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Emptying the Noggin — Jazz suffer their 1st loss with Hayward and Hill starting

By David Locke, Utah Jazz

Summary: The Memphis Grizzlies shut down the Jazz’s offense and controlled the game for an 88-79 win.

·       This games was an incredibly slow-paced, physical battle, which is common when these two teams get together. Last time in Memphis, the Jazz jumped out early; This time, the Grizzlies got the early jump. Playing from behind in these kinds of game is brutal.

·       In the half court, the Jazz don’t have a lot of guys or much of anyone who can just beat you off the dribble or be a pure pick-and-roll scorer. So when teams start switching everything, the Jazz fall into a one-on-one game because they have a mismatch, but most of our guys don’t dominate those mismatches and then the offense gets stagnant. When the Jazz moved the ball side to side and worked the entire floor tonight, they got much better looks, but that is hard to do when playing a really physical defense that is holding and grabbing and impeding your movement.

·       The best offensive play of the night was when the Jazz ran through some action. Hayward came off a pick with the ball and Zach Randolph switched on him. Memphis realized it was a bad matchup so Marc Gasol stayed in a zone on the side of the floor Gordon was on. Gordon drove on Zach, engaged Marc and then threw a cross court skip pass to the right corner to George Hill.   Hill’s man was forced to slide over onto Rudy because Gasol had gone to help Zach. The only problem was that Hill missed the shot, but that is how the Jazz need to attack switching — by getting the opponent into a scramble not beating guys one-on-one.

·       I’m not surprised George Hill was a little less super tonight. The second game back from an extended lay off is always a tough game for players. The last time we played the Grizzlies, Mike Conley was in the same situation and had a tough night.

·       The last time the Jazz played the Grizzlies, Marc Gasol was 4 of 22. Tonight, he came out early with a designed plan to go at Rudy. Rather than playing back to the basket or shooting outside threes, he went right to his comfort spot — 15 feet out on the left wing — and if Rudy gave him any space, he fired and he hit. That is the essence of an All-Star. It was actually pretty cool to watch Gasol navigate the game understanding what had happened when he faced Rudy before.

·       Memphis is good. The Jazz haven’t taken care of many games against teams above .500 yet this year.

·       The Jazz’s offense has not been very good recently. The easy answer is they haven’t had George Hill and frankly, that is most of it. However, it is worth keeping an eye on. Gordon is the main scorer on this team. Who is second? Who is third? Where are the points coming from? There is still a lot of getting to know each other and understanding who is who. It’s too bad this is taking place 41 games into the season.

·       Rodney Hood has never played well in Memphis. For his career, he is shooting 33% in Memphis, so this is not the place for him to bust out of his doldrums. This stretch was induced by the sickness and the hamstring, but it is now building on itself. I was hoping when he made his first shot tonight, it was a sign of a big night. Defensively might be where he should focus to get himself rolling.

·       I’m not sure how the organization views the D-League team, but both Alec and Dante need court time and game action. It seems like this is a prime spot to utilize the D-League team being in Salt Lake City. They are home Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday this week. Dante could get 100 minutes of game action. Alec could play Wednesday and get 30 minutes, if his minutes restriction would allow it. He might not play Friday since he might not be able to go Saturday for the Jazz if needed. I don’t know the details, but court time seems like a good idea. Court time with freedom to make mistakes is really the key here.

·       The game changed when it was a six-point game closing the third quarter and then Jazz allowed Daniels to get free for a three and then turned it over and Carter hit a three to turn it into a 12-point game going to the fourth quarter. A team as good as the Grizzlies is not blowing that game like Minnesota did Saturday.

·       The Jazz were +3 with Rudy on the floor and -12 when he was off the floor. To me, this is the key to the rest of the season — being able to play when Rudy is off the floor.

·       Trey Lyles is shooting well over 40% from three since Dec 1.

·       Going 2-3 road trip isn’t great. It isn’t terrible. It’s right in the middle.

·       This was the Jazz’s first loss when Hayward and Hill both played.