First â€” I hope that the ongoing wildfires have not displaced (or worse) any of you. It is my sincerest wish that each of you and your families are safe.
Now, on to the distractionsâ€¦
Kobe has a shorter drive to the arena tonight and there is a championship banner hanging in the rafters, but nobody is going to confuse the Anaheim Pond (sorry Honda, it will always be that to me) with the Staples Center.
Tonightâ€™s tedious preseason match up should be interesting on a few levels. Iâ€™d expect to see more of a â€œregularâ€ rotation from the Lakers â€” whatever that will be exactly â€” at least for the first half, as Phil starts to look more toward the season.
The rotations we really need to see from the starters and core players are on defense â€” they have been better at times this preseason (compared to the nonexistent ones last year) but the performance has been inconsistent across the numerous player groupings. The players are talking a good game, but actions are what we need to see.
For the Jazz, Ronnie Brewer is trying to earn the starting two-guard spot, and leads Utah in the preseason with 17 ppg while shooting 60% from the floor. So what is worrying Jerry Sloan? Brewerâ€™s defense. Remember last year Brewer started against the Lakers and Kobe put up 52. Look for Brewer to try to make a point tonight, and for Kobe to be a little more focused.
But the best part of tonight should be the banging inside, with this game having harder hits than anything Deon Sanders ever did in the NFL.
We know the Jazz â€” with a front line of Okur, Boozer and AK47, plus Millsap coming off the bench â€” can bang, but the Lakers new front line with Turiaf and Kwame (and, eventually, Odom) are no slouches themselves. Donâ€™t take my word for it, this quote is out of True Hoop, from a Bobcat fan reader of Henryâ€™s:
The Lakers are a lot tougher and more physical this year than last season. It’s more than just Kobe now. Kwame Brown knocked Primoz Brezec on his back, laid the ball in, and you could hear him yell ‘Ay! Get tough!’ Ronny Turiaf was downright nasty. He was literally pushing Walter Herrmann off of him on both sides of the floor.
As for injuries, Odom is out for sure for the Lakers (although he is going to try to play the final preseason game on Friday in Vegas) and Walton is questionable. Harpring will sit for the Jazz. And we can all hope nobody goes down in this game like Morrison did against the Lakers.
UPDATE: Elton Brown, Andre Patterson and Larry Turner have been waived by the team. No shock there, the only question now is if Coby Karl gets the 15th roster spot or if it stays open.
One little housekeeping note. As has been the tradition here, Iâ€™ll be doing previews and setting up comment threads for every Lakers game (with a breakdown of what the Lakers have been doing as well as info on the opponent). Iâ€™m trying to come up with my format for said previews, so if there is anything you want to see in there â€” point spreads, starting lineups, list of celebrities expected to sit courtside â€” send me an email or put it in the comments. Or, really, if you have other suggestions of things you want to see, put those in too. FB&G has become a community, so I want everyone to be a part of the process.