and found Derrick Favors on the left baseline about 15 feet from the basket. Favors took one dribble and EXPLODED. EXPLODED like we haven’t seen all year and for most of the second half of last year. He went up and was way above the rim for a dunk and a foul. Listening to Derrick after the game with Tony Parks I was left with the impression that he might not of known if he could do that. Sometimes you need the moment to take over the mind and the body and prove to you what you are capable of. Derrick has been getting better every night and tonight he had 17 points and 6 rebounds.

• Rodney Hood went down with a really scary injury to his right knee but the initial word of the locker-room sounds relatively encouraging that he has a hyperextended knee. However, he will be re-evaluated tomorrow and we will know more then.

• The Magic lead this game 42-29 at the end of 1. The Jazz took a 5 point lead in the 2nd but the Magic worked back to a 1 point halftime lead. The Jazz then fell down 9 in the third before taking a 1 point lead going to the 4th. The Jazz seemed to be in control up 5 in the 4th but the Magic surged to 5 point lead with 4:07 left and then the Jazz answered on a 13-0 run.

• The 13-0 run ran from the 3:37 mark and the Magic had the ball up 5 but turned it over. Not having Fournier was a big loss at this point for the Magic. Hayward went 3 for 3 from the line in this stretch and is now 19 of 20 in the clutch from the line this year. Hawyard then assisted Favors on the dunk and then Hill hit Hood for a corner 3. Joe Ingles wrapped it up with 2 more threes.

• Jazz win their third straight and 4th in 5. 2-0 on a run of 11 straight games being favored.