So about last night . . . while I was hob-nobbing with wiseguys high on egg nog the Utah Jazz lost, at home, to a team that is without their best player, against a team they haven't beaten in seven tries. The Orlando Magic beat the Utah Jazz. The Orlando Magic. Not the Heat. Or the Spurs. Orlando.
Is this how one of our star players feels now, or how I feel writing this recap?
When I got home and saw the score I was convinced that Nikola Vucevic played. He didn't. Neither did our team. The first quarter was pretty benign, but the Magic went on a 7-0 and 13-5 run that got everyone a little antsy. Victor Oladipo was quiet, while replacement bigs Kyle O'Quinn and Dewane Dedmon were nearly flawless on offense. It was shaping up to be one of those nights, until a 5-0 run for the Jazz cut the deficit down to 24-21 -- but a few non-calls (particularly one where Gordon Hayward was looking for contact on the last play of the quarter) did not help our squad.
The second quarter happened and the good news is that no one got shot. The baby steps improvement here is that the team wasn't down by 15 at halftime, only 12. During the quarter though the Magic went on an 11-2 run. Here are the players who were out on the floor for that time:
- Victor Oladipo vs. Dante Exum / Trey Burke
Evan Fournier vs. Ian Clark
Tobias Harris vs. Joe Ingles / Gordon Hayward
Channing Frye vs. Enes Kanter
- Kyle O'Quinn / Dewayne Dedmon vs. Derrick Favors
If you have access to it, try and rewatch this period of the second quarter again. I know for the most of you it'll be less brutal to watch this video again, so I'll post it again.
After halftime the Magic went on a 5-0 run to extend the lead to 17, before the Jazz "woke up" and went on a 10-0 run with the regular starters (- Alec Burks, + Rodney Hood). The team would make no headway after Kanter and Hayward sat at the 29:43 mark of the third -- and really, this is why you get rumors for Andrei Kirilenko. The bench is really bad. Rudy Gobert is a monster on defense, and usually finishes well around the rim. He's not the problem. Trevor Booker is a great hustle guy with a lot of energy who can score in a number of ways. He's not the problem. Dante Exum is super speedy and learning the game. He's not the problem. Joe Ingles has great court vision and patience. He's not the problem. I am, though, beginning to think that part of the problem is all of them on the court at the same time.(A quick trip to NBA.com tells me that these four guys in the same lineup is one that has played 129 minutes together so far this season, and is +/- +3, which is +1.116 points per 48 minutes. They are by the slimmest of margins still ahead, and are shooting .431 / .246 / . 592 when on the court, and have per game averages of 12.05 ppg, 6.10 rpg, 2.75 apg, 1.05 spg, and 1.05 bpg in more than half a quarter of action -- regardless of who the 5th player in the lineup is. Guess which quarter we usually see them in? Oh wait, the second quarter? Shiii Amar, stop looking at the facts and making solid analysis to back up your feelings! Don't you know this is the internet. You're supposed to attack the character of the people you don't agree with, not use logic!)
The component parts are more than the whole, which is wrong. But the silver lining is that we know this now. And as a result, adjustments will be made. You gotta experiment with each variable in order to better understand the component natures of the things you are testing. That's what's happening this season.
It's still sad that the team is losing a bunch of games in a row. Would we feel better if the team had won and lost games at more specific intervals?
Anyway, the third quarter stalled after Hayward went out, and with Kanter the offense stalled. (I guess he is the best Al Jefferson student ever, he scores and isn't awesome on defense. But hey, he scores. That was good enough for some radio guys back in the day.)
The fourth quarter wasn't as good or close as it should have been. Orlando took control for good with a 13-6 run and Victor Oladipo and Tobias Harris finished the team off -- keeping the Jazz are more than arms length away. Rodney Hood and Trey Burke started to make some shots, but you can't play 1 on 5 on defense and make up any ground. Derrick Favors was a best incarnate, but it may be time to experiment a little more with who he is on the floor with.
That doesn't mean mess around with the starers -- clearly the game flows show that the game gets away from the team when they go to an over-representation of bench guys. Gotta mix it up. Death to the hockey subs.
It really sucks losing to a team that is worse on offense than you are. The Jazz could only put up 93 points in this game. Part of it boils down to not getting all the calls you'd want at home, and only getting to the free throw line 21 times -- but a larger part is missing shots, and the Jazz did that on their own.
However, the largest part of this loss goes back to defense, which . . . well . . .
- Gordon Hayward (36:28) -- 9 points (11 shots), 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, ZERO FTA (thanks refs!). Finished game with a 79 Off RTG
- Derrick Favors (36:25) -- 21 points (.588 FG%), 13 rebounds, 5 blocks, 1 assist, zero help on defense
- Trey Burke (33:40) -- 13 points (.267 / .250 / .667) 11 assists (1 turn over), 3 rebounds, did not start making shots until the fourth, but played well in the pick and roll on offense. Defense.exe failed to load.
- Enes Kanter (27:34) -- 16 points (.583 fg%), 5 rebounds, did not get torched by Channing Frye
- Rodney Hood (25:36) -- 15 points (4/6 FG, 3/3 3PT, 4/5 FT), 1 rebound, 184 OFF RTG!!!!
- Joe Ingles (20:38) -- Mr. Non-Impact player had 3 points (1/4 FG), 4 assists (2 TO), 1 rebound, and 1 steal
- Trevor Booker (19:53) -- 6 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block (a great one in the 4th on a Frye 3PTA when we had hope)
- Dante Exum (19:35) -- 3 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, one made three, and got some time a SG
- Rudy Gobert (11:37) -- 4 points, 7 rebounds, sadly went 0/2 from the FT line
- Ian Clark (8:01) -- Area code had zeros across the board
- Steve Novak (0:33) -- made a crazy three pointer out of a botched out of bounds play, then missed two free throws
So the Jazz have now lost eight games in a row. It's not about wins and losses this year, it's about experimenting and identifying what fits and what does not. And every game, regardless of the outcome, is more data that will help Dennis Lindsey make the smart decisions we expect of him, going forward.