Final Score: Pelicans 105, Jazz 98
Run It Back
Best Shot: 5:50 4th-Qtr – On high screen roll, Trey Burke faked Jrue Holiday like he was utilizing the screen going right, crossed behind-his-back and came back middle where he hit a pull-up 3 to pull Utah within 90-82. More on Burke later.
Best Move(s): 10:14 3rd-Qtr – Enes Kanter hit a Jack Sikma reverse-pivot face-up jumper over Jason Smith stepping off the right block.
9:02 3rd-Qtr – 3 possessions later Kanter found himself in the same position. This time Smith had to crowd him to takeaway the jumper so Kanter put the ball on the floor, drove baseline and finished with a reverse dunk similar to the hammer he put on Cole Aldrich in the 2012 preseason. This is the basic move/counter-move setup that great bigmen utilize. Good offensive game for Kanter with 19 points on 8-13 shooting. Appeared to struggle defensively but not all of that was his fault (will elaborate later).
Best Drive: 1:39 1st-Qtr – Alec Burks drove baseline around Evans and converted a hanging up-and-under reverse layup under the outstretched arms of Ryan Anderson.
Best Execution: 7:07 3rd-Qtr – With 2.7 left on the shotclock and inbounding from the baseline, Utah wrapped Lucas off a 4-man picket fence for a wide-open layup. Lucas started the 3rd-quarter on fire, with 11 points in the first 5-minutes. He cooled down with two misses and a turnover that led to two Pelican fastbreak layups, but raised his 3pt% from 24% to 31%. 14 points shooting 4-5 behind the arc – I’ll take that like it’s already Christmas.
Best Block: 9:23 3rd-Qtr – Anthony Davis was jogging back on defense when he got to midcourt and saw an open Hayward on the right wing where he sprinted 15-feet like a Cheetah pouncing on his prey to emphatically block Hayward’s three out-of-bounds. What a player Davis is already, he’s going to be a nightmare to face 4x/season for the next decade.
Stat of the Game: Gordon Hayward shot 1-17, dropping his FG% from 43% to 40%.
Gordon Hayward’s Misses
1. 19-foot baseline jumper fading to his left with the 7-footer Smith lunging out at him (off Jazz’s standard screen-the-screener baseline out-of-bounds play).
2. Step-back three behind Favors’ hand-off with Anthony Davis challenging.
3. Missed layup off curl with Smith challenging.
4. 20-footer from top-of-the-key off pin-down with Eric Gordon’s hand in his face.
5. Screen-roll yielded a switch with Davis on him, going 1-on-1 Hayward’s step-back three was partially blocked.
6. Pull-up 18-footer in-and-out. Wide-open look but bizarre timing, Jazz ran after a Pelicans’ make and Hayward shot with 20-seconds left in 1st-Qtr – too late for a 2-for-1.
7. Catch-and-shoot three from top-of-the-key, pretty clean look with a late challenge by Davis.
8. Left-wing transition catch-and-shoot three with Davis flying out but another good look.
9. Open baseline jumper fading to right off baseline-out-of-bounds play.
10. Wide-open pull-up 15-footer off high screen-roll.
11. Wide-open transition three that Davis blocked from the backside.
12. Wide-open left corner three against New Orleans zone.
13. Open top-of-the-key three vs New Orleans zone.
14. Side screen-roll, drive down lane emphatically rejected by Tyreke Evans.
15. Must-shoot contested three from right wing with shotclock winding down.
16. Left-corner three off kickout from Burke.
Hayward started the game taking some difficult low-percentage shots, then spent the rest of the game missing a lot of makeable looks. Maybe the early misses caused him to start pressing or maybe it just wasn’t his night at all, but while a few misses rimmed out a good portion weren’t even close. I’m no shooting expert but when you take a lot of tough shots on the move or have them altered by length, sometimes that’s enough to break your mechanics down. This is the same guy who scored 27 on 12 shots in the win last Wednesday so I expect a strong bounceback game from Gordon Friday night.
Trey Burke’s Debut
Trey Burke began his NBA career in impressive fashion, with 11 points, 1 assist, and no turnovers in 12-minutes of play.
A few noteworthy plays:
1. 3:43 1st-Qtr – Drove left on Brian Roberts down lane and converted finger-roll with Anthony Davis challenging for first career points.
2. 0:45 st-Qtr – Drove left off high screen-roll for another layup. Love how Burke was strong with the ball and used veteran-like patience and hesitation to let Amundson (guarding the screener) show out, where he then used Amundson’s recovery path as interference to start his drive.
3. 11:07 2nd-Qtr – High screen-roll, Pelicans show out and Burks comes off the screen wide enough to fire a laser right-hand pass off-the-bounce to rolling Favors for a layup.
4. 11:22 4th-Qtr – On Utah’s first possession of the quarter, Favors drew a double in the post and kicked out to a wide-open Burke who missed a three. Burke didn’t hang his head and on next possession dogged Austin Rivers to disrupt a dribble-handoff leading to runout lay-in.
5. 9:16 4th-Qtr – High screen-roll between Burke/Favors netted no advantage initially so they re-screened and this time Burke made an outstanding bounce pass to Favors down the lane. Favors missed but got the rebound and scored.
6. 7:22 4th-Qtr – High-screen roll Burksecame off really hard and wide, forcing Anderson (showing out) to switch onto him where he then hit a step-back 20-footer from the left wing.
7. 5:50 4th-Qtr – High screen roll where Burke faked using the screen and crossed back middle and hit pull-up 3.
Burke was the best screen-roll point guard in college basketball and that was evident last night. He knew when to come off hard and wide to stretch the defense and force a switch, how to use the lumbering bigman defender to create interference and most importantly was able to make shots.
Quickness is often attributed to his game, but I love how Burke is “strong with the ball.” He’s able to take contact while getting to his spots, and he’s able to use his off-arm to create just enough separation on his drives to the basket. There are a lot of quick guards in the NBA who can’t get into the lane consistently because they need a clean path. Burke can use screen-roll to his advantage and then turn that half-step into a full-one because of his craftiness and “point guard strength.” Only 12 minutes, but he showed everything we hoped from him in his brief appearance.
Sorry to beat this like a drum but it’s the primary reason the Jazz rank 25th in the NBA in points allowed per 100 possessions. As is often the case, Utah’s screen-roll defense involved having their big (guarding the screener) show out while the guard fights over the screen, then recover back.
7:07 1st-Qtr – A Jrue Holiday/Jason Smith high screen-roll (guarded by Hayward/Kanter), where Kanter showed out and Smith rolled free down lane, caught the pass but Richard Jefferson (who left non-shooter Al-Farouq Aminu in corner) rotated to make a spectacular block at the rim.
This is probably how Corbin and Lowe envision their pick&roll defense working.
The problem is not only are you relying on your 6-7 SF to block a 7-footer at the rim, you leave atleast one wing wide-open and as I wrote in last weekend’s Jazz/Warriors Breakdown, even if you do rotate properly, you’re still left with mismatch disadvantages if the offense choses to back the ball out.
2:36 1st-Qtr – A Brian Roberts/Anthony Davis screen-roll with Favors showing out, forcing Evans to rotate to Davis rolling down lane leaving Evans’ man – sharpshooter Ryan Anderson – wide-open for three.
6:50 2nd-Qtr – High-screen roll where you’re asking Favors to show out on Holiday and then recover and beat a rolling Anthony Davis to the rim after Davis has a 5-foot head start. Layup for Davis in an unfair footrace for Favors.
1:01 2nd-Qtr – Jason Smith pick&pop with Kanter not able to show and recover to him in time. The only strongside help capable of rotating in time was Favors who’s guarding Davis on the baseline. If Kanter can’t teleport from the foul line area to the right win in half-a-second, this play is virtually impossible to defend with this sort of strategy.
6:11 3rd-Qtr – More show and recover screen-roll defense gives Holiday a wide-open 5-footer where Kanter briefly shows then runs back to the screener (Anderson camping out at the 3pt-line) and Lucas (trailing Holiday by about 8-feet) was unable to catch up.
0:24 3rd-Qtr – High-screen roll where the Jazz made a good recovery and chased Anderson off the 3pt-line, but he drove and kicked to Jason Smith who Evans raced out to but fouled on the close-out. Again – the constant scramble to recover just puts you in bad situations and your opponent in advantageous ones.
How Did Ryan Anderson Get Free?
New Orleans took advantage of Utah’s screen-roll defense with a clever wrinkle. The Pelicans ran a pick&roll with 7-footer Jason Smith setting the screen, but instead of rolling to the rim Smith screened then ran and set a pindown screen for Ryan Anderson stepping back to the 3-point line.
Considering the Jazz have problems guarding basic pick&roll – this caused mass confusion that they never could decipher.
11:47 2nd-Qtr – Pelicans ran a Brian Roberts/Luois Amundson side screen-roll, where Amundson ball-screens for Roberts then off-ball screens for Ryan Anderson stepping back behind the arc. With Favors showing on the ball-handler Roberts, there was no one to help Harris (matched up on Anderson) being screened by Amundson. Harris oddly decided to run through the screen and picked up a foul that was tacked onto Anderson’s three.
10:11 2nd-Qtr – Another wrinkle. Double side screen-roll with both Amundson (vs Favors) and Anderson (vs Harris) ball-screening for Roberts. Anderson pops and Amundson rolls, Favors shows out and there was a miscommunication with Favors expecting a switch but Harris stayed with Anderson while Favors initially recovered toward Anderson also – and Amundson broke open for a layup
9:39 2nd-Qtr – Pelicans ran the exact same thing on the very next possession, this time Favors recovered straight to Amundson but still fouled him at the rim. Basically Favors had to jump out almost to the 3pt-line and then race the pass 20-feet to Amundson at the rim. Favors covered a lot of ground quickly but nobody is faster than the basketball. It’s like a human racing a speeding bullet. And people wonder why Favors doesn’t have more blocks…
1:21 3rd-Qtr – Pelicans showed high screen roll with Austin Rivers and Anderson, but instead they slipped Anderson and ran him off a (big-on-big) flare screen. Evans was out of position ready to show out when Anderson slipped, and was then picked off trailing. Kanter (guarding Smith) didn’t show out fast enough and Anderson hit his second three.
8:52 4th-Qtr – High screen-roll with Roberts/Smith, Jeremy Evans (guarding Smith) shows out on Roberts, Smith rolls and sets a pindown screen for Anderson. Favors – guarding Anderson – again had no one to help him on the screen and Anderson’s open three put New Orleans up 84-73 forcing a Jazz timeout.
8:14 4th-Qtr – On the Pelicans’ very next possession they run the same play – a Roberts/Smith screen-roll. Kanter (in for Evans) shows out on Roberts, Smith rolls and sets a pindown screen for Anderson, no help available for Favors, Anderson three – splash. 87-73 Pelicans.
Not sure what the Jazz discussed in their timeout, but it apparently didn’t involve adjustments to counter this which had now resulted in three Anderson 3-pointers.
1:39 4th-Qtr – For good measure, Pelicans close out with a basic Holiday/Davis high screen-roll – Kanter shows out, Davis rolls free for dunk (no way Kanter can race back in time). Unlike RJ’s 1st-Qtr block, the only potential strongside help could come from Favors who was guarding the red-hot Anderson. Leave Anderson open or pick up Davis? The nightmares of a 4-on-3 dilemma.
Odds and Ends
- Utah’s point guards combined for 29 points, 9 assists and 4 turnovers on 12-22 shooting
- Root Sports mentioned Karl Malone had a 1-16 game. It should be noted that performance came when Malone was 39 years old, playing in the second night of a back-to-back, and facing the eventual NBA Champions. Not all 1-16 (or 1-17) games are created equal.
The Final Word
Plenty of encouraging signs last night. Trey Burke looked really good in limited action. Enes Kanter played very well offensively. Jeremy Evans is healthy and again showcasing the mid-range jumper he unveiled in summer league. The Jazz limited their turnovers to 14 after committing just 10 Monday night.
Utah’s pick&roll defense is awful – but I feel that as long as the current coaching staff is in place that will be the case. Hopefully as Trey Burke’s role increases, Utah’s offensive production will as well which could allow them to stay in more games since relying on defense doesn’t appear to be a viable option. Trey Burke is back, and that alone marks another new and exciting chapter for the development of this team.
Finally, if anyone was going to torch Utah’s abhorrent screen-roll defense, I’m glad it was Ryan Anderson. After all he’s been though, it’s nice to see him playing well in his first couple games back.