Records: Lakers 64-17 (1st in the West) Jazz 48-33 (8th in West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 112.5 (3rd in league) Jazz 110.0 (8th in league)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 104.5 (6th in league) Jazz 107.0 (10th in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Trevor Ariza, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Jazz Deron Williams, Matt Harpring, Ronnie Brewer, Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur
ShanWOW: It’s official — Shannon Brown is now ShanWOW as far as I’m concerned. There were a lot of great nicknames suggested but you have to go with anything linked to a towel made in Germany. You know the Germans always make good stuff.
And expect ShanWOW to get some time on Deron Williams in a bit of an experiment tonight. Even those still fully in the Jordan Farmar corner admit that D-Will is a bad machup for him, so expect ShanWOW to get a taste in advance of the first round.
Just how serious is this game? I don’t really buy the part about resting the Lakers starters tonight — they are off from here until Sunday, the longest break they have had since the All Star game. Legs will be fresh come Sunday (I think we can safely assume a Sunday game).
But on the other hand, this is a good game to get some run for the subs, to not overtax anyone, to back the foot off the gas a little. But do you really want to do that against the team you are likely to see come Sunday? Darius thinks not.
A while back there was a brief discussion on these boards about us being like that Mavs team a couple of years ago that won the West but lost in the first round to the Warriors. I argued against that as I don’t see any team giving us problems the way that the Dubs had the Mav’s number that year. However, we do face a similar issue against these Jazz as we’re the team that can beat them in our last game and then have them as our first round opponent. My point is that we have the chance to further the gulf in their belief that they can play with us. It’s been noted that the Jazz are a bad road team. It’s also obvious that we’re a better team than the Jazz, but we all still acknowledge that the Jazz are a dangerous team. So, I say beat them…not by doing anything special or by throwing new wrinkles into the game plan, but by winning because we’re better. I don’t want the Jazz to break out of any slump in their last game and while also giving them any confidence in their ability to win on the road.
New Lakers Blog: The driving force behind respectKobe.com how has a new Lakers blog as part of SBN — Silver Screen and Roll. Check it out, and welcome aboard. This is a fun time to be a Lakers fan and blogger.
Kobe Doin’ Work: I did not hold out high hopes for Spike Lee’s documentary, but these promo clips give me hope.
The Jazz Coming In: We all know that on paper, the Jazz should be pushing the Lakers at the top of the Western Conference. And I don’t believe the issues are with the coach, who knows how to do everything (save beat MJ).
They come into this game with motivation — the motivation to avoid us in the first round. If Utah can win (on the second night of a back-to-back) and Dallas or New Orleans loses their last game, the Jazz avoid the Lakers. So where is Utah’s head right now? Check out what Ross Siler said the other day after the Golden State loss:
“There are still two games left in the regular season, followed by at least four games in a first-round playoff series, but Saturday’s loss felt like a season-ender for the Jazz. Yes, there’s a chance to regroup, but the Jazz seem unlikely to do so in time for a turnaround. They lost to a Warriors team with only seven healthy players and missing its four leading scorers. Those seven included four who went undrafted, three who are rookies, four who played in the Rocky Mountain Revue last summer and two with D-League backgrounds.
If you didn’t watch the Jazz blowout of the Clippers last night, know that for about the first five minutes those same Jazz showed up and trailed the Clippers. Then Sloan called a time out, the Jazz got their heads screwed on, Barron Davis was a disaster and Utah cruised to a win.
So which team shows up tonight in LA?
Keys To The Game: You ever watch the first quarter of an NFL preseason game? The starters are in and they want to perform well, but mostly they want to avoid injury and get their work in and get off the field. Meanwhile, coaches are trying to give nothing away and they run basic plays against vanilla defenses.
Welcome to tonight’s Lakers/Jazz tilt. The coaches may try out a matchup or two — Shannon Brown on D-Will, for example — but if they have anything they really think will work, it will stay in the locker room. If the Lakers win, it will be more about the players executing the basic offense than the coaches throwing in any twists.
The Jazz work hard to protect the paint on defense, so if you get the ball to Bynum/Gasol inside there will be open kick-out jumpers. The Lakers need to hit them. The Lakers also can and should run some on the Jazz, particularly the bigs — make Okur and Boozer run on the second night of a back-to-back.
I could try to give a lot more detail, but like the coaches we need to hold some stuff back for the rest of the week.
Where you can watch: 7:30 start with the rare Tuesday night TNT game.