Emptying the Noggin —Ingles and a brilliant Gordon win it for Utah

Summary: The Jazz hold off the Lakers for a 102-100 win. Joe Ingles hit the game-winning three and had two key defensive stops late in the game. Hayward’s 31 carried the Jazz throughout the game.

·       If you look beyond the Lakers’ 10-23 record, you will realize this is a very good win. First, you don’t beat teams four times in a season very often, and the Jazz now have a 3-0 season series advantage on the Lakers. Two of the Jazz’s main cogs — Rodney Hood and Derrick Favors — were way off their games. Then, you add that the team was without George Hill, Alec Burks and Dante Exum. That is a hard game to win and the Jazz got it.

·       The depth that Dennis Lindsey added to this team in the offseason won this game. Boris Diaw had a brilliant first half of the game. For a portion of the game, Quin turned the offense over to Joe Johnson, and then down the stretch Joe Ingles was the hero on both sides of the ball.

·       None of this is possible without a brilliant night from Gordon Hayward. He finished with 31 points, 9 rebounds and lifted the team for most of the night until he got some help.

·       The game was tied at 99 with 56.5 seconds left and the Lakers isolated Lou Williams on the right side of the floor with the shot clock winding down, and Joe Ingles had the defensive assignment.  He denied his Williams’ hand and forced him to the right, and Lou never got a look. Instead, he threw up a shot that went off the side of the glass.

·       The Jazz came back with a quick-hitter. Just 11 seconds into the possession, Joe Johnson set a great pick for Joe Ingles, who flared to the corner. Julius Randle didn’t help out, Ingles was open for the three and buried it. The right corner is his sweet spot. Jazz led it 102-99 and wouldn’t relinquish the lead.

·       After the Lakers got one free throw from Randle, Rudy Gobert missed both and the Lakers had a chance to tie with the score at 102-100. The play was for Lou Williams, but he said that Ingles was facing-guarding him and denied him the ball. Russell came off a double pick to his right and Ingles switched out on Russell and forced him into a bad look three that was an air-ball.

·       The play that is being forgotten is the Rudy Gobert tip-in and follow with 1:00 left after a Hayward missed a three with the game tied at 99. Gobert had his 11th straight double-double and 17th in 20 games.

·       Quin really used his bench well tonight. He didn’t play Rodney and Favors late because they simply weren’t playing well enough. There are going to be lots of tough calls when this team gets healthy, and tonight Quin showed he is going to play who is playing well.

·       Lyles had one of his most aggressive defense and hustle games I have seen from him. He took only one shot in 13 minutes.  He grabbed six rebounds.

·       The Jazz ran a lot of offense out of the post with Diaw and Lyles getting the ball down low, then looking to distribute.

·       Raul Neto’s solid 13 minutes were vital.

·       Julius Randle was outstanding. He attacked Gobert late in the game, going right into his body, and was able to score. Randle’s work on the glass dominated the first half. He has the ability to handle and play make a little. He looks much improved in what is turning out to be a questionable draft.

·       The Jazz’s bench shot 17 of 33 from the field and 6 of 14 from three.

·       The Jazz are negative for the season when Hayward and Gobert are off the floor. This is an area that needs to improve.

·       When Hayward went to the bench in the fourth quarter, Joe Johnson was huge for the Jazz.

·       The Jazz committed 19 turnovers in the first three quarters and one in the fourth.

It was a cool moment to end the night Joe Ingles embraced Marcelo Huertas — Joe’s teammate in Barcelona, where Joe lost a love for the game and almost quit. Huertas was the one who kept him going through that stretch, and to have Huertas see the greatest night of Joe’s career on the NBA stage is cool symmetry.

Emptying the Noggin —  Incredible performance by Lowry owns the night

Summary: The Jazz were on the wrong side of one of the most awesome fourth quarter performances I have seen in my 25 years covering the NBA. Kyle Lowry scored 19 in the fourth and bested the Jazz, 104-98.

·       Kyle Lowry came into the game as the hottest player in the NBA, and it isn’t any different after tonight. He scored 36 points, a total which he had only surpassed three times in his NBA career (one v. Utah); He scored 19 in the fourth quarter, the second-most points he has ever scored in a quarter.

·       Lowry was absurd. He went 9 for 10 in the fourth quarter. The Jazz started with Neto and Mack on him, but he was too strong and could just shoot over them. Then, the Jazz put Joe Ingles on him. The added length changed the looks he was getting, but it didn’t matter. Lowry drove to the rack, bulldozing the smaller defenders and then — when Ingles was on him — he would work off the pick and then pull up in the mid-range prior to running into or challenging Gobert.  He was in complete control and he was awesome.

·       Lowry left the game in the third to get stitches in between his nose and his lip.

·       The Jazz did a good job on DeRozan. He started hot, but then was 1 for 8 in the third quarter and finished with 24 points on 24 shots.

·       Without Rodney Hood — who played just 13 minutes while being sick — the Raptors doubled Hayward on the pick-and-roll, and as the game went on, the Jazz understood what skip passes were open against the double teaming and over-shifting defense.

·       Lyles found his shot and played with more definitiveness in his offensive game. He has had a tendency at times to stop the ball, but tonight he was terrific with his aggressiveness and his shooting. He is so incredibly talented, it is a process for him to understand how to use all those talents.

·       Without, Hill, Exum and Burks, there were not a lot of defensive choices for the Jazz on how to match up with the Lowry/Powell/DeRozan back court.

·       Rudy Gobert got his tenth straight double-double. Jonas Valencinus powered into Rudy early in the game and gave Rudy a tough time. He would just drop his shoulder into Rudy and force him to back up, creating enough space to shoot.

·       Hayward had 23 points on 8 of 16 shooting.

·       Shelvin Mack had a nice offensive game with 17 points. With the pressure on the wings, he took advantage of the driving lanes made available to him.

·       Joe Ingles had four steals He is having a great season and is a good NBA player. He is being asked to a lot without Hill, Exum and Hood. He had to put the ball on the floor a lot tonight and was able to distribute for seven assists.

·       The Jazz have lost three in a row.

·       The Jazz’s defensive rating tonight was 111.7, which is holding the Raptors to nearly four points below their average. That is incredible. The Raptors are the number one offensive team in the NBA and it is not close right now. Tonight, the Raptors had to work hard and have a super-human fourth quarter by Lowry to get to 111.7. Good work by the Jazz’s defense.

·       The Raptors’ scouting report focus on Gobert was immense. Keep an eye on this.

·       Incredible performance by Lowry owns the night.

Emptying the Noggin — This one stings

Summary: The Jazz blow numerous leads and lose a winnable game to Sacramento, 94-93.

  • The Jazz led by 20 points – 64-44 in the third quarter. They led by 11 heading into the fourth quarter and they led by six points with five minutes to play. The Jazz were crippled by injuries without the entire projected first- and second-team backcourt (Hill, Exum, Hood and Burks), but with those leads, you have to find a way to hang on.
  • The Jazz were terrific defensively for the first three quarters of the night. The Kings’ offensive rating going into the fourth quarter was 94.7 and then the Jazz couldn’t get stops. Similar to the Miami loss, the Jazz guards were not able to stop the dribble penetration of the Kings. Against Miami, it was Goran Dragic and tonight it was Ty Lawson having a career revival.
  • The Jazz led it 24-17 at the end of the first quarter and stretched it to 10 at the half. Then, the Jazz exploded to open the third quarter for their 20-point lead.
  • Boris Diaw had a season high eight assists. He was terrific conducting the offense and creating for his teammates. He was +13 in 24 minutes. For Boris to do this on a back-to-back is terrific. He really played great tonight.
  • For Sacramento, this is a mammoth win. Last night was the first time they had won trailing going into the fourth quarter and now they have done it on back-to-back nights. Plus, they have played the fewest home games of anyone in the NBA.
  • Gobert continues to be terrific. He had 17 points and 14 rebounds and Cousins was a non-factor until the end. Cousins shot 5 of 18.
  • The Kings came back with a bench unit of Lawson, Temple, Afflalo, Toliver and then Cousins returned with six minutes left.
  • The Jazz needed to make sure this game never gets to a point where Cousins returns.
  • When I review the Jazz’s fourth quarter offense — which shot just 7 of 21 from the field — I think I am going to see a lot of good looks. In the final five minutes, the Jazz led it 86-80. Hayward missed a three, then on the next possession, Hayward nailed a 23-footer. Then Hayward missed a 16-footer and got his own rebound, throwing out to Joe Johnson for a good look three that he missed. Johnson got into the paint for the next attempt and he missed a 9-footer that he has made all season. Mack got a wide open look on the right side, and maybe he is not the one you want shooting, but he was wide open and missed. The next possession was the really bad one when Ingles drove and turned it over with a difficult pass. Those last two are guys that you don’t anticipate trying to make plays at that point in a game.
  • Rudy then missed one of two free throws that would have tied it, and those were the first free throws Rudy had taken in a late game situation since 2015.
  • The real issue was the Jazz’s inability to get stops in the fourth quarter. The Kings shot 8 of 13 and went 13 of 18 from the line in the fourth quarter. The Kings scored on 6 of 8 possessions in the final five minutes before it became a free throw contest.
  • This one stings. Even with the injuries, when you are able to get the lead the Jazz had you need to find a way to close the game.

Emptying the Noggin — Jazz blown out by vastly superior Warriors

Summary: The Warriors blow out the Jazz with a second quarter run that seemingly never stopped.

·       On the second play of the game, Rodney Hood signaled to the Jazz bench that something was wrong, and from that point on the Jazz were without three starters against a completely loaded Golden State Warriors team. There is no chance.

·       The game started with a completely ugly display of offense that reminded you that these were the second and fourth best defensive teams going head to head. The two teams combined to miss 23 of the first 25 shots of the game.

·       The Jazz were within five points at 30-25 mid-way thru the second quarter and the game was playing exactly how the Jazz wanted. The crowd wasn’t into the game. The Warriors were playing in the half court. Then: Boom!

·       The Warriors missed 16 of their first 22 shots with Rudy Gobert on the floor. He has a tremendous impact. The Warriors would drive the paint and not want to challenge him at all.  They were making one or two extra passes because of Gobert and it was ruining their rhythm.

·       The Jazz’s offense couldn’t handle the speed and activity of the Warriors’ defense. The Warriors were brilliant defensively and held the Jazz to a season low 74 points, making them shoot 35.5% and allowing only 9 of 30 from three. The Jazz had two points in the midrange all night.

·       The Warriors’ speed was overwhelming. It made the Jazz look really slow.

·       Gobert had a good night: 11 points and 16 rebounds on 5 of 6 shooting.

·       Rodney Hood was way out of sorts in the 10 minutes he tried to play.  It was nice that he made the effort, but he was nowhere near right.

·       Gordon Hayward didn’t play well tonight. He hit on just 2 of 10. Gordon is not going to have good nights against good teams when the starting backcourt is out for the game. He missed some looks he usually would knock down, going 0 for 6 from three. He may have been rushed all night by the speed of the Warriors.

·       This was a whitewash. The Warriors were vastly superior.

·       There was a three-play sequence in the second quarter when Durant went high pick-and-roll as though he was a point guard and scored on the first two. That is why the Warriors are different than they were last year. Durant can just go to work by himself or off of a simple action and score.

Sacramento is in town tomorrow (or today) and Boogie Cousins is coming off of a 55-point night.

Emptying the Noggin — Jazz show toughness against gritty Grizz

Summary:  In one of the most physical regular season games you can imagine, the Jazz took over late behind three straight three-pointers from Diaw, Hayward and Mack to beat the Grizzlies, 81-72.

·       The Jazz’s starting lineup of Exum, Hood, Hayward, Diaw and Gobert has been really good together, and they started the game on an 18-6 run. The Grizzlies fired back on a 12-0 run to close the quarter and from there, the game was within four points until the final minutes of the fourth quarter when the Jazz busted it open.

·       Rudy Gobert was unreal. Defensively, he was the primary defender on Marc Gasol who went 4 for 22. Offensively, his rim-rolls are changing everything. Gobert was 9 for 9 shooting and had 21 points and 12 rebounds. Gobert’s presence around the rim is also opening up things for his teammates. Mack had a drive to the basket where Gasol left the help defense to protect against Gobert and Mack went straight to the rim for a layup.

·       The Jazz’s defense was amazing. The Grizzlies had an offensive rating under 80 tonight. The Grizzlies shot 28 of 93 for 30% and, more importantly, 2 of 23 from three.

·       This game was a boxing match; It was an incredible fight. The battle on the glass was a blood bath and there was physical play on every cut. You couldn’t do anything without getting blasted, and the Jazz showed they had the mental fortitude to withstand this game and match with their own physicality.

·       In the first three quarters, the Grizzlies had nine offensive rebounds. In the fourth quarter, they had 10. They had nine in the opening seven minutes of the fourth quarter alone.

·       The game was tied at 66 with 5:25 left in the fourth quarter — yes, FOURTH quarter. The Jazz got a stop after the Grizzlies got three chances in a possession, and then Diaw hit a three to make it 69-66. Tony Allen missed and Hood missed two attempts, but Gasol threw away the outlet and the Jazz got another chance. Hayward hit a three to make it 72-66 with 2:59 left. Gasol answered, but the Jazz came back with a Shelvin Mack three to make it 75-68. The Jazz got a stop and then Conley flopped, drawing a foul on Hayward. Conley got two free throws and it was 75-70, and Mack found Gobert for great layup and the Jazz win.

·       That is an incredible stretch. The Jazz scored 13 point in nine possessions against the number one defensive team in the NBA

·       The Grizzlies don’t lose these games. In games that were within three points in the final three minutes over the past six years, Memphis is 119-60. In games within five points with five minutes to play, they are 156-87. For the Jazz to win in Memphis without their starting point guard is awesome.

·       The Jazz have won 11 of 13.

·       The Jazz played without a point guard for a while, and played Gobert and Favors together.

·       All this and I haven’t mentioned Gordon Hayward yet. He had 22 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals and 3 blocks. The only player to do that this year is Anthony Davis. Hayward also had nine free throw attempts.

·       Mike Conley looked rusty in his second game back and shot 3 for 16.

·       I still don’t quite understand how but Boris Diaw helps you win games.

·       It is going to be interesting to see if Lyles and Exum get minutes as the season goes on. Young players traditionally don’t get a lot of time on really good teams in the final 20 games of the regular season. Good teams don’t have the patience for the mistakes that are natural for young players. This is not a statement about either of their futures, it is only a comment in regards to young players playing on a really good team late in the season in big games. That doesn’t usually happen.

·       The was a huge win for the Jazz. It was a crazy, physical game and the Jazz showed a toughness I didn’t know they had and one they can recall when they need to do this again. I have said time and time again, this team had to have a winning stretch early in the season to be able to build confidence and believe in each other. I had no idea they would have to do it without George Hill.  This is a remarkable stretch that is going to carry the team for a while. This team is really good.

Emptying the Noggin — Rodney Hood’s big 3 wins it for the Jazz

Summary: Rodney Hood’s three-point shot with .8 seconds left saved the Jazz from a massive fourth quarter collapse and propelled the Jazz to a 103-100 win. The Jazz led the game 100-91 with 4:23 left and the Mavericks went on a 9-0 run to tie it before Hood hit the game winner.

·        Rodney Hood told Jake Scott on the postgame show that it was the first gamer of his entire life.

·       I’m not sure why Deron Williams went so early with the game tied and the shot clock off. That was a really big mistake. Dallas had a chance to play for the game winner with no chance to lose.

·       The Jazz’s offense completely fell apart late in the game. They didn’t have a field goal after the 7:17 mark of the fourth quarter until Hood hit the three.

·       The game was a slow paced, half-court game with great offense on both sides. Neither defense was able to get stops.

·       When the Jazz were able to break the paint, they got good ball movement and then got great looks offensively.

·       The Jazz were really balanced tonight. Gobert led the way with 16, Hood had 15, Lyles and Hayward each contributed 13, and point guards Exum and Mack had 11 a piece.

·       The Mavericks were hard hedging and doubling the Jazz on the pick-and-roll and it stagnated the Jazz’s offense late in the game.

·       Gordon Hayward had seven turnovers and three of them in the fourth quarter.

·       Harrison Barnes played a ton of isolation at the top of the key on the Jazz after a switch which left him matched on Shelvin Mac. He also went iso without a switch when he was guarded by Joe Johnson and finished with 21 points, but it took 22 shots to get there.

·       The Mavericks play a slow game and shoot a ton of threes and when they are hitting the threes, it is a tough combination to beat. They hit 12 of 28, only 2 of 8 in the fourth quarter.

·       Rudy had his fifth straight double-double.

·       Favors played just 13 minutes.

·       Dante Exum played a solid game. He has linked a few good games together. He didn’t look like he was moving great on his sore knee, but he made a tough drive in traffic and defended better.

·       Nine Jazz players had assists.

·       Rodney Hood for three wins it for the Jazz. Hood is 2 for 11 in game on the line shots and both are against Dallas.

Jazz have won 10 of 1

Emptying the Noggin — How good were the Jazz?

Summary: This was a wire-to-wire win for the Jazz in a 20-point blow-out of the Thunder.  he game was never close and the Jazz crushed the Thunder on both ends of the floor. As a result, the Jazz move into first place in the Northwest division.

·        The Jazz game plan and execution on Russell Westbrook was incredible. The Jazz are the number one team at defending in transition in the NBA and they also allow the fewest transition opportunities. Tonight, they got back, built the wall and prevented Westbrook from getting early looks at the basket.

·       Westbrook was 4 of 6 in the first seven seconds of the shot clock and was 3 of 19 in the last 17 seconds of the shot clock. This is great defense by the Jazz.

·       Coming into tonight’s game, the Thunder were the number one team in the paint and the Jazz are the number one defense in the paint; The Thunder shot 21 of 49 in the paint tonight.

·       Rodney Hood was key tonight. Andre Roberson is one of the elite defenders in the NBA and had stymied Harden and Carmelo this year. In the first quarter, Gordon wasn’t able to score on him and that was when Rodney Hood got rolling. Hood finished with 25 points.

·       The Jazz’s bench was terrific: Shelvin Mack had 15 points on 5 of 6 shooting. He also notched 5 assists and has averaged 5 assists over the last 6 games. He also had 5 rebounds.

·       The Thunder were without Victor Oladipo and they don’t have the depth to handle his injury.  He has missed two games and they have been blown out in both games. Compare that to the Jazz who are now 6-8 without two starters this season, and 9-2 when they are missing at least one.

·       Rudy Gobert notched another double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds and he didn’t miss a shot. He was 5 of 5 from the field and 2 of 2 from the line. That is incredible.

·       Joe Ingles is shooting over 50% from three this season.

·       The Thunder came out in the third quarter with a ton of energy and were more physical than the Jazz and then the Jazz came out and the talent overwhelmed the Thunder.

·       The Jazz had a sequence when they went at Enes Kanter in the pick and roll for six straight possessions and scored on five of them.

·       The Jazz’s three-point shooting was 13 of 23 against a team that is the fourth best in the NBA at defending the three.

·       This was the Jazz’s third best offensive game of the season.

·       The Jazz only had four offensive rebounds because the game plan was to get back and not allow Westbrook to play in the open floor. They were able to do it.

·       The Jazz’s offensive rating was 120 and the defensive rating was 98. This is an elite performance on both ends of the floor and a complete whitewash.

·       Derrick Favors returned and played 12 minutes.

·       The Jazz have won 9 of 11 and good days are ahead.

Emptying the Noggin — Give the coach some credit

Summary: Despite miserable beginnings to the first and third quarters, the Jazz blew out the Sacramento Kings, 104-84, while missing 3 starters.

·       Rudy Gobert dominated DeMarcus Cousins tonight; He had 17 points, 14 rebounds and 6 blocked shots. Cousins didn’t score after the three-minute mark of the third quarter, and finished with just 16 points on 7 of 22 shooting.

·       Gordon Hayward has become amazingly consistent. He had 26 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists.  He didn’t seem to be in the flow or having a huge impact on the game and then: bang! He ended the game with a bunch of key shots.

·       What the Jazz are doing is amazing — having a 15-10 record despite the ideal starting five playing only a total of 12 minutes together. The contributions the group is getting from 1 thru 14 on the roster is terrific.

·       The coaching staff deserves a ton of credit. Quin has managed this team masterfully through the injuries. The preparation by the staff on a nightly basis is remarkable. Tonight, they had a great game plan on Cousins. They have unique plans every night and the team is able to execute them.

·       Quin Snyder is a master out of timeouts. The Jazz are sixth best in NBA out of timeouts and sixth best on sideline out-of-bounds plays, according to Synergy. Tonight, Lyles hit a corner three out of a gorgeous set play.

·       Let’s run through the top to bottom contributions: With the game swinging to the Kings, Raul Neto came off the bench and hit back-to-back threes that propelled the Jazz back into the lead and gave them the lead at the half.

·       Joe Ingles has become a tremendously valuable NBA player. He started for Hood tonight and had 11 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists. He is making over 60% of three-point shots in December and is a great playmaker. Last year in Miami, they exposed him defensively and we haven’t seen that at all this season. Quin Snyder said tonight he is in much better physical condition over the last two years and that is a large part of his current performance. Ingles is having the best start of a three-point shooter for the Jazz since Bryon Russell in 2000-01.

·       Dante hit a big three during the fourth quarter run and had a ton of deflections tonight.

·       Joe Johnson is a great player of the bench and  was +36 tonight. He is getting into the paint and scoring at will, getting about 10 points and 3 assists every night. Tonight, he was very good defensively.

·       Jeff Withey did a great job backing up Rudy tonight and helped give the Jazz solid defense and rim protection for 48 minutes.

·       Gordon Hayward has scored 20 or more in 10 straight games. The last Jazz player to score 20 in 10 straight games was Karl Malone in 2001.

·       The Kings started the first quarter on a 11-0 run and had a 10-0 run to open the third quarter.

·       DeMarcus Cousins plays the game looking for injustice.

This was a super top-to-bottom win without three starters and a great 15-10 start for the Jazz.  They have won 8 of their last 10 games.

Emptying the Noggin — Undermanned Jazz keep themselves in the game against the Warriors

Summary: The Warriors took control early behind a 29-1 run, but the Jazz never relented and gave the crowd an inspiring performance before falling, 106-99.

·       The jazz played without George Hill, Rodney Hood, Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks and Derrick Favors. Trying to win without all those guys is simply too much of a task against the 20-3 Golden State Warriors.

·       The Jazz got the first two buckets of the game and led 4-0. Then, the Warriors went on a 29-1 run and just sliced the Jazz apart. It was an awesome display of dominating basketball.

·       The Jazz stayed engaged in the game all night and eventually got the score to within five in the fourth quarter.

·       The Jazz had a good defensive night, holding the Warriors to 105.6 pts per 100 possessions — 10 below their 115 average. It was one of the five best defensive performances against the Warriors this year.

·       Joe ingles changes his game depending on what the team needs. When he plays for the Australian National Team, he is one of their primary scorers. When he came to the NBA, he became a complementary player. Tonight, he went to his national team approach and was key to the Jazz staying the game. He finished with a career high 21 points. He has been much better shooting the above the break three and off-the-bounce three-point shots.

·       Shelvin Mack is a natural scorer rather than a natural distributor, and he used those skills well tonight. The Warriors went under on all the pick and rolls so it forced Shelvin to take some three pointers from the top, and he was unable to knock them down. They are shots you have to take, although he went 1 for 8.

·       Dante Exum shot 1 for 11 and 0 for 5 from three.

·       Rudy Gobert was a beast again and his second half was terrific after the Warriors really worked hard to keep him out of the game early.  Rudy finished with 20 and 17.

This was an undermanned team executing a defensive game plan well and keeping itself in the game with super effort. The Warriors are incredibly talented and the game was never in doubt, but Quin Snyder would have to feel he got solid effort from his guys.

Emptying the Noggin —  Jazz play familiar game against the Suns

Summary: The Jazz held complete control of the game for 36 minutes and led by 19 going into the fourth quarter when all of a sudden, Phoenix went on a 30-9 run to tie the game. The Jazz held off the flurry and closed out on a 9-2 run to beat the Suns, 112-105.

·        It is hard to stop a surge like the one the Suns were on, and the Jazz found a way to regain control in the final minutes. This is the third straight game the Jazz have had this issue. The fatigue from holding off the Nuggets and the Lakers in the previous two came back to bite the Jazz tonight who were noticeably tired in the second half.

·       The Suns scored 60 points in the second half.

·       The Jazz won this game offensively. They have been brilliant on the offensive end recently, and it is what has allowed them to win these games. The Jazz hit 28 of 32 from the line and 12 of 27 from three.

·       The Jazz’s offensive rating was 116.7, which is really good. However, the defensive rating of 109.4 was not good, and the Jazz’s defense has not been tight for a while. The injuries are a huge part of this. The talent level isn’t as high as it needs to be to have an elite defense. Thank goodness for the offense.

·       Rudy Gobert was terrific tonight: 22 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots. Most impressively, he was 10 of 11 from the line. Rudy Gobert has become the model for consistency.  He has had a double-double in eight of his last 11 games. He has 10 or more rebounds in eight straight and 13 of 15.  He has 11 straight games with at least two block shots. He is putting it out there every night.

·       With the score at 109-105, Shelvin Mack drove into the lane, Tyson Chandler came at him and Mack floated it toward the rim where Rudy Gobert grabbed it and reverse jammed to seal the win.

·       The jazz couldn’t stop the penetration of the guards in the second half, which was very similar to the Miami game. Without George Hill and Rodney Hood, the Jazz are really thin and the defense seems to be what is struggling more than anything else.

·       Dante is in the midst of a significant struggle. He is getting in foul trouble all the time and then when he tries not to get in foul trouble, he is getting blown by. Playing on a good team is very different than what he was being asked to do in his first season. The thought that went through my mind is that when George is back, I wonder if Neto becomes the third point guard and the team lets Dante get a 40-minute run every night for a while in Salt Lake with the Stars. It would help his development. These are all natural things for a second year player who has played basketball for one of the last three years, but it is hard to have them happen on a good team.

·       Hayward had 28 pts, 5 rebounds and 4 assists. Earl Watson said before the game that the defensive goal was to take Hayward out of the game. They face-guarded him for portions of the game, but with Hood out as well, Hayward was somehow able to put his stamp on the game.

·       Jazz got a ton out of Boris Diaw who played 33:00 minutes and contributed 13 points, 4 rebounds and 6 assists. He was really solid and conducted the offensive terrifically. Joe Johnson was solid in his 29 minutes: 13 points with 2 rebounds and 2 assists.

·       If it weren’t for Shelvin Mack, the Jazz would have lost a lot of these games.

·       Jazz hit 12 of 27 from three and took 37% of their shots as threes. That is a great rate.

·       The Jazz have won 7 of 8.