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.



248 responses to Preview & Chat: The Utah Jazz

  1. One of the plays we killed the Jazz with last year in the playoffs is off the Kobe-Pau pick and roll. The Jazz would come with a hard trap on Kobe, Odom would flash high-post at the free-throw line and recieve the pass from Kobe, and hit Gasol with the pass for an easy look. This worked very well last year, and we saw it in overtime against the C’s.

  2. Taking yesterday’s bacon talk to an entire new level:

  3. As a Lakers fan that does not live in Southern California(I’m in Portland), I have noticed through the years that teams playing at home against the Lakers NEVER seem to mail it in. I don’t expect the Jazz to either.

  4. Defensively, I’m wondering if we’ll see a cross match with Odom on Okur and Gasol on Milsap. This would have Odom hanging with Okur on the perimeter and Gasol roaming the paint. Not sure if Phil will want to go that route, but it’s worth considering. On offense, Odom needs to be aware of Milsap looking to draw the charge. Against most PF’s, LO has a quickness advantage but against Milsap that isn’t the case and LO needs to understand that Milsap loves to draw charges on the man that he is guarding when that guy attacks the rim off the dribble. I am not saying that Odom should not continue to drive, but I do think he should mix up his offensive attack by going to the post more to take advantage of his height and length over Milsap.

  5. Darius, I came very close (wrote it then cut it) to suggesting just that in the post. I think they should, Odom’s length would bother Okur. That said, they could then bring Millsap out to set the pick, they do it with both the four and the five.

  6. I think we’ll see a more energized Lakers squad tonight. They just looked worn out during the 2nd half of last nights game (even most of the 1st).

    Another big road game should get them pumped up, plus they all know they’ll get some much deserved time off starting tomorrow.

    Again, we should be able to absolutely destroy Utah in the paint w/ Lamar and Pau. While I like Milsap, there is no way he can match Lamar’s length/speed around the basket.

    Should be a fun game, I really like Utah’s squad. Hard-nosed, tough, but not dirty. They really play a game that I enjoy watching (hopefully I’ll watch them add a loss to their record tonight, haha). Plus we always get the surly post game from Jerry Sloan which is always great.

  7. 2-Kurt-

    I just walked by a co-workers office and she was looking at the same website, I figured it was one of those celeb gossip type sites. This is basically celeb gossip for men.

  8. Hey Kurt,

    I don’t think it is surprising that the Jazz are not a great defensive team. They were not last year either. I believe Hollinger discussed this frequently. They were an incredibly efficient offensive team playing at a slow pace, which made them look like a decent defensive team. I think their biggest weakness was supposed to be that they fouled too much.

  9. 8-I think Kurt is basically implying that beyond all the hacking, they are just not (recently at least) playing with as much effort on D, which is Anti-Sloan era, and bound to not be the case against us, in Utah.

  10. Millsap on Odom is a bad matchup for Odom. When Odom doesn’t have a quickness advantage, it’s trouble because he doesn’t adjust well and he doesn’t have a midrange. Give up the dribble drive tonight.

    I’m going to stay true to my screen name and play Fred Carter. Kobe, Kobe, Kobe. If he’s not feeling weak, it could be a big night. Plus the injuries, the Jazz still have the same two issues from last year. As already stated, they foul a lot. And they have no one to guard Kobe. Could be a big night, especially if they boo Fish again.

  11. Ian, the Jazz are one point worse per 100 possessions on defense this year than they were for last season. Although things are supposed to be worse of late.

    The reason, by the way, if rebounding. They were top 10 in the league on the defensive glass last season, bottom 5 this year. Injuries are certainly a big part of that.

  12. LAL should win this one, but I never sell any team short! Learned that lesson with the Kings, Heat, Pacers and Bobcats.
    Hopefully the starters can make quick work so as to get some rest and so that guys like Brown, Mihm and Sun can get some actual minutes

  13. Am I thinking of a different Paul Milsap? I certainly don’t remember him having great speed but I could be mistaken. Even with him checking Lamar I still give us the advantage, but maybe I’m wrong.

  14. Kurt. Some of the stuff on that website are pretty gross. If you scroll through it a few pages they have an inn & out 100×100. Now that’s pretty nasty, though my brother ate a 6×6 once. I just get a grilled cheese animal style when I go, but I haven’t lived in LA for a few years now.

    This is a game where the Lakers could come out flat, looking towards the week off. If they come out focused though they should win this game. Their motion offense could cause the Lakers D some problems (especially Kobe who likes to help off his man), but I don’t think the Jazz can match the Lakers offensively. I like milsap but I don’t think he and Okur can match Pau and Odom inside and the jazz have no answer for Kobe. Kobe should get a lot of FT’s this game (and probably Pau as well).

  15. Kurt,
    Your point about the P&R is spot on. Another concern I would have is Okur using his bulk to body LO and work in the post more. As you mentioned LO’s length could bother Okur, but I also see a scenario where Okur gets some easier looks and it sparks the rest of his offensive game. It’s really these two reasons that make me uncertain if it’s actually the right strategy. I do think we may see it though. We’ll see how the staff plays it tonight.

  16. Ryan-You’re telling me you’re not gonna try that bacon-cheeseburger with jamacain beef pies as the buns? Ha, notice those bud-lights in the background on that picture, totally a drunk experiment in late-night snacking, maybe Phelps was there.

  17. kwame a. No I think I will have the double bacon cheeseburger with with bacon grilled cheese sandwiches as buns. That one had me salivating.

  18. The deep fried brownie w/ peanut butter and cookie dough outer shell had me drooling.

  19. ESPN’s current headline: “Simply the Third Best”And the relentless assault on the Lakers’ reputation continues. Don’t get me wrong: Hollinger’s article is actually spot on. He claims the Lakers rank third in his system due to a lower margin of victory and an easier schedule, concluding ultimately that his results show a virtual dead heat for the top four anyway. This is correct analysis. One might quibble with the construction of his formula (margin of victory can be seriously impacted by the coach’s willingness to play his bench with a large lead, for example. Or his propensity for calling a timeout when the other team gets on a run), but given his formula, the Lakers are third best.

    All this aside, why is ESPN even running this? I think it is because Laker fans have gotten tired of hearing how great Boston is, let ESPN know, and now ESPN is in defensive mode. And whatever they say, they DO underestimate the Lakers. Last year, they picked them 8th or 9th pre-season. yes, the Lakers added Gasol, but only after subtracting Bynum. (OK, they surprised all of us a little).

    For my part, I just look at ESPN as a regional network, based 80 miles from Boston (and totally in love with the Sox).

  20. When the hell did Jordan Farmar start writing a blog for playboy? Have I not been paying attention?

  21. I am curious to see how we defend the 3pt shooting big man with Bynum out. His patrolling the paint was great for layups, but the 3pt shooting bigs murdered us (Sheed, Murphy, Lewis)

    Hopefully LO can get into Okur’s shorts with him. Okur looked more than solid the last time I saw the Jazz.

  22. why are lakers only favored by one. Is there something I dont know about? Lakers hsould win this game easily. They have a lot to play for. They are playing for homecourt through outthe playoffs. They also dont wanna lose going into the break. I think this is an easy lakers victory. what am I Missing here?

  23. Even better Kurt, is that this game ends before LOST starts.

  24. I’ve been hearing rumors Kobe may be out tonight. Can anyone confirm?

  25. I think it’s important to steer this discussion back to the most important debate of our era:

    Who would be better at basketball?

    Lebron with Kobe’s brain
    Dwight Howard with Chris Paul’s Brain
    Danny DeVito with Michael Jordan’s brain

    I cannot sleep until we come to a consensus on this.

  26. Oops the anonymous post was me. I forgot that I’d deleted all my cookies.

    If you heard someone use that phrase 15 years ago what would you think they were talking about?

  27. 15 years ago, that was 1993… you’d have to search for a while, but you’d be able to find someone who knew what you meant with “cookie”.

  28. is Kobe playing tonight?

  29. After thinking for a while, I have realized that I should probably have typed that 15 years ago was 1994… In an effort to look slightly less ditzy, I’m going to blame the keyboard and an accidental typo.

  30. Looking at the discussion threads here- Not only do teams mail it in going into the all star break. But we fans do also.

  31. Best thing I’ve heard today:

    L.A. Times: However, trading Vladimir Radmanovic to Charlotte saves about $7 million over two seasons, and could create enough flexibility to keep Odom, if he’ll take less money. Which Odom said he’s willing to do.

    “Less is still a lot,” he said before the game. “I’ve been blessed. Basketball has given me everything I wanted, and I’m far from greedy. And this is where I want to be, so I don’t see why not.”

  32. 29- PJ- You’re one to talk! Shouldn’t you be prepping a game plan with your assistant coaches or something?? Dayumn.

  33. lmao Kwame that link is awesome. Jordan Farmar talking about metrosexuality and his fashion choices. It’s so awful and yet I can’t can’t stop reading.

    I’m leaning towards Pau on Okur, though I haven’t seen Millsap or the Jazz recently. My thought process is 1) Pau has the same length Lamar does, and Okur isn’t fast enough to exploit the quickness difference between the two. This will keep Okur from exploiting an advantage on the block, although he doesn’t post up too often if I remember correctly. 2) If Millsap’s general offensive game hasn’t changed much since the last time I saw him, Lamar is a better matchup for him. Quick enough to stay with him, and when focused Lamar’s actually a better rebounder. This will keep Lamar in the paint area and also put someone quick enough to keep a body on Millsap. I don’t think either strategy is blatantly wrong though.

    Durant, OJ, and someone who I can’t remember in the HORSE game. Should be a great time.

  34. Odom’s been rebounding reat these past few games, but Millsap always puts up good numbers against LO. Let’s see if LO tries to limit Millsap tonight. Paul plays hard, and I hope Lamar keeps the intensity going.

  35. lol love Kelly Dwyer’s quote absolutely annihilating the talking heads:

    “Because I’m a giant dork, I am just constantly entertained at the idea of the Trail Blazers (2nd in offense, 21st in defense) actually being the team pundits accused the Phoenix Suns (big wins, no D, all O) of being for years, but because of Portland’s pace (slowest in the league), said pundits have nary a clue. There’s a column in there, boys!”

  36. 24/28. Where is everyone getting this stuff? Check the source. I was just driving for work, where John Ireland, who is in Salt Lake with the team, was doing his radio show, and there was no mention of Kobe. If he was not playing, there would have been no other topic. So, again, where are these “rumors” coming from.

  37. Ugh. They’re about to show Brett Farve on SportsCenter. I’m going to puke right now.

  38. 24/28. Also, Kobe was the only Laker to go out and shoot balls at 12:45 after the team’s film session this morning in Utah.

    Brett Favre is retired. Well, at least until August.

  39. #33.

    Joe Johnson from the Hawks.

    Sidenote, I totally forgot that Stephen Jackson played for the Spurs during one of their championship runs.

  40. Okur has been posting up a lot more this year, and with good success; however, his defense is still atrocious. Millsap has been a shadow of himself lately because of his knees. Brewer is the only player who has any prayer of slowing down Kobe and every borderline call goes against him. Jazz have to hit from the perimeter to stay in it.

  41. Let’s get the win and hopefully Kobe and Pau will rest as much as they can during the ASG weekend. Our bench and other starters need to take some serious R&R because after the break we basically play every other night with only 3 two day breaks. I know these guys are professionals, but the rest is needed…along with a healthy Bynum.

  42. kobe was the only laker to go and shoot after the film session…

    being the greatest player in the world and still working harder than anyone else.

    I admire that so much.

  43. Worst thing I’ve heard today:

    T-Mac may be out for the season.

    It’s a real tragedy this season has been marred by injury for so many teams.

  44. Has T-Mac played this season? Hasn’t seemed like it.

  45. leah’s definitely a goner.

  46. odom is wiling to take less money to be re-signed.

    However, trading Vladimir Radmanovic to Charlotte saves about $7 million over two seasons, and could create enough flexibility to keep Odom, if he’ll take less money.

    Which Odom said he’s willing to do.

    “Less is still a lot,” he said before the game. “I’ve been blessed. Basketball has given me everything I wanted, and I’m far from greedy.

    “And this is where I want to be, so I don’t see why not.”

  47. Seems like Gilbert Arenas may be the new T-Mac, but anyway, that’s for some other time…

    As for the Jazz not being good defensively, well, their defense is really ‘foul layups’ and ‘pack it in to clean up defensive glass.’

    Which, I’m guessing, is a very good defense to play regardless of the talent you have since the opponent will shy away from high percentage shots and when they take lower percentage shots, they won’t get another shot at it.

    Anyway, a real “professional” win will be against the Jazz, when everyone is expecting a letdown/mail-in performance.

    To head into AG with single losses would be nice.

    PS.-just how great is that bulls record of 72-10? Now only we have a chance of bettering it, and that chance is only a theoretical one that everyone in the right mind knows won’t happen (will need to break our 33 game winning streak to break it 😉

  48. 47. “Less is still a lot”

    Music to my ears.

  49. The 72-10 record isn’t worth even mentioning. Our team is just assembling itself and our competition is pretty fierce. The Bulls had been together a number of years – yeah I know MJ returned, but still – and there were new teams in the league. I, personally, think the Lakers 69 wins in 1972 was as tough as the Bulls run.

  50. Are there anything but ‘professional’ wins left for the Lakers (until the playoffs, obviously)? I am not sure there are many more statement games. I suppose San Antonio. The rest of the season is going to be a test of character – especially since we have a road heavy schedule. Hopefully home court is enough of a carrot to push the guys. And hopefully the bad taste from last June is also a motivator to keep them striving to get better.

    I would agree that which team shows up to play is more important than X’s and O’s tonight. It should be a good test to see how much of Kobe’s drive has rubbed off on the others.

  51. 45–I don’t even think last year’s T-Mac has shown up, and certainly not the T-Mac of yore.

    Unrelated, but IMHO a good article on Jerry Sloan and Phil Jackson.

  52. I know it’s only the first quarter, but are the Suns actually keeping up with the Cavaliers? Still at work, but the box score is saying they are…

  53. One of those very few days I cheer for suns beating Lebrons.

  54. 51. I think the last month of the season, maybe three weeks, things need to pick up in intensity. The team needs to hit its stride heading into the first round. So I think those games are a little more than just professional, but I think your overall point is a valid one.

  55. VoR-I agree, it will mainly be a long and uneventful second half. The only real test will be the Spurs. We need to see how we stack up against them without Andrew.

    Aside from that, I’m going to guess there will be extended stretched where the team struggles due to lack of focus, similar to the period leading up to Christmas day.

  56. I think the Portland games are statement games. They’re upstarts who will be in the Playoffs this year. They are going to use those games as measuring sticks as they head into the Postseason, so we have to show them what elite is. Can’t let them gain confidence.

  57. wondahbap – Portland’s definitely good, but I don’t think they play any consistent defense, and I doubt they’ll give us any more trouble than Utah did last year. But, yeah, those regular season games could easily be losses if we play them without any energy or focus. Especially the away games.

  58. The second half will only be boring if the team continues winning at its current rate. A few mediocre losing streaks and suddenly they’re back in the back of the west, having to prove themselves against each western competitor. This isn’t a league where you can let your guard down and regain it in time to win it all very often.

  59. I don’t think they’d be a real challenge in the Playoffs for us either, and I didn’t mean for my comment to come out like they are, but being a young team with potential, it’s better to keep them down.

    Think Atlanta vs Boston last year.

  60. Man, I’ve just seen the box score but it looks like Nash is playing some of that patented MVP defense on Mo Williams.

  61. oh wait never mind. Nash isn’t playing for some reason. Looks like PHX hasn’t realized he won’t be guarding Williams though…

  62. Yeah. Can we win one at the Rose Garden this year?

  63. Nash is out with back spasms. Dare I say that the years of D’antoni ball have left that team with some defensive deficiencies?

  64. 62-exactly.

  65. Wow, Mo Williams is going OFF on Phoenix. 29 points and 5 assists already and the first half isn’t over yet.

  66. and suns’ 17 TOs by half time do not help either

  67. 63. Actually, I think Porter and the player changes made by Kerr have been worse for the Suns defense. This year they are giving up 109.2 points per 100 possessions (19th), last year it was 1081. (16th) and two seasons ago it was 107.7 (13th). Their defense was never great , but it looked worse in the final score because the pace was so high the other team got a number of chances. This season, they are slow and the defense is worse.

    Dwyer makes a good point today, that this season’s Blazers are what everyone complained the Suns were — 2 in offense but 22 in defense. But, because they play at the slowest pace in the league people don’t notice because it is masked in the final score.

  68. It’s hard to play good defense when you start Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire. Marion, Bell, and Diaw were probably the only above-average defensive players on the roster and have all been traded away. Right now their best defender is either 90-year-old Grant Hill or 95-year-old Shaq.

  69. coffee is for closers February 11, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    Couldn’t agree more re: leah! Whatta whining little fish face she is.

  70. coffee is for closers February 11, 2009 at 6:21 pm

    Sarver has killed the suns. Today’s yahoo sports says he’s making calls to other owners trying to trade amare – way to castrate your GM. I think kerr would like to go back to TNT – i predict he’s back next year sitting next to marv.

  71. Speaking of Sarver, it’s also hard to refresh your talent base when you give away all your draft picks for chewing gum and anti-virus software.

  72. Agreed that Sarver is the real problem. Apparently his finances have taken a beating and he needs to save money.

    By the way, love the Glengarry Glen Ross reference, 70/71.

  73. coffee is for closers February 11, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    exactly joel – you look at what all those draft picks turned into: nate robinson, rudy fernandez, loul dang – how good that team could have been. oh, and let joe johnson just leave too, right? as a laker fan, it doesn’t kill me, but as a basketball fan, that style they played was very entertaining. those run and gun games with the mavs in the playoffs were must watch for me.

  74. coffee is for closers February 11, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    thanks kurt, your steak knives are at the door.

  75. Joel & Kurt,

    I agree. There’s no way Kerr’s allowed to make the decisions he has without Sarver telling him to. The Shaq trade now makes even less sense. It made no sense to begin with.

    How far has Amare fallen? Let him go to Cleveland….

  76. Not sure how I feel about Point Differential as a predictor.

    I know that it seems to work out, but that is often a function of the simple fact that more wins will equal a higher point differential on average.

    I also agree that coaching style is a big factor, as those who are willing to keep their starters in during a blowout will rack up higher points.

    There are also a good number of random factors, but they probably work themselves out. Things like Half Court Heaves going in, Fouls to “catch up” in the last minutes, that sort of stuff.

    Anyway, what seems clear to me is that the Lakers have a very good team this year, and they really are their own worst enemy.

    And, lastly, the Playoffs will be a LOT of fun to watch this year.

  77. After reading SSOL by Jack MacCallum, everything they did sorta makes sense – just not in basketball terms.

    Anyway, reading that book made me realize how underrated chemistry or glue-guys or cancers are and how important it is for your centerpiece to have good work ethic.

    PHX is going to its ashes mode, dumping just about everything; not sure when or if it will be reborn.

  78. Let’s not let D’Antoni off the hook. As GM he gave Diaw too much money and he took years off Nash’s career by playing him so many minutes and not finding him a backup when he was GM

  79. Let Amare go to Cleveland? I think that would be terrifying. I know he’s fallen a bit, and has some work ethic/character issues, and he’s also clearly delusional about his talent level… oh wait where was I? Oh yeah, but I think a lot of that stems from the current sad state of the Suns team. I mean if Cleveland somehow managed to dump Wally for Amare… dear lord that would be a scary team. Or it would implode on itself. Maybe I’m a bit torn on Amare.

    Actually, I think both he and Rasheed Wallace would do very well if they were shipped — both of those guys just look like shells of their former selves right now.

  80. If they had only held their trigger on Shaq, they’d have Marion coming off the books and plenty of room to re-sign Amare and not have to worry about financials. That team is in ruins

  81. Everything Mo Williams throws up is going in.

  82. 76 – I actually thought the Shaq trade made a lot of sense. They wanted to get past the Spurs and they never would have playing like that. Shaq has historically played Duncan better than anyone else and he did last year. Problem was you had medicated cotton guarding the perimeter. Shaq can’t fix that.

    Shaq takes a lot of heat. To steal a line, Amar’e is a train wreck defensively. There’s no excuse for that or his lack of rebounding. As said already, that team was money managed for 4 straight years and it cost them. Blow it up.

  83. Double post – Amare is the new Shaq in terms of work ethic at least. Having the two together will be quite something.

    They lost their versatility and unpredictability when they traded Marion, they lost their defense when they shipped Bell, they lost a mismatch of all sorts when they shipped Diaw.

    Now they have an aging engine that is suitable for motorcycles trying to drive Trucks and Buses…

  84. coffee is for closers February 11, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    The odd thing to me is why they’re insisting on keeping nash. the thought is the fans would just stay away in droves if they unloaded nash, but after they trade amare for pennies on the dollar, I’m not sure thats going to be a very marketable product even with nash there. if you’re starting over, why not trade your 35 year old point guard while he’s still got value.

  85. I totally agree about Leah. I’m starting to pull for Carla, actually, mostly because I was a little rough on her earlier in the season.

  86. The problem with the Shaq trade wasn’t so much Shaq himself (he has exceeded expectations) but the fact that it took away all Phoenix’s flexibility down the road. When you make a move like that, it needs to be the type of move that clearly takes you to another level, and that was never going to happen with this version of Shaq.

    I’ve already stated that I think Amare should be traded, but it’s never a good sign when you’re trying to start your rebuilding effort by dealing away a 26-year-old perennial All-Star big man.

  87. Who would they trade Nash to, tho? It’s not like he’s got a very tradable contract. It would be kinda fun to have Nash and Kidd switch places again, since I think their styles better fit the other team 😉

    The franchise just cannot risk losing another member of its famed SSOL seasons. D’Antoni. Marion. Diaw/Bell. Drop Nash and you have a team that nobody in PHX can relate to, and if they don’t relate, they won’t pay money to see them.

  88. SSOL was a joke and besides that, it’s so over. You got to blow that thang up. Amar’e is really the only player of value they have. Nobody’s taking Nash. That guy’s career is almost over.

    And it is a bad sign, but they’re not getting out of this without a couple of down seasons. This may be year 1.

  89. anyone have a link?

  90. Kobe is smoking hot to start this one.

  91. hahaha oh man. We look terrible.

  92. Ugh. Looks like a Jazz-friendly trio of referees today. Ok boys, just play through it.


    this one is working good for me. A little blurry but no lag.

  94. quick work on D-Will. nice. two fouls and to the bench.

  95. The Suns also refused to talk to the Knicks at all about trades for Diaw/Bell or Amare. Who flatly refuses to talk to another team like that? Especially in the other conference? Are they that bitter? Why? They had as big a part of D’Antoni leaving as he did. Do they just not want to see a new SSOL team make them look short sighted and silly?

    Sarver is to blame for the current desperation, but as Hollinger pointed out yesterday, the reason they have to part with Amare now is because they took on Shaq’s awful contract.

  96. Over under on what the jazz score this half- 65? 70?

  97. As big a reason as Shaq’s contract may be, I think the Suns gave up on Amare. The word was that he didn’t work hard during rehab and was just otherwise not into improving as the face of a franchise should be.

    Just for funsies I did a trade machine thing involving Nash and Kidd, and voila,
    You can at least make the numbers work if you trade Nash & Shaq for Kidd and Howard. Fun stuff.

    Anyway, on the Jazz… how is it going? I’m boxscore watching and there’s nothing much I can glean other than Kobe being red-hot and Utah having everything fall…

  98. Jazz will score at least 55, prolly 60 or more this half. Lakers just need to keep it close and then have a stretch in the game of really good defense.

  99. I’ve heard of letting them play, but this is bordering on ridiculous. And the Lakers are being punished by it more because they’re attacking the rim more often than the Jazz.

  100. The Suns were ready to trade Amare at the beginning of last season, but ended up trading Marion instead. That would have been giving up on him. Instead they thought that Shaq’s great relationship with him would reform him or some such thing.

    I don’t think Josh Powell has a lot of experience running the fastbreak….

    But would you rather have him or Fisher lead it?

  101. I love it. Back to back fastbreaks lead by Powell then Fisher. the jury is still out on who’s better.

  102. All considered, I think Powell ran that fast break pretty well. At least it didn’t result in a PUJIT!

  103. Woah, that was even a weirder break than the one led by Powell. I love kobe.

  104. Man, Utah is just not missing. I’m not saying the Lakers are playing lockdown defense but the Jazz deserve a lot of the credit.

  105. remarkable half: the jazz get a bunch of calls while pushing us all over the place and hitting every jump shot they take.

    and we still lead by 2. it’s safe to say we have a pretty good team.

  106. It’s funny… For all the ‘soft’ jibes the Lakers have had to deal with, this Utah team is/was just as physical as Boston. They just aren’t very good defensively.

  107. I haven’t noticed the reffing being that bad. Jazz have fewer FTAs and more PFs. I do think the lakers may want to guard either CJ Miles or Ronnie Brewer at least once tonight. The Strong Side Zone has looked more like the Weak Sauce Zone…

  108. i wish our fast break offense was better…best one of the season was the one led by Gasol

  109. One advantage to watching on league pass- Seeing Melanie Collins at halftime

  110. anyone watching this unc duke game as well?

  111. Walton- alright leading the break, finishing not so much

  112. I don’t think the refs are doing a very good job this game on either end. Maybe they are mailing it in too. And for as many points have been scored, it sure hasn’t been a very pretty game.

  113. Luke never seems to finish fast breaks well. It’s like he loses focus when the basket come within reach and can’t decide if he should pass or dunk, and ends up doing neither. It’s extremely frustrating to watch.

  114. How is that not a foul on Millsap???

  115. Wow. Odom got punched in the face.

  116. Looks like the Jazz have to draw blood to get called for a foul…

  117. LOL.

    Stu just said, “The score? Naughty! – at 69”

  118. “knotted” at 69

  119. Doesnt look good, its too much Kobe

  120. I have not seen one second of this game. Anyone got a good summary? Based off the comments lots of made shots and some physical play, but is a certain play hurting us? How do Gasol and LO look?

  121. Too much Kobe, and also too little focus. No edge, no energy.

  122. Is anybody happy with the officiating tonight? LOL

  123. The Lakers aren’t adjusting well to the foul calling.

  124. Darius: They look ok, but the game is insane. Physical play is the understatement of the year=)

  125. And Kobe is now taking it personally.

  126. How does Kobe not get either of those fouls where he got mugged and still made it, and Williams gets that ticky tack foul on the layup. I don’t mind a physical game, but the refs have got to be consistent.

  127. kobe is getting the ball so late in the clock when the rest of the team just passes it around get trapped and throw it to kobe.

  128. Horribly officiated game…

  129. And the Lakers need to make their foul shots.

  130. 132

    No kidding. The refs are getting on everybody’s nerves.

  131. 124

    Odom is as active as ever and Utah still can’t contain him. Gasol has been fairly productive when he gets touches but I think he’s spending a bit too much time begging for calls.

  132. I love this new Odom…i hope he never goes away…14 points and 14 boards before the fourth quarter…hes our player of the week for sure

  133. #136:
    Agreed. He’s become a beast. Sadly, experience suggests the beast will die when Bynum returns to the rotation…

  134. jordan coming up big.

  135. Went better with Kobe on the on the bench, wasnt all Kobe anymore.

  136. honestly this looks like a pick up game

  137. 140- That’s what happens when the officials completely lose control of the game.

  138. No answer whatsoever for Deron Williams. He’s now resuming his usual torching of Farmar.

  139. Farmar cant defend Williams. He gets destroyed by him everytime.

  140. Harpring on Pau? Laughable matchup.

  141. Pau getting bullied tonight

  142. The Lakers just want the All Star break to come.

  143. Uh-oh, they’re booing Fisher.

  144. Kobe’s shot is off here in the second half.

  145. SA lost today so this game won’t hurt us in the West, but vs. the Cavs and that other team from the East, I think every game is going to count.

    This is when we really miss Bynum – he gives us that much more depth.

  146. I am not liking the Kobe show at the moment.

  147. Since starting 6-8 Kobe is 6-19. And he’s not adjusting at all. If anything he’s shooting more outside shots. The reffing has been shoddy, but he’s not doing anything to force their hand either. And he’s not doing anything to set up anybody else either. Not his best game.

  148. What the heck is Kobe doing? Terrible shot selection. Our advantage is in the paint and he keeps launching contested jumpers…

  149. I can’t blame Kobe too much. No one else is doing anything.

  150. The Lakers are taking jump shots and the Jazz are dunking, uhh.

  151. Kobe’s shooting really hasnt been as good since he hurt his finger. Lakers played no defense the whole game, they deserve to lose this.

  152. Pretty easy to make your defender look bad when you can catch, slide, spin and then jump for the dunk…

    Again, I think I just don’t understand the traveling rules…

    On the other hand, Kobe was out of position gambling for the steal.

  153. its not that pau is getting outrebounded…

    the team totals are 34-32…our advantage…

    its just that Odom is getting all of them for our team

  154. well… his shooting was great when you shoot 31 shots and get 61 points…

  155. There we go. Sasha to the rescue.

    We probably shouldn’t start relying on outside shots though. Too high risk.

  156. I like this Lakers lineup.

  157. THERE it is. That’s the Kobe I know.

  158. Did anyone just watch Gasol get manhandled in the post by Milsap?

    Physical reputation shouldn’t allow physical play.



  160. how predicatble was that shot by fish

  161. Good defense but the Lakers need to make some shots.

  162. Good to see that pick-and-roll being run with purpose rather than just to get Kobe a shot. Would like to see some 2-man game with Kobe and Gasol as well.

  163. Lamar has 18 points and 18 rebounds. I’d love to see someone else grab a board, but all the same, impressive stat line.

    I like that we see a lot more composed and focused now though. Better ball movement and passing than when the Kobe show was taking all the shots.

  164. hmmm, suddenly reff is calling fouls

  165. Oh, Kobe.

  166. these streams always start to suck at the end of close games!!!

  167. Wow, Deron got fouled.

  168. Stop! Kobe time!

  169. Oh, Kobe!

  170. Come on, Kobe, I know you made that shot but is that the best one to take?


  172. its really unbelievable how often kobe does that

  173. BIG BALLS KOBE!!!!

  174. But, sadly, Kobe is not clutch.

  175. Last time he did that, we lost!!!

  176. kobe!!!

  177. the last time he did the “i got big balls” dance… we lost.

  178. No. That can’t possibly be clutch. It’s not within 24 secs, so it doesn’t count.

  179. That was NOT a foul.

  180. is that “big balls dance” a figure of speech or does he literally do a little dance?

  181. Wow, that looked like a ticky-tack call…

  182. Hmmm…that’s 5 fouls each for lamar and gasol. Hopefully we can pull out a win without going into OT.

  183. 182

    Gotcha. I knew I was missing something.

  184. Regardless of the outcome – you’ve got to love LO’s effort.

  185. #184,
    It’s the trademarked Sam Cassell Gorilla Testicle Dance

  186. I knew kobe would take and miss that shot

  187. This has been a sadly hilarious game.

  188. kobe, please never never never do the testicle dance again.

  189. why did kobe shoot a 3? No need.

  190. Why leave Okur open? He makes those shots ALL THE TIME!!!!

  191. Yeah I agree. The last time Kobe did the testicle dance we lost. No more testicle dance.

  192. The testicle dance is disturbing anyway.

  193. 193

    Agreed, he could have tried for a better shot on that possession. I knew he was going to shoot it though…

  194. Kobe is bad angry right now. He has a great angry too, but this time it hasn’t focused him as much as made him kind of petulant.

  195. kobe sometimes a little bit too confident i guess

  196. 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…

  197. 198

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

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

  199. Crazy end.

  200. good game though.

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

  202. Oh well, good win Utah.

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

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

  205. 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.

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


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

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

  209. 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.

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

  211. 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.

  212. sam cassell coined the dance…youtube it

  213. 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.

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

  215. 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.

  216. 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…

  217. 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?

  218. 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.

  219. 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.

  220. 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.

  221. 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.

  222. 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..

  223. 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.

  224. 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!

  225. 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 😉

  226. 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.

  227. 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.

  228. 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.

  229. 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.

  230. 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.

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

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

  233. 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:

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

  235. 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.

  236. 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.

  237. 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.

  238. 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.

  239. 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.

  240. 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!

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

  242. New, off topic post up

  243. 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.