RUN IT BACK
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Damian Lillard scored 6 of his game-high 24 points in the final 3:21 to go along with 4 assists and 3 steals.
TURNING POINT OF THE GAME: After a Derrick Favors putback brought Utah within 91-89 with 2 1/2 minutes remaining, the Jazz came up empty on their next 5 possessions
1) Down 2, Burks lost control of the ball on a double-clutch reverse layup
2) Hayward turned the ball over on Utah’s last possession with a chance to tie/take the lead
3) Down 4, Favors missed a spinning baseline turn-around jumper
4) Down 4, Burks missed a wide-open 15-footer off side screen-roll with Kanter
5) Out of a timeout down 6 with 35-seconds left, Ty Corbin drew up the “Randy Foye play” – a pindown and subsequent iso – for John Lucas III who had yet to play in the 4th-quarter. Lucas took 2 dribbles before launching a baseline fade-away that predictably missed.
BEST SHOT: 7:28 2nd-Qtr – With the shotclock winding down and Lester Hudson in his face, Mo Williams launched a 26-footer from the right wing that drew nothing but net and groans from the crowd. #MOLO
BEST MOVE: 1:43 2nd-Qtr – Off side screen-roll Gordon Hayward drove right, pump-faked Joel Freeland off his feet then leaned in and both drew contact and converted a right-hand “leapin leaner” off glass for a 3-point play.
BEST PASS: 4:26 1st-Qtr – Gordon Hayward pulled up from 10-feet out on side screen-roll, left his feet (which drew Myers Leonard in the air) and dropped it off to Kanter rolling down the lane for a dunk. Big time pick&roll basketball there.
BEST BLOCK: 2:16 2nd-Qtr – Wes Matthew had Alec Burks sealed beneath the rim for an easy layup before Lester Hudson flew in from the backside for an emphatic rejection that sparked a 2-on-1 fastbreak resulting in 2 free throws for Kanter. Strong showing for Hudson who hit three 3pt FG’s and played strong defense as well.
BEST STEAL: 0:02 2nd-Qtr – Derrick Favors slid in front of Lillard on high screen-roll and poked the ball away, giving Lester Hudson a last-second opportunity at points before the buzzer sounded. Utah didn’t get a shot off in time but not many bigs could make that play on a point guard of Lillard’s caliber.
WORST CALL: Any one of the six delay of game violations called on both teams. This year, NBA officials are calling violations on any occurrence where an opposing player touches the basketball following a made basket. NBA officials have done a good job giving leeway while still calling violations when an opponent deliberately tried to slow the other team down from inbounding. This “point of emphasis” is awful for the NBA and will decide the outcome of games if enforced in this manner.
STAT OF THE GAME: Kanter and Favors shot a combined 14/24 (58%) from the field. The rest of the team shot just 30%. Blazers’ bigs LaMarcus Aldrige and Robin Lopez shot a combine 13/22 (59%) from the field. The rest of their team shot 38% from the field.
“GET BETTER” OF THE GAME: Alec Burks shot 1-13 from the floor. Several of his misses were open and makeable mid-range jumpers and several were also wild attempts down the lane where he tried to draw contact and finish – but he ultimately failed at both. Also Gordon Hayward did a nice job getting to the line but shot just 1-9 in the 2nd-half. In order to win, Utah needs at least one of their playmakers to score the ball consistently throughout the game.
MAILMAN PLAY OF THE GAME: 1st-Qtr – Enes Kanter scored 16 1st-quarter points on 8-9 shooting scoring with offensive putbacks, power on the left block, hitting face-up jumpers from both the left and right wing, a fastbreak layup via running the floor, a dunk off side pick&roll and a short little jumper via pick&pop. Just your basic Karl Malone variety pack.
QUOTE OF THE GAME: “Trey goes on to say in the twit…tweeter…the twitter…haha 4-6 weeks is more likely and then he gives a big thanks. Shows you how often I use uh…twitter.” -Craig Bolerjack.
SEE A DIFFERENT GAME
The Jazz posted up Enes Kanter on the left block in 7 of their first 20 half-court sets against Portland. While that appears to be a high percentage scoring play for the Jazz (especially when Kanter is rolling like he was to start), the obvious fear of Jazz fans is “Will we get stagnant on offense like we did with Al Jefferson?”
While that certainly is a risk any dominant low-post offense carries, there are ways to prevent stagnation and there were positive signs of that last night.
1.) Hayward feeds Kanter in the post and immediately cuts through. In the past few seasons Jazz players would feed the post and often float around the three-point line. Cutting through quick and hard is a staple of Jazzbasketball, ranging from John Stockton to Shandon Anderson to Ronnie Brewer. You can cut middle (a Stock specialty) or baseline (something Brewer mastered working off Carlos Boozer in the post) but the real beneficiary isn’t as much for the cutter as the post player.
The constant player movement keeps the help defense “engaged.” Most defenses have keys where they’re going to help off so-and-so or they’re going to send help from the top. By staying in motion, you retard immediate reaction from the help-defense who must honor the cutter and those extra moments are enough for talented low-post scorers to convert.
2.) Here, Hayward’s cut completely clears out the left side of the court as well as part of the lane. With nobody digging down from the top, Kanter takes two crab-dribbles to back Myers Leonard beneath the rim and finishes with a point-blank layup.
While Kanter’s low-post passing remains a work in progress, it’s important the Jazz do as much as they can to put he and Favors into situations where they can best succeed. Having post-feeders cut and stay in motion is a great start.
The Jazz have now played four preseason games with four different starting lineups. While that’s to be expected with last night being their first game without the services of Trey Burke, the Jazz need to develop some semblance of a rotation over these final 4 games. Corbin also may need to get more creative with his rotations. Tonight Utah played a 2nd-unit of Lester Hudson, Alec Burks, Justin Holiday, Jeremy Evans and Andris Biedrins and that lineup was -7 while on the court together.
Corbin might need to sub someone like Kanter out earlier in the 1st/3rd-qtr and bring him back in early in the 2nd/4th-qtr to help anchor the 2nd-unit along with Burks. This sort of thing is clearly a work in progress and still need time to experiment in the preseason, but ultimately it’s up to the head coach to determine which rotations provide the best chance at winning.
The Jazz played well in spurts last night, but they didn’t win – and winning is still the ultimate goal.