Defense. It’s All About Defense.

Kurt —  December 10, 2009

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The Jazz scored just six points in the fourth quarter last night. The Lakers went on a 20-point run and the Jazz couldn’t buy a basket. How does that happen?

First, the big key was rebounding. In the first half the Jazz grabbed 50% of their missed shots for an offensive rebound, the Lakers were complacent and on the glass was where it showed. When things got going in the fourth quarter, the Lakers took care of the boards.

But there was more to it. Here is a breakdown of the first 14 possessions the Jazz had in the fourth quarter, which culminated in two points. As you will see, it was a variety of factors.

• Eric Maynor is being hounded by Farmar out high, but he drives to his left (Farmar sticks with him) then kicks out to Boozer for a wide open 15 footer on the baseline, which barely hits the rim. Boozer just flat out missed that one.

• The Jazz work the ball through some options but the Lakers don’t allow anything to develop, so it ends out up at the top of the key with Farmar switched onto CJ Miles, who decides to attack the mismatch and drive. He gets an okay look but misses a 12-foot runner late in the clock.

• The Jazz run on a Lakers miss and get the ball to Boozer down low (who had pulled a Bynum and ran down to get early deep position), Odom defends it well so Boozer passes to Milsap cutting through the lane, who is fouled by Bynum. He hits both free throws, so there are your two points.

• CJ Miles tries to isolate on Sasha, does a good job driving and gets a 10-foot runner but misses again. At this point maybe CJ should stop with the runners.

• The Jazz pass the ball to Boozer at the elbow and he makes a beautiful bounce pass to Mathews who is cutting the baseline. Bynum rotates quickly and his length causes Mathews to switch to a reverse layup, which he misses. This is why it is good to have a guy with a 7’6” wingspan protecting the rim.

• Eric Maynor comes off the top of the key pick from Boozer and gets to the elbow wide open the misses the pull up jumper from 15. That was about Maynor not yet finding his shot in the NBA.

• After a time out, Maynor has the ball on the wing and passes to Mathews coming off a weakside pick, and he has a wide open17 footer, which he misses. The Jazz youngsters are crumbling, so they stop going to them and rely on the guys that count from here on.

• D-Will gets some room to operate after Farmar gambles on a steal, but he has so many options he stops and starts his dribble while deciding and gets the carry-over call.

• No hesitation this time, D-Will drives on Farmar, who defends it well so there’s a kick-out pass to an open Millsap just past the free throw line, who misses the open 16-footer. We need to say here what a great job Farmar did defending the very strong Williams, a guy who gave him trouble in the past. This was maybe Farmar’s best defensive game as a Laker.

• Boozer gets the ball 10-feet out off the right block with Bynum on him, he faces up and tries to shoot a jumper over Bynum but has to adjust the shot with so much arc he airballs it. When it mattered the Lakers went with Bynum on Boozer and Odom/Gasol on Okur, and that matchup really worked.

• The Jazz post up Deron on Farmar on the block, but when Deron goes for a little step-back shot Farmar makes a great play and blocks it. The Jazz recover and try to reset, but they never really get going under some pressure defense and it’s a shot clock violation.

• Boozer gets the ball at the free throw line and again tries the face up jumper over Bynum. He misses again. But the Lakers throw the ball out of bounds trying to run off a rebound they never really controlled. On the reset Okur gets the ball on the low block and kicks out to a wide-open Brewer 17 footer that rims out.

• The Jazz are being harassed and can’t get set up, so D-Will drives and once inside hands off to Okur, who is surrounded, can’t get the handle, tries to go up but drops the ball, grabs it, and by that time we have another 24 second violation. Great defense from the Lakers.

• The Jazz again are having a hard time getting set up, so they go to Brewer coming off a high pick from Okur, but Odom steps out and the Lakers trap him, so Brewer throws a late, desperation pass back out of it that Farmar easily picks off.