1. It wasn’t a “WAKE UP” yell, but Snyder finally got through to his players.
Probably most of the stories will tell this game as a tale of two halves: the Nuggets performance in the 1st half was just good enough to defeat the Jazz’s comeback in the second. But the turning point of the game really came at the 4:11 mark of the 3rd quarter, when the Jazz had an 18 point deficit. That’s when Quin Snyder re-inserted Enes Kanter and Rudy Gobert after subbing them out just a minute earlier for poor defensive performance. Snyder took that minute to berate Gobert and Kanter for their defensive effort thus far:
As Gobert explained it after the game, “That was just to get attention from me and Enes. That worked pretty well.”
I’ll say. Prior to that point, the Jazz had allowed 79 points in 34 minutes of basketball. Denver was shooting 55% from the floor, 43% from three, had only 6 turnovers for the game, and were shooting fully half of their shots from within the restricted area.
After that point: the Jazz went on a 22-4 run to tie the game in just 6 minutes of play. For the final 16 minutes, the Nuggets made just 8 of their 27 shots, made just 1 shot within the restricted area, had 5 turnovers, and gave up 7 offensive rebounds to the Jazz. All of a sudden, the Jazz came out to play. A lot of credit for that goes to Gobert, who seemed to literally frighten the Denver guards from putting up the shots they otherwise would have in the paint.
In the end, the Jazz’s offense wasn’t smooth enough to bring them over the hump: the Jazz were just 13/31 in that same 16 minute period on offense. But for a stretch, they showed real game-changing defensive potential, and perhaps better things to come on that end of the floor.
2. Alec Burks was in an attacking mood.
Burks scored 22 points on 15 shots tonight. He also continued a recent trend of contributing on the glass, with 8 rebounds overall out of 11 rebounding opportunities, times when the rebound came within 3.5 feet of Burks. For a guard, that’s excellent. He added 3 nice assists off of his drives to contribute even further. Perhaps most interesting is how those points were achieved:
As you can see, Burks got all of his points from the floor from within 3 feet of the basket. He then added 8 free throws to those layups and dunks you see above. With his outside shot not working, he brought his game inside with drive after drive tonight, and it ended up an efficient night for the Jazz’s newly-extended SG.
3. The Jazz’s trainer, Gary Briggs, received an unjust technical.
I think this is something the NBA needs to look at. Here’s the full play:
Alec Burks gets hit with a hard clothesline that the referees ruled a flagrant 2, clearly hard enough for an ejection. After the play, Alec Burks is rolling around on the floor, clearly, unmistakably, and understandably in distress. Since the ball is dead, Quin Snyder comes out to get his players, and Gary Briggs, the Jazz’s longtime trainer, comes out to look at Alec Burks. In the review of the play, the refereeing crew of Marc Davis, Leroy Richardson, and Curtis Blair assess a technical to Gary Briggs for going onto the court without a timeout.
Look, I get that the rule regarding unnecessary personnel on the court has good intentions. But really, is the intent of the rule to prevent players from receiving medical treatment after a hard foul to the head, one that the referees agreed was dangerous enough for a flagrant 2 ejection? Indeed, that’s the scenario where I think immediate treatment of players is needed most.
Two parties are at fault here:
I would encourage the NBA’s Rules Committee to look at adjusting this rule at the next possible opportunity, as well as the NBA’s Referee Operations group to instruct its officials to consider the safety of the players when reviewing these situations.