EMPTYING THE NOGGIN—Jazz win to go 15-15 in last 30 games

  • This was a win against an undermanned team and it took 12 minutes of good basketball in the third quarter to run away from the Kings. Nothing overly impressive, just a win. (Other than every win this season is impressive.)
  • The Jazz are 15-15 over their last 30 games. This is not something I thought this team would accomplish this season. It is an impressive accomplishment to all involved. The players have played hard all year and never felt sorry for themselves for being undermanned. The coaches have never let them play the game in any fashion other than the correct way. These are important things to the culture of this franchise. It is a developmental year and we are seeing all the development plus the ability to win games. The Jazz are 13-8 when playing with their regular starting lineup.
  • Without Cousins and with Landry really limited, the Jazz dominated the inside game. Favors, Marvin and Jeremy all had double-doubles, and Kanter dominated the second quarter with another strong outing.
  • Favors dropped 17-12 with nothing alarmingly spectacular. He is averaging 14 and 10 in the month of January. That is a considerable jump for Favors from last season. I can’t imagine that anyone could have asked much more than this from him this season.
  • The Jazz ran the right-side pick and roll with Hayward and Favors incessantly and ripped the Kings apart. The Jazz got three big 3-pointers on three straight possessions. They found Favors rolling to the basket, and Hayward made a few plays. This busted the game open and changed the night. This is an impressive go-to play, and the floor spacing with Marvin and Richard, along with Trey, is very good. Plus, the secondary run on the play is often a pick and roll with Burke on the weakside, which usually yields something as well.
  • With 3:39 left in the game, Corbin brought Gobert in the and Mike Malone played Hack-a-Gobert. The Jazz led by 14. Gobert went 1-for-4 from the line then Corbin took him out, so Malone went to Hack-an-Evans. Evans went 3-for-6 from the line,  so the Jazz got only four points in five possessions. It worked. The game was now down to seven. Hack-a strategy can’t be used in the final two minutes. The game got down to five with 31 seconds left, but the Jazz had the ball.
  • Ironically, the Kings shot 2-pointers when they needed to shot 3-pointers on the offensive end.
  • Tryone Corbin didn’t sub anyone out other than Gobert in the final stretch. While it was nerve-racking, this type of faith in his players is probably why these guys play hard for him every night. Corbin never shows his players up or humiliates them, and he gets the reward with their loyalty to him in effort.
  • Friday night is Jerry Sloan Night, so be sure to come out to ESA.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN—Burks and Kanter lead the Jazz

  • Tonight might be the perfect recap to the season thus far. Falling behind, bouncing back, team and individuals bouncing back, and Trey Burke hitting a cold-blooded shot late to win it.
  • The Jazz were getting blown out coming off back-to-back bad performances against Minnesota and then they fought back into the game and won a close one.
  • Utah didn’t close the final minute well, but this was a 92-90 game with 3:00 left—the Wizards had the ball and the Jazz (playing Burke, Burks, Hayward, Favors and Kanter) found a way to win the game. This young team has been amazing at winning close games.
  • The Jazz are 12-8 with this starting five.
  • This was a mammoth night for Enes Kanter, who had two really poor games against Minnesota and has been a momentum player for much of his career. For him to turn it around with this strong of an offensive night is a great sign for his development.   He went 11-for-13 from the field and had a huge assist to Favors late in the game. Plus he hit a big jumper from the free-throw line, plus he had a nifty up-and-under move on Gortat and drew a foul to go to the line, where he made both. The area where he still needs to improve is that he is no longer a good rebounder. He had only four defensive rebounds in 30 minutes on the floor.
  • Alec Burks’ play in the third quarter was some of the best I have seen out of him. He played well without the ball and was in the right spots. With the ball, he was in control—he was calm. He made the right play time after time and had terrific hustle plays that altered the game. Burks got at least three 50-50 balls that were key for the Jazz to win this game.
  • This was one of the most interesting lineup nights of the season. The Wizards starting five has been great this year—second best in the NBA out of lineups that have played 200+ minutes. Tonight they were outscored by two in the 17 minutes they were on the floor.
  • The Jazz played Burke, Burks, Hayward, Favors and Kanter more tonight than any night all year. They played 13 minutes and were outscored by nine (35-26). The group failed defensively, and lots of that was late in the final minutes of the game.  The Wizards went 14-for-26 from the field (and 4-for-7 from three) when those five were on the floor.
  • Kanter and Favors played 17 minutes together and were -6.
  • Trey Burke hit another mammoth late-game shot. He is unreal late in games.
  • Both Richard and Marvin have slowed down a lot, and their time on the floor is shrinking. They both played only 17 minutes tonight.
  • Favors quickly went to work and nabbed another double-double with 11 points and 14 rebounds.
  • Diante Garrett played the back-up point guard against the length of Wall and Temple and played well tonight.
  • This night was highlighted by the growth of Kanter and Burks. Both were the best player on the floor for periods of the game.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN—Matchup or effort?

  •  These last two nights have been very uncharacteristic. It looked as though the Jazz seriously lacked energy and effort. However, that is not the Utah Jazz this season, so when it happens against the same team in back-to-back games I have to wonder if it is the matchup and what looks like a lack of effort is actually being completely outmatched.
  • The Jazz were without Derrick Favors, so Enes Kanter got the start and had a really tough night. He looked disengaged at times during the game. He was overwhelmed by Pekovic, who causes lots of people problems. Kanter got in foul trouble in the first quarter and then had little to no positive impact on the game. The concern is that Kanter had been playing so well prior to the last two games vs. Minnesota. He has been a momentum player his entire career and hopefully this doesn’t derail the success he was having.
  • Back-to-back tough nights for Trey Burke. Maybe the worst back-to-back nights of his career.
  • Hayward returned and built off his three previous stellar games. Prior to the injury, Hayward had gone for 20 or more in three straight and he did it again tonight.  Moreover, he didn’t look like he was forcing the game. He played inside the game and played with his teammates. He took the opportunities that were available and he made the most of them. He also added 5 rebounds and 5 assists.
  • I like it so much more when a shot happens because all the intentions of passing and finding a teammate were exhausted rather than the player who only passes after all of his shooing options were negated.
  • I wish there was a way to count how many points an individual player gave up. I think tonight would have been really embarrassing for some players. It would alter behavior if the box score every night had how many points your man gave up as well.
  • Rudy Gobert got some run tonight. His length was a factor and his offensive game is limited to dunks. The coaches may need to find a way to get him in the rotation for the second half of the season, though it’s going to cost us games. He needs to learn, but his overall impact right now goes both ways.
  • Very bloody night.
  • Kevin Love’s outlet passes are awesome. However, basic fundamentals need to be executed on how you get back in transition defense. His outlet passes are still really awesome.
  • Lots of practice time. Improvement is still very needed.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN—Not much to empty

  • Noggin on empty. What can be said?
  • Historically bad night for the Jazz, and that is collective effort.
  • I really like Derrick Favors’ approach on the offensive end. He is making his moves with an intention. He has a plan and he is reacting correctly to what the defense is doing.
  • Two nights in a row Alec Burks has had to leave the game due to foul trouble. Kevin Martin is tough, but that should not have happened on Caldwell-Pope. Next step in development.
  • Not really surprising that Burke was off tonight. Rubio’s length gave him issues.
  • Not sure what sequence defined the night—Burke double dribbling (uncalled) to Favors, who rim checks on the dunk, gets it back and misses the next dunk … or Jeremy Evans missing three tip-ins from one foot in a span of four seconds.
  • The ball didn’t move.
  • You could say this is bringing togetherness of a unit to a new level. They all had their worst game of the year together. Not sure that is fair for Favors, but he would be the only one I would take out of the group.
  • When Burks got two fouls and Hayward was out and the Jazz had to go to Garrett with Clark/Lucas and Rush and Evans and Kanter/Favors, it was too much.
  • See the Wolves on Tuesday.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN—Jazz brilliant in Detroit

  • Wow. The Jazz were brilliant 1 through 13 in every aspect of the game. They beat the Pistons in every way you could beat a team.
  • Offensively, the Jazz are on fire. They came into the game scoring 110 points per 100 possessions over the last six games and surpassed that tonight. The ball movement is great. The understanding of each other on the floor has made huge progress.
  • The left side pick and roll with Burke and either Favors and Kanter with a well spaced floor is tough to guard.  The ball is not sticking.  The ball is being swung.   Marvin and Richard are ball movers and it is getting contagious.  Ball movers are very underrated in this league.
  • The Jazz opened the night hitting threes. 15 of their first 19 points came from behind the arc as the Pistons wanted to pack it in down low. This stretched the Pistons’ defense and then Enes Kanter dominated the second quarter, completely outplaying Andre Drummond.
  • The Jazz bigs were so much better than Monroe and Drummond that Cheeks benched them both in the third quarter. Kanter and Favors manhandled them each individually. The Jazz didn’t play much Kanter and Favors together and didn’t need to as Marvin Williams was a matchup that Monroe couldn’t handle, and then Evans played well against the Pistons’ backup crew. The Jazz’s ability to maintain floor spacing in the game was vital to the offensive success.
  • The Pistons are a good open-court team and a dreadful halfcourt team. The Jazz only allowed four fast-break points after the first quarter.
  • A large portion of the Pistons’ halfcourt game is offensive rebounding. They are #1 in the NBA and the Jazz held their own on the defensive glass. Through three quarters the Jazz had 32 of the 40 chances on the defensive glass.
  • Trey Burke was obviously jittery playing back in his “second home,” but he kept it together and put together a monster night with a 20-10 double-double. His 12 assists tonight were huge.
  • I really liked Alec Burks’ night. He got in early foul trouble and then when everyone was hot he didn’t try to get his. He played inside the team and helped facilitate those players that were hot. He was a part of the ball movement tonight. He has had a tendency to dribble and then react, but tonight he looked to move the ball and then dribble if that wasn’t there.
  • Hard to single out performances tonight because everyone was fantastic. Derrick Favors showed all the same signs of the player that has been dominant in the last two games. Kanter was mentioned before. Jefferson did a great job battling Josh Smith and took him completely out of the game, plus he hit three more 3-pointers.
  • The Jazz are winning road games at a rate they haven’t done in a while.
  • Utah’s 13-10 when Marvin Williams starts.
  • Everyone was terrific. This team is getting better every time out. It is a tribute to everyone involved.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN—Two things becoming the signatures of this team

  • Two items are becoming the story of the season: young player development and consistent fight.
  • This game was similar to the Clippers game in LA. Numerous times during the night the Jazz could have rolled over and called it good, and they didn’t do it. Trey got two fouls early and the team held together without either Trey or Gordon on the floor and trailed by just three points after one quarter. The Spurs turned it on in the opening part of the third, and the Jazz were down 18. Somehow, though, the Jazz were back within a bounce or two late. This team fights. The character of this team is impressive and Corbin is getting consistent night-in and night-out effort, which is a huge deal in this league and most teams don’t do that.
  • The second is the bounceback of our young players. Kanter and Burks were awful a few weeks ago. Burks was slumping in a manner that began to make you wonder if he had an NBA career ahead of him. Now he has put together a six-week stretch of the best basketball he has played his entire career. Kanter was playing in a manner that made you hope he could be a third big in the NBA, and now he has hit double figures for six straight games and the last seven out of eight. Moreover, tonight he was terrific with 25 points and 11 rebounds.
  • In the realm of development, let’s not forget Favors. He has put together two of his most dominating performances back-to-back. He was bigger, stronger and quicker than anyone on the floor again tonight. He didn’t hit his mid-range shot tonight or he would have been out of this world. But he went at Duncan early. He clearly is learning how to play certain players. He finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds.  That is big time.
  • The work that has gone on behind the scenes to get Kanter right is paying off. It is what should take place on a team but doesn’t always happen. Coaches spending extra time both on and off the floor. Players showing them support. Coach Corbin did a terrific job of giving Kanter matchups that were allowed him to succeed, and Kanter is a momentum player. The momentum can go either way and right now it is flowing in the right direction, but it can just as easily get dislodged and leave him spiraling the other way as well.
  • Tony Parker is really awesome. He was as dominant as LeBron or Durant. He took over the game and knocked the Jazz out of the game.
  • This was a tough night for Trey. He looked overwhelmed when Tony put the pedal down. The first-half pick-and-roll defense from the Jazz was very good, but in the third quarter Tony had his way. Burke looked overwhelmed. But the essence of Trey is that he doesn’t drop his head and quit. He stays in the game, and by the night’s end he brought the Jazz back and had 17 points and a career-high 11 assists (with just two turnovers). I’m not sure I think either of the last two nights were very good for Trey, and he is averaging nearly 18 and 10 in those games while shooting a decent percentage.
  • Richard Jefferson was really solid again tonight.
  • If you look at the Jazz five-man data over the past years, some of our most-used lineups were negative and yet the team was above .500. There were two ways to look at it. One was that we were using the wrong guys in our primary lineups. The other was that Tyrone Corbin must have a great knack at finding different combinations on given nights to find ways to win games. Both were probably accurate. This season he has continued to find five-man groups that I would never think of having success, and on each night they find a way to have a positive result.
  • 70 points in the paint was a season high against the Spurs.
  • Tyrone has been very clear about Favors and Kanter together. He wants to play them together. They need to learn how the other is going to be successful and how to play off of each other. Earlier this year and last year, offensively they inhibited each other.  Maybe they are learning how to play together.
  •  As good a night as this was, there are lots of mistakes that separate the Spurs and the Jazz. Backdoor cuts galore where guys lost focus. Middle dribble penetration with the help too late. Key offensive play where Burks drifted off his spot and toward the rim, so when Favors went to throw the reversal pass he had to wait and the timing and play got blown up. The Spurs would never do that. These are the separators, and we have to learn them.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN—Burks’ brilliance buries Denver

  •  Alec Burks carried the Jazz to a dominant win over the Nuggets. The Jazz led by 10 or more points for the final 29 minutes of the game. The Nuggets made surges but never a run. Alec Burks made plays to change the tide back in Utah’s favor.
  • Burks had a career-high 34 points. He realized Denver had no shot blockers and he took the ball to the basket with regularity. Of his 13 field goals, only two of them were from outside the paint and only one other was from more than a foot outside the restricted area. He was a driving and finishing machine.
  • The Jazz’s offense was great all night. They scored 35 points in the first quarter, they had a season high 67 in the first half and they kept rolling. They were getting in the paint from the left wing, and the defense of the Nuggets was collapsing without any rotations and the Jazz were making the extra pass.
  • Richard Jefferson’s presence in the corners is altering defenses. Teams can’t leave him.
  • Utah had just four turnovers through three quarters, and then the Nuggets started trapping and the Jazz started to struggle with the ball. It was the only time all night when the Jazz clearly missed Gordon Hayward.
  • The Jazz had 64 points in the paint on 32-for-46 shooting.
  • The Nuggets came into the game as one of the hottest 3-point shooting teams in the NBA. They had made 12 per game over their five-game win streak. Tonight they were just 7-for-25.
  • Derrick Favors put out one of my favorite performances of his young career.  He was a beast inside and physically dominated the undersized Nuggets. His 14 defensive rebounds is a new career high, plus he had 19 points on 7-for-12 shooting. He got the ball in the post and acted quickly, using his size to overpower the defenders—he manhandled Faried and Hickson.
  • This is a good matchup for the Jazz, which has shown up each time the teams have played. Jeremy Evans can use his athletic ability rather than getting caught in a wrestling match, and he was very impactful in the second quarter.
  • Enes Kanter continues to make huge strides defensively. He had good defensive rotations again tonight, and offensively he made plays.
  • Marvin once again showed great veteran leadership, gaming it through his illness to be the model for this young team.
  • Brandon Rush looked better tonight than he has all season and made some athletic plays.
  • Trey Burke struggled in the fourth quarter tonight with the Nuggets’ defensive pressure, but when the night was over he had 18 points on 6-for-12 shooting and eight assists. Coach Lowe singled out the picks Trey set in the first half to help ignite the offense.
  • Solid win over a hot team. Without Gordon Hayward the Jazz stepped up and played great team basketball, and that opened the door for Alec to have an enormous individual night.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN—No Hayward, no good

  • Utah’s defense completely fell apart in the second half tonight, allowing 67 points.  Kyrie Irving came out of the half and took it to the Jazz, dropping 17 point in the third quarter. He got Trey Burke in foul trouble and the Jazz came unglued.
  • The Jazz have been trying to avoid having Trey and Gordon off the floor and tonight it was a disaster. The Jazz were down 4 when Trey went out with four fouls in the third quarter and by the time the quarter was over the Jazz were down 15. Game over.
  • The last line is really all this game was about. I could end this entire piece right now
  • Kanter had a double-double and now has hit double figures in five of the last six games. He is playing with a rhythm and flow to his game that is much better. When he lacked confidence, the game came to him haltingly and abruptly.
  • C.J. Miles started at shooting guard for the Cavs and had nine of the first 11 Cavs points. He finished 6-for-7 for 17 points, and Dion Waiters had 17 points on 6-for-13 shooting. Utah’s shooting guards had a tough night dealing with those two. Jack played some two as well with Kyrie at the one, and he went 5-for-6.
  • Kyrie Irving finished with 25 points, six rebounds and eight assists. He took over the game and was the best player on the floor.
  • The Jazz played Kanter and Favors together but not a lot, and the smaller lineups had a tough time on the boards as Tristan Thompson had 15 rebounds and Varejao had 14.
  •  With Hayward out it was good opportunity for Brandon Rush to get going, but it didn’t happen. 18 minutes, 1-for-4 shooting and two points.
  • Favors flashed some good post moves tonight. He is improving and becoming a more viable option in the post.
  • Marvin took the mask off for the second half. He had a tough night, going 1-for-6 with just four rebounds in 27 minutes.
  • The Jazz are good when they are completely healthy, but when they have any injuries they fall off the cliff.