SUMMARY: After a spirited three-quarters of basketball a convergence of circumstances zapped the Jazz and the Nuggets blew the Jazz out.
- This is about the Jazz and so I won’t be mentioning the Nuggets much. However, before I dig into everything from a Jazz perspective I was impressed by Denver. They look like a team that missed the playoffs by a single game. They are playing with an urgency they didn’t play with last year. The defense is much better and being played as a group. They are know where they need to rotate and they are getting to the spots. They were impressive and have a really good shot to be a top 4 team in the West.
- I thought the Jazz were really good tonight for 3 quarters. The defense was as good as it has been all season long. They got better each quarter. They were playing connected. They had a plan on what do with Jokic. The energy was great. The Jazz have made slip in forcing turnovers this year and they had a season high in steals and that represented the increased effort and focus. The Jazz played defense with a thrust. Denver had 68 points thru 3 quarters.
- The Nuggets were putting two guys on the ball on the pick and roll ball handler when he came off the pick and then bringing another if not two guys to cut off the roll to the basket. This blows up the timing both from the passer and the roller. The answer is to get off the ball once you have brought both defenders to you and then attack and swing for a good look, likely a three. The Jazz did this but didn’t make any shots.
- At halftime the Jazz had 40% shots at the rim and 38% of shots as threes. That is great. They just weren’t making.
- Then the 4th quarter happened. There was a lot that happened here and it all converged into the wheels falling off, the axels sparking and the car crashing.
- The Jazz were playing their 6th game in 6 cities. The ESPN scheduling charts where teams are at a significant disadvantage had the Jazz highlighted in this game. The Jazz gave incredible effort for 3 quarters and when things went array they didn’t have a reserve tank to pull from.
- The fatigue is obvious in the shooting numbers. The Jazz were 6 of 27 from three in the first three quarters and Jae Crowder had 4 of them. The rest of the team was 2 for 18 from three. In the fourth quarter the Jazz were 0 for 4. Making the rest of the team 2 for 22 on the night. That is unnatural. That is fatigue.
- Jae Crowder was great tonight. He played with incredible energy and nailed 4 threes. His final +/- number is really misleading. He was +14 thru 3 quarters and the Jazz lead by 5.
- The 4th quarter had a bunch of weird events. Malik Beasley who is not shooting well hit a three to spark the Nuggets. Quin went back to Donovan with 9:51 left and the Jazz up 4 and then Crowder the next possession when it was a 1 point game. Then the officals missed a really easy call. Murray lost the ball out of bounds and it should have been Jazz ball up 2 with 9:26 left and all the Jazz regulars back on the floor. Instead, Karl Lane kicked the call. The Nuggets in bounded and Beasley hit another three to give the Nuggets a 2 points lead. Beasley was 5 of his last 17 coming in and 1 of his last 7 from three. Then after an Ingles turnover the Jazz played brilliant defense and Mason Plumlee with the shot clock about to expire throws up a prayer and it goes in. His first three in 18 career attempts. Nuggets by 5. Then with it a 5 point game Donovan drives gets hurt and leaves the game. The Jazz become disheartened and it gets out of control. But that sequence was nuts.
- There were two other sequences in the game where the Jazz and Nuggets got the exact same shots back to back and the Nuggets made it and the Jazz missed. One was Exum on a wide open corner 3 and then Harris had the same shot and he hit it. Then the same happened a few players later.
- I really like most of what I saw tonight. My only concern is how the starting lineup can find the offensive flow it had at the end of last year. In the 1st quarter they were down 13-9 in 5:14 seconds and were 3 for 9 shooting. In the 3rd quarter they were even for 3:26 but again shot 3 for 9. They figured it out last year, so I assume they will again this year but thru 9 games this group is having a hard time scoring.
- This one was most likely in the L column when the schedule came out. It feels worse because it will be grouped into the 2 previous losses but tonight the Jazz showed all the signs of what they need to be to be a really good team.
LOCKED ON JAZZ – Why so passive? How Harden blows up the Jazz defense? Donovan Mitchell 2nd year playoffs
The Utah Jazz are getting ready for Game #3 v. the Houston Rockets. David Locke, the radio voice of the Utah Jazz and Jazz NBA Insider takes a look at why the Jazz looked so passive in Game 2 in Houston. Then Locke digs into what makes Harden so unique and why he has blown up the #1 defense in the NBA. Locke also takes a look at what other 2nd year players like Donovan Mitchell have done in their 2nd year playoff season.
LOCKED ON JAZZ – How good is Houston? Jazz can’t hit open shots. Facebook Live questions
The Utah Jazz have been blown out in both of the first two games of their first round series with the Houston Rockets. David Locke, the radio voice of the Utah Jazz and Jazz NBA Insider tries to figure out what has happened and why it has happened. Plus, it is a live show so Locke takes your questions from Facebook live.
EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Opening stretch tells the strory
Summary: The Jazz start poorly, the Rockets pounced and Harden was amazing it all lead to a Rockets blow out of the Jazz.
- The Jazz opened the night turning the ball over on 4 of their first 8 possessions. The Rockets scored 10 points on those 4 turnovers and that would tell the story of the night. The Jazz trailed 12 to 4 at the first time out.
- Then Harden went nuts. He is incredible. He never misses a read. In Game 1 the Jazz took away the step back and free throws. In the first quarter he had as many step backs and as many free throws as he had all of the first game. I really have no idea how you are supposed to guard him, He was 5 of 11 on step back tonight. He makes those at 40%. You have to take that away but the only way to do that is to play him from behind and force him into a drive.
- He has become the perfect modern player. The league values the three. He can make it at nearly 40%. The league knows you can’t afford to have a 40% three point shooter take 15 to 20 threes a game so you have to play him in this strange manner to force him to drive. Harden would take 20 threes if you let him. No one has ever had his three point shooting step back coupled with his handle and his passing. This just destroys the defense. When you force him to drive he has the floater game and he reads the defense perfectly.
- The Jazz defense failed in transition tonight. According to cleaningtheglass the Rockets averaged 1.7 pts per transition and only .94 in the half court. The .94 is a little above average but the Rockets are usually much better than that in the halfcourt. They are the #2 halfcourt team in the NBA. So the Jazz halfcourt defense was actually ok tonight.
- The Jazz offense is where things should be most concerning. The Jazz were not able to score with regularity against the Rockets in the playoffs last year, they weren’t able to score against them in the regular season and they haven’t been able to score against them tonight.
- The Rockets offense averages about 116 pts per 100 possessions. Even if the Jazz have a great defensive night hey will be around 108 but the Jazz offense v. the Rockets all season has been below 1 point per possessions. Until that is fixed it is hard see a scenario where the Jazz defense can hold the Rockets offense down far enough to win a game.
- The talk around the Rockets is that they are a better team than a year ago. A year ago they won 65 games and were a Chris Paul hamstring or a glutton of missed 3s away from winning the title.
- The Jazz average .74 pts in the half court
- Rubio and Crowder are a combined 2 of 14 on open threes.
- The Jazz came into the night 22 of 100 on above the break three point shots v. the Rockets this year. It continued again tonight as the Jazz shot 6 of 27 on above the break 3 and some of those were late.
- The Jazz have lost the first two games by 52 points. The Rockets look to be capable of winning the title
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