Run It Back
Final Score: Suns 87, Jazz 84.
Player of the Game: Gordon Hayward. The extensionless Hayward responded from a rough season-opener with 18 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists. He also made Utah’s biggest shot of the night, calmly draining a pull-up three over P.J. Tuckerto tie the game at 84-84 with 22.5 seconds remaining.
The one cause for concern is an apparent dropoff in Hayward’s play in the 2nd-half that was evident against OKC as well as a preseason game against the Clippers in L.A.
|Gordon Hayward – Statistics By Half|
While the Suns did a better job in the 2nd-half cutting off Hayward’s driving lanes and daring him to kick it to John Lucas for three, Hayward was still a playmaker, making back-to-back nice feeds to Favors and Burks for layups midway through the 4th.
Hayward’s cold 2nd-half shooting was again somewhat offset by Alec Burks’ 2nd-half play. After scoring 19 in the 2nd-half against OKC, Burks scored 12 of his 15 in the final two-quarters.
|Alec Burks – Statistics By Half|
Ultimately you’d like to have both Hayward and Burks playing well and producing at the same time, but in the first two games they’ve atleast been able to balance each other out and keep the Jazz in games.
Best Shot: 0:00.7 4th-Qtr – With the score tied at 84, Eric Bledsoe dribbled out the clock then pulled up for the game-winning three over Gordon Hayward.
Best Play: 5:01 3rd-Qtr – On high screen-roll between Hayward and Favors, Hayward hit Favors rolling down the lane. Two Suns rotated to Favors who dropped off a deft pass to Kanter on the baseline for the layup.
Favors has always been an underrated stationary passer, but that pick&roll pass on the move going to the basket has been a large source of turnovers for him. This season he’s shown good improvement in that area.
Worst Play: 11:18-3rd-Qtr – On a side screen-roll between John Lucas and Favors, not only did Lucas commit the cardinal sin and pick up his dribble 30-feet from the basket, he then travelled all over the place (uncalled but he changed pivot feet 3 times) and then made an awful pass to Favors that Channing Frye intercepted.
Best Move: 7:33 2nd-Qtr – With the score tied at 54-54, Derrick Favors flashed into the lane, took 2 dribbles left then spun back over Morris for an 8-foot right-hand hook. The drop-step spin-move on Channing Frye in the 4th-qtr was flashier, but if Favors can make that jump hook consistently he’ll be far more than a $47 million player.
Best Dunk: Probably something Gerald Green did in warm-ups.
Best Block: 4:48 2nd-Qtr – Off a drive and dish, Enes Kanter went up for a two-hand dunk but Miles Plumlee met him with a two-hand rejection. Fantastic block by Plumlee but also like how Kanter went strong.
Best Pass: 0:38 3rd-QTR – Hayward tried to post-up on Dragic, who was fronting him aggressively. Lucas threw a dangerous lob pass over the top with Frye on his way over from the weakside. Hayward made a terrific “tip pass” to Favors who the Suns surrounded resulting in a kick-out to a wide-open Richard Jefferson for three. Jefferson missed but that was Utah’s best perimeter look of the night.
Worst Pass: 10:12 3rd-Qtr – From the left-block, Enes Kanter fired a hook pass that sailed over Jefferson’s head and into the front row again hitting a woman in a light-blue shirt. Second game in a row Kanter has targeted women in the front row in the 3rd-qtr. Beware front row ladies!
Best Execution: 4:48 1st-Qtr – Guarded by P.J. Tucker, Hayward curled off a weakside stagger screen, caught the ball on the move from 20-feet and laid the ball in down the lane. Two impressive aspects on this play.
1.) On the stagger screen, both Favors & Kanter got a piece of Tucker which created the step Hayward gained on him.
2.) While Hayward was going up, Miles Plumlee reached in and partially stripped the basketball but Gordon had the strength to finish. One of the keys to Hayward becoming a go-to scorer is possessing that functional playing strength where he can finish through contact at the rim.
Best Jazzbasketball Play: 10:48 3rd-Qtr – Utah ran their UCLA-shuffle cut then got into their weakside options. After cutting through, Lucas back-screened for Hayward which drew the help-defense of 3 Suns. With Phoenix out of position, Lucas spotted up off a Kanter pindown screen for an open three that he drained to give the Jazz a 6-point lead.
Stat of the Game: Offensive rebounds galore! The Jazz shot just 36.5% but grabbed 41% of their available offensive rebounds. The Suns shot just 37.3% but grabbed 31% of available offensive rebounds. Kanter led the way with 10 offensive rebounds. (In case you’re wondering, the Jazz record for off-rebs in a game is 13, shared by Rich Kelley, Adrian Dantley and Greg Ostertag)
Veteran Move of the Game: 0:47 1st-Qtr – Out of horns with Tinsley dribbling at the top of the key, Hayward started on the baseline by faking coming out the right-side behind a Gobert screen and then reversing back behind a Harris screen. Already trailing, Morris shot the gap and Hayward faded to the baseline where Tinsley hit him for an open 20-footer that he knocked down.
Fantastic job by Hayward setting his man up and reading the coverage. Kyle Korver would’ve been proud.
Get Better of the Game: Holding for one shot at the end of the 1st-half, Hayward settled for a contested step-back 22-footer with 5 seconds still on the clock. The long miss sparked a Suns fastbreak that they failed to convert but it was reminiscent of John Lucas’ poor shot selection Wednesday that gave OKC a buzzer-beating three.
The Jazz need to clean this up because it’s one thing not to score, it’s another to not score and give your opponent free points going into halftime. This is where the Jazz really miss having an competent point guard and where Trey Burke’s return could work wonders.
Quote of the Game: Harpring: “They (Phoenix) just decided to get rid of [Gortat’s] contract, play the young guy and [Plumlee’s] playing well.”
Boler: “Both of these franchises, kind of a carbon copy of one another.”
Yes, because that’s exactly how Jazz dealt with Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap the past two seasons.
Tanking: The Jazz started the 2nd-quarter with a lineup of Jamaal Tinsley, Ian Clark, Alec Burks, Mike Harris and Rudy Gobert. The Suns had Eric Bledsoe, Archie Goodwin, Marcus Morris, Markief Morris and Alex Len. The Suns and Jazz aren’t tanking because their coaches and players are giving maximum effort to win, but the front office who assembled these rosters certainly haven’t placed a high premium on winning this season.
Odds and Ends
- Lost amid the ugly Dragic/Tucker mid-air collision was Jefferson aggressively boxing out Plumlee going for the loose ball. Plumlee ended up on the scorer’s table and Hornacek let the nearest official know he thought it should’ve been a foul.
- The Jazz went 0-2 on technical free throws with Lucas and Ian Clark both missing. Against the Thunder the Jazz were 3-4 on technicals.
- Jamaal Tinsley might still be getting back into “game shape” but his “bench shape” is rounding into form – as twice in the first-half Tinsley sprang out of his seat to yell at a Suns player taking a corner-three in front of the Jazz bench.
- Enes Kanter was called for a moving screen on Utah’s first possession of the 3rd-qtr. Although illegal screens are a “point of emphasis,” Kanter was 100% stationary and the official reacted to the defender (Bledsoe) stumbling rather than the screen which was textbook.
- The Suns had the ball with 55-seconds left and Hornacek called for a high-screen roll (the Suns’ call is a circular spinning motion). Under Jerry Sloan (play labeled “C”) the Jazz would run the clock down to 10-seconds when the big would come up and screen. In this case, Markieff Morris was extremely late, not setting the screen until just 5-seconds remained. Hornacek started motioning, then stomped his feet, then simply spun around and walked away in bewilderment.
- When Hayward missed the first free throw with 35.5 seconds remaining and Utah down 3, Ty Corbin frustratingly threw his hands up. Understandable reaction but certainly not the greatest head coach body language that’s ever been displayed.
- Interesting Jazz strategy down by just 2 with 35.5 seconds left and an 11.5 second differential between game-clock and shotclock. The Jazz opted to intentionally foul. It worked out well when Bledsoe split the FT’s and Hayward tied the game on a three. Not something you normally see with points hard to come by in an 83-81 game, but I give Corbin credit for a gamble that paid off.
Tonight, the “Core-4” of Burks, Favors, Hayward and Kanter simply didn’t receive any help. The Core-4 scored 80% of Utah’s points, grabbed 77% of the rebounds, dished 70% of the assists and accounted for 84% of the FG’s despite playing in 59% of all available minutes. Even more alarming, while the Core-4 shot 26/60 (43%), the rest of the team shot just 6/25 (24%).
Stump The Truck
While discussing the Morris twins (Marcus and Markieff), Matt Harpring asked “Has their ever been a twin to play on the same team on the court at the same time?”
The answer is “yes” and actually carries a Phoenix Sun theme. Former Hoosiers’ twins Dick and Tom Van Arsdale played the 1976-77 season together in Phoenix. Both were 6-5 wings and both played 12 seasons in the NBA. Dick finished his career with 15,079 points and while Tom scored 14,232. After his selection in the 1968 expansion draft, Dick was labeled the “original Sun.”
Some post-game coaching comments:
- “We just didn’t have it tonight. We didn’t have the energy, they were out-hustling us to balls.”
- “We’re a young team we shouldn’t be tired.”
- “This one was uglier…I didn’t think we played well at all tonight. We didn’t attack, I thought we were hesitant, we didn’t box out, if we did box out we didn’t box out hard enough because they got 22 offensive rebounds, we told those guys you gotta put your hard hats on.”
Those comments all came from the winning coach who is now 2-0 in his brief head coaching career. Great for Jeff Hornacek and great for Phoenix. Losing to a very poor Suns team missing their second-best player certainly isn’t great for Utah, but outside the “Core-4” there was very little production.
Back at it tonight versus Houston. Phoenix was a team Utah should have beaten. The Rockets aren’t. The last time the Rockets visited SLC, they beat the Jazz by 45 so the Jazz won’t have to go far to improve on that performance. Similar to the OKC game, Utah needs to try and hang within 10 through 3-quarters then hope they can put a run together in the 4th-qtr. There’s a chance the Jazz shock the league and pull the upset, but so far the league’s surprises seem to be happening in Phoenix and Philadelphia.