EMPTYING THE NOGGIN
Summary: The Utah Jazz put on a third-quarter blitz of momentous levels to blow out the Portland Trailblazers ending the Blazers 9 game home wins steak while winning their own 9th straight win.
- The third quarter into the fourth quarter is the best basketball the Jazz have played all season. They hit the Blazers to start the 3rd quarter and never let off the gas. If it was a boxing match they would have made the Blazers take a standing 8 count. The Jazz just hit them with everything. Stifling defense, long-range threes, brilliant passing for layups and dunks. It seemed unfair. It seemed like it would never stop. Each moment just increased the level of the Jazz domination.
- The Jazz trailed by 1 at the half. It started as a 10-2 run, then it became a 22 to 5 run and it became a 39 to 17 run and it continued to a 50 to 22 run. This is against a good basketball team. The Blazers entered the game as the 5th seed in the West and with a 9 game home win streak. This was a massacre.
- It is hard to explain all the things the Jazz were doing well.
- The defense was incredible. Rudy Gobert is the greatest defensive player in the world and he alters every possession. When a team tries to play half-court offense against the Jazz there is an entire portion of the floor that is virtually eliminated because of Gobert’s presence. Then you add that each one of the Jazz perimeter defenders can play a step closer and more aggressively because the greatest defensive player in the world is standing behind them.
- Did I mention that Rudy has another guy back there with him that is an elite defender as we?l. Secondary rim defense is a big deal in the NBA. However, it is has been virtually eliminated by the stretch 4. First very few stretch 4s are rim defenders. Second, the stretch 4 brings the secondary rim defender so far from the rim that it makes very difficult for the secondary rim defender to get back in time. The Warriors have this with Draymond Green and Kevin Durant. If someone plays the Jazz without an elite stretch 4 then Favors becomes a secondary rim defender and the Jazz become nearly impossible to score against.
- Joe Ingles improvement over the past seasons is a remarkable story. He just followed a career high with a career high. At key moments of the game he was the primary ball handler. His release on his three point shot has gone from one of the slowest in the NBA to one of the quickest. He was never a threat going to the basket and now if the big doesn’t come over he will finish at the rim. Plus, he is one of the best three point shooters in the league. Now add the intangibles. He is always leading. When Donovan Mitchell got trapped and turned the ball over it was Ingles stopping to talk to him. When Donovan got called for his 2nd foul trailing Damian Lillard it was Ingles helping him thru the adjustment. He signed his deal in the off-season and promised to get better and be a leader for this franchise. He has kept his word.
- The Jazz really struggled to open the game. The pick and roll was all clogged up because the Blazers drop their big into the restricted area and make it nearly impossible to make paint to paint passes. Quin Snyder made great adjustments. First, he moved the pick and roll from the top of the key to the elbow allowing the big man to roll wider and create more space that had to be covered by the Blazers bigs and therefore better passing lanes. It also opened up the passing angles for the guards to be able to hit the angle three which was the open shot. Then the Jazz adjusted again and brought the pick and roll all the way above the time line. This allowed the ball handler to snake underneath the pick or have some downhill momentum to engage the big freeing up other opportunities. This is where Quin is a wizard.
- Royce O’Neal made his first start and was terrific. He had 4 points, 11 rebounds and 6 assists, 2 steals and 1 blocked shot. He was +28 in his 33 minutes
- Jae Crowder made his debut with the Jazz and showed the impact he is going to be able to have. He played mostly at the small forward tonight and made 5 of his 11 shots, 3 of 7 from three and had 15 points. He got into the passing act as well with 3 assists to go with his 5 rebounds and a steal.
- Both Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert had double doubles
- Raul Neto was +12 because he is Raul Neto.
- Tonight was the Jazz 31st road game the most in the NBA. The Jazz have also played 37 games against above .500 teams only Orlando, Dallas and Brooklyn can match that.
- Finally, I thought this was a fascinating night for Donovan Mitchell. His defensive assignment was tough in Damian Lillard. The game plan was to play stay attached and trail him in the pick and roll playing with a rear contest. The Blazers see this a lot and Damian just stops on a dime and the defender runs up his back. Donovan got 2 fouls on this. As the night went on he adjusted (as well as the Jazz adjusted some defense with Favors on the pick and roll) On the offensive side he started at the point guard and he had a lot of his plate. Then in the 4th quarter they started trapping him every time and this is still a struggle for him. He got a little better as the quarter went on and finally the Jazz just had him go 1 on 1 and beat Lillard or whoever was defending him. He showed a lot of growth in the game. He had 27 points on a night that was hard.
- 9 in a row – wow what a run. 7 straight wins on the road is only the 7th time in franchise history a Jazz team was won that many in the row on the road. The 9 straight wins is 14th time in franchise history a team has won 9 straight and 4th time in 20 years. The 2010 team win 7 straight on the road in the midst of a 9 game win streak
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