On Tap: The Utah Jazz

Kurt —  December 1, 2005

My biggest concern is about this game is the Lakers catch whatever injury bug Utah has.

Not that plenty of Lakers haven’t missed games (George, Walton, Kwame, etc.), but key Jazz cog Carlos Boozer has yet to step on the court, while Andrei Kirilenko has played only eight of the team’s 15 games so far (he should be in the lineup tonight). The result is a 6-9 Utah team that has had rookie Deron Williams as the leading scorer the last two games, which is bad news, according to the Salt Lake Tribune:

Utah is 5-2 when (Mehmet) Okur is its leading scorer, and 1-7 when it is someone else. More intriguing, the Jazz are 6-2 when Okur attempts 15 or more shots, and 0-7 when he does not.

The Jazz are dead last in the league in offense this season, averaging 98.4 points per 100 possessions (2.4 points worse than the Lakers, and we know how ugly their offense has been). As a team, the Jazz are shooting just 44% eFG% (Laker fans, don’t laugh, your team is at 44.7%). If AK-47 gets back into form Utah may improve, but so far their best player has been Okur, who is averaging 21 points per 40 minutes while shooting 53.7% from the field. Williams has been solid as the rookie point guard, averaging 17.5 points and 6.3 assists per 40 minutes. After that, the offensive options are limited.

What is keeping the Jazz respectable is their defense — it’s 10th in the league, however the Lakers are fifth. (Note to you betters out there, two teams with questionable offenses and good defenses, take the under.)

Neither team has played great of late, both are 3-7 in their last 10. The Jazz are coming off losses to Indiana and Golden State, the Lakers to San Antonio and New Jersey.

One team is going to get enough offense tonight from their star to get the win and come out optimistic. The thing is the Lakers fans have reason for optimism because, despite all the problems, the Lakers are playing better than their record indicates— their Pythagorean record is 7-6 (based on points scored versus points given up). The Jazz are playing at their level, 6-9. This would be a nice win for the Lakers, starting a tough stretch with a lot of games away from home with a win.