RENO BIGHORNS (81) at UTAH FLASH (101)
Friday, December 5, 2008
The Utah Flash rebounded to defeat the Reno Bighorns on Friday in Orem, Utah. Literally.
In fact, this game analysis is so simple it can almost be done with one word: rebounds.
The Flash out rebounded the Bighorns all game long, but when the game was on the line in the fourth quarter, when just 6 points separated the two teams, the Utah Flash out rebounded Reno 17 to 6.
Good things happen to teams that rebound well.
For instance, they get the ball in the paint close to the rim where shooting percentages are higher, and the Flash shot 53.8 percent for the game (compared to the Bighorns’ 43.8 percent) giving the Flash the edge in second chance points. Rebounding teams also get more fast break points, again a Flash advantage this game.
Ah, fast break points: where the shooting percentages are near perfect and the crowd goes wild and energizes the team. Surely good things do happen to teams that rebound well.
The Reno Bighorns, on the other hand, seemed set on doing things the hard way. At halftime, Reno was 1 of 8 from the 3 point arc, a measly 12.5 percent, and had just 16 points in the paint compared to the Flash’s 24. By the end of the game, Reno had hucked up 20 three pointers, about double the Flash’s attempts, and made just 4 of them.
The main culprit for the Reno Bighorns was Sung-Yoon Bang. Bang was 2 of 9 for 22.2 percent from downtown, and attempted almost as many three pointers during the game as the entire Utah Flash team. Bang also led the Bighorns in turnovers (5), which is amazing when you consider he pretty much just stood at the arc shooting 3s.
Reno’s coach really needs to evaluate Bang’s role. Bang is second in the entire d-league in three point shot attempts, and Bang has 64.5 percent more attempts than the guy in third place. Sung-Yoon Bang shoots an awful lot of 3s, and shoots them awfully, making only 29 percent of them.
In other words, the Bighorns are not getting much “Bang” for their buck. 😉
Meanwhile, Reno’s Damone Brown and Antiono Meeking took care of business, combining for 37 points.
Another thing Reno’s coach might think about is expanding center Jesse Smith’s role. I get the feeling that Smith could definitely help Reno if they ever got him the ball. For instance, with 10:30 left in the game, and Reno in striking distance, they got the ball to Jessie Smith down low. Smith made an impressive baseline turnaround jump shot that looked so easy for him it made me glad the Bighorns don’t get the ball to him down low very much.
The other player who deserves a bigger role with the Bighorns is Gary Hill-Thomas. Granted, I may be biased because Hill-Thomas played for the Flash last year — at least until he was let go to make room for Britton Johnson. By the way, Johnson then showed his appreciation by ditching the Flash after a game or two. Anyway, Hill-Thomas’s aggressive play against the foul-prone Utah Flash put Hill-Thomas on the free throw line where he made the Flash pay by nailing all 6 of his free throws. The rest of the Bighorns combined to shoot 7 of 14 from the free throw line, a dismal 50 percent, which is another reason to give Hill-Thomas more minutes.
Additionally, in just 13:53 of playing time, Gary Hill-Thomas personally accounted for 25 percent of the Bighorns’ steals, as well as 25 percent of his team’s blocked shots.
As for the Utah Flash, the first thing I noticed is they had 2 turnovers in the first 3 minutes of the game. When Andre Ingram entered the game (about three minutes into it), the Flash seemed to calm down. Also, the players seemed to be more at home in the Flash’s offensive system than they were on Monday, perhaps because Andre is one of two players returning to the Flash from last year, and runs the offense with confidence.
Another thing I’m enjoying is the Flash’s defensive efforts this year. Last season the Flash allowed 100.6 points per game; this year the Flash are giving up only 95 points per game. That’s more impressive when you remember 2 of the 4 games the Flash play this season went to overtime. If you subtract the overtime periods, the Flash have improved their defense by 9.4 points per game over last year.
A good part of the Flash offense comes from the opportunities they created with their defense, so let’s hope the Flash’s defense continues to be strong.
Speaking of strong, the two assignees from the Boston Celtics are really looking good, especially JR Giddens.
Giddens is 2nd in the d-league among guards in player efficiency. For comparison’s sake, the former starting guard for the mighty Los Angeles Lakers, Smush Parker, is 13th among guards in the NBADL.
And while the season is very young, JR Giddens also is:
- sixth in scoring among all players
- fourth among guards in shooting percentage,
- first in the league among guards in blocked shots
- second in rebounds per game among guards.
Giddens looks great. In fact, my biggest worry with Giddens is he can be impatient. For example, for the second straight game Giddens was frustrated by multiple traveling calls, but they were all good calls. Also, Giddens can be quick to be frustrated with his teammates, especially if they turn the ball over… which is interesting given that Giddens himself is one of the team leaders in turnovers per game. In interviews, Giddens frequently expresses gratitude to the Celtics for assigning him to the d-league where he can play more minutes and work on his game. Hopefully he sees patience is an important aspect of team sports and will work on that while he is at it.
Other quick observations:
- While Dontell Jefferson’s game might not stand out as much statistically as last Monday’s performance, Jefferson was in reality a very important part of this win. For example, with 9:08 left in the third quarter, Jefferson gave a VERY unselfish pass to Brian Jackson in the open court for a dunk. That dunk, and its two points, could have easily been Jefferson’s, but he gave the ball up to Jackson, rewarding him for his hustle. That unselfishness inspires others to behave in kind and is a tremendous asset for the team.
- With 5:54 left in the game, the Flash led by just 6 points, after leading by as many as 18, and the home crowd didn’t seem aware that the game had gotten that close.
- Giddens scored 10 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter. Other players that play well all game, and then even better as the game goes on come to mind: Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade… Giddens is definitely a competitor.
- JR Giddens, Bennet Davis, Bill Walker, and Gavin Grant combined to shoot a perfect 16 of 16 from the free throw line. Yes!