INSIDER – Youngsters playing without the ball

The biggest adjustment in the NBA for young players is learning how to play with teammates and off teammates. Every college player that heads to the NBA is used to have an offense predicated around them and creating for them. Now they enter the NBA and they aren’t in the same role and they don’t touch the ball on every possession.

In the San Antonio game the final 5 minutes Gordon Hayward didn’t get a touch. Alec Burks goes down the floor and doesn’t touch for consecutive possessions something that never happened at Colorado.

I asked Tyrone Corbin today about this adjustment for young players. “It is learning process, when to cut, when to space the floor, when to come to the ball. It is a huge adjustment for guys who are used to having the ball and making the plays to have other guys set them up it takes them a while to understand when to cut and when to move. It is difficult to get a rhythm, you can’t get it from just having the ball in your hand. It takes a while to figure out how to get a feel for it”

Jeff Hornacek had similar thoughts – “It is an adjustment, guys have to put themselves back to when they first played ever when they got fewer opportunities. You have to be ready to make a play. It is a mental thing to not take yourself out of the game.”

This is why we see such inconsistency out of these players. The rookies who have the ball in their hand every play, Knight, Irving and Walker are having an easier adjustment.

INSIDER – Favors reaction to Rising Stars Bid

Derrick Favors will be joining Gordon Hayward in the Rising Stars game in Orlando for All-Star weekend. Both of the Jazz 2nd year players will be on Team Chuck. Favors was named today as a replacement for Spurs 2nd year player Tiago Splitter.

Just talked to Favors at our hotel in Minneapolis. He is really excited to go to the game. His agent called him this morning and told him there was a chance but that nothing was official. He was planning on going to Orlando for All-Star break for one night and then going to Atlanta to see family. Now he will be staying a little longer.

Favors will be heading from Minnesota directly to Orlando as will Gordon Hayward.

This is a nice well deserved honor for Favors. Favors is in a tough spot right now. He is not getting a huge amount of minutes and so it has been difficult for him to put his stamp on a game. Moreover, those minutes are with other inexperienced players.

This will be a nice confidence boost to Favors and let him know that he is being recognized for what he is doing despite not getting an endless supply of minutes.

For the Jazz organization it is nice to have two members playing in this game while arguably the most deserving Enes Kanter is being left out. I have a feeling the Jazz will have 2 players in this game a year from now as well.

PLAYBOOK – How the Spurs got Richard Jefferson’s three late in the game?

The Spurs took their time getting into the set and had perfect spacing to start the play.

Jefferson three #1

Bonner in the left will hold Jefferson, Neal and Richard Jefferson on the right wing. Interesting move by the Jazz to have Millsap defend Duncan because he is a better pick and roll defender. Tony Paker and Tim Duncan are setting up the pick and roll.

jefferson three #2

This is the breakdown by the Jazz. Devin Harris pops out onto the right shoulder of Parker. This means Millsap needs to go right and cut off the Parker drive. Instead, Millsap goes left and shades out to the outside of Duncan leaving Parker a wide open lane for the drive. This is a major miscommunication. Earlier in the play, Harris looked over to the bench for the defensive call and he moved first. Not sure whose fault this is, but this is where the play breaks down. The Spurs genius from here is their patience and spacing to take avantage.

jefferson three #3

Josh Howard does a nice job attacking Parker to stop his drive. Jefferson and Howard moved to where they needed to go. Howard came from the right block and stops Parker.

Jefferson three #4

Hayward slides down to take the passing lane to Richard Jefferson away. Big Al has left Bonner completely to stop Parker. Parker makes the natural pass to Neal

jefferson three #5

Neal immediately moves the ball as Hayward gets back. The best part of this shot is look at Richard Jefferson and Matt Bonner. Both of them are shooter ready. Jefferson even has his legs bent. Josh Howard didn’t waste a moment. The minute he could he turned toward Jefferson but it was too late.

jefferson three #6

Richard Jefferson nails the three. Give the Spurs credit. The Jazz made a mistake early in the defense and the Spurs had the paitence, the perfect spacing, ready positons, and the completion of the play. From a Jazz standpoint this is why 5 guys have to be on the same page the mistake at the point of the pick and roll was too much to recover from even though 4 of the 5 players did the correct thing.

FILM STUDY – Jazz offense the last 5 minutes v. Spurs

Al Jefferson scored back to back baskets from the left block over Tim Duncan. From that point on the Jazz offense got just two field goals. Let’s breakdown what took place in this film study.

Jefferson’s 1st fg was a 17 foot jumper that gave the Jazz a 2 point lead with 5:40 left.

Then Jefferson went up and under on Ducan to give the Jazz the 96-94 lead. Then the Spurs adjusted.

4:43 left – Spurs 97-96 – Spurs commit back to back fouls defending Jeferson. They bring the double team from the baseline and Richard Jefferson. Al gets fouled by Jefferson.

4:33 left – Spurs 97-96 = Jazz got to the right block for Millsap guarded by Matt Bonner and Millsap works to the middle and misses the 6 footer over Bonner.

4:07 left – Spurs 98-96 = Harris runs side pick and roll with Jefferson. Parker intercepts the pass to Jefferson that had no room. Turnover Jazz.

3:44 left – Spurs 100-96 = Jazz run Jefferson to left elbow. Hayward is coming off a baseline curl but Spurs are switching so Howard instead of picking pop out to the right elbow off a Millsap pick and Howard misses the 15 foot jumper. Really good execution on the play by the Jazz and a good look.

3:16 left – Spurs 100-96 – Spurs double Jefferson in left block with Bonner. Jefferson kicks out to Harris who swings to Howard. Howard penetrates and finds Millsap under the rim to left of the basket but as Millsap goes up Duncan and Bonner recover and Millsap can’t make the shot in the paint in traffic. Again very good execution by the Jazz.

2:50 left – Spurs 100-96 – Jazz run a pick and roll angle left with Harris and Jefferson. Key to this play the pick and roll is not really a side and not a high pick and roll they catch the Spurs in between. Jefferson sets the pick and Harris veers left for a nice open 16 footer and he hits. Very strong play set by the Jazz. Pop takes a timeout.

2:27 left – Spurs 102-98 — 1st option on the play is to go to Millsap in the left block but Bonner denies and Millsap can’t get the ball. Jazz then go to option 2 nicely. Howard hits Harris at the top and quickly get into a pick and roll at the top of the key with Harris and Jefferson. Harris goes left kicks to Jefferson for the free throw line jumper and he hits. Jazz execution so far has been flawless.

1:49 left – Spurs 102-100 – Parker misses, Jazz have transition opportunity and Howard throws awful outlet pass that is stolen. Turnover.

1:25 left – Spurs 102-100 – Howard with the steal. Great transition defense by Spurs. Jefferson in left block. As he goes to work Spurs double with Bonner. Jazz spacing is not as good as Howard is in the right block standing next Millsap allowing Richard Jefferson to guard both players. Jefferson passes out to Harris. Howard flashes to the free throw line. Same play as before, but last time he was at the three point line. Howard goes 1 on 1 and misses the runner. Hayward was wide open in right corner but has not been making that shot. Jazz got Howard on a runner but the play was never smooth out of the inbound wth :14 on the shot clock. Howard shot with :09 Jazz rushed this a little. Offensive tip by Jefferson no good, next rebound in Millsap arm’s and gets ripped away.

:39.8 left – Spurs 102-100 – notice time difference from Howard’s turnover at 1:49. Jazz only get 1 chance in 1:10. Spurs brilliant use of the clock. Jazz make an initial quick look to Jefferson in left block. Hayward couldn’t get free on the left wing to make the entry pass. Harris astutely re-sets the play with a wing pass to Howard on right wing who then re-sets Harris.

The Jazz then run into a high pick and roll with Harris and Jefferson at top of the key. The pick by Jefferson is at the top of the three point line straight away and he flairs to the right elbow. Harris finds Jefferson and he misses the jumper. This is the same play that worked at the 2:27 mark. The lack of a three point shooter hurts the Jazz because Neal slides in off Hayward on the left wing and never gives Harris any chance to really drive and therefore, Duncan is able to get back to Jefferson and effect the shot. Execution was as good as it could have been again.

PODCAST – Friends of Locke – Chuck Cooperstein Mavericks Play by Play man

In a Friends of Locke Edition, Locke is joined by Mavericks Radio voice Chuck Cooperstein. They talk Western Conference powers, Linsanity, LeBron, Best coaches in managing a game and the Jazz route.

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.

INSIDER – Notes from a conversation with Enes Kanter

Yesterday before the Jazz game with Houston I spent some time with Enes Kanter. We don’t hear much from him so I wanted to share a little about how he is doing and some of his thoughts. Sometimes there is a language barrier so I could have misunderstood, but I believe this is a correction depiction of our conversation.

He Skypes with his parents about twice a week. Both are working full time jobs so he doesn’t think they will be able to come visit this season. If they do it would be at the end of the season. His younger brother is in school in Boston so he can have a collegiate basketball experience without NCAA interference.

He doesn’t have a lot of friends still in Turkey. He doesn’t Facebook or doing any of that so it limits his communication. He came to the US to go to prep school trying to get eligible for the NCAA and bounced around, he was in West Virginia, then took another short stop and then ended up in Simi Valley.

The best game he has ever played was the U16 world championships when he crushed Jonas Valanciunas. He averaged 23 and 17 in that tourney. He might have been speaking of the U18 championships I am not sure.

He said this is the first time he has ever played people as strong as he is and he really noticed the night the Jazz played Minnesota and he hit Pekovic , who is 6’11 and 290.

The hardest thing for him so far has been just playing again after not playing for so long. At times the game feels fast for him. He still says he is not comfortable.

His bad game in New York he was sick.

I will share more with you as I get to know Enes better.