1. At one point, the score was 81-37.
That happened at the 3:30 mark of the 3rd quarter. After that, the Jazz were outscored 29-13, which obscured some of the blatant ridiculousness of some of what was going on. Just so those absurdities don’t stay hidden, here are some fun facts that were true for the first 33 minutes of this game:
The defining part of this game stretched the end of the 1st quarter and most of the second, as the Jazz went on a 33-10 run that won them the game. The Jazz couldn’t miss from downtown, though every single one of those threes were pretty open. Utah made 8 threes in that first quarter, breaking the franchise record of 7; their total of 12 threes in the half demolishes their previous half record of 9 threes. During that stretch, the Jazz made 11 threes in a row, equaling the most consecutive in the NBA since 2002-03.
Charlotte coach Steve Clifford took responsibility, saying “I’m most responsible… This is mostly on me. As you saw tonight, when we’re not ready, we ain’t playing well. We don’t have that kind of talent level. We’ve won because of effort, defense, rebounding. Those things take effort.”
The Hornets didn’t bring it tonight. The Jazz did.
2. But this team is accomplishing ridiculous things.
With their 28-point win tonight, the Jazz are now exactly even on the year: they’ve scored 6278 points, and they had 6278 points scored on them. That, in itself, is an incredible accomplishment for a team that has had their record stand at 6-19 and 17-33.
Also occurring tonight: this team now has an above-average defense on the season. They rank 15th in the league defensively, which doesn’t sound spectacular, until you realize that they ranked 27th in the league just 3 weeks and 13 games ago! You’re not supposed to be able to make that sort of leap in that short of time. It’s insane.
They’ve done it on the back of a 89.7 DRtg since the All-Star break/Enes Kanter trade, which is essentially an unprecedentedly good level of defense. No team has put up a sub 90 DRtg for a season since they started keeping track of stats besides points in 1973. Now, yes, it’s only been 13 games, but at a certain point, we’ll be allowed to stop saying that.
And again, it shouldn’t be happening! I wrote about this last Triple Team, but you’re supposed to need tough, veteran presences in order to have a good defense. You’re supposed to have the know-how that only experience can bring. But the Jazz have no players with over 4 years of experience, and a rookie head coach. But the defense is stellar.
3. Quin Snyder and Rodney Hood talking to Coach K.
Since it’s March Madness time, there have been a lot of questions to Dukies Quin Snyder and Rodney Hood about their thoughts on the Blue Devils’ chances in the tournament. But I thought more interesting was how both Snyder and Hood have maintained regular communication with Coach Mike Krzyzewski.
Quin Snyder: “It’s actually ironic, I talked to Coach K this morning. I called him to wish him luck, and hadn’t talked to him in a little while, he’s been busy. We kept talking for a while, and he asked about Rodney. He’s obviously followed Rodney, and he made mention of the fact that he really likes him. But talked about his confidence, and him just playing, rather than worrying about missing or making a mistake. He’s just playing the right way.”
And Rodney Hood said that he speaks approximately weekly with Coach K. “Just checking up on each other. What he’s going through over there, what I’m going through over here with the injury and stuff. Just checking up on each other and just seeing how everything is going.”
It’s cool that two Jazzmen maintain regular communication with one of the best coaches in the game, but perhaps more impressive is how Coach K keeps in contact with his former players, especially given how many there have been.