1. Jazz turned around a very lackadaisical start in the 4th Quarter.
At the end of the 3rd quarter, the Jazz and Timberwolves were tied at 72. In many ways, this felt like the Sixers game on Saturday, in that the Jazz were putting up a poor performance, but were still in the game due to their weak opponent.
Then, the Timberwolves went on a 10-0 run, and Quin called a quick timeout, clearly incensed at his team’s play. During the timeout, he remained silent and simply stared at his players. From Snyder’s point of view, “I didn’t say anything, because I felt like we weren’t saying anything and I was tired of saying everything every timeout.” The Jazz players read the message loud and clear. As Hayward said, “He said it all just with the look in his eyes.”
The non-tirade worked. The Jazz went on a 8-2 run after that timeout, then finished the game off with a 16-2 run to finish it out. Along the way, they played great defense, getting 4 steals to seal the game.
It’s another example of the Jazz responding to Quin’s motivational techniques, a coach who hasn’t lost his players despite challenging them on a day-to-day basis. It’s fun to watch. Snyder would like for his players to play like that consistently: “To our guys’ credit they did find that [energy] – I want them to find it sooner.”
2. This game was, in some ways, a referendum on the Trey Burke/Shabazz Muhammad/Gorgui Dieng trade.
The leading scorers for both teams were involved in this draft night trade of 2013, when the Jazz traded the 14th and 21st pick for the 9th pick and the rights to select Trey Burke. Tonight, it seemed like Muhammad and Burke especially were eager to show that the other teams had made a mistake.
Let’s start with Shabazz Muhammad’s game: he went 10-17 in the game for 30 points, including 5-6 from three-point range. He also garnered 7 rebounds in his 38 minutes of play. Shabazz1 looks like a different player than he did last season, through an impressive array of offensive moves and improved shooting skills. The defense is still a worry, but he’s looking like a permanently useful player, when I thought there was very little chance that would happen by near the end of last season. Well done by the Timberwolves coaching staff, and of course, Shabazz himself, to develop him to this point.
Trey Burke had his season high in points, with 26. Overall, though, he shot just 47.6%, so you can’t say it was a particularly efficient offensive performance. He did add 6 points and 4 rebounds to his game, though. After the game, I asked Quin Snyder what he thought about Trey’s game offensively. This was his rebellious response:
“I think the key thing for Trey, to really help our group, is to defend. And it’s easier for him to defend when he’s scoring. And he was scoring tonight, and I’m not taking anything away from his defense, but I’m gonna sit up here and be really really happy with Trey when he has a bad scoring night and he guards. And he was terrific.”
That last add-on aside, it’s interesting that Snyder was so unimpressed with Trey’s offensive game, because all he’s looking for from Trey this season is defense. I didn’t think he defended poorly tonight, and Trey agreed, saying, “Overall I think I had a pretty solid defensive performance.” It feels like Quin’s still looking for something more.
Overall, it’s still too soon to judge the trade, but with the good play of Dieng and Muhammad on the offensive end, and with the struggles of Burke at both ends this season, it’s looking like a win for the Wolves. That doesn’t mean it was a bad decision at the time, though, as it’s hard to say if either Muhammad or Dieng would have had the opportunity to grow with the Jazz as they have with Minnesota. Still, it’ll be something to watch for in upcoming seasons.
3. Alec Burks’ season-ending injury hurts the Jazz significantly.
First of all, the injury is just a bummer. Alec is a cool young player who is fun to watch, that everyone likes being around, and who legitimately works very hard off-the-court to improve his game. Dennis Lindsey answered a lot of questions about his injury in a press conference before the game, Ben Dowsett and I transcribed that for you here.
But tonight’s game also showed how much Burks’ injury will hurt the Jazz over the rest of the season. Patrick Christopher, a man who had played in 2 NBA games for a total of 2 NBA points before tonight’s game, took 8 field goal attempts in his 12 minutes of play. Those are minutes and shots that otherwise would have gone to Alec Burks2. Christopher was 2-8 overall3. The Jazz scored 85 of their points tonight via their starting lineup, while the NBA’s league average is 64, indicating a pretty weak bench.
That being said, this is the plan. As Dennis Lindsey said before the game, despite Alec’s injury, “Frankly, Quin’s very comfortable where we’re at. We’ll see how the young guys do.” Perhaps more than 14 minutes would be appropriate for Dante’s development at this stage with Burks out.