EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Jazz take the best to the wire again

• Incredible basketball game. Such an impressive performance by the Jazz. The Spurs and the Warriors are two of the five greatest teams in the history of the game and the Jazz have taken both of them to the final possession.

• Nothing went the way this game should for the Jazz. They couldn’t hit threes, they were struggling offensively and they fell behind by 16 to open the 4th quarter. Lights out. The Spurs are 57-4 when they lead going to the 4th. Instead, the Jazz rallied behind Joe Ingles three point shooting and incredible performance by Rodney Hood.

• The Jazz defense is elite. The Spurs are the 3rd best offense in the NBA and the Jazz held the Spurs to 44% shooting and 88 points. The Jazz are dictating how games are played right now and it makes them very formidable.

• Rodney Hood’s 4th quarter was marvelous. He had 13 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists in the 4th quarter and was guarded by Kwahi Leonard for a lot of the quarter.

• The Jazz had two principals to the defensive game plan. Keep Parker out of the lane and avoid the duck in plays for Aldridge and Leonard. They did a fabulous job executing the plan. Aldridge had a big first quarter and then was very quiet the rest of the night and didn’t do a lot of work in the post. He has always struggled v. Gobert. Leonard was 5 of 14. Parker was 4 of 13. Incredible to keep those guys down.

• Offensively the Jazz were trying to get to the middle of the floor with switches and they did and gave Aldridge the business tonight. They were abusing him

• The Spurs got two huge threes late – Parker hit a three from the left corner over Gobert as the shot clock expired. The Spurs executed a play with 2:00 left perfectly and Kyle Anderson made a huge three. The Jazz missed a bunch of wide open threes in the 2nd and 3rd and the Spurs made those two.

• Jazz were on the wrong side of a 21-4 run from the 1st quarter to the 2nd quarter. This was not self-inflicted this was just missing shots. Chris Johnson had two wide open threes and Trey Lyles had one but they didn’t fall and the Spurs took advantage.

• Tim Duncan won his 1,000th game. Jordan didn’t play 1,000 games. Think this is the last time we see Tim Duncan is SLC. I would have rather honored his career.

• Shelvin Mack makes all the difference. He has settled this team and is a pro. He is comfortable in all settings and plays with a poise that we didn’t have at that position in the previous games against the Spurs.

• The final play by the Spurs was terrific. They put three guys on the left side of the floor and had Leonard on the right side. The guy defending the ball has to protect the pass across the paint. Hayward has to stay between Leonard and the basket and the inbound pass comes to Leonard who quickly turns shoots it with his incredible length over Hayward. I have no answer on any other way to guard this play.

• Manu Ginobili is awesome.

• The third quarter run by the Spurs was very self-inflicted. Joe Ingles grabs Manu on a fast break with the defense getting back and the Jazz in the penalty. This is giving away points. Rudy had a poor pass for one of his 4 turnovers. These guys are busting their butt and doing a great job but these little plays are tough when they happen together.

• Jazz didn’t run the fast break well tonight. The fast break is an elite athlete game and we don’t have a lot of elite athletes.

• Incredible offensive 4th quarter by the Jazz 33 points against the Spurs

• Super performance by the Jazz. They are playing great. Need to go get three of the next 4 and one of them needs to be Dallas.

• Final thought – I want the 6th seed and I want Quin Snyder v. Billy Donovan. Could you imagine this defensive team against the brilliantly talented Thunder and then if the Jazz won one in OKC the pressure on the Thunder with Durant future unclear could be incredible.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Good team win and High Quadrant 3

• This was a good team win tonight. A good team should take it to the Suns and that is exactly what the Jazz did tonight. The game was never in doubt. The Jazz dictated how the game was played.

• The Jazz have been a dominating defensive team since Favors returned to the lineup in late August and even better recently. The one area where the Jazz have not been as solid has been road defense but looking at how the Jazz played on the road at Minnesota and tonight and you can see the Jazz making huge strides at road defense.

• The second quarter was incredible defensively. The Suns scored a field goal at the 10:39 mark and then made two free throws at the 7:59 mark and didn’t make another shot until the :59 mark of the 2nd quarter. This span was over 19 possessions. The suns scored once in 1 in 19 possessions and missed 14 straight shots in the middle. This is dominance

• Jazz offense couldn’t make a shot early. Rodney Hood got wide open looks and they didn’t fall. The trailed after 1 but they were controlling how the game was played. It was just a question of getting the ball to go in the cylinder.

• Jazz hit 10 threes. The Jazz have won 10 of their last 13 and in all of the game have at least 8 three pointers.

• Jazz only had 10 turnovers tonight. Mack committed just 1. Ever since his meeting with Quin he has taken care of the ball at a very high level.

• Trey Lyles is an incredible offensive player. His off the bench scoring is changing games. His ability to stay on balance is what makes him elite. The added above the break three makes him potent and makes the Jazz offense completely different.

• Out of timeout tonight, the Jazz ran a 4/5 pick and roll with Lyles as the ball hander and Favors the big. Lyles told us after the game that Quin called the play and told Lyles to handle.

• Having a big guy that makes a high quadrant three is a game changer. It forces the other big out on the floor. it opens up many more driving lanes than a big shooting a corner 3 and it makes it impossible for a team to keep their big at the rim. Think of Boris Diaw and Matt Bonner in San Antonio or Chaning Frye. Those big have changed offensives because of the above the break 3. Add in the aspect that Lyles can not only make that shot, but that he can play off the bounce and he can pass and this is an incredibly special offensive player that is going to change the Jazz offensively.

• Incredible that Lyles was there at 12. This year’s draft class is going to be great, but in 5 years the Lyles pick is going to be talked about with the Hood and the Gobert picks.

• Derrick Favors really gamed it tonight. Everytime he check in the game he looked really stiff and as though the knee was giving him a hard time.

• On TIP OFF I talked about the bell curve of players. Gordon Hawyard’s bell curve is pretty awesome. He notched another 22 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assist night like it was nothing. He was the best player on the floor for periods of time

• Trevor Booker was a big impact tonight. Quin is using him terrifically right now.

• Exciting times for a Jazz fan. The team is getting better. Battling some big time names and teams in Dallas and Houston for a playoff spot while being the least experienced team in the NBA. How fun.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Solid win lead by the Defense

• Solid win without Favors for the Jazz tonight. The Jazz were a step off early in the night. The 50/50 balls were going to Minnesota, the defense just wasn’t as sharp early but by the end of the night the Jazz re-established who they are and ran away with the win.

• A huge part of the game plan was to keep the Wolves off the line and out of the paint. The Jazz held the Wolves to a season low free throw attempts and free throw makes.

• Wolves are one of the worst three point shooting teams and strangely don’t take them very often. In the first half tonight they hit 7 on 12 attempts. They were unable to maintain this outlier performance and in the 2nd half were 2 of 11

• Trey Lyles started in place of the injured Derrick Favors. Lyles had 17 points in the first half and scored in a completely different array of ways. He missed his opening shot but his supreme confidence carried him to a great first half.

• Jeff Withey got a little run tonight and played really well. He bothered Towns and protected the rim.

• Jazz defense continues to be great. They held the Wolves to 85 points a team that has been clicking well over 105 points a game since LaVine went to the starting lineup as a shooting guard. They held the Wolves to 44% and forced 15 turnovers. These are consistent with everything the Jazz have been doing defensively.

• In the first half 50/50 balls were all going to Minnesota in the 2nd half the Jazz got those plays.

• When the jazz hold opponents under 90 points they are 26-0.

• Only 2 of the last 12 opponents have scored 100 points on the Jazz and the Warriors wouldn’t have done it if the game hadn’t gone to overtime.

• Hood has linked 4 really strong game together, he was 7 of 10 tonight. Hayward was solid again with 22-5-3.

• Ever since Quin and Shelvin Mack sat down about the turnover issue he has kept them much more under control. He had 17 n 3 games and since then he has had 10 in 4 games. He added 5 assist tonight.

• Solid win. Keep beating the team the Jazz are supposed to and they make the playoffs.