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Is it Jeff Kirilenko or Andrei Hornacek? - The Downbeat - #726

Because this photo makes as much sense for a Rockets win in Houston DB as any others made available by SBN.
Because this photo makes as much sense for a Rockets win in Houston DB as any others made available by SBN.

I like it when the Jazz win. I really like it when they win by playing smart basketball. You can't always guarantee made shots. Sometimes they just don't fall. But you can play smart. And do you know what is smart basketball? This:


Look at that distribution of plays. Spot-ups are high, I think—particularly since our heroes aren't very good at spot-ups this year. But everything else ... Between 7-13 Iso's, P&R's, Post ups, Off-screens, Cuts, and Transition possessions. I have railed on the Jazz for focusing too much on one or two guys can do well, at the expense of everyone else. Not last night. Last night they used everyone according to their strengths. And it was one of the best games of the year because of it.

Would you like to relive more Jazz smarts? Of course you would. So how about this play in crunch-time, when the Rockets were giving their last surge to try to steal the win:

There is so much going on in this play. Here's a run-down of some of the major ones, in order of appearance:

  1. Favors sets a pick for Tinsley to cut to the hoop. Unfortunately, Tinsley runs right into Scola and bounces off like a soggy-to-the-elastic-stage-Oreo. But still, if the pick works, then Hayward passes to Tinsley for a wide open layup. Seriously, because of the spacing of the big guys, there's NOBODY guarding the paint. But the pick doesn't work, so ...
  2. Tinsley goes inside and sets a pick to possibly free up Sap for a layup from a pass from Favors. Not there, so next up ...
  3. Al sets a pick for Tinsley, who cuts outside for a possible three (if open). Plan B is for Tinsley to pass to Al in the post, who's in better position because of the previous two cuts and screens. But no: Houston reads the pick and defends it perfectly. Favors can't even get a pass to Tinsley. So now ...
  4. Favors goes to Hayward and both screens and cuts. This is done in a way to let Gordo shoot a 3 if open. He's not, so next ...
  5. Hayward drives down the lane. If nobody rotates then great—he gets a layup. But the D does rotate and collapse, and Hayward can: a) dish to Sap for an open jumper, b) throw back to Tinsley for an open 3, or c) pass to Favors who has a clear lane to the hoop.
  6. Hayward goes for option C — which is awesome, because layups are more likely to go in than mid-range 2's or 3's. And while Favors takes it to the hoop ...
  7. Al rotates for the pass in case the defenders react in time and cut Favors off too quickly. Favors could simply hand off to Al for the layup.
  8. But the D doesn't rotate fast enough, and Favors helps himself to two easy points.

Now, notice that in all that there wasn't a single instance the team decided to stand around and watch it's officially designated "Go-to Guy". They ran a play designed to give everyone a potential scoring opportunity ... and not only that, but usually two different scoring opportunities specifically catered to each player's strengths ... and not only that, but it used player's non-scoring skills to create the opportunities for each other to score.

Teams that can do this consistently will win a lot. Because most teams don't do this. They do the "Go-to Guy" thing, and it fails at a much higher rate than regular plays.

My dream is for the Jazz to NOT have a Go-To Guy in crunch time, but a series of Go-To plays and game plans.

There's a lot of internet chatter going on right now about tanking and the allure of draft picks. Hoops Idea (a True Hoops blog) has been going crazy over the issue lately. I visited The Dream Shake and found not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, but SIX Fan Posts about it in the past week.

I believe this gets into one of the biggest frustrations that come from being a fan. We want our teams to be awesome. We want to celebrate greatness. And for a fans of teams like Houston, or possibly like the Jazz, this can be hard. You're not really good enough to be a great team. Nobody's going to trade you Kevin Durant for CJ Miles. You're not luring a Hall-of-Famer to your town via Free Agency. And so the only hope is the draft ... but the odds are stacked against you getting a great pick. And if you gut the team and tank for the great draft pick ... well, then your Basketball Messiah is stuck with no quality teammates and your team still sucks.

I know I'm one of the very few, but I rather like David Stern. Maybe it's because my other sport is baseball, so I have to deal with Bud Selig. Anyway, Jazzland (over at DNews) has a bunch of funny quotes from his visit to ESA last week in the Phoenix game. Some of the best:

While approaching the media mass outside the Jazz locker room, Stern smiled and said, "Holy Moses! I think they take things more seriously in Utah than in some other basketball cities, and that’s good." (If Stern thought the group of a dozen or so was impressive, he should join a stakeout of a Greg Miller-Karl Malone summit some time.)

While talking about the Jazz being among the small-market triumvirate with the Thunder and Spurs, Stern said this:

"They really set the bar very high for rallying the community to be around them, giving a great, great value proposition of an arena and game entertainment and have fans who unfairly pick on my officials." (emphasis mine)

Whether you like him or hate him, whether you think he was just messing with us or really thinks we're too mean to his refs ... regardless of all, you know he LOVED to end the interview with a sarcastic little flippance like that, and you all secretly love him for it.

One last bit from the Stern interview: he apparently accidentally said the Jazz drafted "Adrian Griffeth" in 1980. This led Jody to speculate that a player mashed from AD and the Dr. Dunkenstein would have been awesome.

Open poll: what player mashup do you think would have been the greatest of all-time.

P.S. Unless you answer Jeff Kirilenko, you're incorrect.

P.P.S. Another dream. Not as Jazz-related as in the past, but still whacked:

I dreamt that I was mediating a fierce, nasty, angry Twitter debate (filled with all sorts of profanities) between Jason ForTheLove and the Shums. The topic: whether one of my students needs glasses or not. I finally got them to come to a kind of understanding, but not before threatening them with one of Amar's spreadsheets. You can see I pull out the big guns.

And yes, my student needs glasses.