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EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – It was the Utah Jazz offense not Harden or the officials

David Locke

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SUMMARY:  The Jazz offensive collapse leads to blowout loss to the Houston Rockets 125-99

  • James Harden will get most of the talk and fans will likely talk about the calls or lack thereof.  However, the game changed with the Jazz inability to penetrate the Rockets defensive system.

 

  • The Jazz lead the game 42-39 with 7:10 left in the 2nd At this point the game was very high paced and neither team had clicked in offensively.  The teams were both shooting below 40%.   Then the Jazz cracked defensively and Harden took over the final portion of the 2nd quarter.  By halftime the Rockets were ahead 65-50 closing on a 16 to 8 run.

 

  • The open of the third quarter was no better and before everyone was back from getting their halftime refreshments the run was a 16 to 2 run to start the 3rd quarter and it was a 32-10 run since the Jazz lead the game 42-39.

 

  • Harden was terrific and is simply unguardable but the issue for Utah was their inability to penetrate the defensive switching of the Rockets. The Rockets would switch and the Jazz offense would look like it was in retreat.  They were able to slip the picks, turn the corner or attack downhill.

 

  • The Jazz play the least amount of isolation of any team in the NBA. The Rockets switching defense forces teams into the most isolation of any team in the NBA.  This is not a strength for the Jazz.

 

  • In reaction, to the struggles against the Rockets in the half court the Jazz pushed the tempo and started playing out of character. The Jazz are 29th in the NBA offensively from 22 to 18 on the shot clock.  It is just not something the team does very well.   It made sense to try it tonight but it wasn’t something the Jazz were able to do well.

 

  • Harden is impossible to guard. Every team has a different approach and for 26 straight games the same result has taken place he scores over 30 points.  He is difficult to officiate as well, but to minimize his game to be about the officials is to completely miss the point of his game.  The Jazz were committed to taking away his step back three and committed to make him drive to his right.  Yet, when he was able to get to his right and get into the paint he wrecked havoc on the Jazz defensively.

 

  • Rather than having a pick and roll with Capela, the Rockets used Faried stationed on the baseline and then when Rudy left him it was a drop off and a dunk from Harden. In addition, when the Jazz brought the third guy to defend the Rockets got the Jazz into rotation defensively.

 

  • However, with all this Rockets offensive talk the real issue was the Jazz inability to get into the paint to start their offense and break down the Rockets defense. The Jazz final shooting percentage of 36% was their high of the night and was inflated.  The Jazz spent most of the game in the 30% range.

 

  • The Jazz offense was in the 4th percentile of all performances and their halfcourt pts per play was 60.9 according to cleaning the glass the lowest of any team in the NBA.

 

  • What I am trying to say is every time you start talking about Harden and move the conversation back to the Jazz offense and try to figure out what the Jazz need to do offensively against the Rockets. A Rockets team who in the last 10 games was 29th defensively and 27th defensively for the season.

 

  • Jazz slip to 10-17 against teams that are above .500 this season

 

  • Rockets were +31 in Harden’s 40 minutes.

 

  • Derrick Favors had 5 blocks tonight

David Locke enters his ninth year as the radio play-by-play voice of the Utah Jazz, having spent the majority of his career in radio in Salt Lake City and Seattle. In the summer of 2016, Locke created the Locked on Podcast Network which has podcast daily bite sized podcasts for every NBA and NFL team. A native of Palo Alto, Calif., Locke graduated from Occidental College in Los Angeles with a degree in Political Science and Sociology. Locke and his wife have a son and a daughter.

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