Monthly Archives: March 2011

Last Night’s Numbers – 3/30/11

This is Last Night’s Numbers, a daily feature where we run through the NBA games from the night before, highlighting one or two numbers I found particularly interesting from each game. All the stats are from Hoopdata’s box scores, which contain some additional advanced stats not available in traditional box scores.

Cleveland 102 – Miami 90

  • With a FTR of 0.556, the Cavaliers gave themselves a 9 point advantage at the free throw line.
  • The Heat knocked down 10 of 25 three-pointers. Mike Bibby led the way, hitting 7 of 11.
  • Cleveland completely controlled the glass. They grabbed 59.6% of the total rebounds and held Miami to an ORR of 17.4%.

Houston 112 – New Jersey 87

  • The Rockets made 11 of 23 three pointers in the game. Four different players made at least 2.
  • Houston recorded an assist on 65.3% of their made baskets. They totalled 30 in the game and turned the ball over just 9 times.
  • Brook Lopez scored 22 points for the Nets on 10 of 16 from the field. The rest of the team shot 27 of 73, 36.9%.

Sacramento 116 – Phoenix 113

  • The Kings grabbed 56.1% of the available rebounds, with an ORR of 23.1%. Three different Kings finished the game with double-figure rebounds.
  • Steve Nash had 14 assists for the Suns, 11 of which led to layups or three-pointers.
  • Jason Thompson had a solid 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Kings. He also went 0 of 6 at the free throw line.

Oklahoma City 115 – Golden State 114 (OT)

  • Stephen Curry scored 35 points for the Warriors on a 70.7 TS%. He was 5 of 8 on shots at the rim and 5 of 8 on three pointers.
  • Kevin Durant scored 39 points for the Thunder on a 69.0 TS%. He was 6 of 8 on shots at the rim, 3 of 5 on three-pointers and 10 of 12 at the free throw line.
  • As a team the Thunder made 25 of 31, or 80.7%, of their shots at the rim. 15 of those 25 made baskets were assisted on.
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Filed under Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Last Night's Numbers, Miami Heat, NBA, New Jersey Nets, Oklahoma City Thunder, Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings

Last Night’s Numbers – 3/29/11

This is Last Night’s Numbers, a daily feature where we run through the NBA games from the night before, highlighting one or two numbers I found particularly interesting from each game. All the stats are from Hoopdata’s box scores, which contain some additional advanced stats not available in traditional box scores.

Philadelphia 97 – Chicago 85

  • Thaddeus Young scored 21 points off the bench for the 76ers in just 26 minutes. Young was 8 of 9 on shots at the rim and finished the game with a 62.2 TS%.
  • Derrick Rose scored 31 points for the Bulls but it took him 24 shots to do it. Rose also turned the ball over 10 times and garnered just 5 assists.
  • The 76ers held the Bulls to 41.3% shooting in the game and forced them into a 9 of 30 performance from beyond 15ft.

Indiana 107 – Boston 100

  • Indiana shot 54.6% for the game and grabbed 23.5% of their own misses. They held Boston to an ORR of just 9.7%
  • Roy Hibbert scored 26 points for the Pacers on a 72.7 TS%. Hibbert was 8 of 10 from inside of 10 ft. and a very impressive 4 of 7 from outside of 10ft.
  • The Pacers were 16 of 20 on shots at the rim, with only 5 of those made baskets assisted on.

New York 113 – Orlando 106

  • The Knicks created some defensive pressure, forcing the Magic to turn the ball over on 20.2% of their possessions.
  • Amare Stoudemire attempted just 10 shots in 44 minutes. He let Melo do most of the heavy lifting on offense. Melo scored 39 points and attempted a combined 43 field goals and free throws.
  • The Knicks and Magic combined to make 23 of 67 three-pointers. Eight different players in the game made at least 2 three-pointers.

Portland 100 – San Antonio 92

  • San Antonio shot just 10 of 20 at the free throw line. Between that, and allowing Portland a FTR of 0.477, the Trail Blazers finished with a 14 point advantage at the free throw line.
  • Portland made 8 of 17 three pointers, with three different players making at least 2.
  • The Trail Blazers had their jumpshots working, scoring 100 points despite making just 9 of 12 shots at the rim.

Washington 100 – Utah 95

  • Jordan Crawford scored 25 big points for the Wizards, but on 25 shots. Crawford had a TS% of 44.5% for the game and went just 1 of 10 on three pointers.
  • Rookie Gordon Hayward had one of his best games as a pro for the Jazz. Hayward finished with 12 points on 6 of 12 shooting, with 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks, a charge drawn and just a single turnover in 37 minutes.
  • The Jazz were just 10 of 21 at the free throw line. Those 11 missed free throws were their margin of defeat and then some.

Charlotte 87 – Milwaukee 86

  • Milwaukee had an ORR of 34.0% and turned the ball over on just 9.3% of their possessions. They scored just 86 points because they made just 38.9% of their shots from the field.
  • Brandon Jennings scored 26 points on a 45.2 TS%. He was 5 of 8 at the rim and 5 of 19 from everywhere else.
  • The Bobcats recorded an assist on 75.8% of their baskets, totalling 25 for the game. Boris Diaw and D.J. Augustin each had 8.

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Ruptured Expectations

 

Balloon POP

Macro

As of Monday afternoon, the Milwaukee Bucks had won five of their last ten, and sat just two games behind Indiana for the 8th and final playoff spot in the East. I think it’s safe to say this is not the position Bucks’ fans expected to find their team in with two and a half weeks left in the regular season. Just twelve months ago the Bucks were wrapping up a cinderella campaign in which they posted the league’s second most efficient defense, finished ten games over 0.500, captured the 6th seed in the East, and took the Atlanta Hawks to seven games in the first round of the playoffs.

With the Bucks’ returning six of their top ten players and adding a mix of veterans and youth to their roster, expectations were high. Even if the Bucks’ somehow manage to sneak into the playoffs, this season will be a disappointment. Their defense has actually improved but the team has struggled due to an absolute offensive implosion. To say they have regressed on offense is an understatement. In 2009-2010 the Bucks scored a modest 104.9 points per 100 possessions.  The Bucks Offensive Rating has dropped 3.6 points since last season to a 101.3. The last time the Bucks posted a team Offensive Rating this low was the 1976-1977 season. The only reason they’ve been able to win 29 games is that their Defensive Rating is 102.6, 4th lowest in the league this season, and the franshise’s lowest since the 1983-1984 season.

Their offensive decline has been a battle waged on several fronts. The table below shows their performance in each of the Four Factors this season compared to last season.

From this graph we can see the Bucks are shooting a lower percentage this season, turning the ball over more often, and rebounding a lower percentage of their misses. They’ve improved their ratio of free throw attempts to field goal attempts. However, that improvement has taken them from dead last in the league to 22nd this year. That’s not nearly enough to offset their decline in those other areas. The biggest drop-off has been in their shooting percentage and that’s where I want to focus.

The Bucks are playing at a slightly slower pace this season, 89.8 possessions per game, compared to 91.7 last season. This slower pace, combined with their increase in free throw attempts and turnovers, means they are taking far fewer shots per game. This season the Bucks are averaging 79.7 field goal attempts per game, compared to 85.3 last season.

Over the past two seasons in the NBA, a field goal attempt has been worth an average of 0.99 points (Total Points – Free Throws Made/Field Goal Attempts). If we assume the Bucks were shooting the league average, those 5.6 fewer field goal attempts they are taking this season, would cost them about 5.5 points per game. Factoring in the additional 2.8 free throw attempts they are taking, and assuming they make them at the average rate of 75.9%, would knock 2.1 points off that decline. So ignoring shot selection and shooting percentage, we would expect to see the Bucks per game scoring drop by 3.4 points. That hasn’t happened. Their per game scoring average has gone from 97.7 last season to 91.5, a drop of 6.2 points. The reason the drop is so much larger than expected, is of course the two components we didn’t discuss yet: shot selection and shooting percentage.

To examine these two pieces we’re going to turn to Expected Scoring. If you’ve missed my other posts on the subject, Expected Points uses a team or player’s FGA from each area of the floor and multiplies it by the average number of points scored on that type of shot to come up with an Expected Point total from that area. The Expected Point total can than be compared to the actual number of points a team or player scored from that area to arrive at a Point Differential. This point differential is an expression of how a player shot compared to the league average, but I like that the comparison is drawn with actual point totals.  The average values of shots by location that I use (At Rim – 1.208, <10ft. – 0.856, 10-15ft. – 0.783, 16-23ft. – 0.801, 3PT – 1.081, FT – 0.759) were calculated by Albert Lyu of ThinkBlueCrew.

Let’s start with shot selection. The table below shows the percentage of the Bucks’ shot attempts which have come from each area of the floor this season and last season.

The two most efficient areas of the floor to shoot from are at the rim and three-pointers. The percentage of the Bucks’ shot attempts which have come from both of those areas has shrunk. Last season 45.2% of their shot attempts came from that 3-23ft., area between the rim and the three-point line. This season 51% of their shots are coming from that area. This change shows up heavily in their Expected Scoring numbers.

The table below shows the Bucks’ Expected Points, Actual Points, Point Differential and FG% for each area of the floor from this season and last.  All numbers are per game.

Except for a slight improvement at the rim and on shots from 10-15ft., the Bucks’ Point Differential has decreased from every area of the floor. Even free throws have been unkind, as they’re attempting more but making a lower percentage. Altogether they’re averaging 4.19 fewer point per game than we would expect if they were shooting the league average.

Poor shot selection has been a problem, but the Bucks also struggle to make shots from efficient locations. Their three-point shooting has regressed significantly since last year. Their shooting percentage at the rim has increased slightly, but hasn’t left the atrocious range. How bad has it been? Their field goal percentage on shots at the rim is 6.5 percentage points below the league average. Only two other teams are shooting below 60% at the rim this season and the Bucks are still 1.7 percentage points lower than either of them. This is also the 4th consecutive season they have shot less than 58% at the rim. We aren’t looking at a new phenomenon.

Micro

Any mention of the Bucks’ struggles on offense has to include a mention of second-year point guard, Brandon Jennings. To place blame in its entirety at Jennings’ feet would be irresponsible, but he deserves a healthy share. Particularly when it comes questions of shooting.

As a rookie last season Jennings shot just 37.1% from the field. That’s the 4th lowest FG% in the history of the NBA, by a rookie who started at least half their team’s games. The good news for Jennings is that several players on that list, such as Chris Duhon, Jason Williams, Kirk Hinrich, Raymond Felton and Nick Van Exel, shot under 40% as rookies but have gone on to careers as solid NBA contributors. Some like Jason Kidd, Russell Westbrook and Chauncey Billups have even gone on to be stars. It should also give Bucks’ fans hope that making a large improvement in FG%, going from a rookie season to a sophmore season, doesn’t seem to be a prerequisite for future success either.

One factor not in his favor, is that each of those players who went on to successful careers, after a poor shooting start, had some other intensely valuable skill which offset their lack of scoring efficiency. Kidd, Westbrook and Billups all had terrific size and strength for their positions. Kidd, Tinsley and Williams were tremendous passers. Jackson, Johnson, Hinrich, Kidd and Felton all contributed heavily at the defensive end. Although Jennings is a solid distributor and defender, I don’t know that he’s shown enough potential in either area to guarantee himself a long-term future as a sepecialist. If he can’t improve his shooting, and not just a little, it’s not difficult to imagine him taking the career path of Chris Duhon or T.J. Ford, an idea that would have been considered outrageous just a few months ago.

Jennings has made some improvements shooting the ball this season, especially in his shot selection. The graph below shows the percentage of his shots which have come from each area of the floor this season and last season.

He’s taking more shots from inside of 10ft. and has cut down significantly on his mid and long-range two-pointers. These are both great signs of him recognizing his strengths and being willing to focus his efforts there. The only problem is that he isn’t particularly effective at the rim, or on three-pointers for that matter.

Among players with at least 100 attempts, he ranks dead last in FG% at the rim, shooting 50.3%. We can feel quite certain that his struggles are not a fluke as he shot 42.7% at the rim last season. Although he’s increased his FG% at the rim by 7.6 percentage points he still shoots 13.8 percentage points below the league average of 64.1%. To add insult to injury, the Bucks’ Chris Douglas-Roberts, Carlos Delfino, John Salmons and Earl Boykins all shoot 10 percentage points or more below the league average at the rim. Altogether, 34.8% of all the Bucks’ field goal attempts at the rim, have come from these five players, who are all among the leagues 40 worst shooters from that area.

Among players with at least 200 attempts, Jennings has the 4th worst 3PT% in the league, at 32.8%. The Bucks have five different players with at least 100 three-point attempts this season. Three of them, Jennings, Ilyasova and Dooling, shoot below the league average of 35.9%.

The Bucks have four major rotation players, Jennings, Dooling, Salmons and Delfino, who shoot 40% or lower from the field. I’m including Delfino even thought he’s currently at 40.1%. Jennings has missed some significant time this season due to injury, but as the team’s starting point guard when healthy, he deserves some responsibility for the offense not running smoothly and for not finding easy shots for his teammates.

Among the 47 point guards who average at least 20 minutes per game, Jennings ranks 41st in Assist Rate, the rate of assists against possessions used. The players clustered closest to him on this list are guys like Aaron Brooks, Gilbert Arenas, Daniel Gibson, and Tyreke Evans, all players who are more scorers than creators. It’s difficult to know exactly how much responsibility he bears for the horrible shooting of his teammates, but I think we can agree that the answer floats somewhere in between “A whole lot” and “Some.” I think we can also agree he’s not doing much to improve his teammates’ percentages.

As a team the Bucks’ have the 4th worst Assist Rate in the league this season. This is a chicken-egg situation. Is their Assist Rate low because they don’t make shots? Or is their Assist Rate low because they don’t move the ball effectively, leading to bad shots? Again, the answer is somewhere in between. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Jennings and the Bucks share some of the same offensive weaknesses, shooting and efficient ball movement. Jennings has the 2nd highest Usage Rate on the team, but plays significantly more minutes than Corey Maggette, who ranks first. As the player who has used the most possessions for the Bucks this season, this team’s offense is in large part an expression of his talents and abilities.

Part of the excitement surrounding the Bucks entering this season, was the feeling that they had many of the pieces in place for long-term success. They had a tough, mobile big man to control the paint. They had versatile shooters. They had strong rebounders. They had a lock-down wing defender. Finally, they had a potent, developing offensive weapon, in Jennings, to continue to build around. Many of the holes we’re seeing now in Jennings’ game were well identified before he was drafted. His 55 point explosion against Golden State in the second week of his rookie season may have obscured his true potential. The clouds are slowly lifting in Milwaukee. The Bucks may need to ask themselves if Brandon Jennings is the player the scouted in high school and Italy, or the player who rained down jumpers on the heads of the hapless Warriors. Either answer, even a combination of the two has huge ramifications for the future of the team.

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Last Night’s Numbers – 3/28/11

This is Last Night’s Numbers, a daily feature where we run through the NBA games from the night before, highlighting one or two numbers I found particularly interesting from each game. All the stats are from Hoopdata’s box scores, which contain some additional advanced stats not available in traditional box scores.

Atlanta 99 – Cleveland 83

  • Marvin Williams scored 31 points for the Hawks on an 82.3 TS%. Williams was 10 of 11 at the free throw line, 3 of 5 on three pointers and added 7 rebounds and 2 assists.
  • The Cavaliers just 36.8% for the game and made just 10 of their 44 shots from outside of 10ft.
  • The Hawks were 14 of 16 on shots at the rim, with 13 of those 14 made baskets being assisted on.

Golden State 114 – Washington 104

  • With a FTR of 0.337 the Wizards gave themselves a 13 point advantage at the free throw line. This advantage was mostly wiped away by allowing the Warriors to make 11 of 26 three-pointers.
  • JaVale McGee scored 28 points for the Wizards on an 83.1 TS%. He was 10 of 11 at the free throw line and added 18 rebounds, 7 of which came at the offensive end.
  • Monta Ellis scored 37 points for the Warriors on a 68.3 TS%. He also added 13 assists, 10 of which went for layups or three pointers.

L.A. Lakers 102 – New Orleans 84

  • Both teams made 3 of 17 three-pointers. However the Lakers shot 55.9% on their two-pointers, compared to 45.7% for the Hornets.
  • The Hornets backcourt players, Chris Paul, Marco Belinelli, Wille Green and Jarrett Jack, combined for 33 points on 14 of 45 shooting. They also were 3 of 13 on three-pointers.
  • Pau Gasol scored 23 points on a 69.1 TS%. He also added 16 rebounds and 4 blocks.

Miami 125 – Houston 119

  • Miami dominated the glass, grabbing 59.2% of the available rebounds with an ORR of 41.5%. Chris Bosh led the way with 8 of their 17 offensive rebounds.
  • LeBron, Wade and Bosh each scored more than 30 points for the Heats. They also each had more than 10 rebounds, combining for 33 total.
  • Kyle Lowry scored 25 points for the Rockets on a 58.1 TS%. He also had 7 rebounds, 9 assists and just 2 turnovers in 44 minutes.

Boston 85 – Minnesota 82

  • Michael Beasley scored 28 points for the Timberwolves, but it took him 28 shots to get there.
  • Even without Kevin Love the Timberwolves totalled 17 offensive rebounds for an ORR of 37.0%.
  • Without Rajon Rondo, the Celtics turned the ball over on just 12.9% of their possessions, compared to 16.5% for the Timberwolves.

Sacramento 114 – Philadelphia 111

  • The Kings completely destroyed Philadephia on the glass. They grabbed 61.8% of the available rebounds with an ORR of 32.5%. Samuel Dalembert led the way with 19 rebounds against his former team.
  • Making 9 of 15 three pointers helped the Kings offset turning the ball over on 19.5% of their possessions.
  • Thaddeus Young and Lou Williams came off the bench to shoot 3 of 23 for the 76ers, providing 9 points and 4 turnovers.

Oklahoma City 99 – Portland 90

  • With a FTR of 0.387 and some hot shooting, the Thunder gave themselves an 8 point advantage at the free throw line.
  • Gerald Wallace scored 40 points for Portland on a 62.6 TS%. He also added 7 rebounds and drew 4 charges.
  • The Thunder won despite recording just 13 assists and turning the ball over 14 times.

Memphis 111 – San Antonio 104

  • Memphis completely controlled the glass, grabbing 59.7% of the available rebounds with an ORR of 43.3%.
  • Tony Parker shot 8 of 20 for the Spurs and had 5 turnovers to go with his 6 assists.
  • Tony Allen scored 23 points for the Grizzlies on a 91.0 TS%. He was a perfect 9 of 9 on two-pointers and added 5 steals.

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Last Night’s Numbers – 3/25/11

This is Last Night’s Numbers, a daily feature where we run through the NBA games from the night before, highlighting one or two numbers I found particularly interesting from each game. All the stats are from Hoopdata’s box scores, which contain some additional advanced stats not available in traditional box scores.

Dallas 104 – Minnesota 96

  • Anthony Randolph had a monster game filling in for the injured Kevin Love. Randolph scored 31 points on a 72.7 TS%. He was 8 of 10 on shots at the rim, and added 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and a block.
  • Jason Kidd has 13 assists for the Mavericks, 10 of which went for layups or three pointers.
  • The Mavs were 19 of 24 on shots at the rim. 15 of those 19 shots were assisted on.

New Orleans 121 – Utah 117 (OT)

  • Utah blocked 10 of New Orleans’ shots, including 3 by rookie Gordon Hayward. Those 10 blocks represented 11.6% of the Hornets’ shot attempts.
  • The Hornets knocked down 15 of 26 shots from 16-23ft. Chris Paul was 6 of 6 and David West made 5 of 10.
  • Chris Paul had 12 assists for the Hornets, 8 of which went for layups or three pointers.

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Last Night’s Numbers – 3/23/11

This is Last Night’s Numbers, a daily feature where we run through the NBA games from the night before, highlighting one or two numbers I found particularly interesting from each game. All the stats are from Hoopdata’s box scores, which contain some additional advanced stats not available in traditional box scores.

Chicago 114 – Atlanta 81

  • The Bulls’ offense absolutely decimated the Hawks. The Bulls shot 54.5% from the field and made 10 of 18 three pointers.
  • Luol Deng scored 27 points on a 76.4 TS%. He was 6 of 6 on shots at the rim and 6 of 6 at the free throw line.
  • The Bulls grabbed 60.3% of the available rebounds, with an ORR of 32.3%. THey also held the Hawks to just 9 made shots from inside of 10ft.

L.A. Lakers 139 – Phoenix 137 (3OT)

  • With three overtimes there were plenty of amazing statistical performances. Lamar Odom played 55 minutes and scored 29 points on a 63.4 TS%. Odom also had 16 rebounds, 5 at the offensive end, and 5 assists.
  • With a TO% of just 7.6% and an ORR of 30.0% the Lakers were able to give themselves 14 extra shot attempts.
  • The two teams combined to make 28 of 68 three pointers. Four different players made at least 3.

Portland 111 – Washington 76

  • The Wizards starting backcourt, John Wall and Jordan Crawford, combined to go 6 of 27 from the field and turn the ball over 10 times.
  • For the game the Wizards turned the ball over on 27.2% of their possessions.
  • Gerald Wallace scored 28 points for the Trail Blazers on a 76.1 TS%. He also added 8 rebounds, 5 at the offensive end, 3 assists and 4 steals in just 33 minutes.

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Last Night’s Numbers – 3/22/11

This is Last Night’s Numbers, a daily feature where we run through the NBA games from the night before, highlighting one or two numbers I found particularly interesting from each game. All the stats are from Hoopdata’s box scores, which contain some additional advanced stats not available in traditional box scores.

Chicago 132 – Sacramento 92

  • The theme for last night was blowouts and this was the flagship effort. The Bulls shot 61.3% from the field and made 12 of 17 three pointers. They also scored at least 30 points in every quarter and dropped 48 points on shots at the rim.
  • Sacramento turned the ball over 23.4% of their possessions. DeMarcus Cousins has 8 turnovers.
  • The Bulls recorded and assist on 69.4% of their shots and totalled 34 for the game.

Orlando 97 – Cleveland 86

  • Dwight Howard scored 28 points on an 86.0 TS%. He also added 18 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals, 4 blocks and 4 turnovers.
  • Cleveland’s frontcourt players combined to shoot 11 of 29 and grab just 20 rebounds.
  • The Magic grabbed 55.3% of the available rebounds with an ORR of 30.0%.

Denver 123 – Toronto 90

  • Seven different Nuggets scored in double figures in the game. Ty Lawson led the way score 23 points on an 87.9 TS%.
  • The Nuggets recorded an assist on 72.1% of their possessions, totalling 31 for the game. Ty Lawson and J.R. Smith each had 8.
  • Toronto shot 40.3% for the game, made just 11 of 26 shots at the rim and had 10 of their shots blocked.

Indiana 102 – New Jersey 98

  • With a FTR of 0.417 the Pacers gave themselves a 15 point advantage at the free throw line. Darren Collison and Danny Granger combined to go 13 of 13 at the line.
  • Roy Hibbert scored 24 points on a 70.3 TS%. He was 7 of 11 from inside of 10ft. and added 5 rebounds and 3 blocks.
  • New Jersey was outrebounded overall, but did grab 17 offensive rebounds to keep the game close. Those 17 offensive rebounds worked out to an ORR of 30.9%.

Boston 96 – New York 86

  • The Knicks shot just 40.6% for the game and turned the ball over on14.6% of their possessions compared to just 10.1% for the Celtics.
  • The Celtics grabbed 55.9% of the available rebounds with an ORR of 25.6%.
  • The Knicks attempted just 16 shots at the rim and 39 shots from outside of 15ft.

San Antonio 111 – Golden State 96

  • Tony Parker scored 17 points and had 15 assists to just 3 turnovers. 10 of his 15 assists went for either three pointers or layups.
  • The Spurs made 11 of 32 three pointers. Manu Ginobili led the way making 4 of 9.
  • The Warriors turned the ball over on 17.5% of their possessions, compared to just 12.4% for the Spurs.

Memphis 103 – Utah 85

  • The Jazz turned the ball over on 21.3% of their possessions, compared to just 10.1% for the Grizzlies. Andrei Kirilenko had 4 turnovers in just 17 minutes of play.
  • Darrell Arthuer scored 14 points in 19 minutes for the Grizzlies on a 63.6 TS%. Arthur also chipped in 4 blocked shots.
  • Mike Conley had 11 assists for the Grizzlies, 9 of which went for layups or three pointers.

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