Lakers/Jazz Thoughts

Kurt —  May 4, 2008

Some assorted thoughts from Game One, we’ll break down the details in the coming days:

• I enjoyed that game because I enjoy watching two teams that know how to pass. That was smart hoops.

• I also said this series was about defense — Utah shot 40% (eFG%) the Lakers shot 48.6%. Count one for LA. Despite the offensive rebounds by Utah, LA’s defense was the difference.

• I think the Lakers length impacted that shooting percentage for Utah. And that is not going to change.

• Let’s not complain about the refs. I think Darius has said this well in the comments several times — Utah does what it does physically every time down the court, and over the course of a game or a series they move the bar for what gets called. Eventually, the refs call fewer and fewer fouls. Rather than complain about it, the Lakers have to play through it, to play through the contact. Kobe does that better than anyone.

• The fact that Gasol had four free throws in the game I think is a sign he did not like the physicality. He needs to accept it and score through the contact in game two.

• To Utah fans complaining about Phil complaining about the refs: Welcome to playoff basketball. You can influence the refs through the media, every coach knows this and does this.

• The adjustments for game two will be very interesting. What do the Lakers do to improve their defensive rebounding? What adjustments do the Jazz do to improve D-Will’s 5 of 18 night?

• The offensive rebounds matter: Utah grabbed 43.1% of their missed shots, and that is far too many. To counter, the Lakers did a better job of getting to the line.

• I thought Hubie Brown made a great point about Utah (and I paraphrase), “Every time they do something on offense that is a great point, they give up an easy basket on the other end.”

• What did I say about Utah’s transition defense? It’s not that good and the Lakers did a good job of exploiting it, and that needs to continue.

• Those Zohan split-screen commercials are brilliant.

• More Kobe/Gasol pick-and-roll.

• Okur is married to the former Miss Turkey? There is a stuffing joke in that but I’m not going near it.

• Everything worked out great, but a couple years ago the Lakers considered trading for Boozer and I was for it. I’m not ashamed of having been in that camp.

Kurt

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53 responses to Lakers/Jazz Thoughts

  1. - 33-25: Final tally of our defensive boards vs their offensive rebounds. Oucher.

    - If felt like we were losing that whole 2nd half when we were actually up the whole time. Hubie Brown mentioned it – the Jazz started attacking the basket.

    - My guess is the rest of the series plays out more like that 2nd half than the 1st, where we just punished them.

    - Darius with a good point about the refs. Phil with a good point about the refs right before the refs go on to prove his point.

    - Luke and Harping were going at each other off the ball.

    - The Machine was automatic in that 1st half.

    - That Kobe layup under and behind the basket was nice.

    Yeah I was at the game promoting my new movie. Go out and see it! And then go out and buy The Big Doe Rehab!

  2. Big Doe Rehab is a baddddddd album. Ghostface!!!

    Yeah, worrying about the refs with re: to Utah is like being a Utah fan and wondering why Kobe gets some calls. That pestering defense is built into Utah’s hoops DNA under Jerry Sloan. Personally I don’t mind it as a basketball fan. It’s classic Sloan. Kobe will get some calls because he is Kobe and undoubtedly smart Utah fans know that.

  3. Loved what I saw live today (section 320, woo woo), even though the second half was a bit sloppy (as well as Utah being more aggressive). One question though, how did it sound on tv? It didn’t seem THAT loud there in person, definitely much louder and more focused than a regular season game, but not crazy loud. I see it as confident expectation exuded and fulfilled on a sunny Sunday afternoon. 11 more to go.

  4. Hope Kobe doesn’t lose focus in game 2 after he get’s his MVP hardware. I’m thrilled he’s finally getting what he deserves. But in the back of my mind I also relish the thought of a motivated, MVP-slighted Kobe annihilating everyone in his way to get the Lakers these final 11 wins. Anyways, the odds are still good he’ll get the triple crown (ring, MVP x 2) for his mantlepiece…

  5. Bingo T. Klown May 4, 2008 at 7:04 pm

    My complaint with the refs isn’t a team bias one. It is exactly as Phil pointed out; it’s consistency. I don’t mind if they let a game get physical just keep it consistent. That said I have never seen a team so blatantly pull shirts as much as the Jazz.

    Pau needs to toughen up on the inside. Also amazed that Rony can get 4 blocks but only one board; how’s that?

    Also nice to see no technicals called.

  6. laughing hard May 4, 2008 at 7:21 pm

    3 — Does Kobe ever lose his focus? Ever?

  7. If the Lakers play active defense like they did in the first half, the series will be theirs. Utah is a much better team than Denver, and will play better than they did tonight, but even in their series with Houston, they were prone to offensive lulls. Houston just couldn’t capitalize because T-Mac is easier to shut down with the double-team than Kobe is, and other than Skip To My Lou, nobody else on Houston could create or hit shots. As long as the players make the adjustment to crash the boards and play through the physicality (looking at you, Pau), they can come out on top.

  8. laughing hard May 4, 2008 at 7:25 pm

    Sorry about the double post, but something occurred to me while I was watching the game that I forgot to mention earlier: for a lot of offensive possessions in the first and second quarters, Pau tended to drift out away from the basket, getting as far away from the post as the three-point line while Kobe went to work inside…

    That struck me as really odd, but it looked like he felt more comfortable in the low post late in the game.

  9. Sasha and Turiaf played well, we need Jordan and Luke to do the same next game.

    The Kobe/Pau pick and roll will be a go-to weapon all series, especially in the 4th quarter. The Jazz initially did not help and Kobe got into the lane for easy mid-range jumpers. They next tried to trap Kobe and he was able to find Pau wide open. They next tried to help off the other 3 players, allowing Odom an easy hoop. The options the simple play creates for the Lakers are endless, and if Kobe keeps making the right decision, easy baskets will come.

    Fish defintley looked rusty. He will get into his groove, and that will help. We need Fish and Vlad to space that floor, and that means hitting shots

    One way to improve rebounding on the defensive glass is to have the guards committ to crashing. It will truly take all 5 going to the glass.

    After the game, Sloan suggested that his team missed open shots (D.Will said the same). I think the Lakers defensive plan is to let AK47 and Brewer, and D.Will to a lesser extent, take jump shots. We will pack the paint, limit Boozer, contest Okur and help on D.Will. Today AK47 and Brewer couldn’t hit, and Sasha played Korver great. The Lakers are counting on this to continue.

  10. As much as I like Jeff van Gundy in the booth, I was so happy to hear Hubie again!

  11. Jazz fan here. We’re coming from playing the Rockets who have an amazing defense. And I’m sorry, but if that was a great defensive game then this series is going to be a long one for you guys.

    Had DWill and Boozer shot their average we would have won that game. I promise that will not happen again.

    Okur has been out of his mind for the last 2 months and getting 15+ rebounds has been normal.

    I think the Lakers are lucky to have won that game. Even with Kobe going to the line every time he touched the ball, the Jazz were in this game in the fourth quarter, on the road, with a hostile crowd, and going on 36 hours of rest from playing a very physical Houston team. Had we shot our average or even within a couple points of our average there would have been a much different outcome.

  12. A little bit of rust was prevalent in the first quarter with Pau’s early fouls and when the open jump shots of Fisher and Vlad were not falling. Thankfully our MVP put the team on his back and cut up the physical Jazz defense with 15 huge first quarter points. It is great to see Kobe relentlessly driving to the basket and getting to the free throw line at will (with near perfection!). You gotta love how Sloan admitted that they do not “match up” with Kobe (as if any team does).

    I think Sasha really got the team going with the 3 point drive to the basket to open the 2nd quarter and then those two quick three pointers, scoring 9 points in the first 3 and a half minutes, really ceasing his opportunity, and let’s hope he continues to do so…then of course Kobe picked up where he left off as he came into the game and on his first possession got a 3 point play with a lay up, while AK47 tried to guard him and then another lay up two possessions later.

    The alley-oop from Kobe to Gasol was awesome, the bench and fans went nuts. I wish I was at this game; it was just so exciting to watch the passion and execution from every single player (at least in the first half).

    One of the keys to this victory was slowing down Williams. Fisher did an excellent job guarding his friend, staying in front of him and filling up the passing lanes. When Williams did get by Fish, the help defense was on point. After that great block by Turiaf on William’s dunk attempt, he began to settle for contested jumpers that were not falling. Then in the second half when he went back to the hole, Odom reminded him why he was taking jump shots as his lay up attempt was swatted out of bounds. Though Williams did hit big 3 pointer at the end of the 3rd and that horrible no call when Odom was hacked did seem to re-energize the Jazz for a competitive 4th Quarter.

    The big surprise of this game was how dominant Okur was on the offensive boards and his drives that kept getting him to the free throw line. I do not expect him to be a consistent enforcer, but Boozer will probably pick up the slack. This is where we miss Bynum the most. Had he been there to control the defensive boards and block some shots, this game probably would have been a blow out. I hate to bring him up, because I know that we are all resigned to the fact that he will be out for the rest of the playoffs so that he can get back to health for next season. I think the Lakers lack of defensive rebounding was just about the only noteworthy flaw of this game.

    I CAN NOT WAIT UNTIL WEDNESDAY’S GAME…GO LAKERS!!!

  13. Derron,

    Matt Barnes called and said he wants his hair cut back.

    http://i285.photobucket.com/albums/ll75/imflipifthatmatters/81e95ea060118d01833b7a51c80fa6ce-ge.jpg

    http://i59.photobucket.com/albums/g285/spidermanslady05/thumbphp.jpg

    - NJC,

    You want to give the Lakers just a little bit of credit for that win?

  14. NJC, I’m not saying the Lakers deserve all the credit, but they are part of the reason Utah didn’t shoot their average. Utah didn’t get as many easy looks as it normally does as the laker defense pushed them out and contested shots. I still think it will be a competitive series. Lakers did what they were supposed to do and won at home. But don’t be silly and say the lakers were “lucky” to win that game. That’s just sour grapes.

  15. NJC- good points. The Jazz can defintley play better, but so can the Lakers. From their perspective, they got outrebounded by 20+ and won by double digits, so there is room for improvement on both sides. I don’t think the Laker defensive strategy changes. The Jazz figured some things out in the 2nd half, but the the Lakers stuck to their principles down the stretch.

  16. Nice wishful thinking from the Jazz peeps!

    If you think we played our best and that was that, well it’s gonna be a long (or short) series for yourself.

    Yea great defense, Utah scored 7 below their average right?

    Just thought I’d point that out. :) Thanks for dropping by though. We always appreciate alternative viewpoints (in loving memory of John R.)

  17. You’re right that the Jazz aren’t facing the Rockets anymore: they actually have to face a real offense now. That’s now four straight games between the two teams that the Jazz really haven’t had any answer for the Lakers. Yeah, the Jazz might make more shots next game, but…are they going to be able to stop the Lakers?

  18. NJC- honestly, as much as it is luck in the Lakers part that they still won the game, it must be really disturbing if you lose by double digits despite outrebounding the other team by 17 or so.

    More, how can you get 46% of your own misses and still end up with a game FG% of less than 40%?

    In a way, this game could be ‘as close as it’s ever gonna get.’ Deny second point chances, and we will get to see Coby Karl.

  19. 9. And stuck to the principles they did…they kept going for those easy baskets, as Phil wanted them to. The game is so much easier with Kobe Bryant on the floor..not to mention four other guys who can pass the ball. It’s with talent like this that the potential of the triangle system is really uncovered.

  20. I’m just saying don’t get too confident fellas. This was actually a pretty close game. Both teams have room left for improvement and I’m excited to watch it happen. Go Jazz!

  21. NJC,

    It wasn’t as close as you would like to think either. there was;t a point in the game where the Lakers loked as if tey might lose the lead, never mind the game. “Had we shot our average….” ??? Blah ,blah, blah. Had not the Lakers given up 33 offensive rebounds, then it would’ve been a blow out. Had this….had that….shoulda coulda woulda. The Jazz were only briefly in this game, and instead of all your “had we,” you need to realize it was the Lakers D that made your Jazz NOT shoout their average. Oh yeah, and have you found anybody to cover Kobe or Lamar yet?

  22. I think fans on both sides need to guard against homerish, post-game tunnel vision — we tend to interpret game results only in positive ways for our teams (i.e. if only X had happened, we would have won/won more handily). Remember, X didn’t happen for a reason, and the fact it didn’t probably means it’s more likely it won’t most games than it will.

    *Kobe got to the rim at will and attempted 24 free throws. Lakers fans: par for the course. Jazz fans: we would have won if Kobe hadn’t been favored by the refs. Truth: the Jazz have weak perimeter defenders, foul a lot, and have no shot blockers inside. Kobe is going to spend a lot of time at the line and score fairly easily, even for him — this has been the case all season against Utah.

    *The Jazz shot 38% and were far less efficient on offense than usual. Lakers fans: proof that the LA defense is top notch. Jazz fans: we would have won if we had shot like usual. Truth: somewhere in between; while the Jazz missed a lot of shots, LA’s length and rotations clearly had something to do with this. Aside from a few possessions, LA stayed with back cutters, prevented easy looks off of the pick and roll, stopped Deron from getting to the rim, and defended the 3 point line well — most of Utah’s possessions ended in long 2 point shots at the end of the shot clock (followed by an offensive rebound or three…). Fisher has been locked in defensively for the last few weeks and once Odom took Boozer, the Jazz didn’t have an easy advantage at any position (Boozer ate Gasol up in the first quarter though). Utah will score more than they did today, but will be more frustrated most games than they’d expect.

    *Utah destroyed LA on the boards. Lakers fans: we’d have won by 25 if not for all the offensive rebounds. Jazz fans: we are a much tougher team. Truth: the Jazz are a much better rebounding team, with Bynum missing. They are stronger at every position besides SG, crash hard every possession, and will probably win the rebounding battle every game. LA’s job is to keep it close and eliminate easy put backs when they do get second chances.

    *Gasol struggled to score on the block. Lakers fans: Pau had an off game (despite the numbers) and will eat Okur up. Jazz fans: Okur can handle Gasol fine — Kobe is the lingering problem. Truth: Okur is underrated defensively. He’s big, long, and doesn’t let Gasol get to the rim on isolation sets. Gasol has not been scoring well on the block for weeks and has been getting 90% of his offense off of great passes when the defense breaks down or in transition (which I have no problem with — I’d rather have the ball moving and Gasol getting 20 on 12 chip shots than have him attack hard on the block and get 30 on 22 isolation shots; there are enough weapons that this is true).

    *LA dominated in transition. Lakers fans: LA is faster, deeper and more explosive. Jazz fans: we were tired from the Houston series and you won’t get this advantage again. Truth: Utah was a bit sluggish, but LA is more athletic at every position but point guard and should have a significant fast break point edge every game.

    I think Utah is capable of winning any game in this series, and the series itself. Deron is going to play better and go off a few times (he’ll realize that there isn’t a lot waiting for him at the rim when he gets by Fisher and start to lower his head and bull through more often). Boozer can put Gasol in foul trouble and thereby disrupt LA’s freak offensive efficiency. And Utah’s rebounding edge is going to be worth a lot of extra points in a series where the margins are narrow. But, LA should ultimately come through. Kobe is just an awful matchup for the Jazz given their lack of wing defenders or help shotblockers. LA’s defense is also enough better than Utah’s that they should have an easier time scoring points over the long haul.

  23. Oh, by the way. An average Houston team. Led by T-Mac. 2 days ago. You really tried the 36 hours ago excuse? As if it were Mississipi State having to play 2 games in one day. It’s the playoffs and all of a sudden people think every other day is some back to backer on the road. Okay?

  24. “A lot of it was just their defense,” said Deron Williams, who shot 5-for-18. “They pushed us outside farther than we wanted to go with our offense.”

    Even DWills thinks it’s the defense…

  25. Williams said, “Good job,” to the refs after the game. This is a minor point, but when the Jazz bench erupted after the Turiaf block/Harpring pulldown they weren’t upset at the lack of a foul, but that it was goaltending (shot hit the glass first).

  26. Excellent comments by Reed!

    Not trying to look past the Jazz, but who would you rather play next SA or NO?

    Lane of Lakers Tickets

  27. Lane,

    At this point, it shouldn’t matter. If any team is to be the Champs, the we should take on whoever, whenever, wherever. i’s rather see the Spurs. I’d rather beat the Champs, while on the way to the Championship. By the way, how much would Finals tickets go for (providing they make it) ?

  28. Gils_Keloids May 4, 2008 at 9:48 pm

    I really hate it when the Lakers get a big, early lead in games.

    You would think a big lead would be great (obviously, I would take a big lead over no lead), but it just tends to make the Lakers lose their focus, and try things (on offense AND defense) that they would not do in a more closely contested game.

  29. Good post, Reed. More fans should realize that the “truth” is somewhere in between and give credit where credit is due.

  30. 8-Gasol deliberately backs up, sometimes to the free point line, to give Kobe room and take Okur away from the hoop. Pau has played that way all year. It’s called being smart.

  31. Great points Reed.

    I’ll be here all series, by the way and no, I don’t mean to be a homer.

    I have no problem giving the Lakers credit. They played better than the Jazz did today. No, we don’t have any answer for Kobe. He’s going to eat us alive. I’m assuming a key for the Jazz as a team is to limit the damage inflicted by Kobe and attempt to contest every shot of his. But along the way he’s going to get four pairs of fresh legs coming at him, bumping him, and attempting to wear him out. Through all that, I’m sure he’ll average 30-32 in this series. He is the best player in the league, right?

    Also, LA did have some nice defensive plays that killed our momentum. All season when we needed a bucket DWill took it to the rim and came up with it. He got denied twice today and I thought that was key.

    I think that with all that said, the team that has the best play from their bench and their role players will win this series. Today it was LA. Congrats.

  32. I just got back from ‘I’m Iron Man no cheap cash metal I’m steel alloy/ True identity hidden inside secret tabloids.’ Great movie. It has its flaws but pretty good for a Marvel movie.

    To reiterate several things others have mentioned, we did a real stand up job “packing the paint”. Particularly commendable was the help defense played on Deron. Whenever he would drive baseline, or to the basket from the perimeter, defenders deflected him a good amount of the times and swarmed the interior passing lanes. This tactic really became clear when he drove baseline; we forced him to tip-toe the line, and then he would curl toward the basket, finding nothing but gold inside and trailed perimeter shooters outside.

    Here’s the shot chart
    http://scores.espn.go.com/nba/shotchart?gameId=280504013

    Clearly this chart demonstrates our interior play and Utah’s reluctance. I wish I had the points in the paint statistic, it would probably support this point. Anyways, cheers to us fans. Lets bring more energy and attention to the next game.

  33. Those who think they can project into the playoffs from this game better look back to the regular season first. The Lakers won in Salt Lake when both Lakers and Jazz fans expected something close to a blowout; the Lakers were blown out when many expected them to win. My best prediction goes quarter by quarter to project a winner.

    In trying to look at this game from a Jazz visitor point of view, I focused on the second quarter in my pregame predictions. That’s when I expected the Jazz to make their move. When the Lakers came away with a 13 point half time lead, Jazz chances appeared slim to me. If we look to that second quarter, an important piece of the damage was done by The Machine–with Kobe on the bench. That had to be a real morale extinguisher for the Jazz.

    Even though the Jazz fought back gallantly from a near blowout to almost being in contention, after runnihng out of gas at the end, they only made up two points of the half time deficit.

    The Jazz were not able to wrest the home court advantage from the Lakers in Game 1. The visiting Jazz will be determined to at least split with the Lakers on Wednesday. My best predictor will still be what happens in quarter 2–but the dynamics are clearly different.

  34. Renato Afonso May 5, 2008 at 2:17 am

    One thing that happened a lot (even to Sasha) and that it’s not a good thing…

    The Jazz offense is based on baseline cuts and picks. However, on one set play, after the first baseline cut, with a pick from the post player on the side of the ball, the cutter gets another pick from the post on the other side. That second pick is made facing the baseline, allowing the cutter to make a small curl and appearing with the defender on his back just below the rim (think of Walton fouling Harpring and Sasha fouling Korver, as well as the Turiaf on Harpring block).

    On that set play, our post defender on the second pick, must be more than an arm’s length away (and he should be, so that he can be in a perfect help position) and allow the other defender (Luke, Sasha, Radman, Kobe) to go under that screen, cutting the passing lane and forcing the ball carrier to decide 1-on-1 (we want those Jazz players playing 1-on1, don’t we?).

    I don’t know if this is clear or if anyone else is seeing that particular set play… It was good for a few fouls on us and some layups. Going through those cuts effectively will:

    1- Minimize the damage done by the Jazz by taking away their second best offensive play (#1 being that Deron/Boozer pick’n roll, obviously)
    2 – Diminish the physicality of the Jazz on that play (going under the screen doesn’t get you bumped by Okur or Boozer)
    3 – Allow us to easily contest those layups if the cutter catches the ball
    4 – Make us less prone to foul

    Maybe I read the game wrong, but I really hope our coaches picked up on it!

    Note: Bynum would balance us on the boards. I would actually have Bynum starting and Gasol coming off the bench with Sasha and Luke. But no point on wishing for something that’s not going to happen right away…

  35. Warren Wee Lim May 5, 2008 at 2:21 am

    drray, you always have your ways… but didn’t I say we win when I make the very first post? So make me a factor :)

    I did not see the game, but I will surely see game 2.

    Game 1 was a sample of rest vs momentum and a clear indicator of where the teams’ state of mind are at the moment. Game 2 will forget everything about the regular season and focus the adjustments FROM game 1.

    Knight takes bishop. Your move.

    The Jazz are not the least bit worried because the Lakers were expected to win game 1. The 1st 2 games are the play-off samples for the visiting team sort of how to craft the in-game gameplan. I bet Sloan will further make the observations in game 2 and pour it all out in game 3. This is the real pressure cooker for the visiting team. This game dictates whether they deserve a six-game series or four.

    From the perspective of momentum, in relation to adjustments, game 2 is still an experimental game for the Jazz. The Lakers will still be expected to come up winners but this is the crucial part where Phil’s conditioning should come in. It will be easy to win game 2, knowing we are at home and we have a nice pattern in game 1, while still having lots of room to improve. We did not play our most-efficient game yet we won.

    Game 3 is where I stake all the marbles. If Utah comes out blazing and the Lakers respond by saying – Nah we got the homecourt, the Lakers will be treading in the most dangerous territory of overconfidence to a point of stupidity. This is what happened to Boston and I blame that on Doc Rivers’ coahing grit. I’m sure Phil will not allow this to happen. We need to compete in game 3 and that is where the Lakers decide if they want to make this a 4-5 game series or 6-7.

    Knowing how young and inexperienced many of our players are, it is imperative that Phil demands pressure from his team from the get-go of game 3. If the Jazz should end up winning that one, it will not be without a gallant stand and “beat-me” attitude and we have to make sure game 4 is ours.

    Lastly, Sloan has been doing nothing but coaching and going to the playoffs the last 19 years. He has no business doing anything else this time of year and its safe to assume he won’t fold over and be scared of the bluff. You know, somehow, he will call a bluff of his own to make us think twice. This is why we need to win game 3.

  36. Bill Bridges May 5, 2008 at 3:34 am

    A fascinating first game. Another great game from Fish. Much like against Denver, he played his man well AND was disruptive on help defense. It helps that Sloan has been running the same sets for a decade. It was obvious that Fish knew what was coming and anticipated the plays.

    Much has been said of the Laker’s failures on the defensive boards. I commented that the layoff hurt them in this area. But a key factor in the 4th was Phil’s decision to stay with Sasha on Korver instead of going to his usual crunch time line-up of Gasol, Odom, Walton, Kobe, and Fish. Walton blocks out well and is a significant contributor to crunch time rebounds. Phil’s comments make it clear that he’ll stick with the Vujacic/Korver matchup. Therefore, it is on Kobe to step up.

    Two things I’d like to see (other than better boards)

    1. The Jazz pound the glass so hard they open themselves up to be beaten in transition. Timely run outs can result in even more fast break points.

    2. The Lakers ran one set out of the time out. A pick n roll w Pau and Kobe that set up a pass from Pau to a diving Odom for an and one. This was run once. More please.

  37. Warren Wee Lim May 5, 2008 at 3:35 am

    Kurt, I was commenting from an internet cafe and now upon checking into my laptop, the comment is gone.

  38. yeah, comments have a habit of disappearing then reappearing again. caught off guard by comments popping up where there weren’t any.

    lakers should do fine as long as they can keep focus. i hope they stay sharp until game 3. game 4 they can afford to let slip (although we do have memories of losing after having a 3-1 lead), but game 2 is really important…

    kinda wondering if we will let Okur have his way with the boards again. Boozer, i’m kinda okay with, but okur…

  39. 33-I would expect the Jazz to play like they did in the 2nd half. Their play in the 1st half was sluggish and wasn’t indicative of their normal play. They won’t turn the ball over as much as they did in the 1st half ever again (something like 11 turnovers)

  40. Utah will come out and play very physically in the next game from the very beginning. The Lakers will have to get used to it and they will need to try to hold their ground underneath the basket to get defensive rebounds. All 5 guys will have to crash the boards. Boozer loves to push people out of the way underneath the basket to get offensive rebounds (and hes really good at doing so the refs don’t see). The Lakers can’t let him do that. Maybe put Mbeng in and let him karate chop Boozer, just kidding, but they can let Mbenga or Turiaf push him around give him a taste of his own medicine. If the Lakers give up 20+ offensive rebounds a game it will be a long series for them (or a short one). If they can limit it to 8-10 then the Lakers should win. Utah has not answer defensively for the Lakers, especially if they can get the defensive rebound then get into transition (but you have to get the rebound first). I didn’t realize just how bad a rebounding team the Lakers were without Bynum. I knew they were not good, but I didn’t realize they were that bad.

    I didn’t think the refereeing was biased, but they were pretty inconsistent. They wouldn’t call any fouls and let the play be really rough for long stretches, then they would call a foul every time someone said boo. I have no problem with the physical play, but they need to be consistent. I think this was one of the reasons the Lakers had a hard time adjusting to the physical play.

  41. I would expect both teams to improve for the 2nd game. Jazz were a little off shooting and the Lakers were not used to the physical play. Ok, the other team had a little to do with both, but now we have a baseline from which to make adjustments.

    The Lakers should really be much more ready to handle the physicality of the Jazz. The Jazz now have no excuse, except the Laker defense, for missing all those midrange shots.

    I think the key to the series is something D. Will mentioned. The Lakers pushed the Jazz farther out than they wanted to be (16-18ft shots instead of 8-10ft shots). If the Lakers can continue this they will win the series. One thing this does, however, is allow the Jazz inside position for rebounding more often. This is a catch 22 and we should remember this if we are successful with our defense, but continue to lose the rebounding battle.

  42. (36) Kwame a,

    I’m glad your crystal ball is clear. Mine is very cloudy.

    I’m not going to suppose how the Jazz (or Lakers) might or might not play in general. I’m saying that based on tendencies of the Lakers, the best opportunity for the Jazz is the second quarter. The results of that quarter will determine the strategy for the second half–though it may not determine the outcome.

  43. 43- It’s not about crystal balls, I am not Cleo the psychic, but the Jazz have played over 80 basketball games this year, and certain trends and habits can be extrapolated from that. One trend is that the Jazz score 106pts a game. They will shoot better. Common sense dictates as much. They will not play as bad as they did in the 2nd quarter of Game 1, that was their worst quarter of the game, why would you expect them to play like that or base your opinion of their play on one quarter?

  44. About Gasol getting into foul trouble because of Boozer, I couldn’t help to noticed that the last six times Gasol has faced the Jazz it was Boozer the one getting into foul trouble (foules out even a couple times) instead of Pau.

    By the way thanks to everyone, you can’t imagine how entertaining is to visit this forum just for the pleasure of reading your post.

  45. Fascinating stuff, everyone. Reed’s take on laker/jazz fans of game interpretation was simply awesome. I’m glad NJC is here and hope he will be here for the rest of the series, unlike AI who came in for one game and then just disappeared when dENVER self destructed. One thing for sure is that UTAH will not self destruct as dENVER did. They are a stronger, more disciplined, and better coached team than dENVER. They will play better, and the games will be close throughout the series, but I don’t think they can beat us 4 of out next 6. We should be able to close this out in 5 or 6. This doesn’t come out of disrespect for UTAH. We all know how much we feared UTAH before the series began, noting how deadly DWill/Boozer combo is and how physical their style of play is, neither of which we didn’t think we had answers for. The truth is that NBA is all about a transcendent superstar imposing his undeniable will on the game at pivotal moments (Bird, Magic, Jordan). It was not luck that Jordan that he hit that famous jumper over falling (or pushed) Bryon Russel or Magic hitting the hook shot over GM of Minn and the Chief. The best player in this series is Kobe, and he will not let his team lose, not especially when he has teammates that he can trust. Dwill/Boozer are not there, yet. TD was there and CP3 maybe there already. Kobe can have his offnight or UTAH will play too well in one or two games. However, the Lakers are the better team, and the better team will win almost 90% of the time in the NBA. We may not be 4-0 better as we were vs dENVER, but we’re definitely 4-1 or 4-2 better than UTAH. Still, every game will be close as game #1 was during the 2nd half. I think both teams can play better and will be more competitive. However, unless UTAH can summon up a defensive stopper like Bowen or Battier, this series will be a tough one for them. The Lakers just need to execute to win. UTAH needs to get career best effort from DWill AND Boozer to steal a game or two. Alternative scenario is the Lakers somehow get overconfident and lose their focus, but I don’t see Phil-Kobe led team to do that on back-to-back games or more than 2 times during this series. It’s nice to have the league’s best team after 3 years of underdog/lesser seed vs. PHO. It’s our time to crush other team’s playoff dreams. It’s our year!

  46. 37. Sometimes comments appear briefly before the system recognizes something and holds the comment for moderation. I approve them as soon as I can, but I also like to sleep, so it can take a while sometimes.

  47. isnt it nice the Phoenix is on vacation?

  48. I think AK47 is the X factor in this series.

    Andrei was a non-factor in the three Laker regular season wins. He averaged 13 points and averaged single digits in both rebounds and assists.

    But in Utah’s 106-95 victory, AK47 had a triple-double with 20 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists. He’s a unique player. He is only the second player in NBA history (Hakeem Olajuwon) with multipe 5X5 games and is a quadruble double threat every time he steps on the floor.

    The Jazz are a completely different team when he gets it going offensively. His offensive success tends to carry over to the defensive side of the ball where he is a three-time All-Defensive team selection.

    If the Lakers can continue to make him an after thought on offense, they will win the series rather easily.

  49. After reading through all the comments, it’s easy to see why this forum is the best…Great stuff from Kwame, drrayeye, Warren, Bill Bridges, Reed, and, everyone really. I mentioned it before too, but I do appreciate the Jazz fans with their takes, especially when it comes to insights that they have from watching their team so many times and the nuances that we may not recognize because that’s not *our* team.

    Game 1 was about what I expected. A rested Lakers team is effecient on offense, tough on defense (in spurts), and really, really bothered by the Jazz physicality on the boards. The thing I liked the most was Kobe’s ability to play a tremendous game and really set the tone for the team. He was smart, poised, and focused. His leadership in that regard is something that rarely gets mentioned, but he sets the tone for this team. One example is when Walton first checked in. As Kurt mentioned in the pre-game chat, Luke was under the weather and was expected to receive less minutes. But when he checked in, Kobe was at the line, and made his first FT and did his little *check in* with the guys. Luke was the only guy that didn’t come over to slap hands. Kobe gave Luke a look, and said something of encouragement along the lines of “let’s go. I know you’re not 100%, but I’m with you”…Luke gave Kobe a little affirmative nod and that was that. Did that impact the game? Probably not in a tangible way, but those are the little things that teams are built on.

    As for this series, it’s too early to know how anything will play out without another game or two under our belts. Will we be able to frustrate Utah’s scorers? Will Utah continue to punish us on the boards? Will we continue to be able to get out and get early offense? Will Utah try to run right back at us more? There are still too many adjustments to be made to be able to say anything definitive on where this series is going. I just know I’m happy that we got game 1…

  50. Okur was a lot more effective in the post than I thought he was going to be. And Pau actually struggled somewhat with his back to the basket. Both of those things worry me a little bit, especially if Mehmet get his three-ball on target in game 2 or 3.

  51. new post up — now with links!

  52. Jazz fan here… First off, great comments. Very insightful fans on this blog. Pretty refreshing coming from the Houston crowd.

    Anyway, onto the game… ugh. That was 70% painful and 30% encouraging to watch.

    Painful: 1) We dug our own grave early in the game and then spent the rest of it trying to claw our way out. The Jazz have all sorts of talent and ability, but for some reason get nervous and start heaving when we play LA. It doesn’t help that the Lakers (Kobe) are one of the best teams at letting you beat yourself. Keeping an oposing team teetering on the verge of coming back for 2 quarters is mind numbingly frustrating, and Kobe is damn good at it. As posted earlier, the Jazz would do a great (usually difficult) thing and then turn around and watch the Lakers toss up a layup… which is just plain demoralizing. 2) Hats off to Kobe. Speaking as one who sat (live) and watched Michael torch us in the 90′s, Kobe looked legit & (if I’m being straight up), it terrifies me. I know the Jazz can take this series, but here on out, these are going to be CLOSE games that could be decided by a single shot, and unlike Michael, Kobe can make that shot without shoving off a defender. I don’t particularly care for Kobe, but you’ve gotta respect that level of play.

    Encouraging: 1) We lost the game in the second quarter. Hopefully we got our “now we’re playing a legit contender” jitters out and come to play the entire four on Wed. I’m anticipating that we will. 2) Gasol’s a little softer than I think many of the Jazz fans thought. Still a great center and will get some decent cleanup and feeds, but I see Carlos and Memo abusing his defense in the coming games. 3) Williams, Korver, and Harpring’s shots usually fall better. Finger’s crossed that those misses were as much of an “us” problem as it looked on TV. 4) How about AK-47′s blocks? Good to see him & those pterodactyl arms at work.

    It will be a good series… looking forward to checking back here and seeing what the Blue & Gold fans think in the coming weeks. Good luck to your Lakers. You gave us a good wake up call on Sunday.

  53. Jazz fan here…

    Two things I noticed most about this game:

    1. Lakers were severely outrebounded, leading to a lot of second chance points. I expect the Lakers will look to make some sort of an adjustment on this.

    2. Jazz didn’t take care of the ball too well, particularly in the 2nd quarter. Yes, the Laker D gets some credit for this, but the Jazz made a lot of lazy passes and careless mistakes as well, as if they felt they could relax because they were playing a defense that doesn’t have as many active hands as the Houston D. Lakers exploited it and got the transition game going.

    Game 1 is always more of a “getting to know you” type scenario, with the teams getting a feel for each other. Should be a tough series and will get a lot more heated as it goes on.