EMPTYING THE NOGGIN — Jazz shooting goes wayward

SUMMARY: Disastrous shooting night overwhelms Jazz in loss to the Sixers 104-97.

• Unlike the last two losses tonight’s issue was not the defense, it was offense. The Jazz had a tough offensive night from the beginning and never got going. There was a brief spurt when the Sixers cleared their bench letting Jahill Okafor and Nik Stauskas play and the Jazz got the game back to even, but the Jazz were never able to get a rhythm.

• The Jazz were off all night. They had mental breakdowns both offensive and defensively that are not something we are accustomed to seeing from this team. Cross-court passes in the back-court that are intercepted and become slam dunks. Inbound pass to the from the right wing to the midcourt that is easily intercepted for a fast break dunk. Letting guys get back door or not covering some basic slip plays that lead to dunks.

• The defense was pretty good most of the night, but it was a victim of breakdowns like the aforementioned plays. There was also a Redick wide open three in transition or a wide open Saric off an inbound pass.

• Re-watching this game I will be really curious to see if it was everyone or one player that wasn’t engaged in the game.

• The Jazz shooting was dreadful. In order of shot attempts, Mitchell was 3 for 21, Rubio was 4 of 16, Ingles 6 for 16 and Hood 4 for 14

• A troubling note is the shooting percentage for the season for our leading shot takers are the following – Mitchell 34.4%; Hood 39.1%; Rubio 39.1% and from three-point range they are the following Hood 37.7% (which is good), Mitchell 31.7% and Rubio is 29.8%.

• Ricky Rubio was 0 for 5 from three and is 1 for his last 14 from three.

• Mitchell’s 3 for 21 night is a rarity. He is just the 33rd player since 1983 to make 3 or fewer field goals with 20 or more attempts. He is just one of 5 players to do it taking 1 or fewer free throws. The list of players who has done it is some of the best names in the NBA. It happens.

• I didn’t think the shots by Hood, Mitchell or Rubio were out of the natural offense. They took the shots the defense gave them they just didn’t convert. In fact, Rodney Hood had 10 free throw attempts tonight which was a career high.

• Joe Ingles was 6 for 16 and I thought he tried to go outside of his usual game to help the team, but it is asking a lot for him to play in that fashion.

• Gobert is not getting the rolls to the basket because the defense is collapsing in the paint and he can’t even get to the rim. There was a play in the 2nd quarter where Rubio threw a perfect pass to Gobert on a pick and roll and he was 8 feet away with 4 people between him and the rim.

• Thabo Sefolosha plays so hard every night and makes so many good plays. He is great cutter off the ball.

• It is only the 4th time the Jazz have ever shot 30.3% or below and shot 23.1% or below from 3. 200 v. Lakers and 2005 v. Knicks.

• Collectively poor night. The offense is going to be a season-long tussle. It is good the defense stay strong for the most part.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Harden has a night for the ages

SUMMARY: James Harden put on a historic performance as the Rockets blew out the Jazz
• Only one player has ever scored more points on 25 shots in NBA History than what James Harden did tonight, Michael Jordan.

• Only one player has ever had 50 points, 10 assist and shot better than 75%, Wilt Chamberlin.

• Tonight’s performance has only been matched by the two greatest players to ever play the game.

• Harden had 56 points and 13 assists. 9 of his 13 assists were for three point shots. Total that together and Harden contributed directly to 91 points.

• James Harden was incredible. He scored in every manner. He started the night doing a lot of scoring in the mid range and in the paint non restricted area which is usually what you want to force him into. Then his confidence grew and he was unreal. Driving to the rim around Gobert. Making three after three, even when they were contenst.

• After the 1st quarter Harden had 22 points on 8 for 8 shooting with 4 three pointers and 2 for 2 at the line. He had 4 assists in the 1st quarter as well. All of those threes were for three point shots. He contributed 34 points in the 1st quarter alone.

• By halftime had missed a shot, two in fact. He was 10 of 12 for 30 points. He had made another three without a miss and two more free throws. Then he added 3 more assists for a total of 7.

• By the end of three quarters he had gone over 50, with 54 points. Now he had 13 assist, 9 of which were for three point shots. Not a lot of players in NBA history have notched 54 points in 3 quarters of basketball. Not to mention on 18 of 21 shots.

• He scored 50 points on 20 shots which had only been done one other time in NBA history.

• It was the best offensive player in the NBA dominating a game at the highest level. Talking to people around the Rockets who have covered him his entire run in Houston, they called tonight the best performance of his career.

• The Jazz had a few offensive stretches tonight where the ball stopped moving and they tried to play 1 on 1. This was usually caused by the switching defense of the Rockets, but this team is not filled with one on one players.

• Donovan Mitchell continues to wow people. He was very solid tonight . The three best plays he made tonight in my mind were passes. He has very good vision and as he learns how to not turn the ball over and open up his passing it will be more and more evident. We saw the Rockets double him off the pick and roll and this was the first time a team has done that. The next steps in his progress will be seeing different defensive approaches. He is close to being the first name mentioned in a scouting report.

• Derrick Favors had two three pointers, a first in his career.

• Take out his first quarters and Rodney Hood is playing really well. But he can’t get started yet. He is 4 of 19 in the first quarter and has only scored 10 points all year. The rest of the game he is 37 of 82 for a solid 45%

• Jazz played Thabo Sefolosha as the back up power forward tonight.

• Tony Bradley got his first NBA time but didn’t get his first points.

• This night is about Harden.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Gritty Jazz pull over overtime win v. Portland

SUMMARY: Grit defined the Jazz win over Portland, 112-103, as Rubio and Mitchell carried the offensive load.
• This was a great game. The Jazz seemed dead on a few occasions in the fourth quarter and relentless fought to stay in the game. This is becoming the signature of this team, the grit and resiliency to stay engaged throughout a game.

• The defense is the calling card on this team. They held one of the best offensive teams in the NBA to under a point per possession tonight. The Blazers final offensive rating was 95.4. To do that to a team as loaded as the Blazers offensively is unheard of in the NBA.

• Ricky Rubio is emerging to be a completely different player in Utah than he was in Minnesota. The question is whether this is a continuation of the second half of last season or something completely different. He has scored 20 or more in three straight games and the only other time he ever did this in his career was in March of last year. He scored 30 for the second time in his career and has only scored over 25 five times in his career. He has now scored 20 or more in 10 of his last 24 games of his career.

• And it’s not just how much he’s scoring, it’s how confidently he’s doing it. He pulled up for 3 in transition in the first half, and did the same down by six points with less than 2:00 minutes to play and nailed it. He did it one last time in overtime when the Blazers went under on the pick he stopped at the top of the key for the final dagger. He is playing unleashed.

• Donovan Mitchell is having quite the start to his NBA career. In the 8th game of his career, the Jazz ran the first three plays of overtime to him and he came through on two of the three. Mitchell shot 9 of 21 and 4 of 10 from 3 and finished with 28 points. There is still a long way to go for this kid, but the flashes he is showing are real and super exciting.

• The Jazz are tied for first in the Northwest.

• The Jazz had a chance to win in regulation but had a really bad turnover late. They had a rebound with :11 seconds left with the game tied but Ingles rushed an outlet pass to Rubio who then traveled as Lillard cut off his path. There is no need to rush in those circumstances, but this team is still new to these moments. This is how they lost the Minnesota game.

• Instead, Rudy Gobert came to the rescue. Lillard worked his way into the paint and Gobert blocked the shot to force overtime.

• Thabo Sefolosha is a remarkable player and commands the respect of his teammates. He leads the defense and guarded Lillard for the entire overtime. He was playing the power forward on offense and the point defensively. He is so long and so smart. He was ranked one of the best wing defenders in the NBA and he shows it.

• When the Jazz had Sefolosha on Lillard and Rubio on McCollum, the intensity was remarkable. They blow them off their spots and altered every angle the Blazers wanted to take. Plus, the Jazz still had Mitchell and Ingles on the floor with the most dominating defensive player in the NBA, Rudy Gobert.

• Rodney Hood went 0 for 11.

• Joe Ingles had 7 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 blocks.

• Jonas Jerebko got 20 minutes tonight in place of the injured Joe Johnson and was really good. He hit two 3s and plays with a lot of energy.

• Damian Lillard took over the fourth quarter and was impossible to guard. By the end of overtime, he looked like he was tired from all the different Jazz defenders’ harassment.

• The Jazz are 5-0 at home with wins over Denver, Oklahoma City and Portland. Those are really important.

• The Jazz have a real chance to be the number one defense in the NBA. If they are…