SALT LAKE CITY — Three thoughts on the Utah Jazz's 106-77 win over the Denver Nuggets from KSL.com's Utah Jazz beat writer, Andy Larsen.
1. Jazz bury Nuggets with second-half defensive effort
What a shellacking! After trailing at halftime, the Jazz outscored the Nuggets by a score of 58-28 in the second half to win incredibly easily.
Here was the big question after the game: How much of that was the Denver Nuggets quitting and how much of it was terrific Jazz execution?
At the beginning of the second half, I think the Jazz did some nice things to start the ball rolling down the hill. They played tiki-taka offense. Pick-and-roll reads were repeatedly spot on from all five players, leading to open shots over and over again. Ricky Rubio and Joe Ingles made nice pick and roll reads, but even guys like Jonas Jerebko were making terrific passes:
Some nice tiki-taka passing from the Jazz here eventually leads to an easy Derrick Favors basket: pic.twitter.com/zcsd9NCZ0a— Andy Larsen (@andyblarsen) November 29, 2017
But honestly, a lot of the Jazz's offense was aided by the Nuggets' defensive weaknesses. Like on this one, no one has any idea if they're switching, or if they're not, or anything.
Sometimes, though, it was just Denver blowing switches and stuff: pic.twitter.com/jkIlA8tUq7— Andy Larsen (@andyblarsen) November 29, 2017
Nikola Jokic, an iffy defender, is so hungry to bite on this by this Joe Ingles ball fake that his back is to the layup by the time it happens:
Jingles ball-fakes Jokic so badly here that his back is to him for the wide-open layup pic.twitter.com/UTfdmMuo6Z— Andy Larsen (@andyblarsen) November 29, 2017
And over and over again. Yikes, Denver! It shouldn't be this easy.
The thing was, the Denver offense was worse. Again, the Jazz started the skid, with some fantastic defense at the rim. The Jazz were worlds better than they were two weeks ago at staying in front of their man without fouling, and helping each other without losing defensive control. Favors was terrific at defending the rim, more on that later.
But the Nuggets, confronted with a defensive problem, decided to take the easy way out. While some players jacked early-in-the-shot-clock jumpers, others just blindly tried to drive into the middle over and over again:
Joe Ingles is pretty good at moving his feet.gif: pic.twitter.com/fZ0JxxBcr4— Andy Larsen (@andyblarsen) November 29, 2017
Nuggets coach Mike Malone was not kind. "They did whatever they wanted," he told Gina Mizell of the Denver Post. "We were completely outplayed ... just an awful, embarrassing night for the Denver Nuggets."
Mason Plumlee was similarly harsh. "I think it is going to take some leadership. Holding people accountable. Someone has to step forward and be a voice and get on people," he said. "We have to take ownership internally and deal with it."
2. Derrick Favors was fantastic
Derrick Favors was absolutely the Jazz's best player on Tuesday night, with 24 points, nine rebounds, five assists, three blocks, and a game-high +30 plus-minus. Understandably, Jazz head coach Quin Snyder was effusive about him after the game. The following quotes in bold are from Snyder, my reactions follow.
"He was so effective today protecting the rim because he was just playing vertically. Hopefully, some of the other guys will see the success that he’s had with that. Obviously, Fav vertically is different because he is so long, but I thought that was a really big part of the game, particularly in the third quarter when he was able to come help and we were able to not foul."
Take this play, for example. Emmanuel Mudiay makes the mistake of trying to drive in and get the foul against Favors, but he just stays big, keeps his hands straight up, backpedals slightly, and forces an easy block.
And Derrick Favors is also good at defending without fouling: pic.twitter.com/eNv7AxExft— Andy Larsen (@andyblarsen) November 29, 2017
"The box score says it with Fav. I think he was better than the box score. It’s hard to be better than 12-of-16."
True. And it's probably worth noting that Favors didn't get to the free-throw line. (On the other hand, it's a little bit embarrassing for Denver that Favors was dominating inside and they never tried to stop him enough to even accidentally get a foul once.) But that 12-16 is Rudy Gobert-esque, and he repeatedly showed off his best NBA skill: finishing at the rim on pick and roll.
"I thought he didn’t hunt his offense either. There was one play when he had a post-up on a mismatch and they started to help and he drew the man in a little bit and kicked it to Donovan (Mitchell) for a three. There wasn’t a whole lot he didn’t do well tonight.”
Finally, Fav just kicks it out to Mitchell for an easy three late in the shot clock pic.twitter.com/iTbzCbPVkT— Andy Larsen (@andyblarsen) November 29, 2017
Again, a little bit thanks to the Denver over-committing, but Favors has been known for seeking his shot, especially his mid-range. But tonight, Favors found teammates repeatedly when he wasn't open, hence the very nice five assist total. He's also very good at the short roll kick out to the corner, when the defense collapses on him.
"Derrick was terrific. He anchored us on both ends," Snyder said.
Yep. By the way, Favors in the last nine games, since Gobert went out with injury: 16.8 points on 59 percent FG, 8.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.8 blocks in 30 minutes per game. He's good! He's also definitely a center.
"I just want to come out and show everybody that I’m healthy, I’m back to where I was before I got hurt," Favors said.
3. Quin Snyder's coaching drawing kudos
Tuesday's game was aired on ESPN (hence the 8 p.m. start), so naturally, it got a little bit more attention than most games. One of the benefits of that is that we start to hear from people who may have had something to say before about the Jazz, but no opportunity to say it.
Take Jarrett Sutton, an SEC Network commentator, that also apparently does work as an NBA scout on the SEC, according to his website. Sutton said this about Quin Snyder during tonight's game:
That matches up with what we've heard about Snyder's system in general. But I also thought the replies to Sutton's tweet were interesting. One came from Brian Dailey, who played for Snyder during his time in Missouri:
And then Ben DuBose, a Houston Rockets writer and the host of the Locked On Rockets podcast, wrote this:
Snyder isn't perfect, of course, and he'll admit that. But games like tonight's show the potential that his teams can have, and why he really is one of the most respected coaches in the NBA.
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