EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Jazz early woes too much to overcome in loss to Wolves

SUMMARY: A furious rally couldn’t cut the first half deficit as the Jazz fall to Minnesota, 109-98.
• The Jazz offense had another tough first half. They opened the night 1 of 7 and trailed 15-3. By the end of the first, they trailed 33-14 and had hit just 6 of 21 with an 0 for 6 3-point shooting start. The first quarter shooting% and EFG% was 28.6.

• The Jazz’s second quarter got a bit better as they won the frame 28-24. However, the start of the third was bad and the Jazz found themselves back where the game started. Utah hit just three of their first 10 shots to start the third and were down by 19 at the first time out of the quarter.

• Ricky Rubio’s shooting woes continued as Minnesota obviously left him unguarded. This disrupted the Jazz’s ability to get into the pick and roll game to Favors that worked versus Brooklyn, and Rubio couldn’t make them pay as he went 0 for 5 from 3 and is now 1 of his last 24.

• The hustle from the Jazz in the first half was really solid and allowed the Jazz to cut into the first quarter deficit.

• In the fourth quarter, the Jazz rallied to get to within 11 but were never able to get the game down to single digits.

• The 40 3-point shots from the Jazz are the most they have taken in a regular season, non-overtime game in franchise history.

• The Jazz shot 12 of 20 and 7 of 12 from 3 in the fourth quarter, which kept their overall numbers respectable.

• Donovan Mitchell scored 20 or more for the fifth time in nine games and more importantly, continued his increased efficiency as he shot 10 of 19 on his way to 24 points. In the opening games of the year, he really struggled to finish at the rim and has now learned how to get to the rim and finish in traffic. His growth is really impressive.

• Minnesota took advantage of Rudy Gobert’s absence and attacked the rim from the very beginning of the game; Towns and Gibson each had 9 points in the first quarter.

• Minnesota’s transition defense is as haphazard as any team I’ve seen, but the Jazz were unable to take advantage of it with any consistency.

• One thing to keep an eye on is if the Jazz continue to force turnovers. So many of the Jazz’s turnovers are forced when teams drive into Rudy and then have to throw a pass out that is not in the natural offense. There wasn’t that fear around the rim tonight without Rudy Gobert.

• Alec Burks was 5 of 8 and had another solid game.

• This was the home stand when the Jazz had hoped to get some rhythm and confidence. Unfortunately, that has not taken place.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Favors dominates and did the Jazz discover some things

Summary: Derrick Favors dominated the inside and the Jazz break a four game losing streak with a 114-106 win over Brooklyn Nets.
• Derrick Favors started at center tonight with Rudy Gobert out of the lineup with a knee contusion sustained in the Miami game. Favors starting at center this pushed Thabo Sefolosha into the starting lineup as the 4. The floor was wide open and nearly immediately you could see the impact it had on the Jazz offense. Ricky Rubio and Derrick Favors were able to play a pick and roll game with room and available passing lanes that have not been present with Rudy Gobert. In addition, Brooklyn only played 11 minutes of the game with a center and this allowed the Jazz to dominate the restricted area and punish the Nets.

• The Jazz may have discovered a few things tonight they can use moving forward. The combination of Rubio, Favors and Gobert has struggled very badly this year. They simply have not been able to score. With just Favors tonight, the offense had a flow and players had room to work. Quin Snyder had planned on using Derrick more in the pick and roll and more at center and he did it with great success. I would anticipate Derrick playing the non-Rudy minutes at center moving forward.

• The other discovery is using Thabo Sefolosha as the 4. The Jazz have been playing around with this recently but saw it for an extended period tonight and it has some value. Thabo is a great defensive player. He is a super cutter and an average 3-point shooter. On offense, teams respect him enough that they move out when he spreads to the 3-point line. Opponents have not been following Favors at all and stretching him was having no value. Sefolosha’s cutting is not very valuable when Favors and Gobert are both in the paint, but with just one big he brings another element. He is also a good rebounder.

• Defensively when Sefolosha, Joe Ingles, Donovan Mitchell and Ricky Rubio are on the floor they can all switch, but more importantly they are all active hand defenders. Ingles, Sefolosha and Rubio were all top 10 in steal percentage last season and Mitchell is impressing people with his defense. Couple this with either Favors and Gobert as a rim protector and you have quite a defensive unit.

• Favors’ rim protection was very good tonight

• Brooklyn is limited and not a good enough team to make season long determinations around, but what the Jazz saw tonight gives them some things to try moving forward.

• The Jazz shot selection was more in line with what it should be this season, particularly in the case of Ricky Rubio. Rubio has been unsuccessful as the second highest volume shot taker for the Jazz and took just nine shots tonight. That is where he should be. If he has a bad night, the impact is lessened. He had 10 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists tonight.

• Rubio and Favors had a connection tonight we haven’t seen with Rubio and Gobert. Was it because the floor was spread or is there something about Favors’ game that better fits Rubio?

• Favors is better at catching bounce passes than Rudy and a bit better at catching on the move and exploding in traffic to the basket. Rudy is a vertical offensive player.

• Rodney Hood bounced back tonight with a really solid 7 of 16 shooting and 19 points. This is his third straight game with 19 points and he has shown a level of consistency in the last five games.

• Donovan Mitchell made a ton of plays tonight. He was driving to the basket and corkscrewing at the window; he was really special with some of the plays he made. He finished with 26 point and has now scored 20+ in four games this year equaling the most by any rookie.

• Joe Ingles had another well rounded line of 17 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists.

• Solid win. Much needed win. I’m a bit reluctant to take too much from the discoveries because of Brooklyn’s limitations, but all of them are worth trying again.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Defensive effort doesn’t get offensive support

SUMMARY: The Jazz made just 4 of 33 shot attempts in the second half, yet remarkably stayed in the game until the end.
• It feels as though four made field goals in a half might be close to an NBA record. It is the fewest field goals ever allowed by the Miami Heat in a half. The NBA record for fewest field goals in a game is 18.

• Honestly, I have no idea why we are having such a hard time scoring. Is it bad shooting, lack of spacing or is it building on itself? The spacing is not good. There’s not another team playing two bigs with similar skill sets like Favors and Gobert, so spacing is hard to come by. On the other hand, we don’t have great shooters so at some point it is just an inability to hit shots.

• Quin Snyder tried some interesting things tonight when he used Favors more in the pick and roll early in the game to get Favors some mid-roll action. If Favors is spacing to the outside and the other team isn’t honoring it, Gobert is going to have a tough time getting the roll to the rim.

• The Jazz were breaking the paint and moving the ball early and the game had a pace to it. As the night went on, that disappeared. The Jazz want to get into the paint early in a possession and then work off that advantage but they don’t have enough players who are capable of doing that.

• The Jazz wanted Ricky Rubio to keep his dribble alive with the Nash dribble along the baseline to create opportunities around the rim. It had a flash of possibility but it also led to some turnovers.

• Ricky Rubio has to be better. He was 0 for 5 with five turnovers. He is 9 of his last 40 and one of his last nine from 3. More than the shooting issues, I am stunned at how sloppy he has been with the basketball. It felt as though his five turnovers tonight were avoidable without being conservative.

• Rudy Gobert took a hit to the side of his knee and looked really bad, but somehow he was able to come back in the game and play the final portion.

• The Jazz were great defensively. To have this type of offensive futility and stay in a game is hard to fathom. They were up three when Gobert blocked a Whiteside shot but with :04 on the shot clock, Waiters came off a pick and hit a tough corner 3 to tie the game. The Heat then proceed to go on a 10-0 run to blow the game open in the final moments.

• Rodney Hood shot eight free throws tonight. He has taken 18 in two games and he is now 32 of 33 from the line this season.

• Unfortunately, Rodney missed 11 straight shots to end the night.

• Joe Ingles had a nice well rounded box score again with 4 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals.

• The Jazz forced 21 turnovers.

• Alec Burks had his best game of the year with 22 minutes and 4 of 8 shooting. He continued his awesome 3-point shooting this season hitting 2 of 2 and had 12 points.

• Donovan Mitchell hit the first two shots of the night and then went 3 for his next 12.

• The Jazz had no offensive rebounds in the first half and four for the entire game. With the decrease in offensive rebounding around the league, I believe the offensive rebound has added value then it has had in the past and it may be the answer for the Jazz to be a viable offensive team. The Jazz came into the game 23rd in the league in offensive rebounding. It may need to be a focus so the Jazz can get some put backs and pound people inside.