Game Preview & Chat: The Utah Jazz

Kurt —  December 28, 2007

Records: Lakers 18-10; Jazz 16-14
Offensive ratings: Lakers 111.3(7th); Jazz 112.0 (5th)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 105.9 (11th); Jazz 107.6 (14th)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Trevor Ariza, Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum
Jazz: Deron Williams, Ronnie Brewer, AK47, Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur

Lakers Notes:Quick injury update: No Luke, no Kwame tonight.

Inside Hoops has done an interesting Q&A with Andrew Bynum, which gives us some insight in to how he went from gangly 17-year-old to breakout player: How’s it going working with Lakers staff as they try to teach you new skills and help your development?

Andrew Bynum: Kareem has been the biggest help to me. We work out before practices, defensively, and offensive moves. And then my trainer, Sean Zarzana really changed things around for me. He got me in shape. Got my body right. And how did he do that? What kind of changes did he have you make?

Andrew Bynum: Running track. Hitting the weights. That’s pretty much it. Basketball stuff, I did with him and Gerald Wilkins. I remember when you were a rookie I asked if you were maybe going to try to learn Kareem’s sky-hook. Did that ever happen?

Andrew Bynum: Naw. I tried to pick it up, but still haven’t gotten it yet. We shoot it every day. I shoot it against Vlade [Vladimir Radmanovic, who is sitting next to Bynum during this interview] repeatedly. It looks good against Vlade. I got him scared.

The Jazz Coming In: Gordon Giricek should be back, but once again when the commentators talks about “the loose cannon” we don’t have to assume they mean Kobe.

The Jazz are 3-7 in their last 10, although you might not know it from the drubbing they gave Dallas a couple nights ago. Okur was back after missing some games with an injury and the Jazz starters had a 16-0 run to start the game and an 11-3 run early in the third quarter, and as you might guess that was enough for an easy win.

The Jazz starters have been playing well through the slump, if you look at the numbers, it’s the production from the bench that has been a big drop off. Millsap is the only guy giving them much in the last 10 games, although though against the Mavs a couple nights ago the Jazz I saw looked like the Jazz of last season. The only question is how much of that was because Dallas is slumping right now.

The Other Thing To Read Today I’m back at TrueHoop for one more day. Can one man bring down a vast media empire in one day? Stay tuned…..

Last time these two met The Lakers and Jazz have split their two meetings this season, and both times the losing team was on the second game of a back-to-back. Coincidence?

That last loss (Nov. 30) by the Lakers was particularly ugly. The Jazz were without Boozer and Okur but still outscored the Lakers in the paint, the Lakers had 20 turnovers, the Lakers let Deron Williams drop 35, Lamar Odom was MIA, and… I could go on for another 300 words. Let’s just try to put it behind us.

Keys To The Game: The Jazz are a disciplined team that runs a double high-post offense with a lot of cutters — that means the defense has to be disciplined too. Based on the last meeting, the Lakers need to do a much better job on AK47 and Williams, who did as they pleased then.

With Boozer and Kirilenko, the Jazz protect the paint well on defense, the Lakers need to get the ball into Bynum and use his passes out to shooters to open up that defense. Kove/Fisher/Ariza driving and kicking could do the same thing. This could be a night that Radmanovic and Sasha play key roles shooting over the top of the packed-in Jazz defense.

Where you can watch: Game time is 7:30 p.m. (Pacific). In Los Angeles tune Fox Sports, nationally you’ll need League Pass. Or just head on down to your local sports bar, which is my plan.