Three thoughts on the Utah Jazz’s 139-105 win over the San Antonio Spurs from Salt Lake Tribune Jazz beat writer Andy Larsen.
1. Jazz set franchise record in 3-pointers made
Twenty is a lot of threes to make, especially given that the Jazz only shot 33 of them. It’s the 76th 20 3-point game in NBA history, but only the fifth one ever in which the team shot 33 or fewer threes.
And now comes a disappointing but real bit of truth: I think a lot of it was 3-point variance, in other words, mostly randomness. If we chalk certain Jazz losses up to them just not making open shots (and there has been a lot of that this year, with the Jazz getting the second-most wide-open shots in the league), then we also have to be fair and say they probably got a little lucky in making 20.
For example, I don’t know that the Jazz got wildly better 3-point looks than they did against Miami Sunday, when they finished 11-33 from long-range. Tonight, they just made nine more of them.
It’s a little bit hard to compare right now, as the NBA doesn’t release tracking data for its games until the next day. But with the data we do have, things seem a bit similar. Against Miami, 26 of their threes were catch-and-shoot looks. 18 of the threes were open (with a defender 4-6 feet away), and 13 of their threes were wide open (closest defender was more than 6 feet away). Only two weren’t open, and the Jazz made one of them. That’s pretty good, except the part where the Jazz made only 10-31 of their open threes.
More stats: Against Miami, they shot 13 corner threes. They shot 12 against San Antonio. That means they also took just about the same number of above-the break threes, too. It’s just that against the Spurs, nine of their corner threes went in instead of only two against Miami. That’s a big, big difference.
Quin Snyder agrees, by the way. “Any time you have a shooting night like that, you appreciate it. Tonight we shot the ball really well, and you’re not going to do that all of the time, but we were fortunate that the ball went in for a lot of guys.”
It’s almost like a blessing from the basketball gods, rather than something consistently repeatable. Snyder probably wishes that the basketball gods would have spread the 3-point shooting around more evenly, and had given them an extra one on Sunday, but hey. The basketball gods have also blessed the Jazz with good health this season, so we should note that as well.
That being said: the Jazz played well enough tonight to win even if they had hit only ten of their threes, and that’s a terrific sign for the team, though they played a poor Spurs defense.
Kyle Korver obviously helps in the making department, and he made 3-4 tonight from deep. But he was on the team Sunday, too. I do think there will be fewer bad shooting night from the Jazz for the rest of the season, but they will come. To a large extent, it’s just the luck of the draw.
2. Some pretty plays for Kyle Korver
Kyle Korver’s still trying to learn the Jazz’s base offense, but there has been some time for the Jazz to play a little bit with their new shooting toy. Here’s one example.
This is a baseline out-of-bounds play where Kyle Korver is inbounding the ball. But because he’s inbounding, the man guarding him (Marco Belinelli) is taught to shade towards the hoop, to prevent the pass to the rim for the dunk to Jae Crowder or Derrick Favors. But that means that Belinelli is already trailing him when Korver inbounds the ball. Meanwhile, Crowder’s man, Rudy Gay, has to prevent the roll from Crowder or Favors at the rim. and then it’s a simple give, screen, and pass back to get Korver a 3-point look. He knocks it down and gets fouled.
“When Quin was an assistant coach in Atlanta, he was my assistant who I’d work with every day. And we shoot, sometimes, but we would just talk about the game a lot. We used to talk about different angles and scenarios back then. It’s fun to see now that he’s in charge,” Korver said. I like this type of stuff, I like thinking like this, I like thinking differently than what else everyone is doing.
“I think he tried to put me back in the game late because he had a play he wanted to run,” Korver said.
Baseline plays are easy to put in: they’re usually one or two movements designed to get a shot quickly. For in-game plays, you probably need a practice or two to get them in, and the Jazz will hold their first official practice since the Korver trade on Wednesday.
3. Ricky Rubio sneaking in
Ricky Rubio’s quietly had himself three consecutive good games since the Korver trade, benefiting the Jazz greatly. Tonight, he finished with 12 points and seven assists, but I thought his three steals were sneaky and worth a rewatch.
This one reveals his knowledge of the scouting report. Rudy Gobert is giving LaMarcus Aldridge his right shoulder, and Rubio knows that Aldridge is likely to turn that way thanks to how Gobert is defending him. So he actively just leaves Bryn Forbes in the corner to go for the steal.
Some may question whether that gamble is worth it. But with Aldridge’s back turned and the play happening on the opposite side of the Spurs' bench, Aldridge isn’t likely to find out Forbes is open until it’s too late. And steals like that are super valuable, as you saw when Royce O’Neale got the and-one on the other side.
This one is a simple bobble from Patty Mills, but he kind of is non-chalant about controlling the ball again. But Rubio is so quick with the swipe that he gets the ball anyway, and then two more points.
We’ll see if this is true, but my hope that we’re getting the good Ricky Rubio from the beginning of December this time, not just the beginning of January like last year. That would be big for the Jazz during this tough December schedule.