Preview and Chat: The Utah Jazz

Kurt —  November 30, 2006

Let’s start with good news. The Lakers catch the Jazz on the second game of a back-to-back, and one where they have to fly in from Salt Lake. The Jazz are 3-1 on the second game of back-to-backs this season, and they come in to Staples having beat San Antonio last night.

Remembering the last meeting. Rob L. is the man — he sent me a detailed stats breakdown of the last time these two met (a 114-108 Jazz win).

I didn’t need to see the stats to remember that the Lakers need to do a better job on slowing Carlos Boozer, who had 31 points and seven offensive rebounds. (By the way, I like Boozer, just in part because that’s the best last name in the NBA.) As noted yesterday, the Lakers have struggled against the four and Boozer will get some, but the Lakers need to make him less efficient.

The Lakers also need to stop Mehmet Okur, who continued the trend of centers who can step away from the basket giving the Lakers trouble. He was 8 of 13 from the floor, 2 of 6 from beyond the arc and had 18 points.

Also, three guys who didn’t use a lot of possessions but were very efficient when they did (each had a one-game offensive rating of over 175, which is crazy good): D-Fish, Gordon Giricek and Ronnie Brewer. Need to D-up on all of them.

Then there is Deron Williams. Last meeting with LA he had 15 points and 10 assists, but what is impressive is how wisely he is using his possessions. I could spend time singing his praises, but Henry at True Hoop did it very well the other day.

Some other things to remember.
In much of the fourth quarter of that first meeting Bryant was guarded by Kirilenko — and Kobe went 0-3 from the field. Kirilenko is a long and agile defender who will slow either Kobe or Lamar, whichever he is guarding, so it is key to get the ball to the guy with the better match up.

And the Lakers have not been great about that. In case you missed it, at the end of the Bucks game, when the Lakers were down by three, Phil Jackson said he drew up a play for Odom to take the shot, because he knew Kobe would draw the double. Kobe did, but didn’t make the kick out pass, instead choosing to dribble it out himself then take a shot from four feet beyond the arc. That’s not wisely picking his spots.

Smush pouts. Smush had a rough game against the Bucks Tuesday night, and from that an Interesting note from commenter Scott, who was at the Lakers/Bucks game (and in very good seats):

It looked like Phil pulled Smush out of the game after he made a bad pass which led to a lay-up for the bucks in the third quarter. Smush reacted to being pulled by throwing off his headband and slowly walking off the court. For the rest of the second half, during every timeout, as the team was huddled around their coaches listening to what to do, Smush was just sitting by himself at the end of the bench not joining his teammates in the huddle. I think his attitude after being pulled in the 3rd quarter led to him not being put back in the game by Phil. Phil gave him a chance… he was about to put Smush back in for the last 2 minutes but again, Smush slowly took his time walking over to the scorer’s table and slowly started putting his headband on and before he even got to the scorer’s table, he had already been called back to the bench and he was never put in. I personally like Smush and I am a big fan of his play and potential, but I think that he needs to realize the position he is in and he needs to not take that for granted. A big part of being in the NBA is to know how to be benched for one dumb play, but be strong enough mentally to put that behind you right away and get back out there and help your team (Farmar does a very good job of this)


Things to look for.
Can the Lakers control the defensive boards? Last time these two hooked up the Jazz had 15 offensive boards, and they continue to lead the league, pulling down 33.1% of their missed shots. Kwame and Bynum need to snap out of the funk they were in against the Bucks and take control of the glass.

Jordan Farmar missed the last meeting between these two, should be interesting to see how he can do on Deron Williams. However, Williams is a lot stronger than Jordan right now, and that could be trouble for the rookie.

The Lakers are going to see a lot of zone until they beat it consistently. One easy way — have Bynum/Kwame flash in the paint and feed them a good pass. They will get a good shot off or can kick out for an open three. You just can’t shoot over the top of a zone; you break it down then get good looks from the outside.

Great note from Gabe Farkas over at Courtside Times previewing this game:

The big difference-maker to me will be FT’s. The Jazz send their opponents to the FT line more than any other team in the league (highest defensive FT/FG ratio). On the other hand, the Lakeshow is one of the stingiest in the league at allowing the other team to get to the line. The Jazz are middle-of-the-road when it comes to getting to the line on offense, but LA again trumps them with 0.28 FT’s per FG (good for 8th in the league). I expect this to be a close game overall.

By the way, while you are certainly welcome to chat here during the game, myself and others will try to keep a running commentary going over at Courtside Times through both TNT games tonight. Check in while you watch Shaq and Miami take on… what? Shaq’s injured? He’s missing much of the regular season? Wow, that’s not like him, with that great work ethic he has and all….

Kurt

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32 responses to Preview and Chat: The Utah Jazz

  1. The only thing I am actually surprised about is that it took a Jerry Sloan coached team this long to start clicking (yes injuries had something to do with it). They have had a lot of the major pieces for a few seasons now, hopefully Utah is a picture of what the Lakers will look like a few years down the road look at the similarities:

    Good young point guard.

    Top 5 player (ok kirilenko no longer fits this category but for a while he was considered one of the best, and is still a household name)

    Unguardable Pf/Sf

    Depth in the frontcourt (if only Mihm were healthy)

    And dare I compare Harpring to Vlad?

  2. First of all thanks for putting my comment on Smush in the preview and chat for the Jazz. I hope Smush saw it and read it and used it as motivation to light up Deron Williams tonight. As I said in the comment, I am a big fan of Smush and I hope he starts playing as good as he is capable of playing. As for tonight, the Lakers need to take this game very seriously. This is a “statement” game. This is the game where we go on national TV and show everybody we mean business by destroying a Utah Jazz team that many people are already making Western Conference Finals talk for. The Lakers need to beat Utah on sheer hustle. Thats how they beat us last week (too many offensive boards for them). We need to return the favor tonight at home and show the Jazz as well as the whole country that the Lakers are no joke this year. There is no team that we are afraid of!

  3. Shaq’s injury begs the question from Laker fans: would you rather have had him for another year and a championship run, knowing he’d get out for a few years after that, just eating up cap room; or would you rather we let him walk and rebuild during those years (as we have done).

  4. I get the feeling it could get ugly for Miami tonight. Either that or it’s gonna get ugly for Detroit because the whistles are gonna start tweeting all over the court to send Wade to the line and Sheed is gonna lose it.

    Big game for the P&G tonight. Gotta bounce back from a loss against Utah. Hopefully Phil keeps his mouth shut about the refereeing. I really would rather not see the refs taking it out on the guys against the Clippers on Saturday.

  5. The article Ian links to is a great scouting report of Kobe. Highly recommended.

  6. 4 – I’d rather be where we are right now. We’re on our way up. Miami is on its way down. Sure, Miami already won a championship, but with an aging Shaq, look where they are. Without Shaq, they’re a horrible team. Their window is closing fast and ours is getting bigger and bigger and should stay that way for years to come.

    Somebody brought this up earlier. With a core of Wade, Butler, and Odom, the Heat could have been very good for several years. Trading for Shaq made them very good right away, but also set a very limited timetable for them.

    Also, did we really want another year of the Shaq-Kobe-Phil hate triangle? Everybody on the team seems to like each other right now. It’s nice that there’s not too much off-court drama these days.

  7. 7. Now, apply that logic to the often discussed Odom and Bynum for KG trade.

  8. Kurt, you’re preaching to the choir here. =)

  9. Check out the comments at Courtside Times for the games. It seems my prediction #5 may be coming true.

  10. What with PJ getting fined 25k for whining about the officiating in that last Utah encounter, this seems like a good spot to revisit the foul stats for the season. He didn’t get his 45+ FTA so he had to say something. I can respect that.

    Well the good folks from 82games have looked into what I have been talking about as a theme this season. Basically, this season so far a team averages getting called for 1 more total foul on the road than at home. I think this fits with the perception of the average NBA fan. A charge/block goes one way or the other. I think we can all live with that. Those calls are tough and its understandable mistakes get made. Full results are here: http://www.nbcsports.com/nba/461432/detail.html Scoll to the bottom for fouls.

    So the current update for the Lakers. They get the whistle 7.1 more times on the road than at home. Wow. Homecooking sure is delicious.

    Since PJ had his piece Ill put the O/U for foul differential for tonight’s game at -5. Lakers still lead this category at -3.71 with next closest being the fundamental SAS at a measely -2.81, and average, of course, is near 0.

  11. John R. can I just say that I love you. You are just precious. Before your influence in my life at times I had doubt. I often wondered if I should spend some of my time, energy and emotional capital on the Clippers. But thanks to you my faith in the Lakers is reborn. Clearly since the Staples LAKERS crowd is able to sway the refs so effectively, we are the better and more vocal fans. We deserved all those rings while the Clipps were languishing in the cellar, forgotten by all but the comedians who cracked jokes and their expense.

  12. Man I wish I could watch the Detroit-Miami game just so I could watch for Sheed. It’ll probably cost him a technical, but I think he’d agree that it’s worth it. Especially if the Miami crowd gets the joke.

  13. I just had a thought regarding the play Phil drew up at the end of the Bucks game. Okay, Kobe’s going to get double teamed, so you design the shot for someone else. What about Luke? I remember something about him leading the league in 3P%. I’m all for Lamar, but he’s kind of an obvious choice to go to at the end as well.

  14. For a second – a SPLIT second, I thought I was going to be able to watch the Lakers – Jazz game and was all pumped up, was waiting to eat some popcorn and watch Jack Bauer light up AK and UPS take it to Karl Malone v2 (version 2).

    Then I see that the second part of the double-header is on Raptors TV, which I can’t get in my apartment.

    *cries*

    That being said, I’m kind of surprised about the amount of attention that people are giving to Luke Walton’s rise. Scoop Jackson mentioned him in his article about the new ball this week at ESPN. He acted incredulous to the fact that Luke Walton could be leading the league in 3PT FG%.

    That’s something that I think we here aren’t that surprised about. We know Luke’s potential – we know what kind of basketball family he comes from, his skill set, his high basketball IQ. He’s really finding himself now in the offense on some nights and taking smart shots. The first Lakers jersey I’ll buy if I ever get the chance to get down to Cali again will be a Walton jersey.

  15. Hey John R.

    It’s halftime and the Lakers have 18 FTA and Utah 7. If you’ve been watching the game, you’ll agree that there were at most two questionable calls in the Lakers favor. There was one questionable against. Utah was forced to foul early in the 2nd quarter to prevent fast break lay ups. Then the Lakers got in the penalty. You’ll notice the 6 Lakers steals at the half. These steals contributed to the Utah fouls.

  16. +6 fouls at halftime (+11FTA). I hope you all took the over.

    Why even watch the games? I’ll tell you whats going to happen before it even starts.

    ian: Interesting theory. Except I don’t think the fans have anything to do with it. It’s all about money, son. I think every reasonable person knows precisely who is in the lower bowl at Lakers home games. And it isn’t fans. Actually, thats a good question.

    Kurt, lower bowl season tickets? Ian? Rob? John (Vancouver)? Kidding John.

    Nah, its not about the fans. But again, I’m not the one making things personal here. I have just been pointing out interesting statistical trends and I get attacked viciously. And I think I know why. Its the lesson of Beauty and the Beast. We attack that which we are afraid of. Lakers fan is right to be afraid to think about if they are winning cleanly; if they are held to the same standards as the other 29. So far this season the answer is clear: no.

  17. John R,
    The reason you’re attacked viciously is not because you we’re afraid of what you say. It’s the manner in which you say it. If you said the things you say without also expressing/insinuating how much you hate the Lakers and hate Kobe, we’d be more willing to listen to you. Why would we want to listen if all you openly bash our favorite team? Show us some objectivity and we’ll show you some, too.

  18. If you don’t watch the games, you don’t get to comment on the quality of them.

  19. Dan, I could not have responded better. John – I actually do try to look out for the claims you make, and I do get defensive when you do the things Dan talked about. One thing I remember you talking about is how Kobe “verbal flops”. I do notice it now. I see that sometimes he does it because he got fouled, sometimes he does it because he expected to get fouled.

  20. Lakers fan is right to be afraid to think about if they are winning cleanly; if they are held to the same standards as the other 29.

    If me taking your comments seriously is being afraid, then so be it. You brought up a theory of preferential treatment for the Lakers. I took you seriously. I looked into it. Given your earlier comment in this thread, I even kept it in mind for tonight’s game. Why? I wanted to see if there was anything to what you said. I had a feeling you wouldn’t watch the game, but would only see the box score. I attempted to explain why aberrations were in the box score. You made snide remarks. I see that I made a mistake in taking your comments seriously in the first place.

  21. Dan, I could not have responded better. John – I actually do try to look out for the claims you make, and I do get defensive when you do the things Dan talked about. One thing I remember you talking about is how Kobe “verbal flops”. I do notice it now. I see that sometimes he does it because he got fouled, sometimes he does it because he expected to get fouled. When the latter occurs, you are right about the verbal flop.

  22. john [old school] November 30, 2006 at 11:37 pm

    john vancouver, i’m huge on luke. that said, hell yes i’m surprised he’s leading the league in 3 pointers.

    i thought he could be a key guy off the bench averaging about 8,4, and 4 or so. the fact he’s in the starting lineup and averaging double figures, i don’t think his biggest supporters would’ve predicted that.

    do you think he’ll be in the top 10 at the end of the season? i don’t, but i sure damn hope so.

  23. Kobe’s having an incredibly efficient night.

  24. Yeah 52 through three quarters is pretty nice when you’re playing against the best team in the league.

    I wish I could be watching the game on TV instead of gamecast, but it looks like fouls are being called left and right at both ends of the floor. If Kobe gets calls he should get then it’s obviously the rewards of playing aggressive, challenging basketball.

    If there was any of this mythical pro-Lakers officiating bias (beyond the usual edge home teams get everywhere in the league), then why would they be calling Kobe for so many personal fouls of his own?

    (And why in a regular season game this early when the Laker’s are already on a good pace to make the playoffs? Surely if you’re going to fix things for the Lakers you’d at least wait until they really needed it, on the bubble at the end of the season or actually during the playoffs…)

  25. Does anyone keep a stat on players who miss tripple doubles by 1 point 1 rebound or 1 assist? Would lamar lead the league? (And I realise he could still get the TD tonight)

  26. Lamar is playing well. Kobe is sharing the ball. Farmar is a nice surpise. Bynum is a huge bonus. This is turning into a pretty great start to the season.

  27. Old school John, nice name :) About Luke – sure I’m surprised he is doing -THIS- well, but his emergence is something I have been waiting for. I think he’s far too skilled to setting into an 8-4-4 kind of guy. The kid just sees the floor too well to keep him on the bench; it’s fitting him into the triangle that makes it difficult, but it looks like Phil is finding a way as Luke has honed his shot.

    God I wish I had this game. I seriously hate living in Canada right now; if I was back in B-more I would be watching this on TNT and getting to listen to Charles and company.

    Even when they aren’t getting too much production from their two bigs (although it looks like Bynum is doing alright by the box score), it’s good to see that Kobe is showing people that he’s still Jack Bauer and he will take you out when he has to.

    Looks like an off-night for Smush shooting, but even moreso for Farmar who doesn’t seem like he was able to handle Williams at the point. 4 PF and 4 TO? Ouch. It’s still OK – we can’t expect him to be Magic out there every night. I’m sure the kid of hustling his butt off regardless.

  28. On a positive note, Kobe just said it was like playing Playstation when asked about the game. Now that is sweet.

  29. I bet Kobe has a PS3.

  30. Kobe’s true shooting percentage was 79.8% (if my calculations are correct). Yowza!

  31. Why is anyone surprised with the foul situation with this game?

    Did you read the post you’re commenting on?

    “The Jazz send their opponents to the FT line more than any other team in the league (highest defensive FT/FG ratio). On the other hand, the Lakeshow is one of the stingiest in the league at allowing the other team to get to the line.”