The Triple Team: Three Thoughts on Jazz vs. Heat 12/12/14

December 12th, 2014 | by Andy Larsen
I just thought this was a cool photo. (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)

I just thought this was a cool photo. (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)

1. This is the story of the Jazz’s season: They give up a lead in the 1st half, fight back in the 2nd, but lose the game.

Here’s tonight’s quarter by quarter breakdown:








Just for fun, let’s count how many times this script has taken place:

  • In 23 games, the Jazz have had a 1st quarter deficit 14 times.
  • In 23 games, the Jazz have been outscored in the 2nd quarter 17 times.
  • In 23 games, the Jazz have been losing at halftime 17 times.
  • In 23 games, the Jazz have scored more points than their opponent in the 3rd quarter 16 times.
  • In 23 games, the Jazz have eventually been outscored in the 4th quarter 16 times.
  • In 23 games, the Jazz have been losing at the end of the 4th quarter 17 times.

So sure, these are individual instances, so maybe you’re saying to yourself “not all of these happened in the same game that many times, right?” Well, if you restrict the script to “losing in the 3rd quarter, then made triumphant comeback in 2nd half to get close, but then lost, it’s happened 11 times. That’s a majority of losses by the Jazz.

This isn’t how most teams do it. The top 5 teams in 3rd quarter point differential are:

  1. Utah Jazz
  2. Los Angeles Clippers
  3. Memphis Grizzlies
  4. Toronto Raptors
  5. Portland Trailblazers

Those other teams are on pace for at least 59 wins. The Jazz are on pace for 61 losses. It’s maddening.

I mean, I suppose it’s a good sign that the Jazz have the potential to beat teams for stretches of games, especially in the 3rd when both teams are playing their starters big minutes. At least they’re not a team like the Pistons, Hornets, Lakers, Timberwolves, and Magic who lose all of their quarters on average. Coach Snyder, on the plus side, has said this shows that his team is “coachable”, that they’re responding well to the adjustments made at halftime. Maybe Snyder should give his halftime speech before the 1st half begins.

2. Rudy Gobert continues to make a huge impact on the defensive end.

With Derrick Favors injured in the 1st quarter and out for the rest of the game with a sprained ankle, Rudy Gobert had his season-high in playing time tonight, with 25 minutes and 38 seconds on the floor. He used that time well, getting career-highs in blocks (5)1, assists (4)2 and a season-high in rebounds (11).

But wow, he just makes such an impact on the defensive end for the Jazz. Here’s the Heat’s shot chart in the first half, when Rudy had just 4:44 of playing time:

1st half Miami shot chart.

1st half Miami shot chart.

And here’s Miami’s shot chart for the second half, when Rudy played 20:54:

Miami's 2nd half shot chart.

Miami’s 2nd half shot chart.

So instead of 15 restricted area looks, the Heat got just 6 in the Gobert-heavy 2nd half. Instead of 15 paint makes in the Gobert-light 1st half, the Heat made just 4 in the second half. But that even sort of understates the story! In those nearly 5 minutes Gobert was on the floor in the 1st half, the Heat had just 1 paint make. And in the 3 minutes Gobert was sitting in the 2nd half, the Heat got 2 of their restricted-area makes.

Overall, it adds up to an 86.2 points given up per 100 possessions while Gobert was on the floor, wildly better than the Jazz’s overall DRtg of 114 in tonight’s game. The Jazz’s defensive improvement in the 2nd half can’t entirely be attributed to Gobert: the other 4 Jazz players on the floor performed better too. But Gobert is such a deterrent inside, it’s clear he deserves a lot of the credit.

3. Final inbounds play costs the Jazz the game. 

The Jazz, taking advantage of a rare out-of-bounds traveling call on Miami, fought their way back to a situation where they had the ball, within 3 points, with 5 seconds left despite being down 6 with under a minute to go. Instead of inbounding the ball, Joe Ingles held onto it too long for a 5-second violation.

Ingles mentioned after the game that it was a very similar play to what the Jazz have run in the same situation against New York and Cleveland, in which the Jazz hit buzzer-beating game winning shots. The difference was that here, the Jazz needed a 3, rather than just 2 points. As a result, the Heat front blocked every player at the 3 point line, knowing that the Jazz wanted to keep the ball outside of the arc. That’s hard to do, so give credit to the Heat there.

I’ve read some early criticism of having Ingles take the ball out there, but I’m not sure who else I’d rather have doing it. Trey is almost too small: at 6’0”, he might be swallowed up by the inbounds defender. As Snyder pointed out, “Ingles is 6’8”, and anytime you have height like that in that situation, it’s an advantage.” Hayward, ideally, would be the one receiving the ball, rather than passing the ball in that situation, ditto with Steve Novak. Kanter was in the game to set screens, I certainly don’t want him passing in the ball. Hood and Exum might be logical choices given their length and passing ability, but they’re also pretty inexperienced, and have never faced Dwyane Wade doing jumping jacks in their face in a pressure situation like that. In the end, I thought it was the right choice; it just didn’t work out.

Andy Larsen

Andy Larsen

Andy Larsen is the Managing Editor of Salt City Hoops, the ESPN TrueHoop affiliate for the Utah Jazz. He also hosts a radio show and podcast every week on ESPN700 AM in Salt Lake City.
Andy Larsen


  1. Mewko says:

    Yep. You can include those three thoughts to most of our season so far.
    Jody G tweeted “Jazz lose but put a win in the experience column. Can’t dispute guys are getting better. Its about learning how to win. It’s going to come”
    Can’t help but agree. Derrick Favors has felt responsible for every loss this year. Coach Q is putting the team in the best position to win every night. The fans are rooting for wins, not ping-pong balls (although ticket sales are still down).

  2. cw says:

    The jazz are a mystery to me at this point. Milwaukee is better. The core has been together four years now. You can’t blame it all on Corbin. The only one I am really positive about is Gobert. He’s the only one I see playing with undaunted fire and determination. Everyone else seems like a some kind of headcase.

    I am actually finding their wimpyness pretty boring. Where is the swag, the huevos?

    And yet… some of them can score. How much of it is that someone has to score points on a bad team and how much is genuine scoring ability? I guess Kanter, Hayward, and Favors’ numbers are pretty good. But is that a core of contention? I just don’t see it. I don’t see the competitive fire.

    I would not be surprised if in a few years the core of the jazz are Exum, GObert, and someone they draft in the next two years.

  3. Robin Rodd says:

    I just haven’t seen a game this year that convinces me that Burke is an NBA player. We play 4 on 5 on both ends of the court when he is on the court. He just doesn;t have the physical tools or the lack of ego to contain his game to play making and adapt to his deficiencies. He hurts us by shooting when he shouldn;t, and his defense is atrocious, all NBA awful. I think there is a place for him as a backup in the league, but I’m not sure that place is the Jazz. He does one thing extremely well, and that is not turn the ball over, but if you factor in his excessive shot taking… his low turnover percentage adjusts well up. There is no improvement, and no potential for improvement, because he lacks the basic physical tools, as well as the grit. I think he would make a great player in the Australian national league, or perhaps Europe in the right situation. But not the NBA. He was never a high ceiling player. When does the flag go up that that was a wasted pick and the axe fall? Midway this season? We are dealing with the fallout of three years of bad Corbin coaching. Best cut losses sooner rather than later…

  4. Pingback: The Triple Team: Three Thoughts on Jazz vs. Heat 12/17/14 | Salt City Hoops

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