1. Jazz take advantage of bad Lakers night.
Without Kobe Bryant, and on a back-to-back, the Lakers were pretty bad tonight. They tied a new franchise low in assists with 71, they shot a season-low 8 attempts from the 3 point line. Their offensive execution generated them just 20 uncontested FGA, 40% than the league average of 33. They turned the ball over 21 times, and while 11 of those were Jazz steals, 10 of them were not, just the Lakers throwing the ball away, or getting 3 second violations, or traveling, etc. They accumulated only 9 fouls in the game, and while it’s not as if fouls are good things, you’d like to see a little bit more defensive aggression than that.
When Snyder was asked postgame if this win is a credit to his team’s defense or the Lakers’ poor offense, he credited his team’s defensive energy, which is fair. Both Enes Kanter and Jingles had career-highs in steals with 3 a piece, which gave the Jazz some easy baskets on the other end as well. But beyond that, I saw a lot of poor Laker execution that the Jazz stopped relatively easily.
2. Gordon Hayward is such a difference maker for the Jazz.
That being said, Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors both put up excellent games, and, quite frankly, they’re not getting enough words written about it recently with the exciting emergence of Rudy Gobert. Here are some words:
Gordon Hayward’s 31 points and 7 assists, and game-high +18 on the night, continues to indicate why he is the Jazz’s most important player. When he’s on the floor, the Jazz are very nearly a .500 team: they give up 107.4 points per 100 possessions, and score 107.3 points per 100 possessions. But when he’s off the floor, the Jazz’s offense craters, scoring just 95 points per 100 possessions; Utah’s worse than Philadelphia when Hayward’s off the floor. 31 points in 18 shots is the kind of night that helps that margin grow further. I still hear gripes about Gordon’s play from some circles, from those who call him overpaid and are happier when he’s off the floor. Those people are misguided. More proof on this in Ben Dowsett’s post here.
That being said, when Hayward’s off the floor, Utah’s defense improves slightly, by 2.4 points per 100 possessions. When I asked Quin Snyder about Hayward’s excellent offensive game, he replied “We ask him to do a lot. I think the biggest challenge for him now is that I’d rather have him do less on offense and more on defense. I think when he’s engaged, he’s capable of having those nights.” This has been a common refrain for Snyder, when asked about good games by his players offensively. When I asked about Burke’s good game offensively 2 weeks ago, Quin said, “I’m gonna sit up here and be really really happy with Trey when he has a bad scoring night and he guards.” We’ll watch for it.
3. Lakers fan report
With every Laker game in Utah, throngs of Angelenos real and imagined come out to EnergySolutions Arena to cheer on their hero, Kobe Bryant. Unfortunately, Kobe Bryant didn’t come to Utah today, as the Lakers chose to rest him on the second night of a back-to-back. Instead, they celebrated their neo-hero, Nick Young:
That being said, the overall feistiness of Lakers supporters was hurt by the game’s general ugliness, as well as their team’s poor play. There was one exception, though: an overenthusiastic gentleman who found himself removed by the stadium ushers:
Laker fan kicked out of ESA right in front of media row… Many f-bombs and middle-fingers shown. He seemed nice.
— Andy Larsen (@andyblarsen) January 17, 2015
The moral of the story: As with any group, there are some good eggs and some bad. Some make great signs that are clever (and funny!), some are rude and detract enough from the game experience that they’re kicked out of the building.