EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Blazers blow Jazz out in the 2nd half

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN
• After a defensive first half the Blazers made some cool offensive adjustment and took over the game in the 2nd half. The Jazz had defending the Blazers terrifically in the 1st half and had forced Lillard and McCollum into tough looks and make numerous other Blazers to make plays. The Blazers came out with a 3 man weave around the outside and got Lillard free for some good looks and the Blazers got rolling.

• The Jazz defense couldn’t get stops in the 3rd quarter allowing 32 points and the Blazers continued the offensive onslaught into the 4th quarter until they had the game in control and lead by 20.

• Both Lillard and McCollum ended under their season average but the Blazers got double figures from Aminu, Leonard, Henderson and Crabbe.

• Henderson hit 3 threes in the 1st half which is the 2nd time in his season he has hit more than 2 3s in a game. This was a killer.

• Trey Lyles continues to play well. 16 points tonight on 6 of 7 shooting. He hit 2 threes, had some nice drives to the basket and is becoming a solid offensive player. Trey has been working incredibly hard. He is putting in three shooting sessions a game day, before shoot around, after shoot around and pre game. He has worked extra on film with Coach Jeff Warkentein. When things were tough he didn’t get discourage he got determined and that is a great sign for the Jazz.

• Jazz hit Rudy Gobert on a bunch of rolls to the basket and he just couldn’t handle the ball tonight. He didn’t look like he had his balance. Marc Gasol told me he didn’t feel right for a month. He also said it wasn’t a straight line of improvement, one night he would feel good and the next he wouldn’t feel good. Rudy is going to go through this and it makes it tougher without Favors on the floor.

• I don’t know when Derrick is going to play. He just can’t seem to get his back good enough to play.

• Sometimes things happen this season that I feel are stark reality checks and tonight was one of them. When Gerald Henderson who has started over 250 games comes off the Blazers bench, followed by Mo Harkless who has started over 100 games and Chris Kaman is still on their bench. Contrast that to Joe Ingles, Chris Johnson and Jeff Withey and it is a reminder how thin the Jazz roster is and the impact of being the 2nd least experience team in the NBA. Same thing v. Sacramento their bench is a playoff bench with awesome experience.

• Turnovers were a problem for the Jazz in the first half with 10, which was a surprise considering the Blazers don’t usually force turnovers.

• Blazers seem to be a bad match-up for the Jazz. The two games Lillard and McCollum have played they have blown the Jazz out. Onto tomorrow.
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EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Solid win against the schedule

• Good win. Four games in five nights, in four cities, in three time zones makes tonight a tough one no matter who the opponent is. It was nice it was the Lakers—they are not good. The Jazz stayed engaged the entire game, and once they took the lead they never let the Lakers get any closer than eight. That is solid.

• The Jazz are 10-6 in games when they have a fully healthy Rudy Gobert.

• Three really key stretches in the game tonight. Trevor Booker came off the bench for the final 4:41 in the third quarter when the Jazz were dead tired, and he scored on two baskets. Both were hustle plays. Raul Neto hit a three and the next play drove to the basket for a layup that quelled a little run by the Lakers. Finally, Gordon Hayward hit huge shots down the stretch to put this game in the freezer.

• Hayward took 21 shots tonight. He has only taken 21+ shots in eight games in his career. I talked with Gordon for a while before the game about how he’s viewing his role offensively and carrying the team with the injuries. It’s hard because he has been schooled to make the right basketball play. However, if the other team is committed to taking the ball out of his hands and the right basketball play is to move the ball, then should he try to force it and take “bad” shots because no one else is around to make them? What we’ve seen the last two games is a defense that has given him shots, and he’s been more than willing to knock them down. Portland should do the same. Look for Sacramento to trap, and it will be interesting to see how he deals with that.

• Trey Lyles has 28 rebounds in three games. He has 19 defensive rebounds in the last two games.

• The fatigue level on these guys is intense. Neto told me the other day that every game he played in Europe he felt 100% and this year he doesn’t think he has played a single game feeling 100%. The players who have never done this before are having new experiences and trying to figure out how to deal with it.

• Jazz were +4 with Rudy on the floor tonight. They have only been outscored with Rudy on the floor in three games all year.

• Rodney Hood really battled to be ready tonight, and he was able to use his size late in the game to get into the lane and get his shots. He had a really solid 14 points tonight, and six rebounds and four assists added to the points makes for a strong all-around game.

• Chris Johnson’s energy is remarkable and contagious. He and the bench unit changed the game in the second quarter. They led the team on an 11-0 run that gave the Jazz the commanding lead they never relinquished. CJ is everywhere. He makes a ton of plays. He did shoot 0-for-6 from 3-point range, which has always been the item that keeps him away from sticking in the league. That and a need to improve his handle. His impact on the game has been terrific.

• Lakers scored 14 in the first, 16 in the second, 20 in the third. They missed a ton of looks, but the Jazz defense was solid.

• Lakers got 29% of all available offensive rebounds, which is a little too high.

• Jazz go to 17-20 and are getting healthier. The schedule coming up is generous. A real chance to move back to .500 and beyond.