This is a great question, Casey. First off, the Jazz started the year playing their first five games against teams that were ranked in the top seven offensively last year. In addition, all of those teams had an All-NBA player. All-NBA players can blow up the best of any game plan.
Now, the last two games against Detroit and Indiana the Jazz should have been able to show some defensive progress. That has come to fruition. Utah’s defensive rating the last two games has been 102.9. The EFG% defense has been 48.6. Both of these numbers come in better than league average and they should since both those teams are below league average offenses.
The preseason is not a great barometer to what is going to happen in the regular season. One game I recall in the preseason, I was talking with an opposing head coach when I realized they had not watched one moment of film to how the Jazz were playing—they were solely focussed on their team. In the season, they are looking to exploit Utah’s weaknesses.
Utah’s perimeter and high pick-and-roll coverage must improve as the season continues.
Oh my goodness has Gordon ever been terrific. The numbers are absurd—19 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists a game. If those hold, it will be hard to keep him off the All-Star team. Moreover, the coaches vote and he plays a game coaches love. Gordon is unselfish, plays in the team concept, hustles and respects the game. That will earn coaches’ votes.
However, to answer your question, yes there is a way he doesn’t make the All-Star Team. The Jazz need to win games, and even with wins it might be too much too ask. Traditionally, coaches decide these issues based on wins. With James Harden, Kobe Bryant and Steph Curry on the team at the wing, with Klay Thomspon, Kawhi Leonard, Rudy Gay plus a red-hot Kevin Martin all wanting a spot, it’s hard to see where Gordon makes the team. The NBA All-Star roster is just 13 players and the only spot to fill is Durant’s, but if he and Kobe are voted on the team then I can’t imagine Gordon is able to bump Curry or Harden off the team.
Remember, Deron Williams was amazing and didn’t make the All-Star team for many years.
All road wins are good. Road wins when you trail by double digits in the second half are hard to come by. Nice performance by the Jazz to execute down the stretch and win this one.
The defense the first few nights was not good, but each team had an All-NBA player—and those types of players can blow up the best of game plans. Tonight, the Jazz faced a team that doesn’t have that player and they held the Pistons to 39% shooting and just 6-for-23 from three. In the second half, they held the Pistons to 32% and just 2-for-12 from three. This is a great sign.
Gordon Hayward took over the game. He scored the final 11 points of the game for the Jazz. He grabbed three mammoth rebounds. The most exciting thing was the Pistons completely took Hayward out of the game for the first three quarters. They denied him everywhere and wouldn’t let him get any looks. Instead of playing passively, he decided he wouldn’t let the Pistons take him out of the game. His fourth-quarter line was 11 points, three rebounds, one assist and one steal.
Danté Exum finished the night for the Jazz. Trey got in foul trouble in the third quarter. Exum brought the Jazz back part of the way in the third quarter and then he closed the game in the fourth quarter when Trey got his fifth foul.
The Pistons’ point guards gave the Jazz a really tough time tonight. Brandon Jennings torched the Jazz in the third quarter. He would come off the pick-and-roll and get Favors attached to him, and then curl out to wing for a jumper. In the first half, the Pistons’ point guards had 18 points, then in the third quarter Jennings had 14.
Quin Snyder switched Alec Burks onto the point guards and he did a really good job. This is something that Danté Exum allows Quin to do. It’s interesting because if Alec has a weakness, it’s his off-the-ball defense, but if he is on the point guard then he’s on the ball a lot more. This was his weakness in college as well, but I recall that at the end of games at Colorado he would shut guys down. Let’s keep an eye on this—it might be a good answer for Coach Snyder.
The bench was solid tonight. If the bench is solid, this team can win games.
On one level, the Jazz got crushed on the boards. On the other end, the Jazz bigs busted their butt against two mammoth bigs and both finished with double-doubles (meaning they battle the whole time). Favors finished with 16 points, 12 rebounds and two assists. Kanter battled in a matchup that completely overwhelms him with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Still not sure who I like better—Drummond or Monroe.
Exum has one turnover in the last three games. This is a great sign of understanding and growth. I’m seeing him do something new each game. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but the fact that he’s trying something different is terrific. The other night he drove 1-on-1 in the middle of the floor. Tonight he went 1-on-1 and rose and fired and missed. Who cares? He told us after the game that Quin asked him to try one new thing every game. At some point, it would be good for his turnover number to increase again, which means he’s trying things that he will figure out as time goes on. It’s still early, and in these nights where he has good matchups he is showing he can effective. Some nights that will not be the case.
Joe Ingles—3-for-3 from three.
Strong win on the road. This is enjoyable to watch. Quin is working them hard. There are going to be tough nights along the way, but nights like tonight sure are fun.