SUMMARY: The Utah Jazz eliminate any likely scenario of having home court advantage with a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers
- After a sluggish first quarter the Jazz regained control of the 2nd game in the 2nd quarter with a solid defensive quarter (allowing 20 points) and good ball movement that lead to great looks. However, the Jazz blinked to open the 3rd quarter and the Lakers took control of the game and stunningly the Jazz were never able to get control of the game.
- You have to be good to beat an NBA team. The Lakers are playing really hard. Every guy they are rolling out is either a free agent or trying to establish themselves as an NBA player and in turn are playing for their careers. When you don’t make that effort you end up in trouble. It has happened to both the Clippers and the Jazz the last two games the Lakers played.
- The Jazz brought Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell back in the game with 10 minutes left in a 4 point game and they never got control of the game. Instead Kentavious Caldwell-Pope became an offensive juggernaut and the Jazz couldn’t get a stop.
- The Jazz defense was not good tonight.
- The Lakers did some things to the Jazz offensively that felt different. The Jazz struggle the most offensively this year against Houston who generally switches all picks. The answer to teams that switch or trap is often to never set the pick and then they aren’t able to switch if the two players never come together. What the Lakers did (it seemed without re-watching the game) was bring a third player into the play who stopped the drive. Lots of teams bring a third player into the play and that is usually a wing to deal with Rudy’s roll while taking the big over to the driver (usually Donovan). This leaves a smaller guy on Rudy and he usually dunks. The Lakers kept the big on Rudy. I don’t think the Jazz got more than 1 or 2 Rudy lobs all night and then brought the third guy to the ball. The Jazz found the open corner 3 for most of the 2nd quarter and the beginning of the 3rd but the Lakers adjusted to that and the Jazz didn’t get it later.
- The Jazz went 0 for 7 on above the break three point shots in the 4th quarter
- KCP went 4 for 4 in the mid range in the 4th quarter and then capped it with a great pass to McGee for a dunk. It is nearly impossible to take away all 3 levels (3pt, mid range and rim) at the same time. The Jazz take away the three and the rim (that is smart). When Caldwell-Pope gets going in the mid range it eventually forces you to pull the big up a step to alter his shot and then McGee sneaks behind the big for the dunk. That is exactly what happenend.
- Huge sequence of the game early in the 4th The Jazz lead by 2 when Jae Crowder drove the basket and missed a layup and fell to the ground. The Lakers came back 5 on 4 and Mike Muscala hit a three. On the next possession Jae missed a three and tried to draw a foul falling to the ground. Again it was a 5 on 4 and this time KCP hit a three that would get him rolling. The Lakers now lead 89-85 and Quin went to Rudy and Donovan but the game had swung and the Jazz never got it back.
- The NBA got wacky tonight. Denver sure seems to have purposely lost to Portland with the hope of having Houston slip to the 4th seed and Portland move up to the 3rd However, the risk for Denver is if they lose on Tuesday they could slip to the 3rd seed behind Houston. From a Jazz standpoint, the strange thing is if the Jazz are trying to pick their opponent they have very little control, but whatever control they have would be out the window if they won Tuesday. A in on Tuesday would lock the Jazz into the 5th spot. There is chance still for OKC to get the 5th seed. If OKC beats Houston and Milwaukee and the Jazz lose out then the Jazz go to 6th and OKC is 5th. If this happens and Portland wins out then Denver’s master plan has worked and the Rockets slip to 4. If that happens there is a chance the Jazz would prefer to play Portland than Houston and could lose on the final night of the year on purpose. It is a bit nuts.
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