Emptying the Noggin — Jazz get a must-win against bad defensive team

Summary: The Jazz broke a three-game losing streak heading into the All-Star break with a blowout win over the Portland Trail Blazers, 111-88.

  • The Jazz’s defensive plan on Lillard and CJ was terrific. They played a bit more aggressively with the big man on the ball handler and it stymied the Blazers’ flow. Lillard went 3 for 19 and CJ went 8 for 19.
  • George Hill was incredible defensively tonight, denying passes, making Lillard and CJ work and then forcing them exactly where the Jazz wanted defensively. This was a great leadership night for Hill as this team needed a good defensive game.
  • The Jazz’s offense struggled early, scoring just 18 in the first quarter and 22 in the second quarter. The Jazz hit on only 3 of 17 shots outside of the paint in the first half of the game. In the second half, the Jazz started to make shots you would expect them to make and ran away from Portland.
  • The Jazz went 8 of 10 from three in the second half to finish 11 of 22 from three against the Blazers who are the 28th ranked team in the NBA defending the three-point shot.
  • Dante Exum had a really exciting game for himself and the fans. The burst that made him the fifth pick and the draft was there, and he was — for the most part — in control around the basket, not throwing wild shots at the rim. Dante is going through a nearly impossible task of figuring out who he is in the league and rehabbing from the ACL at the same time. He looks more and more healthy by the game and as that worry subsides, he will be able to discover how he can be a valuable NBA player. Right now, it is with his aggressiveness to the basket. He is a poor shooter (29% on all jump shots) but he has a gift with his length and his burst of speed.
  • In the first half, Gordon Hayward was 2 for 9, George Hill was 3 for 8 and the Jazz still led by three points. They got rolling in the second half: Hayward hit 6 of 9 and Hill hit on 4 of 7, and the Jazz exploded for a 71 point second half.
  • Joe Johnson has been on fire from three – 20 of his last 36.
  • Derrick Favors’ 25 minutes were really good tonight. He only scored 2 points and had 6 rebounds, but he was good defensively tonight in his roll with helping on the guard play.
  • Joe Ingles got free for three, hitting on 4 of 6. He has not been given that air space recently.
  • Gordon Hayward capped off an awesome first half of the season with 22 points 6 rebounds 7 assists.
  • This is a nice, must-needed win. Portland is awful defensively and the Jazz took advantage. The Jazz go to an impressive 26-7 against below .500 teams.

Emptying the Noggin — Clippers impose their will on Utah

Summary: The Jazz get blown out by the Clippers, 88-72, trailing by as many as 29 late in the third quarter and offensively struggling the entire game.

  • The Clippers came into this game physically imposing their will on the Jazz. Thurl Bailey mentioned early in the game that it was chippy. The Clippers came in tonight with the objective of establishing a dominance over the Jazz in case they met in the playoffs and they did exactly that to the Jazz.
  • The Jazz’s offense never got rolling. They scored 19 points in the first quarter and then went 12 of 41 shooting combined in the second and third quarters. The Jazz did the same versus Boston, hitting on 12 of 44 shots.
  • Gordon Hayward was 2 for 12 and George Hill was 2 for 11.
  • This is a great win for the Clippers. They are 2-0 in the season series versus the Jazz. They just went 3-2 on the road trip without Chris Paul, though I still don’t believe Blake Griffin and Chris Paul complement each other.
  • The Jazz have lost at home to Memphis, Oklahoma City and the Clippers this month, all of whom were behind Utah in the playoff picture at the time. Those are games you would like to win at home.
  • There is not a lot of analysis that goes into this game. The Clippers took it to the Jazz, and as the Jazz’s offense got worse and worse, their defense got a bit softer. Playing defense when you aren’t making any shots is a nearly impossible thing to do in the NBA.
  • Boris Diaw got the first run at power forward tonight instead of Trey Lyles. Lyles came in the second half when the game was virtually over and went 0 for 9 in 13 minutes.

The All-Star break can’t come soon enough for this group. They need to re-establish who they are, get a clear picture of everyone’s roles and get ready for a final push for playoff position.