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EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Tired Jazz carried by fresh Exum in a needed win

David Locke

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EMPTYING THE NOGGIN
Summary: Jazz get a needed win win over a tanking Grizzlies team highlighted by a Dante Exum explosion

• I think the Jazz are worn down. They don’t seem as sharp as they were earlier in the stretch. But this has been grueling. Everyone is playing huge minutes. Every game is a must win. Every moment is intensified. Shots are falling short. The defense tonight wasn’t sharp. This has been an unreal run by this group to be back in the playoff chase and it has taken a toll on everyone involved. The team is doing its best to keep the guys as fresh as they can be. They are shortening practices, taking shootaround off but the wear on these guys is real right now. I am not sure if and when they re-gain their bounce. Though I am not sure the other teams in the playoff run are in any different circumstances.

• The Jazz have had slow starts the last few games and it was a focus tonight to make sure they didn’t have that issue. They didn’t. They lead 20-10 and 29-14 at the end of the 1st quarter. The 14 points was the fewest allowed all season.

• Then the game lost its energy. Marc Gasol went bananas. He ended up with 28 points on 11 of 12 shooting. He took over the game and the Jazz couldn’t get stops. The Grizzlies hit on 26 of 39 shots in the 2nd and 3rd quarters. They outscored the Jazz 60 to 52 in that stretch. The Jazz couldn’t stop Gasol and really couldn’t stop the Grizzlies. Marc Gasol checked out of the game with 4:00 left in the 3rd quarter with the Grizzlies leading 61-60 and never returned. Memphis is making their own move in the standings.

• The Jazz offense won the game tonight. They struggled on the above the break 3 again for most of the night but they were good in the 2 point range and they generated 7 corner 3s. Unofficially, the jazz were 5 of 17 on above the break 3. They are below 30% since the all-star break.

• Dante Exum was fabulous tonight. His speed is special and he looks like he is learning how to use it. He is getting into the paint at will and he has shown a variety of ways to finish. He goes all the way to the rim, he is also floating it up from a few feet out and other times going high off the glass. He is quick, but seems to be in better control and is making plays. He is becoming an asset off the bench.

• More importantly, Dante’s defense looks much better. Last year, he would put his hands out in front and get called for foul after foul. This year he is playing with his hands out and showing and not getting called for fouls plus he is quick enough to stay in front of the defender. He also seems much stronger and on balance more than he was in the past.

• Dante also hit 3 corner 3s tonight.

• Joe Ingles did a great deal of playing making in this game without Ricky Rubio, who was out with a hamstring injury and was noticeably missed. Ingles finished with another double double with 17 points, 10 assists to go with his 5 rebounds. He hit two mammoth corner 3s.

• Donovan scored 20 points again. This is the 42nd time this year. Over the last 20 years the only rookies to surpass this are Blake Griffin, Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant.

• Derrick Favors closed the game in place of Rudy Gobert

• Royce O’Neale got the start and directly impacted the first three defensive plays to set the tone for a great defensive quarter. It was his 4th start. He had 13 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists which is right what he is averaging as a starter.

• The Jazz, Minnesota, Oklahoma City and New Orleans are all at 33 losses. Clippers and Nuggets are at 35. Every game is a huge game.

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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