1. Utah’s shifted point guard position paid dividends.
The Jazz made significant changes to their point guard position in the last 36 hours. First, the Jazz waived Jamaal Tinsley, dropping the 35-year-old point guard after a horrific start in which he started 5 games and totaled 9 points. Then, the Jazz signed D-Leaguer Diante Garrett to a contract, who flew in last night and only somewhat participated in shootaround this morning. Tonight, when Lucas struggled by shooting 0-7 in the game, including 0-6 from three, Corbin changed the rotation in the 2nd half to great results. Corbin started the half by simply playing Alec Burks at point guard, and then went with the newbie Garrett for the rest of the game at the point.
It’s a little bit evocative of the Sundiata Gaines performance, though obviously nowhere near the amplitude. When asked why Corbin went with Garrett down the stretch, he began his response with “Well, he’s a point guard.” Given that the only other option was a shoot-first PG without a made shot, Garrett was the logical candidate. He answered the call with some timely passes and made shots, something that has been sorely lacking from Jazz PG’s of late. Garrett’s totals of 7 point and 5 assists would be Tinsley season highs.
2. The ball finally went in the hoop. Simple, right?
I’ve talked in this space about how woeful the Jazz’s shooting performances are: by some measures, the Jazz were the worst shooting team in NBA history. That changed tonight, as the Jazz finally shot over 50% for a game, thus bumping their season-long averages out of worst-ever territory. While the offense was failing in many ways to get open shots, it wasn’t doing so at historically terrible rates. For example, before the game, the Jazz had shot just 3 for 33 from the corners of the three point line; no matter how contested the shot, threes from there will typically go in at a higher rate than 9 percent. In short, the Jazz were getting a little bit unlucky. The Jazz’s luck turned around tonight: instead of missing easy shots, Anthony Davis commented that “Gordon [Hayward] was hitting tough ones.” That’s sometimes all the difference in the make-or-miss NBA.
3. Crowd was small but loud.
The attendance continues to be sparse early in the season, as the fans are understandably reluctant to trade hard-earned money for a losing team that hasn’t displayed their best effort at times. As JazzBasketball pointed out, Monday’s attendance was the lowest since December 7th, 2005, and tonight’s game was even lower, managing only 16,717.
Still, the fans that are coming right now are dedicated, either season ticket types or dedicated Jazz fans who love their team. As a result, even a building with a lot of green seats gave the Jazz’s best crowd performance of the season as the Jazz made their comeback from a 16 point deficit. It was an encouraging sign for those who wondered if the famed Jazz’s loud crowds were gone forever. They’re not.