EMPTYING THE NOGGIN—Jazz end March, Marvin starts for Enes

  • The Jazz played with lots of energy, and played really well for most of the first half. It was sparked by two things: Marvin Williams’ energy and defense on Carmelo, and Utah’s ability to run and get in the open floor for opportunities.
  • One of the underrated aspects of Alec Burks’ game is that he helps the Jazz play with a tremendous amount of pace. It’s not just leading the break himself—he throws some great transition passes that give the Jazz easy opportunities. Utah’s half court offense is not good enough to stay in the half court. They need pace, and when they play with pace everyone is more effective.
  • The Jazz had 11 fast-break points in the first half and only two in the second half. Utah shot 13-for-38 (34%) in the first half on non-fast-break possessions and 13-for-40 (33%) in the second half. Neither of those are good enough to survive. This team has to find a way to play with pace next year. Possessions that last until late in the shot clock work for grinding teams like Memphis or Chicago, or for teams with Carmelo, Durant, LeBron or CP3 (though most of those teams play fast). We don’t fit either of those models. I’m really not sure why. I see Coach Corbin telling the guys to run, but at the same time I know he is fearful of the team getting reckless. I see Burke wanting to run, but I also see him curl out of numerous opportunities. I’m not sure why.
  • Gordon Hayward continues to get to the line—he shot eight free throws tonight.
  • Marvin gave everything he had tonight, and it was impressive. Carmelo is that good (34 points). Usually, if you keep him under four assists then the Knicks lose, but tonight he only had three.
  • This was the first win on the road all year for the Knicks when they trailed at the half.
  • Jazz are 30th in the NBA in defense in the second half of games, and they allowed 31 points in the third quarter but only 13 in the fourth. That said, the teams combined for only 27 total points in the fourth quarter.
  • Marvin started for Enes Kanter. It was fun because it separated the fans that are foolish and just want to complain and those that have a clue about basketball. When Amar’e was no longer starting, the Knicks moved Carmelo to the 4 with Shumpert to the 2. The Jazz would have had Derrick Favors or Enes Kanter guarding Carmelo Anthony. And people still complained. I love this. In fact, it might be my favorite part of the night. I know I don’t humor fools well, but this is really extreme foolishness. I haven’t decided if I just keep the name of everyone who complained about this—if I block them so they never infest my life again or if I forgive them, because why really should they know better? We live in world where you must stick to your agenda and talking points regardless of their legitimacy or accuracy, so why not in sports? OK, I’m done. I just thought I would make it worth for any of you that are still reading this after a two-win month. Thanks for being a Jazz fan

POSTCAST—Locke and Boone digest March and Utah’s loss to the Knicks

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN—Over early

  • 9-0 by the first timeout and the game was over shortly after that. This was a non-contest in OKC today. Credit the Thunder: rather than approaching the game with a “Hey, these guys aren’t very good, let’s see if we can sneak by” attitude, they came out with “Hey, we are a ton better than these guys—let’s bury them and end it early” approach. That’s impressive and the sign of a mature team ready for a championship run.
  • Durant is so terrific. He glides effortlessly through the game and is in complete control at all times.
  • Utah’s first two shots of the game were missed layups—Hayward and Burke missed at the rim. Then Burke missed a three, Favors turned it over and Hayward missed a 20-footer and boom, its 6-0. Kanter missed a 17-footer and Favors got the rebound and Kanter missed a 20-footer and it’s 9-0. The problem isn’t that they settled for jumpers—it’s that they didn’t make them.
  • Enes Kanter is 14-for-44 (32%) from outside of 15 feet over the last 20 games. Over the last 10 games he’s just 5-for-23 (22%). This correlates to his increased time on the floor and the larger burden he is carrying.
  • March has been a disaster defensively for this team. The numbers are glaring:  51% shooting overall, 45% from 3-point range and giving up 105 points per game. The Jazz have allowed 114 points per 100 possessions defensively, up from 106 in February. The interesting thing is that they started forcing turnovers again just as their defense collapsed. The defense ranked 29th in March, the FG% defense was 29th and the 3-point% defense was 30th.
  • The reason for the defensive collapse isn’t clear. Is it an increase in Kanter and Favors playing together? Is it guys being asked to do more than they have ever done before and just being worn out? Is it the veterans being asked to do too much and they were the anchor and they are out of gas? Is it playing against better teams that are not taking nights off anymore? Is it systematic? Is it a rookie point guard? Is it the losing? It’s probably all of these things coupled into a complete ball of developmental year wax, and this is how it turns out.
  • I really don’t know how to value our offensive numbers today. The game was never close and every NBA team comes close to scoring 90 points and grabbing 45 rebounds over the course of 48 minutes. It just happens. So how much of Kanter’s 18 points and 12 rebounds, or Favors 8 points and 13 rebounds, or Jefferson’s 17 points are just because somebody has to score and rebound? I really don’t know how to value those numbers.
  • Hayward has played hard all through March and has had good performances to show for it. Today his shot looked way off and he adjusted to dish out six second-quarter assists. He finished the game with nine assists.
  • Knicks tomorrow. Losing is hard on people.

POSTCAST—Locke and Boone recap March, the road trip and Gordon Hayward

BREAKDOWN—Gordon Hayward’s February to March development

gordon hayward feb to marchThe left is February, when he shot 34%. The right is March, when he shot 47.5%.

Interestingly, he may be going against analytics to get himself going. Gordon has increased his amount of mid-range 2s and increased his percentage of both his 2s and his 3s by 8%. As much as we talk analytics with tired legs, if the three is not falling, at some point you have to move to the shots you can make and that builds your confidence and the rest of your game will follow.

The other area of significant improvement is the amount of shots in the restricted area and the percentage of makes.

PODCAST—1 on 1 with Alec Burks

PODCAST—Locke with DJ and PK

Utah Jazz radio voice and Jazz NBA Insider David Locke stopped by for his weekly visit with DJ and PK, where he talked about what we’ve learned about the Jazz, draft prospects, if Trey Burke is the long-term answer and more.

TIPOFF—March 28—The value of rim protection

Utah Jazz radio voice and Jazz NBA Insider David Locke shares his latest research project digging into rim protection.