Now that the NBA season is moving along, pushing the game volume needle higher, it’s time to queue up the NBA League Pass Shuffle, where one team is selected per week, and that team’s weekly games effectively create a “playlist” for review. How many high notes will the selected team hit? Well, we need a team to find out.
The first team up on the NBA League Pass Shuffle: Utah Jazz.
Here is the playlist of games.
|10/30/16||Los Angeles Clippers|
|11/01/16||San Antonio Spurs|
|11/04/16||San Antonio Spurs|
Utah versus Los Angeles Clippers (10/30/16)
Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, and Chris Paul pose a multitude of problems for any team trying to defend them. Griffin and Jordan are tough in the paint – they seem to grab every rebound, play good defense, and finish around the rim. Chris Paul is one of the best point guards in the game. Guess what? Even with Rudy Gobert doing his best to defend the paint, the Jazz had trouble defending the Clippers’ core trio. To make matters worse, Derrick Favors played less minutes than usual as he is still recovering from injury. Boris Diaw couldn’t defend his man on pick-and-roll switches, and he also made bad decisions on offensive side of the court. However, the real downfall for the Jazz in this game was their inability to hit shots. Any team would have trouble surviving a 13 point second quarter. Here are a few examples of their shooting woes: Rodney Hood (2/10, 5 points) and Joe Johnson (3/9, 7 points). Austin Rivers was able to provide a scoring lift for the Clippers in the third quarter, and this was the quarter the Clippers were able to pull away from the Jazz.
Austin Rivers went 8-11, 2-4 from the 3-point arc, netting him 19 points. Honorable mention: George Hill kept the Jazz in contention with 8-13 shooting for 18 points.
Utah versus San Antonio Spurs (11/01/16)
Utah started off with great shooting, got great bench play; especially from Shelvin Mack and Trey Lyles, and rode a great fourth quarter by George Hill to defeat the San Antonio Spurs in San Antonio, a place where they had lost on 10 previous occasions. Mack and Lyles combined for 29 points. Rudy Gobert played a huge role as well by playing great defense, grabbing 12 rebounds, and chipping in 6 points. The Spurs looked a little tired for this game. They were slow to react to the outside shooters, and their bench didn’t keep pace with Utah’s bench.
Jazz 106 – 91
George Hill (9-13, 3-5 from the 3-point arc for 22 points). He scored eight consecutive points in the fourth quarter to help stretch the lead from 88-86 to 96-88.
Utah Jazz versus Dallas Mavericks (11/02/16)
Both teams played through a sluggish first quarter. Jazz center Rudy Gobert found himself in early foul trouble. The Jazz found their best option in Rodney Hood as he took advantage of his size against the smaller J.J. Barea. George Hill had another outstanding game, leading the Jazz in scoring with 25 points. The Mavericks found buckets hard to come by – Dirk Nowitzki only contributed 9 points on 4-14 shooting. Not a typical Dirk Nowitzki night. With Dirk struggling, the Mavericks got a boost from bench player Dwight Powell in the third quarter, and early in the fourth quarter the Jazz lead was cut to three, 66-63. However, that was as close as the Mavericks would get.
Can’t go wrong with either Rodney Hood or George Hill, but this game’s heat check player goes to Rodney Hood. The Jazz ran their entire offense through him for several key possessions.
Utah versus San Antonio Spurs (11/04/16)
The Spurs level of play was much better than the previous meeting. They attacked the basket, forced the Jazz into committing fouls, and made a living at the free-throw line. George Hill, the Jazz engine that gets things moving, got into early foul trouble, and the Jazz struggled to score points. (Strangely enough, though, they were able to hit 3’s.) They also had trouble defending Kawhi Leonard – he was both a facilitator and a scorer. His defense was superb. After the Jazz started the game with a 10-0 run, the Spurs jumped out to a 27-17 lead at the end of the first quarter, and they were never really threatened.
Kawhi Leonard scored 29 points, and that doesn’t even begin to describe his dominance.
Overall results: 2 Wins – 2 Losses
Best Game: Win over San Antonio Spurs on November 1st, 2016.
George Hill is a great addition to the roster and is having a great season so far. Even though Rudy Gobert may not have great hands (he drops quite a few passes in traffic), he is an imposing force in the paint. He alters a lot of shots. Rodney Hood is a solid player, and Joe Johnson still causes problems for teams trying to defend him. Derrick Favors is getting more minutes as he gets stronger. The bench isn’t bad, either. Trey Lyles, Joe Ingles, and Shelvin Mack can hit three’s. Dante Exum is a good defender, and his offense is getting better. Plus, the Jazz and their fans can look forward to the return of Gordon Heyward.