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The Utah Jazz Are Waking Up: The Downbeat #1475

Quin Snyder challenged the Jazz, and they responded. Also: Shot selection, history, narratives, and FanPosts.

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

You probably knew what this first Downbeat point was going to be before you even opened your browser this morning.

(It may help you to listen to this simultaneously.)

This incident occurred in the second quarter of last night's Jazz win over the Thunder, and at the time, the Jazz weren't winning. They were getting pantsed by the Durant-and-Westbrook-less Thunder by 12 points, and Quin Snyder decided he needed to take a more active role. He was T'd up by referee Courtney Kirkland -- the first technical foul as an NBA head coach -- and then turned his rage on his own charges.

They responded by outscoring the Thunder 70-41 the rest of the way.

So apparently the Jazz players are as afraid of Quin's murderfaces as I am.

I mean, let's be fair. The Jazz are simply better than the 10 players Oklahoma City trotted out tonight. The Jazz never should have fallen behind at all, let alone by almost 20 points. But last night's game was a great opportunity to see how Quin Snyder can motivate our young team when the situation demands. And it showed that the team can dig deep when it needs to, and when they're engaged, they're pretty scary themselves.

Aand that's not even mentioning Alec Burks' 20-point, 14-rebound (?!) night. Or Dante Exum's three 3-balls in the second half. Or Trey Burke's nine assists and 3-5 three-point shooting. Those are all great things, but I'm not sure the counting stats are the point in this game.

I saw several tweets during and after the game saying "Last year's Jazz would have lost this game." You can chalk that up to more experience and depth on this year's roster, or the Thunder folding like a cheap card table, or any number of things. But the bottom line for me is this: Quin Snyder threw down the gauntlet, and the Jazz picked it up and stabbed OKC in the heart.

(That terrible mixed metaphor is making me picture Quin as the serial killer from Too Many Cooks.)

(Don't Google that if you haven't already seen it. That way lies madness.)

Moving on. Here's an interesting set of graphs showing each NBA team's shot-distance distribution offensively and defensively. From the article:

The Wolves and Wizards are both starved for three pointers, which makes sense given that they traded away one of the best spacing power forwards for two wings who can't shoot and are missing Bradley Beal, respectively. Houston looks exactly the way you'd expect Houston to look; Golden State has maybe the most correct-looking distribution; Sacramento and the Lakers have maybe the worst; the Thunder take no shots near the basket because they don't have any players who know how to play basketball or dribble, and Serge Ibaka has apparently decided that in the absence of Russ and KD, he's just going to stand 18 feet from the basket and turret up a river of jumpers; and Chicago gives up the fewest threes in the league, because Thibs will rip your toenails off if you don't close out. A few points on a chart tell you more or less the style, if not the pace, a team's playing-and for the most part, they all look about right.

I'm not going to gank the image to embed here, but the Jazz's graph is heartening. It shows they're taking more three-pointers than league average and fewer long twos. It also shows their interior defensive flaws, as the team gives up far more shots in the 3-10ft range than league average. Still, it seems the Jazz are on the right track, at least where shot selection is concerned.

Of course, what the graph doesn't tell you is the actual percentage of made shots. Shooting more threes than long twos is great...but not if you can't make them anyway. And on the other end, you might be giving up fewer long-range attempts, but if opponents are making the ones they get, it might not matter.

Anyway. Lots to mull over there, and fun comparisons to be had. I'd be interested to hear your findings.

Two FanPosts to highlight for your this week. BTork has a quick thought about offensive possessions at the ends of halves:

As I watched the UTAvsATL game, and the UTAvsIND games, there is something that NBA teams all do that drives me crazy.

The slow down offense at the end of the half when you have a lead. The Jazz did this in both the IND and the ATL game, they have a lead going into the half or at the end of the game and instead of running the motion offense that has been working the rest of the game, they spread the floor and try to get a basket at the end of the shot clock.


It has not worked for the Jazz the last 2 games, and I think cost them those two games.

And ever the analyst, pacoelcid has taken a look at comparing the team's performance this year to similar early games last season:

Interestingly, we've jumped from our 18th ranking to a 2nd ranking in fast-break points per game while maintaining our slow pace. There are a number of factors that go into this, but, since pace is a measure of team possessions, my extrapolation here, knowing that we are learning to play with the pass, is that while we're utilizing our youth to get out and run the floor, we also get bogged down in the half-court trying to find the open man. I would opine that the more our guys play in this system, the more they will be able to make the right read and the right pass and our pace will start to increase.

Thanks, guys! Keep those FanPosts coming, everyone. As the season progresses and the team improves, I want to hear all of your observations.

Zach Lowe's Grantland article this week centers on Chris Paul and his lack of team playoff success, despite tremendous personal performances. There's a passing reference to the mid-aughts Jazz squads in there:

Deron Williams, once considered a true foil for Paul, led his deep Utah teams into the conference finals just once - in 2007, when Golden State did Utah the favor of eliminating the 67-win Mavericks, Utah's potential second-round opponent, in that first-round shocker.

This is the context for the burbling Paul discussion, the environment in which Paul and his teammates will shape the "narrative" of his career.

The whole piece makes for interesting reading, and even if it isn't Jazz-centric, there's a lot of application to our team's history:

It's unfortunate that the way players are perceived nationally and historically does not really improve unless their teams have success in the postseason, but it's something that probably won't change any time soon. That means we as Jazz fans will have to be content with some shade continuing to be thrown in our direction, since we won't be making the postseason in the very near future. But history tells different tales as time passes.

Speaking of which: let's end with this Jazz-related historical artifact:

And speaking of history, one other note to end on: You may have noticed the Downbeat numbers jumping all over the place lately. Since a different SLC Dunk writer takes a Downbeat each day of the week, we sometimes lose track of what number we're on. Well, according to the SLC Dunk archives, this one is the 1475th in site history. So that's what I'm going with. KEEP US HONEST, EVERYONE.