Jazz Break Away from Nets Late 101 – 89

January 2nd, 2017 | by Clint Johnson

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Brook Lopez joined the list of high-profile centers to have unpleasant nights facing the Stifle Tower. [AP Photo/Kathy Willins]

Story of the Game

Utah’s two All-Stars, Gordon Hayward and Rudy Gobert1, may not be able to win games alone but they can keep their team in position to win seemingly without assistance. Through three quarters, Hayward and Gobert played Brooklyn to a 70 – 70 tie with remarkably little help from teammates. Then the fourth quarter came and, in what is becoming an encouraging trend, the Jazz blew away an over-matched opponent.

Derrick Favors and Rodney Hood, Utah’s second and third leading scorers last season, combined to shoot a putrid three of 16 (18 percent) through three periods, a significant reason the Jazz shot a miserable 35 percent as a team entering the fourth. But in George Hill’s absence those two starters finally complimented Hayward and Gobert by shooting a combined six of ten in the game’s final stanza. That’s all the help the team’s stars needed to blow a scrappy but undertalented Nets team away with a 31 – 19 final quarter.

With Hill out, two other starters struggling terribly with their offensive games, and little bench production to speak of2, this still never felt like a game the Jazz would lose because they had the best two players on the floor. Hayward scored 30 points on 18 shots and added 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and a block while Gobert managed 15 points, 16 rebounds, and 3 blocks while holding Brook Lopez, one of the most skilled offensive seven footers in the league, to 14 points on 16 shots.

The consistency of Hayward and Gobert has proven the most important factor in the Jazz’s climb to, at this point, fourth in the West, and tonight it kept Utah in position for a late blowout win.

Stars of the Game

Superstars: Gordon Hayward and Rudy Gobert

As they were the story of the game, most of what needs to be said about these two appears above. However, to consider just how dependent the team has become on these two, especially in the absence of George Hill, note that Utah shot 20 free throws in this game. Eighteen were taken by Hayward and Gobert, nine each. They also combined for 3 steals and 4 blocks and were each plus ten or better on the night.

Secondary Stars: Joe Ingles

Five points on six shots, including 25 percent from beyond the arc, doesn’t seem like a strong game. But Ingles continues to provide Quin Snyder with an array of contributions surprising for a player both under-athletic and by NBA standards, well, slow. Against the Lakers and Phoenix, Snyder employed Ingles as a designated stopper for fast scoring guards; tonight in a largely lethargic and grinding game, Ingles provided nine rebound, eight on the defensive glass. That was needed in a contest where every one of the team’s power forwards ended up with a negative plus-minus. Ingles notched a team-high plus 21.

Secret Stars: Raul Neto

There’s no debating how greatly Utah misses George Hill whenever he is out, but against the Nets little Neto continued a recent trend of putting in quality play. In 13 minutes of action, he made his only shot attempt, grabbed a rebound, dished out an assist, and nabbed two steals. The stats aren’t as impressive as his impact on the team, which outscored Brooklyn by 12 in Neto’s limited minutes.

Special Star: Alec Burks

Yes, Alec Burks gets a special mention tonight for appearing on the court with 1:25 left in the first quarter, the first game action he’s seen since April 11th of 2016. How did he look in his three minutes of action? Like someone who has essentially missed two years of basketball due to injury. The moment he stepped on the court he drove baseline and turned the ball over, then air-balled a three to end the first quarter, and soon after allowed several blow-bys to the basket by Nets players before returning to the bench. But he entered the game healthy, moved like he was healthy, and, most importantly, left the game healthy. So a four-star start. Welcome back, Alec!

Stats of the Game

37 – Points Utah allowed in the second half. The Jazz outscore opponents by an average of 2.5 points in the fourth quarter, third best mark in the league. In their last three games, they’ve given up a combined 43 points and haven’t allowed a team to reach 20 points in the quarter.

12 and 2 (86 percent) – Utah’s record when holding teams under 90 points this season.

9 – Jazz turnovers against Brooklyn. When turning the ball over nine times or fewer, Utah is 4 and 1.

68 percent – Hayward’s true shooting percentage for the night. That’s what happens when you make 3 of 4 threes and all 9 of your free throw attempts.

20 – Consecutive games in which Gobert has gobbled at least 10 rebounds.

Sundries

  • Hayward is a truly smart player. In the second quarter when the Jazz were struggling, he stole two in-bounds passes to inject a little life. His anticipation and timing has always enabled him to make the exciting chase-down block. He’s increasingly bringing it to bear on predictable passing situations to get steals.
  • Rondae Hollis-Jefferson scored 11 points against the Jazz while taking one shot outside the paint, which he missed. Why does anyone ever guard him within ten feet on the perimeter?
  • Through most of this game Utah played with less energy, enthusiasm, and force than Brooklyn, which is exactly the right context for Trevor Booker to turn unlikely star. In the Jazz’s three poor quarters, he killed them with 17 points and 14 rebounds. In the fourth quarter when Utah started to engage, that became 0 points on 0 shots and 1 defensive rebound in 12 minutes of play.
  • One of the areas the Jazz struggle with the most without George Hill’s is breaking down defenders with the dribble and getting all the way to the hoop. Shelvin Mack and Joe Ingles managed several single-handed scoop layups off of pick and rolls, but only because either Gobert or Favors created defensive openings by rolling to the hoop. There aren’t many players on this team with the speed and ball handling ability to get a live dribble into a defense’s interior.
  • Shelvin Mack was seven of 10 from within the arc. On the season, he’s shooting 53 percent between eight and 16 feet. He still turns the ball over too much3 and defenders dare him to hit threes, but that little floater of his is legit.

Next up: The Jazz hop their jet immediately for a short jaunt to Boston, where in less than 24 hours they will tangle with Brad Stevens and his crew of Utah Jazz-East.

Clint Johnson

Clint Johnson

Clint Johnson is a professional author, writing educator, and editor. He teaches writing at Salt Lake Community College. A frequent presenter at both writing and educational conferences, he writes about the Jazz as a break from his other writing work.

2 Comments

  1. John Jenkins says:

    Clint you are spot on. Rudy and Gordon carries the Jaz for 3 qtrs. This is what All Stars do. They were good on both ends of the court. First game I have seen Gordon having fun on the side line, with Ingles, of course. The rebounding by the wings was a huge factor in this game as well as Raul’s work on the glass. Much better than ususual, except for Gordon, and he has stepped it up recently. Too righ on Shelvin, close to the rim with his floater he is good, 10 ft away and the other teams let him shoot. He can not defend. The Bigs, with Rudy the exception, were especially bad. Couldn’t defend or score. Not a good combination. Lyles has been better until last night. Small line up was a real key with Joe Johnson as the 4. Quinn should use 3 wing lineup more often.
    Go Jazz

    • Clint Johnson says:

      The rebounding at the wing position you mention is a real key this season. As bad as Favors has been offensively, the Jazz simply aren’t the same defensive or rebounding team when he and Gobert aren’t combined on the floor. When those two play together, the Jazz grab 79% of defensive rebounds and 55% of rebounds overall while posting a defensive rating of 91.6! They just smother teams. Hayward’s career-high rebounding isn’t coming in a vacuum; it’s a deliberate effort to compensate for a weakness the team has when Favors is off his game. They need that from the wings when Favors plays only 18 minutes like last night.

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