Three thoughts on the Utah Jazz’s 111-105 win over the Los Angeles Clippers from Salt Lake Tribune beat writer Andy Larsen.
1. Chippy game decided by Clippers’ missed shots
Reading the Clippers’ quotes coming out of tonight’s game, it appears they were pretty pleased with most aspects of their performance tonight. Take Doc Rivers.
“It was amazing how hard both teams were paying,” Rivers said. “It really came down the stretch to loose balls. We missed some wide open, some great looks, but so did they.”
Or Lou Williams:
“I think we just went dry. I think we missed a lot of opportunities that we usually would make, shots we would make with our eyes closed.”
Or Danilo Gallinari:
“I thought we played with a great intensity and they were able to win the game, but I thought we played a pretty good game... If me and Lou make shots, we win the game, bottom line. It’s called basketball, that means you have to put the ball in the basket.”
Or Patrick Beverley:
“They made some tough shots and we came up short. Overall, it was a good test for us. I felt like we weathered the storm. I felt like we showed Utah, we showed the other teams in the West that we’re not just an eighth seed trying to make the playoffs, that we’re one of the top teams in the West.”
Those are remarkably positive quotes coming out of a losing locker room! And, truth be told, I think they’re right. The Clippers lost tonight’s game, more than any other factor, because they shot only 5-26 from beyond the arc, or just 19 percent. If they hit 30 percent, it probably would have meant a critical loss for the Jazz.
There were some plays that the Jazz defended well, but they just dodged several bullets. Here, they leave Gallinari wide open from three, the man who leads their team in 3-point percentage and is second on their team in scoring.
I’m not saying it was a bad defensive performance by the Jazz, and in particular, they defended the rim well. But with regards to the outside shooting, they got a heap of luck to get the win.
2. Some screens don’t need contact
Sometimes, the threat is stronger than the execution.
We saw that a few times on Wednesday night, as the Jazz came up to set a screen, but never actually made contact or even really came close to it. After all, the whole point of a screen is to gain an advantage for the ballhandler. But some types of defense, like the one the Clippers were playing for most of the game, don’t require the screen to make contact in order to give an advantage.
Here, Joe Ingles is running pick and roll with Derrick Favors. Favors comes up to set the screen, so the defender, Garrett Temple, jumps up to trail Ingles. But since he’s already trailing, Favors can begin rolling early, and he has all this space to roll into for the easy dunk.
On this play, even Donovan Mitchell’s run towards the ball causes Temple to lose a step on Ricky Rubio, allowing a straight-line layup.
And finally, here, Rudy Gobert starts rolling as soon as he sees Patrick Beverley make the two-footed jump towards Mitchell.
That last one is a good illustration of how important it is to have Gobert at the rim quickly. If Gobert had waited an extra beat, trying to get contact on Beverley, he might be at the free-throw line by the time Mitchell’s in the paint. That would allow Montrezl Harrell more of a chance to step over and stop Mitchell. But because Gobert’s ahead of him, Harrell can’t even contest the easy shot Mitchell ends up taking.
I also wonder if the league counts these sorts of plays in their screen assist totals. I’ll find out for you all.
3. Favors, Gobert, Mitchell climbing up Jazz leaderboards
Over All-Star Weekend, I had the chance to meet with the people who run the NBA’s stat website, and they gave me access to this cool product called NBA Courtside. Basically, it’s real-time access to the same automatically updating information that the league’s TV and radio broadcasters have.
Do you ever wonder how broadcasters know how an individual play is a milestone, especially right away? For example, Donovan Mitchell had his 200th steal tonight. How do they keep track of that information for every player on the roster? The short answer is dedicated stat people on both the production and PR side of things, but even stats nerds like me can’t keep track of all of the numbers all of the time. That’s when Courtside, and products like it, come into play.
Tonight, we had several milestones. Rudy Gobert picked up his 4,000th rebound overall, as well as his 2,775th defensive rebound. That second number was enough to push Gobert up to 5th in the Jazz’s all-time defensive rebound list; Gobert made it to 5th on the overall list on Friday. He’s only 42 rebounds away from passing John Stockton for 4th on that overall list.
Also tonight: Donovan Mitchell passed teammate Kyle Korver for 13th on the Jazz’s all-time 3-point list with his three makes. Now, Mitchell has 311, while Korver stayed at 310. There might not be a better illustration of how much the league has changed: the Jazz had nearly three seasons of peak Kyle Korver — including the best 3-point percentage season of all time — and Mitchell’s passed him as an average shooter from deep in just over a season and a half.
Finally, Derrick Favors passed Gordon Hayward on the Jazz’s all-time made field goals list for 11th, thanks to five baskets tonight. If he makes three on Thursday, he’ll pass Deron Williams for 10th. Favors has also worked his way up the Jazz’s rebounding list this season, and passed Stockton earlier this year. Gobert, though, has a chance to catch up to him before seasons’ end, as Gobert will need 108 more than Favors for in the 22 remaining games. That’s certainly possible.
Here’s the NBA’s list of Jazz franchise leaders, if you’re curious. It’s fun to peruse, or even quiz your friends. Make sure your friends are Jazz nerds first.