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Jazz fall to broken Lakers, therefore everyone should panic, right? -- The Downbeat #1560

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Last night's loss wasn't just about free throws; Jazz OFF/DEF splits for FGA location; Craig Sager beats cancer; and Jazz ticket price information!

"For the last time, stop telling me about trippin over gym bags!"
"For the last time, stop telling me about trippin over gym bags!"
Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

I don't expect the Utah Jazz to lose to the Los Angeles Lakers in Utah, when the Lakers are forced to start Carlos Boozer at small forward . . . but some of us felt like it was a trap game from the get-go. Getting up for the big games, and playing down to their competition is a hallmark of young teams who just aren't "there" yet. In fact, the Deron Williams era had a bunch of losses just like this when they were fielding a starting line up of D-Will, Ronnie Brewer, etc. It takes a while for young teams to figure out how to be consistent. This team has made strides in playing well on the road, and playing good against great teams. But this loss was almost unavoidable for a young club riding high off of two solid wins against the Portland Trail Blazers and San Antonio Spurs (a combined 71 - 42, or a winning percentage of 62.8%). Losing to the then 14-41 Lakers should be a good wake up call.

If you wanted to look at the game, fingers could easily be pointed to turn overs (20 in this game, only 18 assists) and misses free throws. The Jazz went 22/32 from the line, which as a team is only 64.7% -- the team would go 3/10 from the line during a critical stretch of the fourth quarter and did not make another one until there were 13 seconds left in the game when the Lakers fouled up four to prevent a three. After Gordon Hayward 's pair, Derrick Favors would then make a free throw when the team wanted to miss one.

Back in the 70s 80s and 90s it was unreasonable to expect bigmen to be completely reliable from the stripe. A lot of centers spent their careers in the 50% to 60% range. That is no longer acceptable, especially in an era where bigmen primarily score off of screen outlets (pick and roll, pick and pop), or tip ins. If you don't have the post moves to make up for your free throw losses, then it's tough to keep you on the floor.

Utah lost by three points in a game where they missed 11 free throws. Simple maths tell us what needs to improve. But who are you going to blame, though? I'm not really upset that Derrick, Rudy Gobert, and Trevor Booker went a combined 9 for 18 from the line. That's 50%, but it's still 50%. Sure, Karl Malone was shooting about 60% in his second year, 70% in his third, and almost 80% in his fourth . . . but none of these guys are Karl Malone.

I'm not going to blame this loss on the inability for 23 and 22 year old bigmen to be Jeff Hornacek at the free throw line. Sure, guys like Yao Ming and Chris Bosh were/are great bigman free throw shooters, but these things take time. The Jazz could have won this game in other ways, like holding onto the ball better, actually defending Jordan Hill's post-face-up jumpers, or figuring out that Jordan Clarkson shouldn't be dropping 22 on you.

The Jazz did not deserve to win that game last night because of how they played. They still could have won it from the line, but did not. Thus, the teaching moment remains. Consistency is one of the other words for Discipline, which is one of the "Three Ds". Don't play down to your competition. Work on your free throws. I do not expect this problem to persist over the course of Quin Snyder 's coaching career here in Utah.

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The amazing Ed Kupfer tweeted out the distribution of where NBA teams take their shots from, and graphed that against where those team's are shot at from. It's clear that very few teams' offenses and defenses mirror one another. Here's the tweet:

DB 1560 UTA OFF DEF FGA

Comp vs. League Avg
Shot Location Utah Opponent
1 0 to 3 FT +3% Better -3% Below
2 3 to 10 FT +1% Same +4% Better
3 10 to 16 FT +0% Same +0 Same
4 16 to 3PT FT -2% Below +2% Better
5 3PT FT -1% Below -2% Below

As for the Jazz, the data supports some ideas we have of our club:

  • Utah tries to get shots close to the rim, including tip-ins for bigs, but lots of pick and rolls and drives, this is seen by the Jazz getting about 3% more of these close shots than league average
  • Jazz opponents balk at the idea of taking these close shots at the rim, probably because we have rim defenders there that dissuade that idea. Furthermore, the poor defense on the perimeter means that a player can still penetrate deep into the paint, draw in the defense, elect not to shoot, and pass out to someone open. Our defensive strengths and defensive flaws both support the idea that teams are not shooting close to the rim.
  • . . . but they are shooting from that "floater" range more and more, +4% over the league average for our opponents. The Jazz shoot a bunch of these close shots too, but not nearly as many as the Jazz defense allows. We saw this a lot in the Lakers game, their bigs were able to step out just out of reach and shot uncontested jumpers.
  • The Jazz offense and defense both do not favor or hinder the "pick and pop" range shots. Utah and their opponents were about league average here, in frequency.
  • But the Jazz offense is playing moneyball, and takes less midrange jumpers (the long twos our Corbinite Church was built upon, all those bricks were useful), -2% from league average; while our opponents take +2% more on average. Sure, the Jazz defense will give you that shot. Take it all day long. Unless you are Jamal Crawford, who fails to miss this shot when playing against Utah.
  • For some reason threes are taken less in games in Utah. My idea is that for our guys, we have dudes like Joe Ingles usually passing up open threes. And for the other team, our close outs are wild and crazy, that force spot up guys to drive a foot or two inside the line and take that long two.

This is all conjecture on my part, and an estimation of the values from Ed's chart. I'd love to have the raw data though. But from what I've seen it appears like the Jazz (and their opponents) are pretty much average. There are huge discrepancies for other teams as well. The New York Knicks are shooting at the rim about -5% of what the rest of the league does, but take nearly +10% more FGA from long two range. Bravo Derek Fisher. The Houston Rockets are all about the threes, and are shooting over 12% more three point attempts per game than the rest of the league. Interesting meta analysis of how each team is playing . . . what do you think?

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This is more of a National piece, and it's about a media member . . . but TNT's Craig Sager is going to be returning to TV after beating leukemia! Seth Rosenthal writes:

Well, this is fantastic. After missing (but watching) the end of the 2014 NBA season and playoffs while undergoing treatment for acute leukemia, Craig Sager is healthy and ready to make the return he teased during All-Star Weekend. His son made the announcement on Twitter:

I think this is awesome, Sager has become a big part of the game, with players making fun of his suits, to him partying with 20 year old kids and passing out. (Photo can be Googled) In the era of HD cameras and more and more sideline babes, TNT has kept Sager for his personality, professionalism, and ability out there. I am happy that he beat his Cancer. The Big C is something all of us have been touched by, and having someone make it back healthy and be able to work again makes this a very happy story.

Now, I've long been on the bandwagon to replace ROOT sports' sideline guy with a more HD friendly face . . . but I would never dream of replacing Sager until he's done working.

Cancer sucks. Craig's suits? I wonder what Prodigal Punk has to say about them. (He's our resident style expert)

Speaking of Steve Brown . . . the SLTRIB's Aaron Falk had this vine which is hilarious for some reason to me, without context.

(add the sad Charlie Brown music if you want)

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I still can't believe we lost to the Lakers. I'm not going to be over it for a while. This is worse than losing to the Orlando Magic at home where Gordon Hayward trips on himself in crunch time, or getting swept by the Indiana Pacers . . . or even losing to the Boston Celtics at home. Sheesh! I am not a happy blogger today!

How can this happen? If this was a D&D campaign I would tell the DM that I "disbelieve the illusion." I would roll for WIS dagnabit! WIS is my real life dump stat!

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Andy Larsen reports that the Utah Jazz are not increasing season ticket prices from last season.

Duh. They shouldn't. Glad they aren't. This franchise should only do something like that AFTER they've shown it on the court that they are worth more money. When do you think that is?