Utah Jazz radio voice and Jazz NBA Insider David Locke gives you the NBA 5, then looks at Utah’s great win over Portland and more.
- A remarkable performance from the Utah Jazz. Defensively, the Jazz completely dominated the game.The Blazers scored 24 points in the 1st quarter and then scored 52 in the next 36 minutes. The Blazers shot just 17-for-56 after the first quarter. One of the league’s best 3-point shooting teams shot just 2-for-18 from three after the first quarter. This was complete defensive domination. Stunning.
- Beating really good teams in the final 30 games of the season is hard to do. The Blazers slip from third to a tie for fifth with the loss. These guys have no margin for error they are coming hard. The game was 65-59 to open the fourth quarter and it felt like time for the Blazers to flip the switch—and instead the Jazz went on a rookie-led 20-2 run. Ingles hit a bucket; Exum, Hood and Millsap followed with threes; and then Millsap added another three and the Jazz had run away from the Blazers.
- Trey Burke was as good as he has ever been in the middle of the floor. He hit floaters in the lane that have eluded him all year. All season he has hit on just 25% on paint nonrestricted shots, but tonight he made those shots and it forced the Blazers to react.
- The Jazz ran the pick-and-roll from the top very well. Favors took the ball on the roll and was a force. Favors finished with 16 points and nine rebounds.
- Rudy Gobert was a huge part of the night, but the big story has to be how good Utah’s defense has become both with and without Gobert. The Blazers shot 35% with Gobert on the floor and 38% with Gobert off the floor tonight. Utah’s offense shot the same with and without Gobert.
- Having Favors or Gobert on the floor for all 48 minutes is very helpful for the defense.
- The Jazz had 11 steals tonight and were super aggressive on defense.
- The defense was a five-man effort tonight. They rotated terrifically all evening. The game plan on Aldridge was executed perfectly. Quin asks a lot out of these guys with the game plan and they are beginning to figure it out. This is a now a smart group of basketball players. This will allow them to maximize what Quin wants.
- Elijah Millsap has Tony Allen comparables. He hit three 3-pointers tonight. If he can shoot, he’s going to be a nice NBA player. He’s a mistake waiting to happen with the ball in his hands, but his defense is elite and fearless. If he can make a catch-and-shoot, pass without mistakes and DEFEND like he is right now, he could be Utah’s Tony Allen.
- Nice to see Rodney Hood out there.
- The key run of the game was in the third quarter when the Jazz beat up on the Blazers starters. For the Blazers to win, they have to beat you with their starters and survive with their bench.
- Gordon Hayward had 10 third-quarter points.
- Trevor Booker’s box score doesn’t look great, but his energy was amazing. It changed the game.
- The Jazz are 14-15 over their last 29 games. This team is making incredible strides.
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Quin Snyder has had the difficult task of dividing 96 minutes a night between 4 good big man, Derrick Favors, Enes Katner, Rudy Gobert and Trevor Booker. Each player has there strengths and weaknesses and in turn compliment each other differently.
What is striking is how this has changed through the season as the defensive system has evolved for the Utah Jazz.
The following chart is the Jazz big man pair for the first half of the season
The much talked about Gorbert and Favors combo was rarely used in the first half of the season. In the first half of the season each line-up with Enes Kanter was a disaster.
Since Dec 19th the halfway point of the 52 games so far things have been very different
The Favors/Gobert combo has become a much more prominent line-up. Most interestingly the Kanter and Favors line-up has gone from -5.2 per 100 possessions to a -.3 over 100 possessions. A great improvement. In addition, the Favors/Booker that was prominent in the first half of the season and unsuccessful has been reduced to particular circumstances and been much more successful .
All three line-ups with Enes Kanter on the floor area above better than league average defensively. League average is 103.7 and Kanter/Favors is 101.7 since Dec 18th. 101.7 would rank 11th in NBA for a team. Kanter/Gobert is 100.4 would rank 9th.
What is most exciting about the above graph is that over the last half of the season every Jazz big man pair, other than Booker and Gobert, is a really strong defensive unit. They have not figured out how to score yet, but they are all defending very well.