In front of the smallest Utah home crowd (16,866) since December 7, 2005 – the Jazz came out and treated their fans to 38 minutes of competitive basketball. After suffering two consecutive wire-to-wire defeats, there were several improvements overall.
- 7:53 1st-Qtr – The Jazz held their first lead in an NBA game since the 10:24-mark of the 2nd-qtr versus the Celtics – over two and a half games ago.
- The Jazz entered the 4th-qtr trailing 70-68, the first time in 5 games they were not facing a deficit of 20 points or more after three quarters.
- The Jazz regained the lead in the 2nd-half at 73-72 with 10:18 remaining in the 4th-qtr, their first 2nd-half lead since November 2nd against the Rockets.
A baby’s baby steps, as the Jazz went from a team that was totally outplayed for 48-minutes to a team that was only outplayed in the final 10-minutes. After going up 73-72, the Nuggets then outscored the Jazz 28-8 to close.
Note: This breakdowns is very “wordy,” so it was divided into individual stand-alone sections and sub-sections that can be read at your discretion.
Beginning: Jazz 73, Nuggets 72
First-Half Spotlight: The best player early was clearly Gordon Hayward – with 18 points on 7-11 shooting and 4-4 from the FT line in the first 24 minutes.
Hayward’s first basket came on an aggressive post-up move on Randy Foy on the left-block. His second basket came driving away from the screen where he blew past Foye and finished strong over Jordan Hamilton for a three-point play. He then hit a pull-up 22-footer off high screen-roll, then another side screen-roll with a great drive angle on his drive on the big (Faried) stepping out where he finished with a floater while drawing contact for another three-point play. By this point Gordon was feeling it so much that he then took and made a contested step-back 20-footer on the baseline to close the 1st-qtr with 12 points.
Utah’s halfcourt execution was much better – although it didn’t always result in points.
10:08 1st-Qtr – Jazz ran a nice Lucas-Kanter cross-screen action in the lane with Lucas then coming off a weakside pindown for an open top-of-the-key three. Great look but Lucas missed.
1:19 1st-Qtr – Fantastic UCLA set, instead of running through on the shuffle-cut Lucas bounced back to the three-point line and reversed the ball to Jefferson who came off a weakside pindown for another wide-open three. Perfect execution, perfect look – but Jefferson missed.
0:08 1st-Qtr – On Utah’s final possession of the 1st-Qtr, the Jazz executed one of their best halfcourt possessions of the season. With Hayward handling up top showing a high-screen roll with Favors, Denver began to shade their defense towards him. Hayward immediatelyreversed the ball to Burks on the left side who quickly got into screen-roll with Marvin Williams – while Hayward and Favors drifted (Hayward – far wing; Favors -short-corner) to provide floor-spacing. Burks hit Marvin who rolled down the lane and dished to Favors. Favors probably should have taken an open 8-footer but was also a second late diving to the basket and ended up taking a contested shot at the rim instead of what should’ve been an easy dunk. Again near-perfect execution on 90% of the play and no points because of one simple timing error.
11:41 3rd-Qtr – Utah opened the 2nd-half with a side screen-roll where Hayward hit a rolling Favors which collapsed Denver’s defense. Favors kicked out to Lucas who swung the ball to a wide-open Richard Jefferson for a open corner-three that missed. Perfect execution, zero points.
Second-Half Spotlight: 2nd-Half Utah star was Derrick Favors – who scored 16 points on 6-9 shooting to go with 7 rebounds.
In the 1st-Qtr Favors hit two face-up and step-back jumpers over the bigger (and less mobile) Timofey Mozgoz but sat the final 5-minutes of the 1st-half due to foul trouble. In the 2nd-half he came alive on his way to a season-high 21 points.
10:00 3rd-Qtr – A terrific pin-down screen by Favors freed Jefferson for a mid-range jumper that he missed. Because Denver had to show out on RJ, they couldn’t blockout Favors who was able to establish position, rebound and score while drawing a foul. Even though RJ missed – Utah’s execution was able to get them a second-chance basket.
Then Favors began to get into a groove. Next time he touched the ball in the post he hit a little face-up jumper stepping off the right block. He also showed more aggressiveness posting up Jordan Hamilton and Anthony Randolph resulting in 2 fouls and 4 FT attempts.
3:20 3rd-Qtr – High screen-roll with Hayward where Favors rolled and made the little dump-off pass to Gobert (for a dunk) that we’ve said he’s improved so much this season.
1:34 3rd-Qtr – Gobert then returned the favor to Favors with a nice dump-off pass for a three-point play – this time with Gobert rolling down the lane on side-screen roll that Denver forced baseline and Favors flashing to the rim.
10:18 4th-Qtr – Away from the ball, Burks curled off a Gobert screen, caught a pass at the elbow and converted a hanging layup for a three-point play that gave the Jazz a 73-72 lead.
Ending: Nuggets 28, Jazz 8
How exactly did the Jazz fall apart and turn a 1-point lead into a 19-point loss in just 10-minutes?
Offense: Murphy’s law of poor execution, and missing shots on the few possessions they did get clean looks.
Possession #1: Jazz tried posting Marvin on the left block on Andre Miller but couldn’t get him the ball. With the shot clock winding down Marvin was later forced to take a contested three that missed.
Possession #2: Burks missed 10-foot floater driving baseline on screen-roll. Gobert fouled on rebound and made 1 FT.
Possession #3: Kanter missed turnaround jumper over Faried on left-block.
Possession #4: Side screen-roll, Burks initially missed a rolling Favors but swung ball to weakside where Kanter eventually got a point-blank reverse layup that he missed.
Possession #5: Side screen-roll, where Favors was again open on roll but didn’t get the ball. Ball swung to weakside and Lucas made nice drive to basket for layup.
Possession #6: High screen-roll, Hayward hit Gobert rolling down lane but Gobert missed the layup and the follow-tip.
Possession #7: Hayward right-block post-up on Andre Miller but called for questionable travel on baseline spin.
Possession #8: Favors left-block postup where he drew FT’s with nice drop-step.
Possession #9: Hayward pushing ball off a miss but turned it over on a low pass to Kanter.
Possession #10: Favors rebounded a missed Lucas jumper for a put-back dunk.
Possession #11: Andre Miller backed off Burks who was looking to feed Favors in the post, so Burks raised up and launched a three that missed.
Possession #12: John Lucas was able to penetrate setting off great ball-movement that got Hayward a wide-open three from the right wing…that also missed.
Possession #13: Random draw and kick possession with Jefferson missing a semi-contested three and Utah giving Denver FT’s with a loose-ball foul on the rebound to make it 96-79.
Possession #14: Screen-roll with Lucas making a very nice find to Favors for a dunk.
Possession #15: In transition Burks took Andre Miller off-the-dribble and missed a contested layup.
Possession #16: Hilarious fastbreak where Lucas overshot Jefferson on the outlet pass. RJ goes sprawling as the ball gets deflected back to Burks, who then trips over the fallen Jefferson but is able to kick it over to Hayward wide-open for a corner-3. Hayward missed and Lucas comes flying in for a tip that also misses.
Possession #17: High screen-roll with Lucas driving and missing a floater.
Defense: As has been the story for the past three seasons, Utah’s pick&roll defense was annihilated late.
9:21 4th-Qtr – Denver posted Faried on undersized PF Marvin Williams who scored on a 6-foot jump hook. 75-73.
8:49 4th-Qtr – On screen-roll, Nate Robinson drove, drew two defenders kicked out to Andre Miller for an open three. 78-74.
8:11 4th-Qtr – Denver high-screen roll, Utah tried to force baseline but Robinson split it (on Gobert) and drove lane for easy dish to Faried for dunk. 80-74.
7:13 4th-Qtr – Denver side screen-roll, where Nuggest screened baseline and Gobert lost contain and allowed Foye to drive and pull-up for open 15-footer. 10-1 run. 82-74.
6:09 4th-Qtr – Denver posted Andre Miller on John Lucas who hit a fade-away in the lane over him. 84-76.
5:02 4th-Qtr – Denver ran a PG side-screen-roll with Andre Miller screening for Ty Lawson. Burks switched it with Lucas but Lucas was expecting Burks to show and recover (Utah’s strategy but Burks isn’t used to defending the screener). As a result, Miller was left wide open, Gobert came out to defend him and Miller drove right by him for the layup. 86-76.
4:15 4th-Qtr – Denver ran a double high screen-roll, with Arthur popping and Hickson rolling. Lawson passed back to Arthur open at the top-of-the-key but both Utah bigs raced out and Arthur fired down to a wide-open Hickson for the layup. 88-77.
3:36 4th-Qtr – Denver high screen-roll where Lawson got Favors with a hesitation-dribble coming off the screen and blew by him for a layup. 90-79.
2:55 4th-Qtr – Denver high screen-roll where Kanter showed out but Lawson still got around him and to the rim for a 2-shot foul on Favors. 92-79.
2:21 4th-Qtr – Multiple Denver high screen-rolls. The first got them a mismatch with Richard Jefferson switching onto Lawson, the second Lawson again drew two Jazz defenders and hit Hickson down the lane for an uncontested layup where neither Lucas or Hayward helped from the weakside. 94-79.
1:35 4th-Qtr – Denver ran another double high screen-roll with Jefferson again switching onto Lawson – and Lawson burning him on the switch with a drive then up&under layup. 98-79.
0:37 4th-Qtr – Another RJ switch onto Lawson, with Lawson driving and dishing to Hickson for a 2-shot foul. 100-79.
The Final Word
The Jazz definitely played better than they had in their previous 4 games, which is both a sign of encouragement as well as how low expectations have fallen for them.
The Jazz offense produced another meager output but their execution (particularly in the first 3-quarters) was improved to the point they should have scored far more than they did. Missing makeable shots was critical – and much of that blame falls on the front office who brought in the players this offseason who missed most of them.
Defensively, Utah had some success early but when crunchtime rolled around, once again they were completely abused on the pick&roll. First-year coach Brian Shaw even showed a few wrinkles and adjustments with the PG-PG screen-roll (that bamboozled Burks&Lucas) and the double-high screen-roll that baffled Utah’s bigs and created a mismatch for Ty Lawson.
If you accept the loss and feel that the Jazz were not capable of winning, then Utah massively over-achieve in grabbing a 4th-quarter lead at home. If you think the Jazz should have won, then they completely folded in the final 10-minutes.
I actually think Ty Corbin coached one of his better games this season – as he got Utah executing fairly well offensively, didn’t make many baffling substitutions and got a pretty good effort out of his beaten down players. He’s never formulated good defensive strategies or adjustments and that continued tonight. However, if late-game defensive breakdowns haven’t been reason enough to let him go until now, last night’s loss certainly wasn’t anything worse than what the Jazz have already experienced.
The Jazz have shown spunk and played semi-decently at home – and as long as that continues I feel like Ty will remain coach for the near-future regardless of road disasters. With that said, keep November 26th in mind as that’s the next time the Jazz will have an extended break between games. They play the Bulls on the 25th, then have the next three days off. If Utah is looking to make a “transition” before their Christmas roadtrip, that may be the best time to do so.
If Thanksgiving passes with no changes coming, then last night’s “baby steps” should have become toddler steps with the Jazz having something semi-respectable in the win column by then.