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Emptying the Noggin — Jazz get a must-win against bad defensive team

By David Locke, Utah Jazz

Summary: The Jazz broke a three-game losing streak heading into the All-Star break with a blowout win over the Portland Trail Blazers, 111-88.

  • The Jazz’s defensive plan on Lillard and CJ was terrific. They played a bit more aggressively with the big man on the ball handler and it stymied the Blazers’ flow. Lillard went 3 for 19 and CJ went 8 for 19.
  • George Hill was incredible defensively tonight, denying passes, making Lillard and CJ work and then forcing them exactly where the Jazz wanted defensively. This was a great leadership night for Hill as this team needed a good defensive game.
  • The Jazz’s offense struggled early, scoring just 18 in the first quarter and 22 in the second quarter. The Jazz hit on only 3 of 17 shots outside of the paint in the first half of the game. In the second half, the Jazz started to make shots you would expect them to make and ran away from Portland.
  • The Jazz went 8 of 10 from three in the second half to finish 11 of 22 from three against the Blazers who are the 28th ranked team in the NBA defending the three-point shot.
  • Dante Exum had a really exciting game for himself and the fans. The burst that made him the fifth pick and the draft was there, and he was — for the most part — in control around the basket, not throwing wild shots at the rim. Dante is going through a nearly impossible task of figuring out who he is in the league and rehabbing from the ACL at the same time. He looks more and more healthy by the game and as that worry subsides, he will be able to discover how he can be a valuable NBA player. Right now, it is with his aggressiveness to the basket. He is a poor shooter (29% on all jump shots) but he has a gift with his length and his burst of speed.
  • In the first half, Gordon Hayward was 2 for 9, George Hill was 3 for 8 and the Jazz still led by three points. They got rolling in the second half: Hayward hit 6 of 9 and Hill hit on 4 of 7, and the Jazz exploded for a 71 point second half.
  • Joe Johnson has been on fire from three – 20 of his last 36.
  • Derrick Favors’ 25 minutes were really good tonight. He only scored 2 points and had 6 rebounds, but he was good defensively tonight in his roll with helping on the guard play.
  • Joe Ingles got free for three, hitting on 4 of 6. He has not been given that air space recently.
  • Gordon Hayward capped off an awesome first half of the season with 22 points 6 rebounds 7 assists.
  • This is a nice, must-needed win. Portland is awful defensively and the Jazz took advantage. The Jazz go to an impressive 26-7 against below .500 teams.