Preview & Chat: The Utah Jazz

Kurt —  February 11, 2009


Records: Lakers 42-9 (1st in the West) Jazz 29-23 (tied for 8th in West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 114.5 (1st in league) Jazz 110.1 (7th in league)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 105.5 (7th in league) Jazz 107.4 (14th in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Luke Walton, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol
Jazz Deron Williams, CJ Miles, Ronnie Brewer, Paul Millsap, Mehmet Okur

Lakers Coming In: Last night was what I would call a “professional win.” It may not be inspired but it’s the kind of win good teams should get. They did not blow the Thunder out so Kobe did not get sit on the bench in the fourth quarter and complain about the music at Staples. But, the Thunder are a pretty good team and to their credit never folded, they kept coming. Secondly, that was the kind of game where a younger Lakers team, a lesser team lets down and ends up with a game decided at the buzzer. The Lakers got a professional win, so I’ll take that.

Of course, after an uninspired game I don’t have a lot to write.

The Jazz Coming In: This is what injuries will do to a team. Before the season, we all thought the Jazz were going to be in the top four teams in the West — but take away Carlos Boozer and AK-47 for long chunks (neither is playing tonight) and you get a much lesser team.

What’s kind of amazing is that the Jazz are an average defensive team this season, and by all accounts have been worse than that lately. Lethargy was the name of the game in a loss to the Warriors on Sunday, at least according to someone who watched the contest. And Jerry Sloan. That said, the Lakers can’t count on that — the Lakers will not get a lethargic opponent against them the rest of the season. The target is on their back.

The other thing that hurts the Jazz defense is that they foul a lot — only four teams send people to the line more often than the Jazz. That was their style in the playoffs, to take teams out of their rhythm by being physical. But the calls have caught up with them in the regular season. Also, surprisingly, they are no a good rebounding team — 25th in the league in defensive rebounding. That is too many easy putbacks for the opposition.

When Boozer first went down Paul Millsap stepped up for small college players everywhere and played like an All Star. But, battling through two sore knees, he is not the same player now — but he is still giving the Jazz 13 and 9 every night in the last 10, shooting 52.5%. He can board.

The one guy who hasn’t let up is Deron Williams. He is averaging 27 points and 10 assists per game, shooting 59% (eFG%) from the floor and getting to the line seven times a game for the Jazz. He remains one of the best PG’s in the game and the Lakers need to be ready and smart about their help on him tonight.

Keys To The Game: Traditionally at this blog we talk Xs and Os as the primary keys to a game. But just as traditionally, the last game before the All Star break has players mailing it in. Coaches mailing it in. Fans mailing it in. Just a lot of mail. One of these teams tonight will show up focused, and the one that does will get the win. That simple.

The Jazz on defense use a “pack-the-paint” strategy, so for once when the Lakers get the ball inside early (via pass to Gasol or penetration from Kobe) kick-outs to open shooters is welcome. In their last 10 games, opponents have shot 38.7% against the Jazz from three. This is a game where Fisher and Sasha among others can have a big night by burying the open looks.

On offense, the Jazz run the pick and roll virtually every time down. Okur creates a bit of a problem in that he can pop so his defender needs to step out. That leaves Millsap’s man to be the help in the paint when D-Will comes charging in, and the Lakers need to be smart about that. One trick may be to go under the pick, force Williams to shoot from the outside, particularly from three (he’s shooting 32.6% from there in his last 10).

The Lakers also need to board — back on Jan. 2 Millsap had 8 offensive rebounds because his man left to help and then nobody boxed him out. Do that on the road and the Jazz get some easy buckets and gain a lot of confidence.

Where you can watch: 6 p.m. start in Utah, on KCAL. Good news as it means this game should be over in plenty of time to watch Top Chef. It’s time for Leah to go home.


Kurt

Posts

248 responses to Preview & Chat: The Utah Jazz

  1. LO is being active – Pau on the other hand has looked a little tired this game. Not that he’s been terribly inefficient, but it feels like the minutes are taking their toll on him…

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  2. 198

    Why didn’t you try for a quick 2 instead of a contested 3?

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  3. This has been one of those “Live by Kobe, Die by Kobe” games…

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  4. Crazy end.

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  5. good game though.

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  6. why fish? why? you have kobe on your team…

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  7. Oh well, good win Utah.

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  8. So…have Lakers ever won 8th straight this year?

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  9. I wish the Lakers would have buckled down earlier, stopped their whining and played their game.

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  10. But Kobe knows how to draw the 3 point shot by driving and dishing like he used to do with Horry. This game nobody did that. It was just “We’re down 3. We must shoot a 3.” No strategy. No real thought. They’re better than that. Especially Kobe. Whatever about the loss, but this was an ugly, uninspired game.

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  11. Unless I’m wrong, I thought Lakers had at least one more timeout?

    SIGH

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  12. There goes that 2 game lead on the Cavs & Celts for home court

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  13. If someone told me in september we were going into allstar break with the best record in the nba…I would be elated.

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  14. It is alright when Kobe gets 30 (or 60) from time to time, but this team needs more balance as a rule. They are good enough and deep enough.

    I think they looked tired. Except for LO. Hopefully the break will do some good.

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  15. Maybe Kobe should put away the dance after the three, that makes two losses in games after the jiggle my balls dance.

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  16. Even with the loss I am glad for Lamar’s game. He’s still bringing it. Another DD with 19/19. If he keeps this up and our guys get a little rest I think we will be good till the playoffs.

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  17. sam cassell coined the dance…youtube it

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  18. It was all about Williams, the Lakers couldnt stop him whatsoever. He ate the lakers defense up and spit them out. Terrible defensive effort by the Lakers tonight, no energy, no passion…a well deserved loss.

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  19. wow. vlad rad put up 21 pts tonight.

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  20. This game wasn’t lost at the end. The Lakers were sleepwalking all the way through. The game was so rough that the Lakeshow had to have their wits together, but when they aren’t just reaching out and grabbing rebounds and they miss the freethrows they get, they can’t beat teams that are fairly good and play together at home.

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  21. Kobe obviously read the piece about passing Kareem in career scoring.

    Anyway, now it seems that we’ll have a hard time winning 60 this season 😉

    On a more serious note, I think PJ should limit Kobe’s PT if only to get other players used to playing with their pecking order changed. I think Lamar needs extended runs with Pau sans KB…

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  22. Kobe,

    Live by the 3, die by the 3. We could have went for two. You don’t have to shoot daggers every time down. Just a thought. Especially the way Utah was missing FT’s. We should’ve stole that game.

    Who wants to bet Henry Abbott makes Kobe a point of emphasis tomorrow. You pick:

    The Big Marbles Dance or the 3’s (especially the attempt to tie that we didn’t need)? Or both?

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  23. No excuses, but this was a tough second night of a back to back – physical game and the Lakers expended a ton of emotional energy on the six game swing. I was surpised they won last night. They are a really good team and if AB is back. They are a great team.

    Haven’t checked the box score – but if Vlad scored 21 – good for him. I hope he does well.

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  24. dgdgaa,

    Find another SF who knows the triangle better than Walton and we can go for him. Vlad was making more than Walton, was making more than him, and makes more head-scratching decisions than Walton.

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  25. The last two games havent been good. Hopefully the Lakers are not “satisfied”, just because they accomplished the almost impossible task by beating Boston and Cleveland on the road without Bynum. Hopefully they dont have the mind set that they have nothing more to prove to themsevles. They have to continue to play hungry and hard every night if they are gonna get that homecourt advantage.

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  26. I am genuinely jealous of the Utah arena. That place is ROCKING. The Lakers deserve that kind of support, not what they get at Staples Center.

    And the refs tonight were clearly intimidated by that crowd. We should have won this game.

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  27. A loss that doesn’t bother me one bit.. Before, i was one of the fans who overreact whenever we lose, but I now have accepted the fact that ALL teams go through “let down periods”.. We’re lucky that those times doesn’t last with this team and it can quickly get back on winning track..

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  28. 228, every loss bothers me, but i’m not naive to believe we’ll win every game. I’d just like to win the wons where we’re in a position to win them. It was a lathargic game from the get go. By the way 0-2 when Kobe does that whole gorilla balls thing.

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  29. This game was when the road trip finally caught up to us and we still had a chance to win. The biggest problem wasn’t just Kobe’s shooting – rather the ball seemed to get stuck. Not enough passing and ball movement, just a lot of isolation plays and two man action. Someone needs to remind Kobe that only Sam Cassell can get away with the Testicle Dance – if you’re going to do it, do it after you’ve hit a 3 to put your team up 6 with 30 seconds left, not just to momentarily tie or get the lead (as he did tonight and in the road loss to SA). Still…a gritty effort and a loss for the non All Stars on the team to think about. I wish Kobe didn’t have to play so he could rest some over the break. 42-10 (best record) and 18-6 on the road (also best). 30 more games to go, with 17 on the road. Let’s get it done Lake Show!

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  30. We don’t have to be perfect to win the championship. We just have to score more, that’s it.

    Also, when taking or talking wins and losses, you can pick one of two approaches: Take it one game at a time, or look at it from a season’s perspective.

    Problem is, optimists and pessimists alike take one game and talk as if it’s a microcosm of the season, when in reality it may or may not be. While it’s true that some disturbing tendency can be shown more prominently in one game, but if you wish to pound on that, you need to talk about our current record: best in the league, and realize that thus far, whatever problems we might have is fairly minor.

    Nobody can really foretell what the team is going to look like when it faces a must-win situation, but thus far we’ve done quite well in games that are as must-wins as regular season games can get, which were games against both Boston and Cleveland.

    So while I really wish the team played 24/7, or 48/82, I am perfectly happy to have them let one slip every 7 games. That would translate to: 4-0, 4-1, 4-0, 4-1 sort of a postseason 😉

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  31. I don’t think this was the worst loss in the world. I understand where it came from- last game before the break, on the heels of such succes- its just annoying.

    There was just a lot of weak coneptions of possessions. Thinking “if I nail this 3 it’s a dagger!” Instead of thinking “To get a score we should proceed by a-b-c.” Kobe, in particular did that all game.

    But whatever. This kind of loss, like the bobcats, reminds them they aren’t invulnerable and they can’t succeed with weak conceptions.

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  32. we haven’t won 8 straight games this season, but i liked the hustle from odom tonight. its good to see that its becoming something he expects from himself every night and its good we can count on him for that. if we had won it would definately be because of him.

    we still have the best record in the league, didn’t like the loss but its something i can deal with. coming off a back to back etc. and its a good rest for everyone now

    some of the calls were questionable but either way we didn’t deserve to win this game, utah wanted it more and they were so hot on offense all night they just out played us.

    i also liked farmars energy, wish he’d start telling ariza too to stop settling for jumpers and start mixing it up a little bit. driving to the hoop, getting into the paint, etc not dismissing all that arizas done for us just itd be good if he wouldnt JUST settle for jumpers.

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  33. Guys, Ariza is recovering from a concussion. Be a bit understanding when he is reluctant to drive into the paint.

    All the more reason I appreciate Kobe’s mid-long range game more over sheer athleticism based games, although it’s always nice to have one and know when to use which approach.

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  34. Elgin Baylor sues the Clippers

    ” The lawsuit maintains that Baylor was “discriminated against and unceremoniously released from his position with the team on account of his age and his race” and that he was “grossly underpaid during his tenure with the Clippers, never earning more than $350,000 per year, when compared with the compensation scheme for general managers employed by every other team in the NBA.” ”

    I liked Lamar smiling throughout the game. He is obviously doing much better with the increased minutes.

    PS Hard to beat a team nailing contested jump shots and shooting almost 60% for the game.

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  35. Please don’t blame this loss on Kobe or his “big balls dance.” His celebratory antics weren’t what lost us the game. Playing uninspired defense throughout and leaving Okur wide open for three, which is the only thing he does btw, is what lost us this game.

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  36. After Okur hit the big three at the end it looked like he returned to the bench imitating Kobe’s (ridiculous) testicle dance.

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  37. No worries. We get them again as the last game of the season.

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  38. The big balls dance should be retired permanently.

    Deron Williams is who won that game for the Jazz in the final minutes. He was creating havoc on offense, burning his opponent and drawing defenders.

    For some light humor: http://goldenarmor.wordpress.com/

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  39. Headline tommorow should be: Lakers lose, but at least Leah is out of Top Chef.

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  40. We all know tonight’s game is a tough road game (b2b) going into all-star weekend. Anyone who would see this game as a “gimme” must be missing something.

    In the big scheme of things, this loss will have little to no effect…

    There may have been a lack of focus, but my only concern would be our aforementioned backcourt. But here comes the wild card::::::

    Shannon Brown

    He is the ultra-athletic kind of player that can hang with quick guards (strength is a plus). He obviously needs a little time to become acquainted with the offense, and we have the depth to allow for that. But once he comes around, I think he is going to be able to contribute to this ball club, because he fills a void – sometimes often glaring in the Western Conference.

    Just my thought, otherwise, here’s to a fun ASWeekend and to a 42-10 record on our way there. Only 30 more games before our regular season concludes.

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  41. 240,

    Amen. She should have been eliminated in the previous episode. Fabio pulled a Kobe though — playing through a dislocated finger for the win 😉

    And agree with the above that the huevos rancheros dance needs to be retired. It apparently triggers bad luck whenever someone besides Sam Cassell does it.

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  42. D Will wanted this one badly and played a terrific game of driving and dishing.

    With two three point misses in a row at the end of a game, D Fish proves he is human after all–though you still probably couldn’t convince the San Antonio Spurs.

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  43. When DWill missed the second FT and we got the rebound and brought the ball to the front court, I can understand Phil not wanting to call a timeout. After Lamar’s great rebound and save to Fish with five or six seconds left, THAT’S when someone should have called a timeout. All Fish could manage to do was try an off-balance and contested three.

    Anyway, I’m bothered very little by this loss. Pau’s heavy minutes finally caught up to him tonight, illustrated by the common “fatigue” indicators: FT, rebounds, and closeouts. Same thing with Kobe’s second half, you could really see it. This was our 8th game in 13 days, the second of a back-to-back, and at SLC’s relatively high altitude.

    It’s clear to Phil that Chris Mihm is simply not a viable option for more than three minutes at a time in a competitive game. It will be nice to get his $2.5 million salary off the cap at the end of the season so we can replace him with a much better big man at 1/3 the price.

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  44. actually the “big freaking gorilla balls dance” was first to be seen in major league 2. e.t. took it to the nba later and jinxed it then:
    kobe did it twice and the lakers lost, iguodala did it a couple of weeks ago – and lost to the celtics by a buzzer beater from allen. it is clearly cursed.

    lets hope the guys can rest their legs enough over the break so we can come back and battle for the homecourt advantage.

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  45. Great first half of the season. Let’s get our players some rest and come out of the break with a double digit winning streak!

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  46. Win or lose, that was a helk of a game.

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  47. New, off topic post up

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  48. Personally, I think homecourt advantage will be very, very important come playoffs. Lakers will have homecourt through WCF, but that’s not what I’m worrying about. Having homecourt against the Celtics or Cavs will be critical. It’s no secret that the Staples Center crowd isn’t filled with die-hard fans. There will always be the rich and famous crowd too cool to get up and cheer (moreso than other cities).

    Losing a winnable game, while in a tight race for ultimate homecourt advantage, may or may not have an impact by the end of the season – but you never know.

    That said, I just would feel a lot more at ease knowing we are a length or two ahead of BOS or CLE.

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