EMPTYING THE NOGGIN — Jazz fall in Game 2 to Clippers

Summary: The Clippers hit the Jazz with a hammer early and the Jazz never could break through and put pressure on and LA, falling in Game 2 — 99-91.

  • The Jazz showed a lot of the same fight and resiliency that won them Game 1, but they weren’t able to make enough plays to gain control of the game. They cut the game to six points on six different occasions in the fourth quarter, but were never able to make the Clippers feel the heat. It would have been really interesting to see if the Clippers would have gotten tight.
  • The Jazz had three shots that felt like they would have changed the game that were all great looks and they didn’t go. George Hill had a half wide open transition 3 at the end of the first that would have cut it to four points. At 8:44 in the fourth quarter, Joe Johnson got a great look that would have cut it to four points but missed, and with 5:51 left Hayward had a great look off of an Ingles steal that would have cut it to three points.
  • The Clippers played with great force early in the game. They came out a ball of fire, ran the floor and played with great tempo. This subsided as the game went on, but it will be interesting to see if they can maintain it at altitude. They came out like a team playing to survive.
  • Chris Paul is the best player in this series, Blake Griffin might be the second best and that is going to be a really tough issue for the Jazz throughout the series. Paul is particularly tough. He has seen everything that a team can throw at him. He is able to get where he wants to go on the floor despite the Jazz trying to work him into his weaknesses.
  • DeAndre Jordan was a beast tonight. He was able to get behind the defense and play above the rim. He had seven dunks. This is certainly a case of not having Rudy Gobert. Derrick Favors does a ton of things well, but he is not great at protecting the rim in the drop pick-and-roll coverage. I am not sure how the Jazz solve this issue the rest of the series without Rudy.
  • One other area of concern is the Jazz only got three offensive rebounds in the game tonight. It is really hard for the Jazz to have a good offensive night without some action on the offensive glass. The offensive rating tonight was a 103. It probably needs to be over 108 to win games in this series, maybe 100 without Rudy. If the Jazz could get one more offensive rebound a quarter and convert three of them, they hit that number. With Rudy, the offensive rebounding is a large part of the Jazz’s offense. Without it, the Jazz move from an average offense to a below average offensive team. The catch is the Jazz are really trying to get back defensively.
  • I loved that the Jazz got a bunch of 3-point looks tonight. This has been a real problem for the Jazz in their five games versus the Clippers. If the Jazz can start to get those shots off, then their margin for having a good night is greater. The Jazz took 25 of 70 shots (36%) from behind the arc. This is a big development for the rest of the series.
  • The Clippers defended Joe Johnson a bit differently, digging more and not letting him have as much space.
  • The Clippers are really missing Austin Rivers. If he returns, it is a big advantage for the Clippers.
  • Jamal Crawford and JJ Redick went 5 of 19 from the field. These guys have really been struggling in the last 11 playoff games for the Clippers. It’s a bad script for LA.
  • The Clippers’ starting lineup is the second best five-man lineup in the NBA and they were +12 tonight with the starters on the floor and -4 when they were off.
  • A huge stretch of the game was closing the first half when Chris Paul got his third foul and in the final 3:33 with Paul on the bench the Clippers stretched the lead by one rather than the Jazz making inroads to make the game close.
  • The Clippers had 60 points in paint after having 40 in Game 1.
  • This is going to be really tough without Gobert. It takes away a lot of the Jazz’s offense with the rim-rolls and the offensive rebounding, not to mention his impact on defense. I haven’t looked at the numbers, but the Jazz have not shown they can defend when Withey is at center in this series.
  • If the Jazz continue to play that hard and with that focus, they have a chance in this series. This was a good performance with a lot of positives.
  • Be loud Friday.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Joe Johnson save again

Summary:  After a disheartening injury to Rudy Gobert on the first play of the game, the Jazz showed remarkable heart and resiliency capping it off with Joe Johnson game winner to take Game 1 of the first round playoff series with the Clippers.

  • Let’s start at the end. Chris Paul tied the game with 13 seconds left. The Jazz inbounded to Joe Johnson and he calmly went to the front court. In the back court, Gordon came toward him for the ball and Joe kept the possession. He has played 101 playoff games coming in, he had seven game winners in the last 10 years and he had played in seven different Game 7s. He was okay with the moment. Then, he came to the left side of the floor where he interchanged with Joe Ingles, forcing the switch from Blake Griffin defending to Jamal Crawford. The Jazz had been forcing Jamal Crawford to play defense all night. Joe Johnson worked Crawford into the paint and finished it with the game winner.
  • This is so good on so many levels. First, Quin Snyder didn’t call a timeout. He communicated to his players throughout the year how he wants them to play, what the goals are and why and how they should deal with things. The Jazz wanted the ball in either Joe Johnson or Gordon Hayward’s hands and they wanted to make Jamal Crawford switch onto the ball and play defense. Joe Ingles executed by bringing himself to the ball and forcing the Clippers into a switch.
  • Today at shootaround, the Jazz literally ran a play where Quin said, “Here is what we are going to do if we have no timeouts and they just went to the free throw line.” It wasn’t the same play they ran here, but it exemplifies the level of detail Quin goes to and the players knew what they wanted and how to react.
  • The story of the night was the Jazz’s fight after the first play of the game when Rudy Gobert went down with what has been diagnosed as a hyperextension and a bone bruise on his knee. It was enough to make you puke. How could this be happening to our team? The season is over without ever getting a chance to find out if the Jazz are any good. Is the thought every Jazz fan had when Gobert was crawling on the ground, unable to get to his feet.
  • Instead, the Jazz played inspired basketball. The bench was as engaged as I have seen it all year. Quite honestly, our bench has not been that happy-go-lucky group getting all fired up about the team most of this year. Tonight, they were up on every play. Let me clarify that in most arenas, I am not looking at the bench the way I was tonight, but I think this is a fair observation.
  • Joe Johnson was magnificent all game. He battled Blake Griffin, made Blake Griffin defend running around picks and did a good enough job defensively to allow the help defense come to Blake. Blake dominated the first half with 22 points. In the second half, the Jazz’s double teams had a big impact.
  • The Jazz were terrifically prepared before the game and adjusted in the game even better. Blake Griffin was getting early possessions in transition and on rim runs. In the second half, the Jazz took that away and double-teamed him in the post, ruining his rhythm.
  • Gordon Hayward is going to have a hard time in this series. Luc Mbah a Moute is a force defensively and Gordon is not able to shake him. The Jazz did a better job getting Gordon looks in the second half. He also had 10 rebounds.
  • Ron Boone mentioned on the broadcast that with Rudy Gobert out, the Jazz were going to have to make up for his rebounds and Hayward got 10. The Jazz were not crushed on the glass without Rudy.
  • I’m so happy for Derrick Favors. He has been the forgotten man for this season, and tonight he kept the Jazz in the game and made numerous big plays.
  • Jamal Crawford and Mo Speights went a combined 6 of 17. It is really hard for the Clippers to win if they are getting nothing out of these two. Crawford has been a poor shooter in the playoffs for four straight years.
  • This loss would bother me if I am the Clippers, not just because it was without Rudy Gobert, but because everything the Clippers did in the regular season to cause the Jazz problems, the Clippers did again and they lost. The Jazz only took 19 3-pointers, which is a season low in addition to only shooting 19 free throws. Plus, Hayward didn’t get rolling. This is the script the Clippers should use to win games. The only other way to look at it is the Jazz still can’t get these things done against the Clippers, and the Jazz are unlikely to win series taking 19 3-point shots.
  • The Jazz maintained a slow pace of 92.5 possessions.
  • The Jazz’s defense held the Clippers to 102.8 pts per 100 possessions. For all the talk of the Jazz not being able to score on the Clippers, the Clippers haven’t done much against the Jazz this season.
  • JJ Redick was a non-factor. Joe Ingles and Rodney Hood did a great job on him. Ingles literally stripped two defenders from the ball tonight.
  • The Clippers got a good night from CP3, Blake and DeAndre. No Austin Rivers hurts them.
  • I find the Clippers to be the most fascinating team in the playoffs. Can they get over their past bad experiences? Do they want to play together anymore? Is this the end of the road and do they care? What causes the old issues to fester again? Well, things just got more interesting.
  • This is only the eight time this year Favors has played 30 minutes.
  • Gobert went out, Favors got two fouls and Jeff Withey got two fouls in the first quarter before Boris Diaw was asked to play center. The Jazz linked four minutes together with Diaw at center and they stayed even. This was huge.
  • The game stayed within six points until Jazz took an eight-point lead in the fourth quarter, and that was the only time all night the game was outside of two possessions.
  • Joe Ingles set the tone all night.
  • Chris Paul is awesome. The Jazz have a very specific plan on how to play him and he was able to avoid it most of the night, even with best of efforts from the Jazz defenders.
  • Gordon Hayward played 40 minutes and I thought he looked gassed late in the game. He couldn’t get his shoulders square on his shot like he usually does.
  • The playoff experience of Hill, Johnson and Diaw was huge.
  • This was a win that is somewhat representative of the entire season. One more injury punch in the gut and yet the team comes together to put out a remarkable effort with great coaching leading the way.

Emptying the Noggin — See you in the playoffs

Summary: This was a solid win for the Utah Jazz to close the season with 51 wins, eight straight at home and back-to-back wins against the Warriors and the Spurs.

  • The Jazz played a full rotation of players tonight and the lineups Quin Snyder used are really exciting for the playoffs. The Jazz started with Hill, Ingles, Hayward, Diaw and Gobert. Boris has been really good the last few games and makes all the correct plays. It will be interesting to see if the Jazz continue to use him as a starter in the playoffs.
  • From there, the Jazz were able to put out some great combinations. They played Mack, Hood, Hayward, Johnson and Gobert midway through the first quarter. Then Hill, Ingles, Hood, Johnson and Favors closed the first.
  • The second quarter has been the offensive problem all season, with the Jazz ranked 29th in the NBA in offense during the frame, but tonight the Jazz opened the quarter with Hill, Ingles, Hood, Johnson and Favors. Diaw came back to play a few more minutes with Favors. Later in the second, it allowed the Jazz to get in Hill, Hood, Hayward, Johnson and Gobert. That lineup has been awesome for the Jazz this season. It has played limited minutes (62) but when it has been on the floor, they have outscored opponents 148-114.
  • The Jazz closed the half with Favors and Gobert together. The options are endless.
  • Favors is the key to all of this and he looked terrific tonight. His bounce is going to be big in the playoffs.
  • Rodney Hood was aggressive taking 13 shots in 23 minutes.
  • This was a really well-played game. Both of these teams are great defensively and it was taking high level offensive execution for each of the offenses to score. There were lots of plays where the defense was great but guys made really tough shots.
  • The Jazz did a nice job keeping the Spurs from getting 3-point attempts. They took just 21 tonight making only eight.
  • Joe Ingles finished the year shooting 44% from 3.
  • The Jazz get 51 wins and eight straight at home. Vivint Smart Home was loud tonight and it is going to be great in the playoffs.
  • George Hill played another solid 21 minutes.
  • See you in the playoffs.