EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Hayward and Gobert continue to amaze


Summary: Despite a sluggish defensive-less start the closed out in a big time fashion with a 13-0 run to win their third in a row with a 114-107 win over Orlando
• The Jazz allowed 65 first half points to a team ranked 27th in the league offensively. Igor Kokokskov at halftime said he couldn’t even recognize the team that was the floor. The Jazz were passive defensively and it let the Magic get a rhythm and feel good about themselves. Elfrid Payton was a tough cover for the Jazz with a career high 28 points .

• Stretch 5s are hard on the Jazz. They pull Rudy Gobert out of the paint and it exposes some of the weaknesses of the Jazz defense. A stretch 5 and a penetrating point guard are a tough combination on the Jazz right now.

• Gordon Hayward and Rudy Gobert are simply awesome.

• Gordon Hayward notched 23 points, 5 rebounds and 7 assists. He was being guarded by Aaron Gordon who is a really long athletic defender. The progression of Gordon’s game is one of the most remarkable stories of this NBA season. He has gotten better and better every year. But not a little bit better. He has gotten mammoth amounts better. He is a bonafide beast on the floor right now. He has developed each of his skiills, his strength and his footwork to an elite level. He has become a 20 point every night guy. That is insanely hard to do in the NBA. It is even more remarkable when you do it inside of the team concept every night without an ounce of selfishness. It is even moreso when you look at his background as a player who was never a scorer and was drafted because he made his teammates better. He still does that. He makes his teammates better every night while controlling the game with his offense.

• Rudy Gobert is in the same realm. 19 rebounds tonight. His 27 game streak of 10 rebound or more is the 6th longest streak in the NBA over the last 20 years. THE LAST 20 YEARS !!!!!!. Tonight he added 19 points. He did it on 9 shots. He was 5 of 7 from the line. Two years ago the Jazz played the Magic and he played 11 minutes. It still has not been 2 years since the Enes Kanter trade. To make this jump in a span of two years is unthinkable.

• Alec Burks played regular rotation minutes with Joe Johnson getting the night off for rest. He played 15 really good minutes and finished with 8 points and 6 rebounds. That is really exciting. He looked super. He is an athlete this roster doesn’t have.

• Late in the game Gordon Hayward drove the lane and found Derrick Favors on the left baseline about 15 feet from the basket. Favors took one dribble and EXPLODED. EXPLODED like we haven’t seen all year and for most of the second half of last year. He went up and was way above the rim for a dunk and a foul. Listening to Derrick after the game with Tony Parks I was left with the impression that he might not of known if he could do that. Sometimes you need the moment to take over the mind and the body and prove to you what you are capable of. Derrick has been getting better every night and tonight he had 17 points and 6 rebounds.

• Rodney Hood went down with a really scary injury to his right knee but the initial word of the locker-room sounds relatively encouraging that he has a hyperextended knee. However, he will be re-evaluated tomorrow and we will know more then.

• The Magic lead this game 42-29 at the end of 1. The Jazz took a 5 point lead in the 2nd but the Magic worked back to a 1 point halftime lead. The Jazz then fell down 9 in the third before taking a 1 point lead going to the 4th. The Jazz seemed to be in control up 5 in the 4th but the Magic surged to 5 point lead with 4:07 left and then the Jazz answered on a 13-0 run.

• The 13-0 run ran from the 3:37 mark and the Magic had the ball up 5 but turned it over. Not having Fournier was a big loss at this point for the Magic. Hayward went 3 for 3 from the line in this stretch and is now 19 of 20 in the clutch from the line this year. Hawyard then assisted Favors on the dunk and then Hill hit Hood for a corner 3. Joe Ingles wrapped it up with 2 more threes.

• Jazz win their third straight and 4th in 5. 2-0 on a run of 11 straight games being favored.

Emptying the Noggin — Jazz get super win against a super team

Summary: In a tremendous basketball game, the Utah Jazz prevailed over the World Champion Cleveland Cavaliers, 100-92. The game had runs, defensive strategy, coaching moves and star level play in a nice win that was filled with entertainment.

·       There is no way I will be able to cover everything that happened in this game, here but here goes an attempt. From a game flow stand point, the game was even until the Jazz went on a 21-8 run to close the second quarter and led by 15 at the half. Then, Cavaliers went on a 17-0 run to take the lead in the third, and the Jazz answered on a 16-0 run and the Jazz led by nine going into the fourth quarter.

·       Impressively, the Jazz never let the Cavaliers in the game in the fourth quarter. Utah took the lead to 15 by the 8:37 mark and the Cavs didn’t get it down to single digits until the 3:54 mark when they got it within eight. That lead was trimmed to six points, but Rodney Hood answered with an enormous three and that was it for the world champs.

·       The key moment of the game happens with the score at 35-33 in the second quarter. Quin Snyder opted to go small, bringing in Joe Ingles to play with Hayward, Hood and Hill. This was done to combat the pick and roll coverage of the Cavaliers and the game changed. The Jazz went on a 21-8 run to close the second quarter. The Cavaliers stayed big the entire time with Thompson and Love on the floor with LeBron at the small forward. The Cavs were trapping the pick and roll ball handler with two men and the Jazz were able to get the ball out of the double team and then move the ball well enough that they got open looks. They hit Rudy a few times and then hit three three-point shots (Hood made two and Hill one) to take the 15-point halftime lead.

·       The key to this is getting the ball out of the trap and the Jazz guards did a nice job with that.

·       The Cavaliers got the game down to one in the third quarter and Joe Ingles entered the game again with the same small lineup as the second quarter and the same thing happened.  LeBron was rolling at this point — and I MEAN ROLLING!!!! He was terrific. By the end of the quarter, the Jazz were up 75-66 and had taken control of the game.

·       As I mentioned, LeBron was killing it. He had 12 points in the first 5:12 of the third quarter. From the time the Jazz went small with Ingles and Hayward defending LeBron, LeBron went 1 for 4 from the field. Ingles had the assignment for most of the possessions.

·       Gordon Hayward answered LeBron with his own run. With the game tied at 60-60, Hayward hit a shot to make it 62-60 with 5:47 left. He wasn’t done. He hit back-to-back threes to make 68-60 on his own personal 8-0 run. Hayward scored 10 points in 3:30 to take control of the game.

·       Rodney Hood hit numerous big fourth quarter shots and had 10 fourth quarter points. It was great for Rod, who has been struggling.

·       The Jazz’s small defensive lineup got the Cavaliers out of their game as they tried to post Love, so they played more one on one and the offense wasn’t its usual machine.

·       The Jazz instituted three different pick and roll coverages tonight depending on personnel. I am sure the Cavs know what they are at this point, but just in case, I will leave out the details. What is impressive is over the course of the game, I only saw the Jazz blow the coverages about three times. This is hard depending on what personnel was involved in the play the Jazz changed what they were doing and possible where it was on the floor. It can be hard for players to remember all the personnel, so if player X is involved, I do this and if it is player Y, I do this, but if it’s Z, then it is another coverage. This seemed to break the Cavs from their rhythm. As the night went on, it felt like the Cavs figured out some of the Jazz approaches and then the Jazz defense executed well enough to get stops.

·       This is a player’s league, and if Rodney doesn’t make shots and Gordon doesn’t have the amazing end to the third, the Jazz don’t win. This game was a real testament to the what Quin Snyder and his coaching staff are able to do in preparation and what they are able to get their players to do in the midst of a highly emotional game.

·       The other Quin Snyder move was calling a play for a corner three for Rodney Hood at one of the biggest moments of the game. Not only did it work, but it is the type of play where a coach buys a lot of loyalty from a player.

·       Hayward shot 10 of 12 for 28 points. He also had 9 rebounds.

·       Quin Snyder complimented the wing play defensively.

This is a super win for the Jazz. They were 6-12 against above .500 teams going into tonight.  Now, they play 11 games that are all possible wins on the schedule. This could be a spark to a streak.