1. Rodney Hood’s absence and foul trouble made for some interesting Jazz rotations.
Rookie forward Rodney Hood sat out Sunday’s bout with the Detroit Pistons due to a case of plantar fascitis. This injury is a shame, Hood has been giving Utah good minutes. While he’s struggled with his shot, he has continually battled on the boards and is showing improvement on defense. Here’s hoping it is not something that is beyond a short-term issue.
Joe Ingles was the primary beneficiary of his absence and he made the most of it. The Aussie forward, whose excellent passing has been a welcome addition to the second unit, took his turn as a shooter, nailing all three of his 3-point attempts. Add in three boards and a nice floor game, Ingles has been a nice find and showed tonight that he can absorb some of Hood’s playing time. It should also be noted that Dante Exum and Trey Burke played some minutes together in the first quarter.
Head coach Quin Snyder has a somewhat interesting perspective toward foul trouble. Both Exum and Trey Burke picked up a pair of first-half fouls. In most situations, a coach tends to keep his guys in the game until they get whistled for a third. Not Snyder. Seven games into his head coaching career, he’s shown a propensity to pull guys after that second foul in the first half (or a third foul in the third quarter). This resulted in an Alec Burks/Gordon Hayward back court, with Ingles sliding in at the small forward. Unfortunately, that lineup was the one in when Detroit dashed off on a 15-6 run to finish the half– a run that carried over into the third quarter.
2. Gordon Hayward continues to take his game to another level.
Gordon Hayward’s growth as a player has been one of the big story lines thus far. And that could be a major understatement. Besides his memorable game-winner against the Cleveland Cavaliers, his decision-making, all-around abilities and heightened aggressiveness have been on a whole different level.
Sunday showed me a lot more.
Hayward was clearly struggling through the first three quarters. His shot was not falling and he did not seem as involved. In years past, when his game was off, Hayward would sometimes take a more passive approach as the game progressed– kind of blending in without trying to do too much. That was not the case versus Detroit. He was the best player on the court in the fourth. Hayward drained a few triples, got to the free throw line and crashed for rebounds. While his final shot was a bit questionable, 1 he put the Jazz on his shoulders and carried them to a nice win.
3. Point guard play
The Burke and Exum dynamic is naturally something that people are watching, and understandably so. While I firmly believe there is room for both of them, it is hard to ignore how each is playing. Case in point: Sunday’s outing. In 24 minutes, Burke was just 2-8 from the floor (1 of 3 from downtown) for seven points, three assists and two rebounds. He seemed to be pressing a bit on both ends, resulting in some iffy shot selection and five personal fouls. Burke had a -8 +/- mark.
Exum had 21 minutes2 and demonstrated a heady floor game. The offense flowed smoothly and he finished with a nice stat line: nine points (2-4 field goals and 5–5 free throws), five dimes and three boards. Also zero turnovers and was +11–a 19-point difference. Snyder went with him to finish the game and he came up with some big plays.
The Jazz need both of them and as I stated, I believe they can play together. It is early on. Burke is bound to have a big game soon and Exum will have some rookie struggles. It’ll be interesting to watch their play over the next 10-15 games.