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: