Three thoughts on the Utah Jazz’s 112-107 loss to the Golden State Warriors from Salt Lake Tribune beat writer Andy Larsen.
1. What happened in the 4th?
The Jazz shot just 4-25 in the fourth quarter, including 1-12 from three. What happened?
In short, here’s the breakdown of the shots they missed.
• A Malik Beasley floater — this is good dribble penetration from Beasley, but then he needs to find either Walker Kessler on the lob or Lauri Markkanen for three.
• An attempted putback by Kessler
• A turnaround jumper from Markkanen over a mismatch
• Two open threes from Beasley
• An open Rudy Gay three
• A driving layup attempt from Markkanen
• A pull-up Nickeil Alexander-Walker three
• A Mike Conley three
• A Vanderbilt cutting layup attempt — he was fouled, no call
• Two open Markkanen threes
• An open Jordan Clarkson three
• A classic Kelly Olynyk bully-ball layup attempt over Ty Jerome
• Vanderbilt dunk attempt blocked by Draymond Green on a wildly good play — and also maybe a foul
• A driving Markkanen layup, a foul by Green that wasn’t called in my opinion
• An open Olynyk three
• A Conley floater
• A rushed Olynyk putback
• A pull-up Markkanen three when the Jazz needed one
I’ve attached the video on the shots I didn’t like. In those possessions, I thought the Jazz could have made better decisions. Everything else, though? I like the quality of the looks, and I like the ratio of good shots to bad shots.
Utah’s best player, Markkanen, got open threes and shots going to the basket. Good shooters Beasley, Conley, and Olynyk had open 3-point looks, and missed. Vanderbilt had multiple attacks at the rim in no-dribble situations, and his shots got erased there. They only had three turnovers in the fourth quarter, you’ll take that. They only allowed 24 points; good defense from the Jazz.
Given the long-term nature of this team — and heck, the overall incentives of the NBA regular season in general — process matters so much more than results. I thought their process against the Warriors on this night was pretty darn good, but shots that have mostly fallen all season didn’t drop when they wanted them most.
2. Collin Sexton’s learning process
Speaking of the fourth quarter, one name you won’t see above is Collin Sexton’s. That’s because Hardy stapled his shorts to the bench, playing Alexander-Walker instead, after Sexton finished the third quarter with this play.
You can see Hardy call Sexton over here, and he goes on to point to the court where Sexton took his shot — and essentially indicate that that isn’t what the Jazz want.
That being said, I’ll take that shot over his first shot, an early shot-clock forced look against a much bigger Moses Moody, with zero offensive advantage.
It’s a bummer, because there really is so much good stuff in Sexton’s game. He’s so fast, and when he’s at his best, he can turn that into game-changing offensive advantages. This reminds me of peak John Wall. You think the Warriors are back here — nope! Sexton beats the defense, and then finds Markkanen for the open three.
Besides that, he also can shoot (a career 38% 3-point shooter), and I like his finishing ability around the rim when he’s able to get all the way there. He’s also the Jazz’s leading free-throw drawer.
Offensively, if he eliminates those two bad shots per game, he’s starting. Comparing him to other small scoring guards, I think there’s real Isaiah Thomas/Kemba Walker/Fred Van Vleet potential there — in other words, All-Star level potential. If he doesn’t eliminate those shots, though, he’s more like a Devonte’ Graham, Terry Rozier, Eric Bledsoe type; a player who does most of his scoring on bad teams.
3. NBA scorekeeping inconsistencies
This is an extremely nerdy point. I apologize.
According to the NBA’s shot location data, the Jazz only had three shots within four feet of the basket. Three! That’s terrible. And look, here’s the Jazz’s shot chart:
Man, the Jazz couldn’t get close to the basket tonight.
Except... wait a second now... the Jazz had four dunks. And, watching the film, they had 10 other baskets within the immediate vicinity of the hoop. What’s going on?
Well, it’s an artifact of how the league keeps track of baskets: instead of any tracking, they just rely on a scorekeeper tapping on a screen to show where those shots happen. Those are nearly always just best guesses. (I like how the scorekeeper said Kessler’s missed tip layup came from right inside the basket — it did not.)
And as a result, different scorekeepers will record the same shot differently. Kevin Ferrigan, of NBACouchside.net, calculated court factors to show just how different each scorekeeper is.
Look at that: the Warriors’ scorekeeper puts way fewer shots within the restricted area (the first column), and way more shots elsewhere in the paint than his counterparts in the NBA.
I wish the league would clean this up a little bit; probably the most permanent fix would be to integrate the league’s ball-tracking data into the play by play. That’s difficult, though. In the interim, maybe some coaching from the league for the scorekeepers would help balance this out.