1. An 18-4 Lakers run in the 4th quarter lost the game for the Jazz.
From 9:34 to 3:39 left in the 4th, the Lakers went on an 18-4 run that won them the game. 18 points is a high, but not ridiculous, amount of points to give up in 6 minutes, especially because many of them were easy points in transition off of Jazz turnovers. 4, on the other hand, is far too low of a total to score, so let’s break down the offensive possessions:
9:34: Trey gets the ball stolen from him by Jeremy Lin in the backcourt in a simple pick and roll situation. Bad ballhandling by Trey here. Lin gets the ball and scores the breakaway layup.
9:22: Trey tries to take advantage by getting ahead of Lin in transition, leaves it for a Rudy alley-oop, but Hill reads an iffy pass well and gets the turnover. Burke then fouls to stop the fast break.
8:49: Jazz offense gets a wide open look for Hood from 3. He misses. Lakers score on ensuing long-rebound fast break opportunity.
8:15: Jazz get the ball down low to Favors, who passes to an open Rudy for a seemingly easy dunk. But Rudy doesn’t expect the pass, fumbles it, and another turnover. After Lakers score in transition, Jazz call timeout, up now only 5 after starting this sequence up 11.
7:42: After a mostly listless possession, Hayward gets the ball on the wing with 6 seconds left in the shot clock, pump fakes, and drives to the hole, scoring a very difficult scoop shot. Despite the make, Hayward bails the Jazz out of a bad offensive trip.
7:01: Jazz pass to Favors in the post, Hill fouls him. Favors makes 1 of 2 FTs.
6:10: Jazz pass to Booker in the post. Hill fouls him. Booker makes 0 of 2 FTs. The Jazz were very lucky here that Hill fouled both of these players in short shot-clock situations, but the Jazz only converted 1 of 4 FTs. The Jazz had a real chance to keep their lead here, but passed it up.
5:35: Booker gets the ball in transition and goes for the punctuating dunk, but misses it. Lakers get layup on the other end. So unlucky. My colleague Ben Dowsett says he should have just gone for the layup here, but… I think the dunk is actually a higher percentage opportunity. And more fun, to boot.
5:01: Poor Jazz possession gets Hood a weird one-handed contested jump shot in the key, he misses it.
4:42: Hayward drives and gets blocked, probably shouldn’t have attempted that shot. Lakers come down and tie the game with a dunk.
4:09: Burke waves off the screen so he can go isolation. He drives and predictably gets blocked as well. Lakers take the lead with a fast break layup.
3:39: Hayward goes for a pullup stepback jumper that he’s been pretty good at this season, this one hits back iron. Gobert tries for the tip, misses, once, then twice. Then Favors does the same and gets fouled. He goes to the line and makes… 1 of 2. Meanwhile, Hill banks in a 19 footer on the other end. Jazz down 3.
That’s the stretch that killed the Jazz. In those 7 minutes, they had 3 turnovers, went 1-9 from the field, and 2-6 from the line. They got blocked twice. They missed dunks, jump shots, and didn’t execute offensively. It was terrible, and the lack of focus and execution lost them the game.
Believe me, the players know and feel all of this even more than the fans do: they uniformly looked angry at themselves in the locker room after the game. Denver might be in for some trouble on Friday.
2. Talking about free throws.
The Jazz shot just 22-34 from the FT line tonight, good for 64.7%. NBA teams shoot 75.3% on average, so had they made an average amount of FTs, they would have 25.6 of them. So yeah, if they make an NBA average number of FTs, they get 3-4 more points, and probably win the game. Unlucky, and disappointing, to be sure.
But. The Jazz also made 7/12 (58.3%) of their 3s. League average on this statistic is 34.9%. So on a league average night from 3, the Jazz make 4.2 of their 3s. That difference is worth 8.4 points per game. Because the Jazz made an above-average number of threes, they had a chance to stay in the game at the end, and their skill from the 3 point line outweighs their lack of skill from the FT line.
Admittedly, this is a skewed way to look at it, as the Lakers’ defense is present on one of the two types of shots. But as you disparage the Jazz’s free throw shooting, keep in mind that they more than made up for it with their performance from 3. The turnovers are the ultimate reason the Jazz lost the game, in my mind.
3. Jazz treat fans well with no increase in season ticket prices.
Too often in the NBA, greedy owners raise ticket prices even on bad teams, preventing their buildings from filling up on an individual night because the price increase brings tickets out of fans’ budgets. This week, though, is the first week for Jazz fans to renew their season tickets, and the Jazz organization has kept them at the same price. Here’s the breakdown:
Bravo also to the Jazz for introducing/returning a new ticket slot: the $5 dollar seats. Located at the top of the upper bowl, this nevertheless gives fans a good way to get in to watch a Jazz game for about $200 a season, a tremendous value for the NBA. I got my start as a Jazz fan purchasing $5/game season tickets with the money I earned from a summer job, so hopefully we can get some more talent for Salt City Hoops coming through the pipeline as the result of the Jazz selling these tickets.