EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Jazz loss to the Sixers

Emptying the Noggin
• The 76ers are the best defensive team in the NBA and they showed it after the first quarter. The Jazz were able to get in the open court in the 1st quarter and force turnovers. However, after the first quarter the Sixers put the clamps down and took control of the game. The Jazz were stuck in the half court for most of the game. They couldn’t hit the outside shots and the Sixers bench put the clamps down.

• This was vintage how the Sixers win games.

• Andre Iguodala is the most underrated player in the NBA. Everyone wants to bang on him for his inability offensively to get a true go to guy but he is far and away the best wing defender in the NBA and dominates the game with his defensive ability.

• Derrick Favors continued his fabulous play. He showed more in the post tonight then he has at any point in his time with Utah. His defense continues to be very good and tonight his offense was as good as it has ever been. He has two more areas to improve, defensive rebounding and covering the post player who plays out on the floor.

• The 76ers defense annihilated our wing players. Josh Howard was totally taken out of his game. CJ tried to find a rhythm but his struggles continued. Raja hasn’t found his range since coming back from the injury. Gordon Hayward had a nice box score but had hard time with the basketball in numerous circumstances.

• The interesting thing about Phily is they are not an explosive team but they have won more games by 20 or more than any other team in the NBA. This is because their defense is relentless and they wear teams down. The Jazz did a pretty nice job of hanging in for most of the game but then with 6:30 left the Jazz went 5 minutes without a field goal and that is too much to overcome when you are already coming from behind.

• Paul Millsap had a nice first quarter. He is still struggling to score on post ups, simply isn’t but he is working other ways to get his points and he is beginning to get a few more Vintage Millsap buckets.

• Elton Brand did a nice job on Al Jefferson.

• Elton Brand must be a pretty big pro. He gets the ball 4 times early in the game and then he never sees it again and he defends his ass off all night. It is really impressive and it is why this team is this good defensively.

• Kanter has been struggling as of late. He is 9 of his last 28 from the field and tonight he was off defensively as well. He didn’t make his 2nd half rotation.

• Jazz shot 9 of 23 in the 2nd; 7 of 22 in the 3rd and 7 of 17 in the 4th but only after they went 4 of 4 to close the quarter in garbage time. Link those together and it is a 19 of 58 stretch and that is impossible to overcome.

• Tomorrow is a completely different level than tonight.

• Has anyone ever mentioned that if the guy who takes you most shots doesn’t have more pts than FGA you don’t win. Jefferson 14-14 tonight.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Jazz beat the Bobcats

Emptying the Noggin
• Two game road winning streak against two awful teams. This is what you are supposed to do. This game was not as close as the score. The Jazz needed to get these two wins on this trip to make it a solid trip and if they can by some method steal one in Philly or even Chicago this becomes a season changing trip.

• Al Jefferson has gone straight up against back to back inferior teams and kicked their ass. He killed them. Annihilated them. That is exactly what he is supposed to do and it was impressive. He tortured Bismack Biyombo. It was comical and almost unfair. The pump fake got him everytime. He used every move imaginable. Again, Jefferson opened the game passing with 4 assists in the first segment of the game and then it became so much fun he just had to keep killing their bigs

• Al Jefferson has 12 assists and zero turnovers in the last two games.

• Devin Harris continued to push the tempo.

• Derrick Favors is playing super. He has linked the three best games of his career and impressively they have been on the road. Again these are not against the best opponents but he looks so good on the defensive end. He is making a huge impact and offensively he is beginning to make moves and have an idea of what he is doing.

• Open of the third quarter was terrific. The game was too close at the half and the Jazz took control of the game early in the third and that was all she wrote. The Jazz took it to the Bobcats exactly as they needed to. This is a good sign of focus on the road.

• Gordon was good again in his role with the second unit. Tonight he didn’t hit his shots but still had a good impact on the game.

• CJ Miles played the first half and Alec Burks played the second. Talking to people in the league they feel you can’t just take someone who was playing 20 minutes a night out of the rotation onto the bench. This is a sublte way of getting it done by Tyrone Corbin. Things work themselves out and this is working itself out.

• Don’t want to make too big a deal out of these two games. The Cavs and the Bobcats are awful, really terrible and the Jazz did what they needed to do. We were better at most positions and it showed. The real issue now is when it gets tough the next two games against the two best defensive teams in the NBA how they deal with it. The contrast is going to be extreme and it will be hard for the Jazz to match talent.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN — Jazz beat the Cavs

• Jazz get a must needed road win over the Cavs, give the Jazz credit for taking control of the game in the 2nd quarter and blowing this game out and then holding on for the win. Then realize the Cavs looked awful. They weren’t engaged at all early in the game. The Jazz took advantage of that and for that they deserve credit.

• Gordon Hayward reacted exactly as you would want him to react to being benched. He is a tough competitor and he was appropriately pissed today and it showed.

• Before the game I was with Earl Watson and I asked him about getting Gordon going, and he said that he would outlet to him on the wing so he could play in space as much as possible and then once in the half court run a lot of side pick and roll with him and a big. It worked.

• The second unit is better for Gordon in a lot of ways. It gets him the ball in the open floor and it allows him to play with the ball in his hand and that is when he is at his best and engaged.

• Al Jefferson lead the team in points, rebounds and assists tonight. Before the game Byron Scott said in his keys to the game that they were not going to let Millsap and Jefferson beat them and they would be sending double teams and prevent the inside game from dominating. Jefferson took advantage with 7 assists, a new career high. Most remarkable he had zero turnovers. Jefferson has become a willing passer.

• Before the game I was talking with Devin Harris and we were talking about what he needs to do to get going in this offense. He said I have to go in transition, but when I mentioned the guys he plays with don’t run a lot he laughed looked at me and basically said I don’t need to have anyone run with me. He showed that early in the game as he was a one man fast-break.

• Derrick Favors played as well as I have seen him. In the second quarter the Cavs shot 3 of 16 in the 2nd quarter and Favors lead the way defensively. He was everywhere.

• I feel like Favors is about to take a big step. His offense is still really raw but he is playing the game with a lot of confidence right now.

• Favors had a great post move tonight when he caught on the left block and drove baseline and finished on the reverse side. That is a nice compliment to back to the basket left block move where he goes to the middle with a hook.

• Burks really battled on the defensive end tonight on Sessions

• Devin Harris says he knee is ok not too serious but he didn’t say no problem. Tinsley was ok, he hit two set shot threes that will make everyone think he had a good night but I didn’t love the way he ran the team and I thought he was pretty loose with the ball in some key possessions. After a few mistakes he seemed to tighten the screws and play better

• Raja’s three point streak came to an end tonight and he seemed rusty on the floor and with his passing.

• It is worth taking a moment and looking at the Cavs roster compared to the Jazz. The Jazz have 4 pieces for the future and some other assets that are tradable or can be a part of the future. By trading Deron before he went to free agency they gained three of those and gained them two years ahead of when they would have. The Cavs on the other hand, went to the wire with LeBron got nothing in exchange and have 2 pieces for their future Irving and Thompson and nothing else on the roster. The Jazz could add two more pieces this draft and the Cavs will add one . That is a pretty huge difference by acting early on the Jazz part. Cleveland couldn’t do that they were close to a title and it was the home

Emptying the Noggin – Jazz loss to the Mavericks

Emptying the Noggin
• Not a lot to say tonight. The Jazz got hit with the NBA Finals back to back and you have to be really pleased they got one out of the mix. Moreover, this could have been really ugly and the Jazz made it a game and stayed in the game. That is really important to avoid being blown out of games.
• Road basketball is a problem for the Jazz but they have lost 17 of the last 21 in Dallas and 6 in a row in Dallas so it is hard to say that tonight was some aberration or terrible performance.
• In the last two nights we have seen what it takes to get to the NBA Finals and it is a super human player like LeBron and Dirk. You have to have really special players to win with regularity in the NBA. We should know this we won with John and Karl and with Deron. They were all the elite of the elite and that is how you win.
• As long as Al Jefferson has this large a roll on the offense and on the team he has to play better on the road if this team has any chance to win. He is now shooting 43.8% on the road. He uses too many possessions for the Jazz to be able to win if he shots like that and moreover he doesn’t bring enough defensively to overcome that.
• Jefferson was brilliant in the win at Memphis but in the last 6 road losses he is shooting 41% and is 11 of 12 from the line and the Jazz are -46 when he is on the floor in those 6 games.
• Favors is on the verge of becoming the best big man on this team and it is going to happen sooner rather than later. He is by far the best defensive player. He needs to become a better defensive rebounder. He needs to learn to finish and get a better touch around the basket. Without those things he still scored 14 points and 5 rebounds in just 18 minutes.
• Paul Millsap changed his offensive game tonight and played more straight up rather than in the post with his back to the basket and was much more effective. He spaced the floor and hit the jumper off others activities. He got garbage points. He did a lot of things very well.
• Alec Burks is a fearless kid and he is leaving Tyrone no choice but to play him. He had 4 turnover tonight in the second quarter but he will learn how to deal with those plays and in a year or two those will become positive plays rather than negative plays.
• The offense got very stagnant in the 2nd quarter with Watson, Burks, Miles , Favors and Kanter on the floor but their defense was great. They held the Mavericks to 7 of 21.
• Lot of question to why CJ is getting Gordon’s minutes. I am not sure I have an answer, so I probably have the same question. But my best guess is that with the line-up on the floor with Kanter and Favors Tyrone needs some scoring and he sees CJ Miles as a scorer.
• Over the last 4 games CJ Miles is scoring – he is averaging 17 pts a game. He is shooting 43% but has hit 7 of 17 from three and is 14 of 15 from the free throw line. However, in the last 6 road games he is shooting 28% on 13 of 46 shooting.
• Dirk is great.
* I really like Dallas as a playoff team if they get healthy and have Lamar Odom.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Jazz beat the Heat

Emptying the Noggin
• Super win for the Jazz this evening and a huge tip of the hat to the crowd at Energy Solutions tonight, it was rocking.
• What an amazing game – for the final 5 minutes the game was within one possession the entire time. Tied at 88,90 and 92.
• The last few minutes will get most of the attention but the game was won with the relentless effort early in the game and through the game. The Jazz jumped on a tired Heat team and not until LeBron went into super human mode did the Heat get anything consistently going.
• The Jazz won this game on the glass. They dominated the offensive glass getting 25 offensive rebounds while the Heat got 27 defensive rebounds.
• First quarter Jazz got 7 of the 12 rebounds on the Heat defensive glass, 2nd quarter they got 8 of the 13m 3rd quarter they got 4 of 11 and in the 4th quarter 4 of 11.
• Devin Harris hit the big one. The floating runner with 4.5 seconds left plus the foul to tie the game and give the Jazz the lead with the free throw.
• Al Jefferson stayed engaged on the play late when CJ missed the driving layup and was there for yet another offensive rebound and followed it for 2. Jazz won 2nd chance points 29-17.
• Jazz didn’t allow a fast break point from the Heat for the first 20 minutes of the game.
• The 4 young kids, Hayward, Burks, Kanter and Favors played great defense. These guys really work hard on the defensive end and do a terrific job. Kanter has some lapses, Burks tries to make some plays he could in college that he can’t in the pros but those are the exceptions. The effort level of these 4 on defense is a great sign for the future. Favors is really super. He is so athletic and impacts a ton of plays. Even when he makes a mistake he recovers.
• The effort and energy on the glass was awesome and huge amount of it came from the wing players. Miles had 5 rebounds, Gordon had 5 rebounds and Howard had 9 rebounds, yes 9 rebounds.
• The Heat are awesome defensively and they come at you in waves. The Jazz never got rattled and kept battling the whole game. Devin Harris did a really nice job of getting into sets running the offense and getting the ball where it needed to go.
• The Jazz only shot 42%, hit just 3 threes. They won this game with effort.
• Gordon Hayward had a really nice stretch in the 3rd quarter and finished the night with a solid box score, 12 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists on just 3 of 7 shooting.
• The 2nd quarter play by Watson, Burks, CJ, Favors and Kanter was terrific. They took it from a 1 point game to a 12 point lead. Most of it was against Cole, Wade, Miller, Haslam and Pittman. Once James, Battier and Chalmers re-entered it was even.
• In the 4th the same lineup — went up against, Cole, james, Miller, Haslam and Anthony and kept it even but once Wade replaced Cole it slipped to a 4 point game from a 7 point game.
• Burks is so cool. He was completely unphased by the environment and the opponents. He only played 9 minutes but he had a huge impact on the game.
• I would usually bang on CJ for his 5 for 14 and Josh for his 4 of 15 but not against Miami, they devour wing players
• LeBron James had 35-10-5 for the second straight night and both nights he was without a turnover, I am guessing that has never happened in NBA history. His 4th quarter performance was one of the great ones you will ever see. He literally took his whole team on the ride. He was screaming and yelling defensively, he was unreal offensively, hitting shots that were unimaginable and then he passed. The pass will make some forget how brilliant he really was. It was a once in a lifetime performance.
• Heat need more than Norris Cole as the back-up to Mario Chalmers. They can’t win it with Cole. A huge part of the game was when Chalmers went to the bench with 2 fouls.
• Paul Millsap still does not have any lift.
• Kanter 11 points and 6 rebounds and was a force inside, teams are grabbing him, holding him and preparing for him and he is still battling. He made some nice offensive plays tonight as well. He has a really nice touch

Emptying the Noggin – Jazz win over the Rockets 104-83

• Has to be one of the best defensive performances of the year by the Jazz. The Rockets killed the Jazz with the high pick and roll last time we played and tonight the Jazz never allowed Kyle Lowry to get going. Favors was awesome on the shadow defense. When Lowry probed off the pick and roll Favors didn’t allow him to make it into the paint. When Lowry went on the search dribble Favors was long and he was able to suffocate Lowry when he got into the paint.

• Favors didn’t play every well against Scola in the 1st quarter but Scola didn’t impact the game despite his 18-10.

• If I get time I will do a Film Study on the difference pick and roll defense from last meeting to this one and have more details.

• The Jazz were awful in the 1st quarter. They were loose with the ball. They committed 10 turnovers and then something changed.

• The Jazz held the Rockets to 6 of 21 shooting in the 2nd quarter and 6 of 19 in the 3rd quarter. The defense was great.

• Devin Harris was the best player on the floor for most of the night until he got sick. He went to the locker room for the 4th quarter with nausea

• CJ !!!!! So nice to see CJ have a good game. Just the second time this season he has scored 20 or more points. He found his three point range for the first time.

• The youngsters all played well. Favors seemed disengaged early but finished the night with 6 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. He was a force on defense. Burks looks more comfortable every time he plays. Burks rebounds well out of the guard position and makes plays, he had 2 incredible assists and 2 nice finishes at the rim.

• Hayward was not good to start tonight but made some plays later and hopefully this will give him some confidence. He was despondent about the end of the last few games when he didn’t make the plays.

• Al Jefferson was a very good passer tonight. The Jazz were cutting and moving without the ball and giving him a chance to make passes and find people. Too often this year the Jazz have been standing still. Jefferson has been taking the blame for not sharing the ball, however after watching the team tonight it has to be questioned if it has been Jefferson fault or if guys were not moving and getting open. He was a willing passer tonight.

• Jeremy Evans had a tough first stint on the floor and then followed with some of the best basketball he has played. Evans has to be an energy player who uses his athletic skills to make a different and he did that in the 4th.

• Love Josh Howard’s 7 rebounds
• Thought Kevin Martin would be a big problem for the Jazz without Raja Bell tonight but Josh Howard and Gordon Hayward did a very nice job on Martin and he missed some shots he usually makes as well.

• Since we all like to have chatter after the game the discussion tonight can be Favors impact on the defense and with Howard and Burks playing well and CJ having a good game what does Tyrone do with the minutes if Raja is ready on Friday or Saturday.

• Very strong effort from the Jazz tonight.

Emptying the Noggin after Jazz lost to the Kings

• The Jazz did most thing very well tonight. However, lapses at the end of the 3rd quarter and for a few minutes in the 4th caused them to lose to the Kings. If we ever needed an example of how slim the margin is for this team tonight is a really good example.

• The game was there for the taking. A Hayward three from the left corner and the Jazz win. Better free throw shooting and the team wins. A few defensive rebounds and the team wins. It was there and they didn’t make the plays they had to make.

• The key moment everyone is going to talk about is the game was tied when Millsap and Jefferson checked back into the game and the Jazz promptly allowed two layups fell behind and never recovered. This is not the first time this has happened recently. If it continues the argument that you are playing these guys because they give you a better chance to win begins to lose its validity. Not yet, but its foundation has certainly been rocked.

• The defensive sequence in the 4th quarter where Favors blocks and then dives on the floor, where the Jazz got steals and created open floor opportunities. Where Burks hit CJ on a great fast break . That was a great sequence for the Jazz. Loved that energy and the way the guys were playing.

• If Al is not having a great offensive night he doesn’t change the game in any other fashion. Tonight Al shot 6/14 and scored 12 points. When your top shot taker scores less points than field goal attempts you will almost never win. Jefferson’s splits tell the story, he shots 44% in losses and 52% in wins.

• Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap didn’t go to the free throw line

• Devin Harris continued his very strong play. He ran the team very well. He picked his spots to push the tempo and he got the Jazz into terrific sets when the game was swaying the direction of the Kings

• Tyrone Corbin talked about two things this morning with the team. 48 minutes of smart basketball. The Jazz were close and understanding important possessions to quell runs. The Jazz did a great job of that tonight. They stopped runs at 6-0 numerous times with smart good offensive execution. Harris controlled that and had a strong impact on the game.

• Josh Howard was a first quarter player in Dallas. He averaged 7 pts per first quarter for three straight years. Tonight he had 8. In addition he grabbed 6 defensive rebounds. The Jazz desperately need to help Millsap and Jefferson on the glass. Josh did make two terrible passes in transition that are painful when you look back at a close game.

• DeMarcus Cousins completely man-handled Jefferson inside. He had a double double by halftime, he had 8 points in the first quarter. The only person who defended him and bothered him all night was Kanter.

• Cousins got pissed at Harris for a pick he set on him in the 1st quarter and then proceeded to elbow him or run into him 5 to 6 times. Depending your perspective Harris either did nothing or lured him into a technical foul at a key moment of the game.

• Jazz allowed a 50% 4th quarter performance.

• Harris and Burks were great in the 4th quarter – while Jefferson and Millsap combined for 0 for 4.

• Burks is getting better every game. 19 minutes tonight, 11 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal and if you listen to the podcast with Kevin Pelton tomorrow you can find out why his 3 turnovers are good news also.

• CJ Miles had 13 points, but I can’t say I liked the way he played and how he played on both ends of the floor this evening.

• Paul Millsap just doesn’t look right. He scored tonight on a post play which is better than he has been doing but the game is a real struggle for him right now. He was not moving well after the game with his heel injury. The hope was the he lost some lift out of fatigue and that he would regain that after the break but their was no sign that he was any different tonight.

• Losses like tonight where the team really played close to its potential makes the remaining schedule look very daunting and makes putting a win total on the final 33 games a tough call. Plus, a few more nights down the stretch like this makes the question what gives us the best chance to win a more legitimate question.

Emptying the Noggin after the Jazz lost to the Wolves

Can I go on All-Streak Break early and not write this on. Ouch

This one is really painful. It is a culmination of a week worth’s of bad finishes. Not sure I have a lot to tell you that is going to make you feel a whole lot better. Reality is the Jazz played a really really good game tonight. They controlled the game for almost the entire game and then they just could finish on either end of the floor against a .500 team.

The closing meltdown was extraordinary. The Jazz lead by 16 with 9 to play, By 12 with 7 to play, by 7 with 5 to play and by 4 with 3 to play. And then it was gone.

The Wolves lead 2-0 and not again until :42 seconds left when they hit two free throws to take a 95-93 lead.

The Jazz were active all night. They had a season high in steals, they were in passing lanes, digging at the ball, they were all over the place. They had strong offensive moments. They looked a lot like the Memphis game.

Corbin was going for it. He knew the guys could rest for the rest of the weekend and he rode his horses and they weren’t good enough to hold onto the win.

The Timberwolves scored on 16 of their final 20 trips down the court. If you don’t get the rebound it is not a stop. The Jazz only got 4 stops in the final 9 minutes of the game. The Jazz forced one turnover and then got three defensive rebounds (Jefferson, Howard and Harris).

Paul Millsap had 0 defensive rebounds in the final 9 mintues, Al Jefferson had 1 in 7 chances.

Millsap and Jefferson couldn’t defend or rebound together last year and nothing has changed.

Offensively in the meltdown, the Jazz shot 4 for 14. Jefferson was 2 for 6 with a turnover. Millsap was 1 for 3 with 3 free throws.

The lineup that closed for the Wolves was Barea, Ridnour. Webster, Williams and Love. That is not a lineup that should out rebound you or prevent you from being able to put points on the board.

Josh Howard played very well tonight and has looked better the last two nights. Tyrone Corbin said after the game they would consider starting him. Since Raja has been the most consistent player and is the best defender I would assume that means for Gordon.

Starting matters by the way. When you come off the bench and the starters play the first 8 minutes of the 1st and 3rd quarter there is no scenario where you can ever play more than 32 minutes a night and that assumes you never get subbed out.

Alec Burks is getting better every time he plays and he plays more under control the more he plays. Tonight he got 15 minutes and was really good. He is getting better.

Favors and Kanter have struggled badly on the road this year. Tonight Favors got 12 minutes and Kanter got 8 hard to evaluate that.

Ricky Rubio was not good this evening and the game changed when he went out.

Pekovic is a beast. What a great find by Kevin McHale when he was the GM of the Wolves

The Jazz defensive rebounding is abysmal. 19 offensive rebounds for Minnesota. 17 of those offensive rebounds came when Jefferson and Millsap were on the floor, 1 came with Jefferson and Favors and the other came with Kanter and Favors.

In the last set of close games. Millsap and Jefferson played the final 8:29 tonight and were -15, they played the final 8:10 v. SA, they played 5:36 together and were -7 v. Houston, against New Orleans they were benched, in Memphis they only played the final 4:22 and took a 4 point lead to 10 for a +6, against Indiana they played the final 5:00 minutes and were -4 entering the game down 1 and losing by 5.

Since Feb 1st the Jazz have been by far the worst defensive team in the NBA in the 4th quarter. They are allowing 48% shooting earlier this year it was 39% and the next closest to the Jazz 48% is Charlotte at 46%.

The 4 quarter collapses are also happening on offense.

v. San Antonio the Jazz shot 9/20 and hit 0 three’ s and hit 4/5 from the line

v. Houston the Jazz were 5/18 and ¼ from three and 10 of 12 from the line

v. New Orleans we scored 29 points but were down so much it seems false

v. Memphis we were 12 of 19 – 2 of 4 from three and 3 of 3 from the line, Jefferson and Millsap played just 4:22 of the quarter.

v. Indiana we were 8/17 and 0 for 1 from three and 6 for 6 from the line, Jefferson and Millsap played 5:00

Emptying the Noggin after the Jazz lost to the Spurs

Jazz now have something in common with the last 11 Spurs opponents.  They lost.

Jazz battled really well tonight. Effort was really strong.  That was pretty complete 48 minute effort from the Jazz.

The epitome of the Spurs is the final play where Richard Jefferson hits the three.  The Spurs made the extra pass. 4 spurs players touched the ball.  Gary Neal bypassed a look and got a better look for Richard Jefferson, an 11 year veteran who has played in at least 2 NBA championships and he buried the three.   That is how you win in this league the Spurs are just that good.

The Jazz defended the high pick and roll and the side pick and roll very well tonight.  This was a nice improvement from the last few nights.  Super progress in that regard.  Nice job by the coaching staff to have a shoot around today and make adjustments to the game plan.

Matt Bonner caused some problems for the Jazz with the pick and pop early in the game, but the Jazz adjusted and took that away as the game went on.   It is a tough cover.  Bonner hits the three’s when you try to help stop Parker and then when you are scared to leave Bonner Parker makes it always to the rack.

The Jazz made the right call to not foul with a 5 second differential with the game clock  despite being down by 2.  Your chances are better to get a stop than to get missed free throws and try to answer with threes on the other end.

Gordon Hayward made the wrong call to go to the rim with the Jazz down 5, you have to shot a three there because you have to assume the opponent is going to make 1 of the 2 free throws after you intentionally foul.

Those are going be talked about but they are not as important as a lot of other aspects of the game.

Josh Howard and CJ Miles were needed badly tonight after Gordon Hayward got two fouls in the first two minutes and Raja Bell was unavailable and they both stepped up.  CJ had a really nice stretch or two and drew some fouls and played a good game tonight.  Josh Howard had a positive impact on the game.  He hit a shot or two, got to the foul line and had a nice steal late in the game.

Tim Duncan may be 15 years in the league but he still impact a tremendous amount of possessions on the defensive end of the floor.  It is impressive how he takes away angles and makes players miss shots they think they can make

Jazz got 2 field goals in the final 5 minutes of the game – After Jefferson scored on back to back possessions with 5:04 left the Spurs decided to double team Jefferson in the post and the Jazz weren’t able to capitalize on that double team.  From there the Jazz had little else to be able to run other than a pick and roll at the top with  Harris and Jefferson and Jefferson missed that 15 jumper.   The side pick and roll is not an option as the Spurs defend that as well as anyone in the NBA and Duncan covers too much ground.   The disappointment is that Millsap was not in a position to take advantage of Bonner tonight.  Bonner is a good defender but that is the match-up you would hope to exploit.   Give the Spurs a ton of credit for their ability to play team defense.

Those were terrific minutes for Hayward, Burks, Favors and Kanter to experience.

I would like to see Favors take a step toward forcing himself on the floor.  He is giving Coach Corbin a choice right now and I would like to see him force himself on the floor.

Greg Popvich manages a terrific game.  He is so strong at how a game plays out.

Kanter’s defense on Tim Duncan was good tonight.  What a neat experience for Kanter.

Sure there are a ton more thoughts – I will discuss at Tip Off or whenever they come up.

Jazz Bigs Combo tonight – Millsap and Jefferson played 33:16 were +2  = Kanter and Favors played 7:17 were -1; Jefferson and Favors played 4:17 were -4;  Millsap and Kanter played 2:26 were -1.

Emptying the Noggin after the Jazz lost to Rockets

This game got away.  The final score is really misleading to what the game was tonight.  The game was within 2 with 5 minutes left and had been within 2 for almost the entire evening.  The game had only three runs, 2 by the Rockets and 1 by the Jazz otherwise it was completely even throughout the game.

The disappointment in this game was some plays that lacked the necessary attention to detail that it takes to win on the road.  CJ with back to back fouls flying at Courtney Lee, but more why was he leaving CJ Miles leaving their best three point shooter who is known as a corner three point shooter.   Millsap three attempt with 3 minutes left down 8 seemed like a bail out possession where the effort to get a better shot was more than the team could handle.

This team is going to make plays that make you scratch your head, they are going to lose focus, they are going to have moments where they don’t understand time and score.  That is inevitable when you are young. I am just surprised by who the players were who had those moments.  Cj and Paul have to be the mainstays.

Prior to the final 5 minutes the Jazz did a lot of things very well.  They defended really well for most of the night.  Raja Bell put Kevin Martin in hell and he couldn’t get out and he just wanted to get away from it.  Raja quest going into the game is to break his opponent. We have talked about it and that is truly what he is trying to do and he knows when he is getting close and how to do it and he broke Martin tonight.   Martin had one field goal on an alley opp for most of the night.

Overall, the defense was really very good.  Lowry made shots – he hit 7 of 8 from three.  The Rockets made the extra pass on a bunch of key possessions where the Jazz defended well and rotated correctly but the Rockets made a pass extra.  Scola is crafty inside and got some good looks on the defense.

Unfortunately, Bell crossed the 30 minute mark and the adductor went again.  The play where Millsap shots the left corner three and Scola leaked out, the ball was thrown over Bells head and when he opened up to run and go after it, boom.  The groin went.  He took himself out immediately but it doesn’t look good.   In the past that has been a week or two for Raja.

Raja continued his streak tonight and hit a three, the longest running streak in the NBA will have to be on hold.

Without Raja the Jazz are going to need something out of CJ or Josh and they are getting nothing right now.  Josh got a put back but then made plays that weren’t  team oriented and ended up playing on 5 minutes.  CJ had two great blocks but went 1 for 5 and is not 4 for his last 21.  CJ is grinding he is coming out early before every game putting in the work, but can’t find the stroke.

The Jazz had zero point in the paint in the 3rd quarter. The Rockets made adjustments at the half and the Jazz bigs couldn’t react.

The Jazz bench was how the Jazz were winning games earlier this year and that is not producing right now.   The bench shot 6 of 30. Derrick Favors went 1 for 7.   He is not the same player on the road as he is at home.   The jazz need Favors to give them something on the offensive end and he has to learn where he wants to ball and what he is going to do with it.  He does too much of everything still and not enough of a go to move.

Earl’s shooting has not been the same since the ankle and he is battling a really bad cold.  He was not the spark he has been in the past.

Gordon asserted himself on the game in 1st quarter with 4 assits but then didn’t in the second half after sititng the entire 2nd quarter and that is the opposite of how he has been impacting games.

I have a feeling I might be typing this time and time again,  Burks is playing with players that are as good an athlete as he is for the first time in his career and he is going to have to learn how to make shots.  He is shooting – 41% which is not surprising for a wing rookie, that is what Durant, Kobe and LeBron all shot.

Player almost always get to their career numbers by the end of the year, but this year the % will all be down a little bit because of the compacted season.   So which players are going to get to the back of the basketball card, CJ Miles 38% (career 42%),  Howard 36% (41.8 since the injuries),  Jefferson 48%  (career  50%),  Watson 42% (career 42%)

The youngsters are hard to gauge, Favors is at 49% (51% career), Hayward is at 42% (46% career) they both need to be taking steps forwards so they can take a big jump year 2 to 3 or year 3 to 4.