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Emptying the Noggin — The Jazz keep winning close games

By David Locke, Utah Jazz

Summary: The Jazz won their fifth straight game and third over Dallas this year with an overtime win in Texas. The game was a tough, closely-fought game with 10 ties in the fourth quarter.

  • Rudy Gobert finished the night with 27 points and 25 rebounds. It was the first 25/25 game for a Jazzman since Al Jefferson against Dallas, with the last one in the NBA coming from Dwight Howard last year.
  • Gobert was incredible. He was completely dominant on the offensive glass. Dallas played Dwight Powell, who is close to being a three at center, and Dirk at the five. Rudy has to abuse them and that is exactly what he did. Rudy had 10 offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter and the overtime period. Moreover, Rudy showed amazing ability to finish around the rim tonight and displayed some good moves to get himself opportunities. His offensive game has more to it than is being recognized.
  • The game was tied at 76, 78, 80, 81, 83, 89, 91, 93 and 98 in the fourth quarter.
  • The Jazz’s back up point guards are struggling and Quin Snyder closed the game after George Hill fouled out with Hayward, Hood, Ingles, Diaw and Gobert. I love the idea of putting my five best players on the floor and letting them figure it out. Without Hood, Hayward is initiating a large part of the offense late in games so you can play without a traditional point guard.
  • This game was foul-heavy in the fourth quarter with seemingly every possession going to the line.
  • JJ Barea was a pain in George Hill’s side. He drew foul after foul and got George into foul trouble. Barea pulled his calf muscle and was not able to return. It changed the tide of the game a bit.
  • The Jazz are winning close games. Tonight, we had 10 minutes of clutch time. Rudy’s offensive rebound was the weapon tonight. In the final five minutes of regulation, the Jazz scored on 6 of 10 possessions, two of which were offensive rebounds. In overtime, they scored on 7 of 9 possessions; Gobert’s offensive rebounding was unstoppable.
  • The Jazz did a nice job not turning the ball over against the number one team at forcing turnovers in the NBA.
  • The Jazz were even with Rudy Gobert off the floor tonight. This is huge. The Jazz are almost always positive with Rudy on the floor so if we can stay even or positive when he is off, there will be lots of wins.
  • Gordon Hayward had 26 points and some big shots late in the game. He got to the line for eight free throws, which were vital.
  • Joe Ingles is averaging nearly 13 points a game as a starter, plus he had three steals. Those are huge plays in one-possessions games.
  • Joe Johnson hit the biggest shot of the night: The Jazz were down three and Rudy Gobert was at the line. Gobert missed both free throws with 1:50 to play in overtime. The rebound came all the way out to Rudy and he passed it to Joe Johnson who quickly released a three to tie the game at 107.
  • Dallas didn’t score over the final 2:05 of overtime. The Jazz closed on an 8-0 run that started with the Joe Johnson three.
  • Dirk Nowitzki played his second back-to-back of the season. In the previous one, he played 12 minutes and was 2 for 8. Tonight, he had the worst shooting night of his NBA career, going 1 for 13. He had a good-look three to tie the game with :10.9 seconds left. I don’t care how many he had missed tonight, it felt like it would go in and it didn’t.

The Jazz have won five in a row. Three of them were clutch games (within five points with five minutes to play). These are the games the Jazz struggled with a year ago. Don’t underestimate closing with Boris Diaw and Joe Johnson.