1. The Kings defense did not bring much resistance.
We are at the point of the season when an important factor, perhaps the main factor, in some of these games is whether the teams that play the Jazz care about them or not. Tonight, the Jazz faced the Kings on a second consecutive night, as they will surely miss the playoffs, without their initial center, and with their best player De'Aaron Fox winning three fouls in four minutes.
So Donovan Mitchell gets the ball in the corner, pumps fakes and handles the baseline. Suddenly, he realizes that "hey, wait, nobody prevents me from scoring here, let's score!" And it gets easy to fit.
Next move, the Jazz run Spain pick and roll. Normally, success in this play means a drive or a pbad, but notice what Marvin Bagley, No. 35, does on the play. Rudy Gobert sets the screen to force Joe Ingles to the left (the Jazz always tries to make the English turn to the left), but for some reason, Bagley is hanging on the right side of the screen. What? Why are you doing this? (The answer is that he's a rookie, and rookies are usually bad at defensive things, but anyway).
So the Kings call timeout, down 10-0. This is your chance to try to resolve your defense and call your next play. They run pick and pop for Bagley, who sees Rudy Gobert in him and thinks, "Now it's my time to isolate the defensive player of the year." There followed a ridiculous float and a ridiculous attempt at insinuation. They were not successful either.
In the defense of Bagley: this is the time of year when promising young novices should simply throw things against the wall and see if they stick. The random wild isos against Gobert will not hold, but hey, maybe he needed to learn that firsthand. But in terms of a competitive game, it does not mean much.
2. The interior screens of Rudy Gobert.
There is no chance of these being counted in Rudy Gobert's leading screen badistant totals, as detailed by ESPN, but I think they matter just as well. With his difficulty of defense, Dave Joerger tries to change to a zone defense. So the Jazz do what you do against the zones: move the ball around the perimeter until you have room to shoot or attack.
But I like what Gobert does next: it prevents Bagley from rotating in time to stop Mitchell from painting with a screen. That means that by the time he can get past Gobert, Mitchell is already in the air to make the placement happen. Not everyone could end up around him anyway, but obviously, Donovan Mitchell is very good.
That's what happens with Gobert: he does a lot of little things very well. (I know very well that the phrase "little things" makes me sound like a former player in the place of colored comments). There are many shooting blockers in this league that are secretly terrible in many of these things. Hbadan Whiteside loves to jump for blocks he does not have a chance, like Mitchell Robinson. Thousands of adults love to slide screens, so much the better to sign up.
Gobert wants recognition, yes, but wants to earn more. So it will help Mitchell in this type of game, knowing that it will help his team. He will tap rebounds on teammates, knowing that he will not be credited. And yes, he will be there almost every time on defense when his teammates count on him.
It is really very good. I talk about that all the time, and it still is not enough. It's the main reason why the Jazz are very likely to be a team with 50 wins this year.
3. Grayson Allen: his new record in his career and the end of the year for rookies.
Wait, was not he the one who marked a stop in his career on Wednesday? Yes, then he scored 14 points, and it was pretty good. But now, he scored 23 points, and it was even better.
Allen went 10-14 from the field at 26:22 on the floor on Friday night to get those 23 points. Yes, he also had six turnovers, also a new career record, so that's bad. But I'm starting to get a little intrigued by the number of ways you can score the ball.
So there are the finishes with talent in the transition in which they are dividing the defenders, who, admittedly, do not do a good job to stay on the sidelines and hinder Allen's work. There is a step back three after a close, a shot difficult to master. There are two really difficult finishes in traffic, one with a broad finish on the top of the board, another is a distribution of energy through contact. And there is the snake pick and roll that we saw in the last game. That's the whole set of tools!
The defense has also improved from horrible to playable, at least against bad teams. That is a great leap.
And here is the required warning: there are many young players who do this at the end of their rookie seasons. Trey Lyles, who has not been a factor in his fourth year, played very well at the end of the 2015-16 season. Trey Burke scored 32 points in the final game of his rookie season, after averaging nearly 16 per game in April. Eric Maynor scored 15 on eight shots, Dee Brown had 13 on seven shots.
However, there are some positive examples of Jazz: Gordon Hayward scored 34 points on the last night of his rookie season, improving greatly at the end. Therefore, it could be good for Allen, and we should consider this as a positive signal.