Emptying the Noggin — Jazz lose 3rd straight

Summary: The Jazz closed out the four-game road trip with a loss to the Indiana Pacers to go a disappointing 1-3 on the trip. The Jazz knocked on the door numerous time, but were unable to ever gain control of the game and fell, 107-100.

  • First off, Gordon Hayward was terrific. He came out of the chute and carried the team for most of the night. He scored a career-high 38 points He had 10 in the first quarter and then had 10 straight at the end of the first half to bring the Jazz back into the game. He continued all night and finished shooting 16 of 24.
  • Rudy Gobert was also terrific. He had 16 points, 14 rebounds and a career-high 8 blocks. He altered numerous shots, forced guys to change routes, and was mammoth. He sprinted the floor and made great catches.
  • Hayward will be thinking about a 3-pointer he missed to tie the game and Gobert will be thinking about going 2 for 6 from the line. This is why these guys are stars. The care factor from these two is magnificent.
  • There are two ways to look at this loss. First, it is a make or miss league. The Jazz were 6 of 26 from 3 for the night, highlighted by George Hill’s 0 for 7 and Joe Johnson’s 0 for 4. The Pacers, on the other hand, made shots. They were 10 of 20 from 3 — 50% is absurd.
  • A strange part of this game is that the Pacers allow the second-most amount of corner 3 attempts in the NBA and the Jazz only took one corner 3 the entire game. The Pacers are the fourth best team in the NBA defending the above the break 3 and the Jazz were 6 of 25 on above the break 3s.
  • The other way to look at this game is the Jazz didn’t make force plays, the 50-50 plays or the focus plays they needed to win on the road. Early in the game, the Jazz had at least four balls just knocked out of their hands. The 50-50 balls seemed to ricochet to the Pacers. Is that bad luck, were the Jazz a step slow or did the Jazz lacked gumption? Paul George dove on a ball out from under Gordon Hayward. Monta Ellis had an awesome steal. Joe Ingles doubled in the post and signaled to get someone to rotate over to cover the shooter and they never came.
  • At the end of the first half Gordon, scored on a filthy shot with 4.0 left and then no one put up resistance on Glen Robinson who banked in a 3 at the buzzer. This was super painful and the difference between being down two points with momentum rather than down five without.
  • The Jazz trailed by 10 going into the fourth quarter.
  • They kept battling and even had a shot to tie in the fourth when Hayward missed a 3 in transition at 103-100. Paul George hit two big shots for Indiana to clinch the win.
  • The Jazz got within two on numerous occasions in the third quarter and were never able to take the lead or tie the game.
  • There were five times during the game the Jazz had a chance to tie or take the lead and they failed on all five.
  • Raul Neto played the backup point guard minutes in place of Dante Exum after Dante had a really tough start to the game. Neto made great steals twice but when he got to the rim for the layup, he got one blocked and missed the other.
  • The injuries to Derrick Favors and Rodney Hood have put a minute burden on Joe Johnson and Joe Ingles that is very intense.
  • In the eight games that Rodney Hood has played since returning from injury, he is shooting 39%.
  • The offense was actually fine tonight. The defense is what didn’t get enough stops. Myles Turner is that big that can pull Rudy out on the floor and then there is no rim protection behind him.
  • Al Jefferson gave Indiana a great boost with 10 points in 11 minutes.
  • Joe Johnson is shooting below 40% and below 25% from 3 since the All-Star break. As Ron Boone pointed out on Postcast, Johnson has gone from playing 20 minutes against second-tier guys to 30 minutes versus first-tier guys.
  • Rodney Hood returned and got three fouls in the first four minutes. He bounced back to make a few shots in the second half.
  • These last two are tough losses. The March schedule is brutal and these were the two that the Jazz had to find a way to grab to give them a little leeway in the quest for the four seed in the West. It now looks like the Jazz will have to go to LA and beat the Clippers if they want. With the Thunder and Grizzlies playing so much better, Utah better get it rolling before the seventh seed comes calling.

Emptying the Noggin — Jazz get MVP LeBron

Summary: The Jazz got LeBron-ed in Cleveland, again. With the game tied going into the fourth quarter, LeBron took over and scored or assisted on all but four points in the quarter to completely overwhelm the Jazz, 91-83.

• The Jazz never seemed in synch in the first half. In fact, Mike Wells said at halftime that he felt the Jazz couldn’t find a rhythm for the first 20 minutes of the game. Despite that, the Jazz were within two points at the half and were able to tie the game going into the fourth quarter.

• From a big picture standpoint, the take away tonight is against the number one offensive team in the NBA the last 20 games — and playing with Joe Johnson, Boris Diaw and Trey Lyles at the power forward — the Jazz were able to keep the Cavaliers below an offensive rating of. This is an exciting indicator for the Jazz’s ability to play small lineups moving forward.

• The Jazz’s defensive rebounding was not as good as it has been, but overall the defensive rating was great.

• The Jazz’s offense down the stretch was not great tonight, and they were very slow getting into sets.

• Rudy Gobert was terrific. I leave the arena each night believing he is a little better than was the night before. Tonight he went for 20 points, 19 rebounds, plus his ability to deter players from driving into the lane is stunning. Players just stay away from the paint when Rudy is in the game.

• The Jazz wanted to take away the 3-point looks from the Cavaliers similarly to how they played the Rockets, but the Cavaliers were able to get their usual amount of looks. However, they didn’t go down. The Cavaliers shoot 41% from 3 in wins and 35% in losses, so this game was there for the taking with the Cavs hitting on just 9 of 33 attempts for 27%.

• Gordon Hayward did not have a good night. He finished 4 for 14 and two of those were leak out dunks. He just never looked right all night. George Hill was 3 for 10 on the back end of a back-to-back. He has had a bit of a hard time on back-to-backs since the toe injury.

• LeBron James: 33 points, 10 rebounds (all defensive) and 6 assists. He hit on 13 of 20.

• Deron Williams closed the game since Kyrie Irving was out and the Cavs ran a point guard/LeBron pick-and-roll to get the Jazz to switch on LeBron, and then he just over powered whoever was guarding him.

• Without Rodney Hood and with both Gordon and George a bit off tonight, the Jazz tried to ride Joe Johnson in the fourth quarter.

• The Jazz had a bad offensive night. They played well enough defensively to win this game, but they never got rolling on offense and couldn’t knock down shots. To be in the game against as potent a team as Cleveland without your offense rolling is a good sign for Utah. It is a loss, but it does not to dissuade my belief that the Jazz are playing really well.

• There are two huge games coming up. The Clippers lost tonight, so Utah is still ahead three games in loss column on the Clippers, but both Thunder and Grizzlies got unexpected wins, making the Thunder three back in the loss column while owning the tiebreaker, and the Grizzlies are four games back of Utah, owning the tiebreaker. This means Utah is really only ahead of the Thunder by two games and three on the Grizzlies.

Emptying the Noggin —  Jazz control the whole game at the Palace

Summary: The Jazz jumped on the Pistons early and controlled the entire game. Utah won for the ninth time in 11 games at the Palace at Auburn Hills.

  • The Jazz’s game plans are so good every night. Moreover, they are executing the game plans every night. Today, they wanted to do two things: The Pistons are more of a dribble hand-off team than a pick-and-roll team. The Jazz’s goal was to disrupt the timing and the spot on the floor where those handoffs took place, and then to force Detroit into the mid-range to take shots. This is exactly what Utah was able to do. It forced the Pistons into a one-on-one game and they became more and more selfish as the game went on. The Pistons were 1-15 in the mid-range.
  • Offensively, what we are seeing from the Jazz is what Quin Snyder has been trying to get from his guys all season. His entire system is that “When someone does X, then you do Y.” When the Clippers top block the wing cutters, the Jazz reacted perfectly. When the Pistons reacted to Rudy’s roll to the basket at a very high level, Utah made the correct reads. I said today on Locked on Jazz that the Pistons bring three guys to the pick-and-roll in a way few teams do and the Jazz exploited that perfectly. The third guy took away the Rudy roll. If two guys are on the ball and you’re able to move it, the opponent scrambles.
  • The Jazz took a double digit lead at the six-minute mark of the second quarter; The game was inside 10 points for only one possession the rest of the way. The minute it got within 10 points, the Jazz brought back Hayward, Hill and Gobert and the night was over.
  • Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond got benched midway through the third quarter and never returned.
  • Ho Hum. Gordon Hayward: 25 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists. He is shooting 42% from 3 since December 1. He hit of 4 of 7 tonight, including a dagger to end the game.
  • Joe Ingles started the second half when Rodney Hood could not continue with right knee soreness. Joe is also on fire from 3 and is now 19 of his last 35 from three. He’s such a weapon for the Jazz and is big for floor spacing.
  • The Jazz started Joe Johnson at power forward tonight and that lineup gave the jazz a nine-point lead in the first seven minutes of the game, and the Jazz cruised from there.
  • Rudy Gobert’s impact on the game is incredible. Tobias Harris had no inkling to drive at any point all game except the minute that Gobert checked out of the game. Once Jeff Withey was in at center, Harris drove to the basket for a dunk and a layup. When Rudy returned, Harris lost interest again.
  • The Jazz had 28 assists – seven players had at least two.
  • Rudy Gobert went 5-hole backwards to a back cutting Gordon Hayward for a layup tonight.
  • Hayward was +30, Gobert +25 and Hill +22.
  • Dante had a solid game with a few more moments that show he is improving his understanding of the game, the system and the speed. He waited on a fast break for Gobert that led to a layup in the lane and Exum initiated the early action for the key Hayward 3 where Dante engaged the defender and then left the ball for Gordon to hit the 3.
  • This was a solid win to start the road trip. It’s not easy to control an entire game like that. The Jazz have won 5 of 6 and 9 of 12.