Preview and Chat: Utah Jazz

Kurt —  March 20, 2008

Records: Lakers 46-21 (1 seed); Jazz 45-24 (4 seed)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 113.7 (4th); Jazz 114.5 (2nd)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 106.4 (5th); Jazz 108.2 (14th)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Vladimir Radmanovic, Lamar Odom, Ronny Turiaf
Jazz: Deron Williams, Ronnie Brewer, Andrei Kirilenko, Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur

Tennis Anyone? I’m going out to Palm Desert for the weekend to watch the last couple rounds of the Indian Wells tennis tournament (the Pacific Life Open, on your local Fox network). I mean, I don’t want to go, but if my wife is forcing me to go look at teenage Russian girls in short skirts, who am I to say no? For me it will be a weekend of tennis and then going to a bar for lunch to watch my NCAA pool crumble, so no new posts from me until next week. However, a few of the regular favorites around here may pitch in.

Because I’ve got packing to do this will be short today. Not that I’m an efficient packer with the tourney on….

Lakers Notes: Even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and again, and so it is that it turns out my hunch that Phil Jackson was trying to take some pressure off of Andrew Bynum was correct. Turns out the kids should be ready to get some minutes in about two weeks, coming off the bench for half-a-dozen or so games to end the season.

The best part of that is being able to get some minutes with Bynum and Gasol on the floor at the same time, a lineup we are going to need to come through against some teams in the playoffs.

The Jazz Coming In: We got some Jazz questions answered by the men behind the My Utah Jazz blog (and check out my answers to their questions, where I defend Fisher).

Why the Jekyll/Hyde routine with this team between the home (29-3) and road (16-21)?

Million dollar question. While the cat’s away, the mice will play? Time for Jerry to institute his famous curfew apparently. How crazy is this: The Jazz have lost to every Eastern conference non-playoff team except Milwaukee. Are you kidding me? This team always seems to come prepared for the big games against playoff caliber teams, but they struggle against lesser opponents. The ESA is a tough place to play because Utah fans only have one team to get riled up for. I haven’t been to Staples, but I have been to the Pepsi Center, and it didn’t come close to the energy at…um….Energy Solutions Arena. The players seem to feed off of the crowd.

What is Kyle Korver providing on the court that has helped out the Jazz offense so much? Is it just a matter of finally having a shooter that can really spread the floor?

I have had this question on a few other chats with bloggers. All I can say he is has gone from Zero to Hero. The guy was the Jeff Hornacek of this decade. His ability to spread the floor, combined with Memo’s recent outbreak gives the Jazz 3 VERY good 3-point shooters. Andrei is a great slasher, and of course the Booze Hound owns the post. Everything has clicked. The other thing the trade did was cure the locker room of the cancer who is Gordan Giricek. Kyle is a J-Slo type of guy, while Gordan was a thorn in his side. I think Jerry has benefited the most from the trade and this has had a domino effect through the players.

The Jazz are not a bad defensive team, but they seem from the outside to be good some nights and bad others. What are they doing right when things work?

The Jazz are not a bad defensive team, however they are not a good defensive team either. AK47 is not having his best year (down on blocks and steals) and he seems to be in love with going for the steal rather than squaring up on his man i.e. Jefferson getting a free lay-up with 1.2 to win the game in New Jersey. Had Andrei stuck with him, he would have settled for a difficult jump shot. Thanks AK.

Boozer is a turntable. I don’t understand why efficient offensive players have a difficult time translating that knowledge into better defensive efforts. Memo is a liability and has “paint phobia”. Ronnie Brewer started the season off as the league leader in steals and his defense has left something to be desired since December. Probably the best on the ball defender we have is Deron Williams. I think his defense is underrated. As long as he can stay in front of the smaller quicker guards, they have a difficult time trying to get through him. His size allows him to fight through a lot of screens and stay in front of his man.

The Jazz have not lost when holding their opponent under 96 points. There offense is there on a nightly basis, it’s the defense that wins the big games for them.

I am excited about tonight’s game. I wish it wasn’t on national TV though because the Jazz generally perform poorly in this situation. Deron will try at least 3 ill advised alley oops in an attempt to make Sportscenters Top 10. The Jazz should prevail at home in a close game. Final Score: Jazz 114, Lakers 108 (Kobe with at least 42).

Last time these two met: The Jazz were without Okur and Boozer, and still whipped the Lakers something fierce. Utah scored 70 points in the first half. It was ugly.

Keys To The Game: The Lakers are going to need one of their better defensive efforts of the season tonight or they may well get run out of the building. Last meeting the Lakers acted like they had never seen a back-cut or dive to the hoop and the result was a lot of lay-ups and dunks for Utah. The Lakers have to be aware of those cuts and take away the easy hoops. If the Lakers play defense closer to what they did in the first half of the Dallas game they have a chance.

That is going to start with Fisher/Farmar stepping up and containing D-Will. I wouldn’t even mind giving Sasha some time there because if he is allowed to run the show without much harassment it will be a long night.

The Lakers bench, particularly Sasha (who will likely draw the Korver assignment for long stretches) need to be aggressive. The Jazz have been getting good bench play and the Lakers need to match that.

The Lakers are going to have to score in bunches tonight, the Jazz are the second best offensive team in the association and they are going to get theirs. One place to attack the Jazz is at Okur, which means a rare offensive night from Turiaf would be a plus. Also, Radman and Odom need to pull AK-47 and Boozer away from the basket. The Jazz are fierce defenders of the paint and pack it in, the Lakers sharpshooters need to be on tonight and shoot over that. When the Lakers do go into the lane they need to draw fouls.

Where you can watch: The game is at 7:30 pm on both KCAL (9) in Los Angeles and TNT nationally. Flip between this and UCLA crushing some poor suckers just happy to be there on CBS.

67 responses to Preview and Chat: Utah Jazz

  1. Have fun watching tennis, Kurt. Do you prefer watching from the baseline or the sideline?

    As for tonight, the Jazz foul a whole bunch, so I am looking for effiency at the line. We have had some lapses in this area recently and we will get the chances tonight to get some free points, so I hope we take advantage.

    I also hope to see a strong rebounding effort from everyone tonight. Lamar has been strong, but the guards are gonna need to close down the FT line and help on the glass. Utah will crash the boards with Boozer and Brewer in the starting 5 and Harpring and Milsap from the bench…no leak outs tonight, guys.

    I’m also looking for a little extra motivation from the revenge factor of the last game and some circling of the wagons for Fish. He seemed a little thrown off by the boos last time, and I hope the guys rally around the hostileness towards Fish and play a focused game.

  2. I posted this on the last section, but since the Utah preview i’m re-posting it:

    I apologize in advance Kurt and my intention is not to use this forum for ticket purposes, but I can’t go to the game tomorrow b/c of a last minute work thang so if anyone is interested I have 2 tix available located in section 115, row 7, seats 15-16. Please contact me at if anyone is interested (first rights to Kurt if he want to go). I’m willing to get rid of them for face value (the FB&G discount) Thx!

  3. The Dude Abides March 20, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    Kurt, I think you meant a Laker loss the last time these two teams met in Utah. The Lake Show beat the Jazz at Staples more recently.

  4. The Dude Abides March 20, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    BTW, tennis babes to watch who are still in the tournament as of right now: Ana Ivanovic, Maria Sharapova, Sania Mirza, Daniela Hantuchova. You also could get lucky and see Maria Kirilenko or Nicole Vaidisova practicing on one of the outer courts, but in doing so you could also have a close encounter with Francesca Schiavone, which would cancel everything out and possibly leave scars.

  5. I’m out of town, thank god this is a national game, I cant wait to see the Lakers ruin the home records of the 2 best home teams!! This is going to be a pleasure to watch!!

  6. The Dude Abides March 20, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    Also, I’m not sure if everyone has heard this, but Sports Illustrated has opened up online archives of all its articles, covers, etc. There was a certain cover in the past that has always been difficult to find online…the image has always been too small. Naturally, the first thing I wanted to see from the SI vault was this cover. It’s from June 1985, and seeing how the Celtics are relevant again and Danny Ainge is the remaining public face from those Rambis-clotheslining, towel-waving teams. Yes, he still looks like he’s ten years old, and yes, I still want to punch him in the mouth whenever I see this picture.

  7. Did anyone notice how Odom played Dirk the other night. Everytime he would go up for a shot he was doing the hand in face “Shaun Batie” move. I loved it.

    I love Pau but there defense is so much better right now without him in the line up, I can’t wait for Bynum to come back and secure that center position and let Pau roam at the 4. 2 weeks is great news.

    I see this game being close if Kobe plays how he did in the first half against Dallas, he was trying to get Odom going, I really liked that and the rest of the team feed off that.

    Lakers 101 Jazz 99

  8. Lakers Bringing Fear To The NBA March 20, 2008 at 6:23 pm

    Wow, Duke almost choked against belmont.
    Anyways, this game is either a blow out(Jazz winning) or the Laker D steps up and gives Utah a good fight. Farmar and Fish has to do a good job on pick and roles or D. Williams will pick us apart..

  9. So much for the OJ Mayo era of USC basketball…

  10. The Dude Abides March 20, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    Too bad Gus Johnson wasn’t announcing the Duke-Belmont game. His head might have exploded on that last coast-to-coast layup.

  11. 1. I’m a sideline guy, for the most part. What I really prefer is going out the first weekend of this tournament, when there are 8 matches going on at any one point, and being able to see some of the matches in the more intimate setting on a side court. As long as you are not there just to see Federer or Sharapova, you can see great tennis up close. This year the schedule didn’t work out like that for us, other family stuff last weekend so we’ll go the final weekend.

    9. I had Kansas State in my pool beating SC. And I felt bad for those Belmont kids, I have Duke in the elite 8 and I was rooting against them.

  12. My ex of 3 1/2 years is a cheerleader over at Duke and I was praying that they would lose, not just for my personal agenda, but also because I’m sick of the overrated team. Coach K is great but UNC and UCLA along with many others are far superior to Duke.

  13. Great start for the Lakers, good choices early on both ends. Even Odom’s three.

  14. Lakers Bringing Fear To The NBA March 20, 2008 at 8:17 pm

    Lets hope the lakers dont give away this big lead like they did against dallas yesterday…..
    But yes, good start.
    This sets the tone for the rest of the game(hopefully).

  15. Warren Wee Lim March 20, 2008 at 8:20 pm

    So Kurt, this is why you do not do predictions anymore eh? Who would be thinking LA will have a 20-pt lead at the 1st over the Jazz?

    I love what I’m seeing so far…

    BTW, The Philippines just got treated with the full Lakers road trip. Last Saturday I saw how we lost the Hornies, I also woke up 330am monday morning only to watch the Rockets blast us to hyperspace. Then, last Wed, I saw us almost squander a 25-pt lead. Then today…

    Life is good…

  16. Good start? That’s one of the best quarters the Lakers have played in 5 years. It’s only a matter of time (probably in the third) before the refs start blowing their whistle every time for the Jazz on the block and on the drive.

    Hold on to your hats!

  17. i double checked to see i was reading the scores correctly… can we have our own 22 game winning streak, extending to the post season? 😉

  18. Lakers Bringing Fear To The NBA March 20, 2008 at 8:28 pm

    Nah, the best we can do is have a 16 game wins streak I think, then the playoffs start.
    But wishfull thinking though.
    And sorry, i meant GREAT start.

  19. The Dude Abides March 20, 2008 at 8:29 pm

    LOL–luckily, there was no mic on Sloan there when he was yelling at the refs. “GDMFer!”

  20. 9- I don’t watch a ton of college bball, but OJ Mayo seems like the most over rated player I’ve seen in a long, long time. I anticipate a Harold Minor-like pro career. If the dude’s name is “Tim Smith” I don’t think we even hear about him. Am I missing something?

  21. Lakers Bringing Fear To The NBA March 20, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    Lakers need to clean up the defensive glass. I know we’re the smaller team, but we need to pick it up.
    Boozer’s had 3-4 offensive rebounds.

  22. The Dude Abides March 20, 2008 at 8:56 pm

    I don’t think I’ve seen an uglier wide-open drive to the basket plus missed layup for someone under 6-9 in all my years of watching the NBA. I just don’t know what’s going on with Luke. He was pretty good last year until he hurt his ankle, but he hasn’t been the same since. I think he’s inherited his dad’s feet. Still, we’re up 15 at the half. I’ll take it.

  23. question for all of you out there…
    how tall is Luke? isn’t he like 6’8″ ???
    can he even dunk the ball???

    what was up with that missed layup at the end of the half? man, frustrating season for luke, don’t get me wrong, I’ve been a fan of luke for his whole laker career, but this season…
    too many ribs? (at his reastaurant)

    now, the coaches and team better not forget the big lead situation that happened in Dallas, (duh!)…stay focused, do it with defense!

  24. Luke does not show flashes of athleticism on a normal basis. Not surprised he missed that shot.

    Lakers are playing great team defense except they need to be careful not to give up those second chance points against Utah. Several times I caught the Lakers stargazing instead of manning and boxing underneath the boards.

  25. 21- First it was Devean George. And then Brian Cook. And now Luke Walton holds down the spot as the most consistently frustrating Laker player. Trevor Ariza can’t heal soon enough.

  26. Ronny Turaf looks much more comfortable matching up against Boozer than he has on the rest of the road trip.

    It probably helps that Boozer is only 6-9, compared to the 7-footers Turiaf usually matches up against!

  27. Odom has changed. Something about him changed. It could be his moodiness again, but somehow I think it goes beyond just being the 3rd or 4th wheel.

  28. The Dude Abides March 20, 2008 at 9:59 pm

    The main reason we’re so frustrated with Luke is because he gets minutes at the expense of others who are better. Tonight, his minutes are roughly equal to Vlad’s. Vlad has had a solid game. Luke? Not so much.

  29. Thanks for the good work tonight Ronny. Now just hope Luke doesn’t get killed on the D-end.

  30. whoa, injury to insult.

  31. Great win for LA!

  32. I love Lamar Odom. He’s asked if it’ll be hard to play a back-to-back. “We get paid well to do what we love to do, soo…”

  33. Wow. AMAZING win for LA. Everyone contributed (Luke’s another story- dude needs to get out of whatever he’s in), Kobe kicked it up in the fourth, and they became one of only FOUR, that’s right, FOUR teams to win in the Jazz’s building. 2-2 split and gritty victories over Mavs and JAzz on the roadtrip? And that’s with THREE 7 footers sitting on the bench. I will take that EVERY day of the week and twice on Sunday.

  34. Sometimes I love bein wrong…

  35. 27. Yeah, it’s a shame that LO finally grasps more of a scoring mentality when it won’t be all that necessary for him to possess it soon. Too bad Phil waited so long to call him out on asking for the goddamn ball.

    Oh well, it’ll still help us I guess. His transformation did begin when Gasol joined up, oddly enough. Taking advantage of easy opportunities was a good gateway to this better player he’s becoming.

  36. A .500 road trip against that level of teams is a good result.

  37. The Dude Abides March 20, 2008 at 10:23 pm

    Normally, I’m against the jersey pop. However, this time it was warranted. Loved it. Payback for DFish. Jazz fans showed their usual class by throwing bottles onto the floor, and Kobe got into it with a bunch of fans on the sideline. Gotta believe a few racial epithets were thrown the Lakers’ way tonight, too. This is Utah, after all.

  38. The losses didn’t come against some weak teams either. They were/are #1 seeds at some point (although we are now!). It’s eerie how we can still win despite Kobe shooting poorly (at the FT line too!), with Pau, Bynum and Trevor on the bench. I mean, that’s like 2.5 starters there, not to mention 1.3 all-stars 😉

  39. Gotta love Kobe’s comment after the game:

    “This was personal.”

    It would almost be worth drawing Utah in the postseason just to follow the Fisher storyline… bad blood there…

  40. Are there any fans in the NBA that are lower class than Utah? The fans did piss off Kobe though, which is always a good thing.

    I think how they stand up everytime they got within 11, and then the Lakers would just silence the crowd.

  41. Great win tonight. Defensive intensity was there from the start and I really loved our ball movement, especially in the 1st half.
    I hope we realize we have a lot of solid players on this team and use them more often. For example, set some screens for Vlad and get him some open shots. I love how he’s stepped up the last two games.
    Also, on a minor note, I did not like the Lakers settling again on the perimeter when the Jazz went zone. Post up Kobe or Lamar; don’t swing the ball side to side from the perimeter.

    btw, have fun at the desert, Kurt. I wanted to be one of the volunteers this year, but this is also finals week for me so the schedule didn’t work out for me. Hope you get to see some great matches and hopefully, some lovely young tennis ladies.

  42. Glad to see a solid win over Utah after all the crap about D Fish in the Utah papers. I can’t believe their ignorant fans are dissing him for supposedly coming back to LA under false pretenses; especially after they got Boozer with outright deception! Also glad to see L.O. just about match Boozer in production (21/12/6 vs 23/15/3) We’re looking good against the Jazz should we meet in the playoffs. Good production from the bench tonight as well (25/9/3 vs 9/11/4). 2 out of 4 on a rough road trip without Drew, Pau, Trevor or Mihm is not bad… Not bad at all!

  43. Great win for the Lakers. I agree on the good defense (we also benefited from a few generous non-calls).

    I gotta say I’m envious of the Jazz though. those fans (except the person who threw their drink on the court) were fantastic. Down by double digits, they got up and stood to cheer their team no less than four times in the second half. That is incredible. No matter how many times the Lakers made shots to quiet them down, the Jazz fans made sure they gave their team every advantage they could possible have. Much props to them for being so passionate and hopeful.

  44. I’ll say it before the bandwagon starts making a it a cliche: This Laker team has CHARACTER.

  45. Agree wholeheartedly with 43. Despite what was mentioned a few days ago, I guess these guys are NOT last year’s Lakers without Pau and Andrew.

    PS 40, I definitely think they’re the most classless fans, and they didn’t do anything to help their case by tossing beer cups onto the court. I dunno if anyone else caught Kobe on TNT mouthing something to the Utah fans about things they do with their mothers…

  46. I only caught the second half, but man, what a game! Kobe kept silencing the crowd and dousing cold water on any utah rally. the jersey pop really showed how much kobe took this game “personally”. Standing up for a teammate… a mark of a true leader!

    Kobe for MVP!

  47. on a side note, we all have gotten bynum-updates… but i’d like to also hear some Pau injury updates and we’ve also overlooked the expected return of Trevor Ariza and even chris mihm. any news on the two? I remember that ariza was expected to be out 8 weeks. are we going to see him anytime soon?

  48. Ariza isnt expected to be back till sometime after the playoffs start.

  49. there is an article on hoopsworld saying “Ira Newble” chose to sign with Lakers over Cavs…

    How true is this? Do we need him?

  50. Yeah RVS I just read that too


    The only thing I know about Ira Newble is that he once kicked Mike Dunleavy Jr in the jaw and thus I would be proud to have him part of my favourite team.

  51. 41. – Against a zone defense you must get the ball inside, but don’t use a smaller player on that move. It’s too hard on smaller players to kick the ball out to the other side of the court. However, using Kobe to split the defense, feed the post for an easy layup or to kick out for the weak side for an wide-open shot seems better…

    The best way to kill a zone is actually to get some penetration and keep the perimeter players aggressive…

  52. Wow. I was hoping for a split on that road trip even before Pau went down. He rolls the ankle and we still 2-2 it. I like the CHARACTER comment from Gils_Keloids and it’s something I was afraid of lacking when the injuries started piling up. I was beginning to get weary of the excuses people were making and all the “wait till the playoffs” talk, when injuries happen in the playoffs also. Great teams find ways to win, and the boys took a few games to figure it out…but they sure did. Getting the win in Utah (for the playoff seeding and D-Fish) is beyond huge. Dallas was nice, but this is huge. Now with all the home games and non-playoff teams padding the remaining schedule, we should be on a nice roll going into the tourney. Nice work fellas, and great comments from those above.

  53. The Dude Abides March 21, 2008 at 6:38 am

    This link works better for the Newble news.

  54. Warren Wee Lim March 21, 2008 at 7:25 am

    Is the Newble news official yet?

  55. Wow, through all of this, the Suns have fought back to being only one game back of us in the Pacific.

    Damn, i thought we had the Pacific on lockdown. What a dogfight these last 4 weeks will be. Never seen anything like it.

    That home and home with the Warriors will be huge for us.

  56. The Dude Abides March 21, 2008 at 8:17 am

    Warren, I haven’t seen any official news yet. BTW, just got back from the Phils. I did get to see the occasional NBA game from this season, but they mostly showed NBA Classic games. They did show a lot of Western Kentucky University games, though. I found that hilarious. Maybe a TV station exec in Manila went to school at Western Kentucky?

  57. the other Stephen March 21, 2008 at 8:19 am

    jazz fans are pests. that’s one of the few conclusions i drew from last night’s victory.

  58. what a game. i was hoping the team would rally around fish and voila, kobe says it’s personal from the last game there…

    i wish we would have been better at the line, but the defense, the crisp offense, and the confidence to hit those shots on the road was a great sign. we’ve all been looking for this team to get “dialed in” and execute on both ends, and we saw it last night.

    we couldn’t have asked for a better result on this roadie with the roster that we have right now. great win, and something to build on going into this stretch run.

  59. Aside from recognizing his name, I really know nothing about Ira Newble. Whether the rumor’s true or not, anyone have anything on the guy? What he can do? How he could help us? Also: is he any good?

  60. Radmanovich seems to be creating a knack for killing momentum swings with big threes…

    Farmar was solid last night, too. Loved how he crossed over Korver on the break. Man that guy can’t play D…

    Loved Odom’s other comment,

    “It’s important for us to play our best basketball when Kobe’s not on the floor.”

    Hopefully Odom can keep some of his new found offensive aggressiveness burning when Pau and Bynum return.

  61. If you go back a few posts I got Brian windhorst to comment on Newble

  62. Lamar right now is playing at a All Star level. This is the best he has played as a Laker over a long stretch in the regular season.

  63. 20) Sharky,
    ” If the dude’s name is “Tim Smith” I don’t think we even hear about him.”

    You mean the Redskins RB who had a great SuperBowl? I’ve heard of him!!

  64. Have any of guys noticed that in the last few weeks the refs have been allowing a lot of contact in the lane? I watch a lot of games every week (not just the Lakers) and this is a trend I have noticed across all games recently. A month earlier a lot of the drives into the lane would have resulted in an easy layup or a foul call against the defender. Now defenders are getting away with being a lot more physical. I have no means of substantiating this. Maybe its just a figment of my imagination. What do you guys feel?

  65. I remember the Lakers employing Ira Newble and Ime Udoka through training camp, but I can not remember if it was under Jackson or Rudy T. It would help if Newble had been exposed to the Triangle. I recall both of them performing well through the preseason. To bad it wasn’t Udoka who was released.

  66. Just gotta say here, since not sure where else to, Harold, I went to your website and looked at your pictures and you have some very nice ones of the Middle East.

    And as I and some others were saying before the game against Houston-a good effort, regardless of result-and as gills said in #43, yeah, good teams have character. That was a wonderful win.