Nets 104, Jazz 88
Abbreviated review. The Jazz should burn the tape of last night’s game. Nothing seemed to go right and there was very little to feel encouraged about. The Jazz played timidly, lacked any sore of aggression and their energy only seemed to further wane as the Nets’ lead grew.
Despite a sluggish start, the Jazz actually made it somewhat of a game, trailing just 31-26 with 7-minutes remaining in the 2nd-Qtr. That’s part of the “just hang around” emphasis this year’s team needs to stay in games and give themselves a chance late. I’m only reviewing what happened during that 17-minute stretch because while there were some half-decent things there – the rest of the game was garbage.
Here are some key things I took away from the meaningful portion of the game:
1.) Brook Lopez was dominant, posting-up and scoring easily over both Kanter and Favors. Lopez is listed at 7-0 but his combine measurements put him closer to 7-1 and that difference between 6-11 and 7-1 – which so often feels larger than just 2-inches – was evident early. Brooklyn did a nice job getting Lopez the ball inside on the move where Kanter and Favors weren’t able to root him out off the block. Once set up inside, Lopez easily scored over Utah’s bigs. It felt strange because that’s not something you see often – which is a good thing. We’re already used to seeing Favors/Kanter/Gobert play strong interior defense.
Conversely Utah’s early 1st-half offense came primarily from Gordon Hayward in screen-roll, where he was able to do some nice things hitting mid-range jumpers and kicking-out to Enes Kanter who hit 3 mid-range jumpers himself (2 off pick&pop and 1 off a face-up post move over Plumlee). Utah’s floor-spacing got thrown off because the Nets didn’t respect Jamaal Tinsley’s 3pt-shooting.
2.) Brooklyn’s bench stood up in unison on two plays in the 1st-quarter. The first was at 10:00 1st-Qtr when a Hayward airball resulted in a Utah shotclock violation and the second was at 5;07 1st-Qtr when Richard Jefferson barreled over Paul Pierce for a charge. It wasn’t one or two players standing, it was the entire bench. It’s clear with the additions of KG, Pierce and a new coaching staff – the Nets have embraced a defensive mentality where as a team they understand the importance of making defensive plays that won’t show up in the boxscore.
3.) At 9:14 2nd-Qtr with the Nets up 28-22, Andrei Kirilenko cut backdoor on Richard Jefferson for a dunk. After the play a frustrated Jefferson looked over at the Utah bench with his hands up as if to say “What?” Looking back, the Nets ran high screen-roll with Deron&KG. Burks (guarding Deron) was picked-off and Kanter (guarding KG) had to help, leaving KG wide-open at the top-of-the-key. AK was camped in the weakside corner and when the ball moved to KG, Jefferson left AK in the corner to rotate up. Giving up an AK a corner-three off pick&roll isn’t bad defense, but AK didn’t settle. Instead he cut baseline to the basket where Garnett hit him in stride.
- 1. Jefferson was told to leave AK in the corner (Utah was playing defense in front of their own bench) and was upset that the instructions he followed left the Jazz out of position or
- 2. Jefferson rotated on his own volition and felt he should’ve gotten help (but the Nets cleared out the weakside so there was no where help could’ve came from).
I believe scenario #1 was more likely based off common-sense and the way Jazz head coach Ty Corbin was crouched down and encouraging/instructing his team throughout the possession – but we’ll probably never know.
In fairness to all parties on the Jazz, once Burks gets caught up on that screen the chain-reaction set off is near-impossible to defend no matter the rotations. How you ideally would stop it is to re-direct Deron away from the screen from the outset and funnel him into your big the way a Chicago or Indiana would. That’s never been Utah’s defensive strategy so if you allow the ball to go in either direction, you’re bound to experience some frustrating “breakdowns” like that.
4.) Rudy Gobert is clearly still a rookie. 8:23 2nd-Qtr Utah tried getting into their UCLA set (which requires Gobert to screen for Lucas after he passes to the wing and runs the standard shuffle cut through the lane). Instead, Gobert tried to set a ball-screen for Lucas which messed up the timing and resulted in a deflection. After the play, Lucas went right over to Gobert and yelled at him. Kanter came over and more gently said something to him and then gave him an encouraging pat on the chest.
5.) While you could argue that a few different plays here or there and the Jazz could’ve won either of their first two games – the bottom line is they’re 0-4 with no “sure-fire” wins in sight. The best opportunity should be tonight at Boston.
At 0-4, the Celtics are bad. Similar to Utah, Boston is suffering not only from a dearth of offensive fire-power, but also from a lack of a true point guard. Like last Friday’s Suns game, tonight is a contest the Jazz should be competitive in for 48-minutes. Neither Favors (25), Hayward (32) nor Burks (28) played heavy minutes and even on a back-to-back – fatigue or road weariness should not be a factor just 5 games into the season.
Last night was a game to forget where the Jazz played awful against a more talented opponent who played great. Throw it away and turn the page because no matter the result, tonight is a game to remember because it’s another litmus test to show the Jazz are a feisty, competitive team that’s still growing. I still believe this team has the capability to win 30 games and I expect to see glimpses of some fun Jazzbasketball tonight against a team the Jazz are very capable of beating.