The Triple Team: Three Thoughts on Jazz vs. Rockets 10/29/2014

October 29th, 2014 | by Andy Larsen
(Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)

1. Jazz allowed the Rockets to kill them from 3.

Yes, that’s a story that’s been told before: the Rockets’ attack from 3 is one of the hardest weapons in the NBA to stop. While the Jazz struggled against Dwight Howard’s post game, the threes weren’t kickouts from Howard, who had 0 assists. Instead, the 3s came largely from Houston’s drive-and-kick game, largely spearheaded by James Harden. Harden was largely stymied in his individual game tonight, shooting just 6-18, and he attempted just 6 free throws after attempting 16 against the Lakers.

But Harden’s passing game led Houston to success. He accumulated 10 assists tonight, all 10 were for 3 point attempts. That’s pretty amazing. As Twitter user @sput_nick pointed out to me after the game: shouldn’t those assists be worth 1.5 each? Despite the poor shooting, turnovers, and defense, Harden still put up a game-high +21 plus/minus tonight. Harden had Both Trevor Ariza and Kostas Papanikolau 1 shot well, to their credit.

That’s how the Rockets were successful on offense tonight. The Jazz actually did well in most other respects: they forced 18 turnovers from the Rockets. They allowed just 8 offensive rebounds. They didn’t foul Houston too many times, and only accumulated 16 personal fouls for the game (Houston forced their opponents to an average of 24.3 PF/G last year).2 But it was the 3 point game of the Rockets that did the damage.

2. On the other hand, the Jazz didn’t shoot well tonight.

3-18 isn’t a good performance, but it came with poor performances from players who are supposed to be Utah’s 2 best outside shooters. Gordon Hayward and Trey Burke went 0-3 and 0-4 respectively from beyond the arc tonight. Of course, it’s not all their fault: even ignoring those two’s misses, the Jazz still shot only 3-11 from deep.

Some of those shots were bad shots taken at the end of a shot clock, but a lot of them weren’t. The Jazz’s poor performance from 3 tonight won’t necessarily feed into the rest of the season overall. After all, in the preseason, the Jazz shot a really respectable 37.1% from behind the arc, good for 6th in the league. I’ll take the larger preseason sample over the Jazz’s 16.7% performance tonight.

So, too, would Derrick Favors, who said after the game, “It’s like that sometimes. In the preseason, we did a good job shooting the ball, but tonight we went cold. It’s nothing to stress about.” Exactly, Derrick.

3. Adam Silver made his first visit to Utah.

Tonight, Adam Silver made his first visit to Utah as NBA commissioner. It made sense logistically for Silver, as he spent yesterday giving rings to the San Antonio Spurs and was heading to Steve Ballmer’s first game as owner of the Los Angeles Clippers tomorrow. Still, it was good of Silver to spend time (about 2 hours, Silver said) with the Jazz and their owners, and attend tonight’s game.

I posted a full transcript of that press conference earlier tonight, so I’d encourage you to go check it out. My initial thoughts on his comments:

  • It’s nice to hear that Spurs/Jazz comparison again, this time coming from the commissioner. I wrote about that link a little in my TrueHoop article yesterday, but it’s good to hear about it from more than just the Jazz and Spurs execs.
  • It’s interesting to hear that Silver feels that the tanking issue is more about perception and less about reality. Perception is really what last week’s proposal was going to change more than anything and ultimately, I think that team owners probably rejected that being a good enough reason to change the system. Likewise, it sounded like Silver rejected non-lottery systems, saying “The challenge is you still want the draft to stock those teams with the best picks who have the worst records. It’s always finding that right balance.”
  • It’s also interesting to hear that Adam Silver has already had informal discussions with Michele Roberts about the issue of cap smoothing. The NBPA is really mostly still just ramping up, they just hired new executives this week. But that those leading both the NBA and it’s union have had discussions on this issue is promising.
  • That smoothing solution is going to be really interesting. Silver’s solution seems to be artificially lowering the cap in the summer of 2016, then paying a lump sum to the NBPA. It’ll be interesting to see if the players accept that, and then how they end up distributing that money later on down the road: will Joe Ingles, for example, get an equal amount as LeBron James of the windfall? I’d also suspect that the players are probably better off by not using a smoothing system, for the reasoning that most of the contracts teams will sign during the windfall year will be long-term deals. But we’ll see.
  • Another move that was mostly about perception: that 11-minute trial game that occurred this preseason. Personally, I feel an 11-minute game would be a drastic mistake: less basketball is not the solution here. Instead, as Silver mentioned in the press conference, I think the solution comes with stricter rules about time-wasting (coming out of timeouts is a major slow point) and the elimination of the insidious 9-minute automatic timeout in the 2nd and 4th quarters. Naturally, ESPN and TNT wouldn’t be happy about that elimination, but quite frankly, what could they do to prevent it?
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

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