Preview & Chat: The Utah Jazz

Kurt —  April 14, 2009

Utah Jazz v Los Angeles Lakers, Game 1
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.

Kurt

Posts

153 responses to Preview & Chat: The Utah Jazz

  1. ShanWOW! You’re going to love his nuts…er defensive intensity.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUbWjIKxrrs

  2. Quick question, doesn’t Utah not play Sunday games though?

  3. 2. Not at home, but they do on the road. I think. I was told by someone in television scheduling this was expected to be the Lakers game. I could be wrong.

  4. Intriguing concept for the Kobe documentary. A few years ago a similar doc was made about Zinedine Zidane, the soccer player. A documentary crew filmed him during one game for Real Madrid. It’s very arty, with music by the band Mogwai. It would be interesting to compare the two–the Zidane one was done completely in real-time, with cameras on him during the complete action of the game. No timeouts in soccer, so no sitting on the bench for him (*SPOILER*–he did get a red card and was sent off in the game, however).

  5. From what the NBA website tells me, this game is gonna be on both FS West and TNT. Which one would you recommend?

  6. The Dude Abides April 14, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    I agree with Darius. Stomp the Jazz and let them know they have no chance against us. They are playing the worst basketball by far of all the Western Conference playoff teams. Why give them the thought that they can beat us at Staples? Dallas and New Orleans will most likely win their last home games, so if we let down and lose to the Jazz, they’ll be playing us in the first round with newfound confidence that they can win on our home court. Don’t give them that confidence. Blow them out.

  7. Well, you get Joel Myers and Stu at FSWest, but you get funny commentary on TNT. If I could, I would put the AM570 feed on and listen to the game, however, it’s hard to time the delay to synch up with the tv and the AM reception in my condo is horrible.

  8. 5. It would be really classless of me to recycle the German Joke here saying I bet she was a German prostitute because you know the Germans always…

    So I won’t do it.

  9. The Jazz played the Lakers at Salt Lake City on a Sunday in last season’s playoffs, Game 4 of the west semifinals.

    They prefer to avoid Sunday home games given the large Mormon fan base, but the league extends that courtesy only so far.

    If ABC/ESPN wants to show the Jazz in a marquee Sunday game (and the Lakers typically warrant that consideration), they’ll be playing on Sunday.

  10. One of the few if not the lone German regular reader/infrequent commenter here. Kurt, I’m sorry, but you please have to explain the Shanwow thing to me, I’m completely clueless.

  11. 11. This ad appears a lot on American television right now and is sort of a cult classic:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QwRISkyV_B8

  12. Sorry for the disobedience, but I’m still partial to “UPS” (pronounced “ups” not “U-P-S”), it seems more natural to use it during the game in chats.

    I will give “ShanWOW” a chance, though, reluctantly.

  13. Ah, I see. Now I’m angry that our well-regarded scientists would withhold such an amazing product from us and sell it straight to overseas. I’m on board with the nickname though.

    But didn’t Kupchak call Charlotte immediately about that incredible offer? Then we would have an additional do-everything ShanWow on our roster for the price of one! Instead we have an “Ammo” that’s good for one thing only, at a much higher cost.

    “Beware of imitators. You’ll say wow every time!” (which Joel or Stu should say if they go to commercial with a slomo of a ShanWow dunk)

  14. I’m a little worried about Utah winning on our court last night gaining a mental edge that they can finally win a game here at Staples in that same exact visiting locker room. ha… couldn’t keep a straight face on that one. no, we’ll be fine. whether we win or lose tonight. no way we’re losing a 1st round matchup to anyone in the west. but I would say that it could be the difference between sweeping Utah, or whomever else, or the series going a couple extra games. which I wouldn’t mind by the way to give big drew some extra run.

    as for shannon, as long as Phil Jackson is our coach we will never have to worry about knicknames. PJ always comes with the classics.

  15. #4 Evan, the Mogwai Zidane soundtrack is incredible. Hopefully the Kobe documentary is good, looks cool.

    I hope we don’t rest our guys and give Utah a win. I’d like similar minutes to Sundays game, personally.

  16. 1. tacos, fettucini, linguini, martini, bikini…

  17. Did you hear the nickname “UPS” for Shannon? He’s got mad hops, and Brown delivers.

  18. i might be late to the party (not sure if it’s been posted here before) and this is almost completely irrelevant but this is helping to kill the time until tip off.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mn_G9CtzhQk

  19. #4. Evan,
    That doc was actually the inspiration for Spike and what he used to convince Kobe to do the film. Kobe, who does love soccer, was sold after he saw the Zidane doc and thought it was a great idea (if I recall the story correctly).

    Also, Magic Johnson had a great quote on Zidane after he saw him play in his (Magic’s) first ever soccer match. Magic said “One of the most inspiring nights of my life. Zidane is a phenomenon, as good as me and Michael Jordan put together.”

  20. Darius, I figured Spike must have gotten the idea from that. Didn’t know that about Magic, however.

  21. The other side of the coin is that it is not so easy to win three games in a row at home against the same opponent.

  22. Don’t get me wrong. I wanted the Lakers to win HCA, but the way the Finals 2-3-2 is set up, the BEST team will win. It’s specificaly set up for the team better team to get it done when they have to. You must get a game on the road. We happen to have the BEST road team in the NBA.

    It’s not just the wins/loss record, but the fact that we repeatedly won on the road in tough circumstances like our 6-0 road trip, and 5-2 (during a mini-slump). This year I may even feel better about having 3 straight home games, because I KNOW that we can and should win at least one on the road. We are the better team this year.

  23. If I were Phil Jackson I would definitely play Shannon Brown on Deron Williams to see if he can guard him. I don’t remember a guard getting absolutely destroyed as much as Farmar was by Williams in last year playoffs.

  24. If I’m Phil, I tell the guys to drop the hammer on the Jazz to send a message. If the Lakes are up by 15+ at half time, I sit the starters and Lamar/Bynum for the remainder.

    A first half whoopin’ allows us to rest the starters, send the message to Utah, and open the door for Utah to win (without gaining confidence) and setup a better first round with Dallas (should they lose against Houston).

    Of course, if we come out flat in the second half, Phil’s needs to stay on the guys to put the hammer down–worst case is winning close, playing the starters most of the game, letting Utah gain confidence on our home floor, and welcoming them back in the first round.

  25. In addition to Brown, and maybe moreso, I would like to see Ariza, Sasha, and Kobe get a little “practice” guarding Deron. Ultimately I think that Utah has no chance at beating us if Deron does not morph into Teen Wolf, which means NEVER letting Farmar guard him and probably not Brown either. It needs to be a steady diet of Fisher, Ariza, and Kobe. Utah’s wings are not creative scorers and our PG, especially Fish, would do fine checking any of them. I would also like to see more of Sasha running the second unit and pestering Deron for short stretches. We can’t neutralize him, but if we throw different looks and don’t let him go crazy against Jordan, then I think we can limit his damage and overwhelm them on every other front. The extra rest days in the playoffs would mean Fisher could reasonably play 30+ minutes and we could mix and match Ariza/Kobe/Sasha/Brown on Deron the other 10 or so minutes he’s on the court — though I’d probably use Brown as the last option. After last year’s series, in which Farmar essentially spotted Utah 10 immediate points at the start of each 2nd and 4th quarter, I would not even attempt to play him against Deron.

  26. Is Phil looking to manipulate the seeding a bit? It’s my understanding that if Utah wins tonight and Dallas loses to Houston tomorrow, the Lakers play Dallas. Also if Utah wins and Dallas beats Houston (to avoid the Lakers) and Portland wins against Denver tomorrow, then the Blazers go to the 3 seed and are out of the Lakers way until the WCF, and the Lakers have Houston or the Spurs in the semis.

    Oh well, if the Lakers play bad tonight I’m sure the announcers will start speculating about Phil’s being a master manipulator.

  27. Dallas is actually playing better than Utah right now, but it really doesn’t matter…the Lakers can handle anyone in the west. This afternoon on Mason & Ireland, longtime Jazz announcer Hot Rod Hundley said he doesn’t think there is any team, let alone the Jazz, who can beat the Lakers 4 times in a 7 game series.

    Playing those longer, thougher series matchups seemed to benefit the Celtics last year in the playoffs, making them more “battle tested and able to endure” according to KG.

  28. What you say is true, Jane, but it is also true that the tougher the road you face the more your liklihood of not making it through.

  29. Remember too that one of the reasons that Farmar got so many minutes on Deron was because of foul trouble on Fish. So, as Reed mentioned, we will need other defenders to guard Deron and based off history it should not be Farmar. So Brown, Ariza, Sasha, and Kobe should all see some time on Deron. I also think a big key is what type of schemes we use to try and contain Deron. In our series last year, Deron flourished in the open court and by going in the opposite of the screen in order to get into the lane faster and force our back line defender (and not the player showing on the screen) to step up and show. This opened up shots for Boozer/Okur (whoever did not set the screen) and the corner man who was spotting up or cutting alon the baseline. So, imo it will be interesting to see what schemes we deploy against him as well as the primary defender that is trying to execute it.

  30. Or playing an extra game 7 and getting somebody injured ….

  31. Just wanted to thank you Kurt for an excellent regular season of blogging. Best blog on the web, very much looking forward to the playoffs!

  32. Reed & Darius,
    While I agree we should rotate defenders on D. Will and avoid Fish and Farmar, I doubt we will see that tonight. By exposing our hand tonight Utah gets a chance to practice how to attack us and then has 4 days to review any changes they want to make. By limiting our defense to Fish and Brown we not only get to see Brown in a stress filled situation, but we don’t give them any chance to try out our playoff defensive rotations.

  33. Bynum will definitely help if they play Utah. Deron Williams was getting basically lay-ups throughout the series. At least now we have someone to challenge shots.

  34. I personally wouldn’t mind a repeat of the 2001 playoffs – Lakers nearly making history and going 16-1.

    Hey, a guy can dream right?

  35. hey everybody…
    remember, last year, we did not have TREVOR ARIZA, or ANDREW BYNUM, for any of the playoff games. (well, maybe Trevor came back against the C’s but he was so rusty he was a non factor).
    this year though, they are going to be ready, willing and able, and with the addition of those two guys to a team that went all the way to the finals last year…
    well, ‘nuf said.

  36. I got the chance to go see the Lakers in Portland on Friday (crazy! and Phil was right, their pregame video package included the Ariza Foul, Pryzbilla trash talking Shaq, etc).

    I was really impressed by Shannon’s play. He defended Blake very easily, using his strength and length to disrupt him. I have been a Farmar supporter, but Shannon’s confidence in taking open three’s – in that playoff environment- makes me feel better. We have to get some 3 point shooting out of our 1 or 3 spot.

  37. the other Stephen April 14, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    i really, really like that documentary.

  38. is it just me or did the scheduling guys totally call the playoff matchups? there are 3 1st round previews today..

  39. Fun stuff with lotsa psychological babble going either way.

    Me, personally, am not a fan of intentional losses regardless of the implications and its non-importance.

    But yeah, giving Kobe and Pau the entire day off except to tinker with some lineups where they’re the lone starter along with the subs would be kinda nice.

  40. Can I be a lone voice of dissent re: the playing of the trevor video before the game in portland? The Lakers’ pregame video is always so generic, almost anodyne, even when we’re playing a team with which we have a combative history. I think HCA should be just that and, particularly this time of year, I think it’s absolutely right that teams try to excite the emotions of the crowd, rather than quell it. I don’t mind at all that Portland showed that replay, so long as the Lakers can show McHale clotheslining Rambis, Bell’s takedown of Kobe, etc. The crowds should be booing their opponents– it’s part of the pleasure and intensity of the drive to the ring. I don’t even mind what Cuban did — essentially singling out and mocking Shaq — after all, the Big Amnesiac doesn’t seem to be holding a grudge.

    If we get Utah in round one, I’d want to see every controversial play between us in the last 10 years up on the Jumbotron, and would certainly not complain if the same thing happened in SLC.

    Is this too un-PC? Not gentlemanly enough? Well, so be it. This notion that ‘we dare not excite emotions lest some idiot chuck something at a player’ makes no sense to me– if that’s the fear, than put more security in the stands. I attend games because I want to share in the intensity of love for my team and, depending on the opponent, hatred of them– doesn’t mean I’m going to chuck something at Rondo (despite the admittedly appealing shape of his head)…

  41. Did someone light a fire under Michael Beasley? 21 points on 9-14 shooting, 11 rebounds, and 2 blocked shots in 18 minutes of play. This kid is going to be special in a few years.

  42. Let’s not think too much–and enjoy the game. What will be, will be. There is no doubt that the Lakers will begin the Western Conference Playoffs under the best of circumstances no matter who wins tonight.

    Afer tonight, we can worry about Sunday.

  43. lil’ pau,
    If all people did was boo and wave things behind the baskets I would agree with you. The problem is that it is becoming more and more acceptable to throw things and go after people. In that environment it is not a good idea to further excite the rather dumb members of the crowd. It is kind of like yelling ‘fire’ in a theater.

  44. 44, I respectfully disagree.

    Anyone who throws things should be ejected, obviously, but I don’t believe that stirring up emotion necessarily results in dangerous or illegal behavior. The fire in the theater analogy is a false one I believe, as no one goes to the theater motivated by a desire to see a fire, or by memory of a fire, or by any expectation of a fire, so it’s quite logical to expect people to panic if they think there’s an emergency and to hold the yeller criminally liable.

    otoh, I DO go to sporting events in part because of my dislike of the opponents– not all, but some. It’s why I hope we play Bos instead of Cle– for the catharsis of (I hope) sweet, sweet revenge versus beating (i hope again) a Cleveland team than I find more or less likable. It wouldn’t be as fun for me. It’s why we like the revenge dunk– the naked aggression of it all. The league’s desire to quell these emotions is infantile in my opinion– if it requires more security, or stricter penalties for violators, then so be it. What’s next, to ban the wearing the visiting team’s jerseys in the crowd?

    I say let those pregame videos be the ‘two-minute hate’ of Orwellian lore… the game is Shakespearean for me, and every purple and gold Othello needs its Green and White Iago…

    (Orwell and Shakespeare, jeez… bring on the playoffs already…)

  45. About the game tonight – Kevin Ding believes that Okur will not play tonight due to a strained hamstring from last night. Has anyone heard anything different?

  46. 19 – Awesome vid lol

    BCR: I think the fire the starting situation that just popped up recently. When Haslem went down, for the first game (or couple), Spoelstra, instead of playing Beasley, moving Diawara to the starting lineup and kept Beez on the bench. It made some headlines around Miami. But now I believe Diawara and Beasley start together.

    You’re right, that kid is something special. It just amazes me how ignorant the media can be sometimes. People are down on Beasley because the Heat coaching have decided not to give the kid any entitlement, and make him work for every minute of PT. It’s the right approach in my opinion. But he will be special, as will Chalmers.

    I highly doubt Beasley is his listed 6’10″ though. Seems more like 6’8″-ish to me, and that body that was impressive in college isn’t that impressive in the NBA. I have trouble seeing him as a PF, at least defensively. I’m not saying he can’t physically – Haslem is the same size and does a great job at the 4 – but Beasley doesn’t have Haslem’s banger-type personality. He likes to stay out on the perimeter, he doesn’t like to live in the paint and rebound. I really do think he needs to move to the 3 and improve his quickness, I don’t think he can make it (in his current mentality) at the 4.

  47. Amazing trick shot:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FLodUvNH-0g&eurl

    “After leaving Detroit, Isiah Thomas cut a path of destruction through the NBA. Look for him to do the same in college…
    He’s been hired as the basketball coach at Florida International University, and Thomas can make history here. This job gives Thomas the chance to obliterate programs in the NBA, CBA and now, NCAA.”

    Angry much, Woj? Does any writer sensationalize and viciously burn individuals (many of them undeserving) than Adrian Woj…whatever? As Kobe would say, maybe he wasn’t hugged enough as a child.

  48. I HATE REGGIE MILLER!

  49. 49

    I’m soooooo glad he’s not calling the Laker game. He’s insufferable.

  50. On a side note, how good would Miami’s future look had they taken Lopez with the 2nd pick? Actually, no one had Lopez that high – they could have traded down and picked up another asset.

    I have to admit that I never in a million years saw that one coming. I was pushing for Rose over Mayo before the college season even began, but I was a complete moron about Lopez. I predicted a bust, a more skilled Noah/Varejao. The guy is absolutely ridiculous, IMHO the Rookie of the Year.

  51. Fisher got fouled as well as Bynum (blatantly!) but no whistle. Shocking!

  52. 49. Reggie Miller is atrocious. Annoying voice, no insight, more awkward than a Sartre-reading adolescent

  53. Brown in as the first sub for Fisher again.

  54. deron Williams is unbelievable,this jazz team scares me

  55. 51

    Lopez is terrific, but I think Miami will be happy with Beasley down the road – assuming they find a way to mesh his scoring skills with Wade’s.

    The team that could end up kicking themselves for years to come is New York. Gallanari looks like a talented guy from the little he’s played, but you have to worry when your 20-year-old rookie misses most of the year with back problems. Imagine Eric Gordon playing for Mike D’Antoni. DJ Augustin, Anthony Randolph, Brandon Rush, Jerryd Bayless, or Jason Thompson would also have fit their system pretty well. And of course, they passed on Lopez as well.

  56. shannon’s athleticism alone already accounted for two plays, that block and an offensive rebound

  57. With ShanWOW there is nothing to fear.

  58. I just turned the game on, I see Farmar. What’s been the Brown/Farmar seesaw tonight?

  59. Farmar can’t even keep up with a 33 yr old Brevin Knight. How sad is that?

  60. That should be Gallinari not Gallanari

  61. Let the Farmar bashing begin!…hahaha

  62. again bad things happen when farmar goes in

  63. Good lord, Bynum was against a third-string center for six minutes there and got maybe three or four touches. Pass it inside guys.

  64. why can we not defend without fouling?

  65. Is it too late to activate Sun Yue as our 3rd string PG over Farmar?

  66. I know a lot of this is just us resting our guys, but I can’t help but wish Pau was out there longer dominating in the paint, and Lamar playing out in the perimeter taking Millsap to school.

  67. good things happen when Shannon’s in the game…

  68. Not sure if you guys saw this, but it’s kind of hilarious. I wish betting wasn’t a part of sports:

    http://www.cnbc.com/id/30212558?__source=RSS*blog*&par=RSS

  69. Oops. No more pull-ups, Shannon.

  70. I just don’t see PJ fitting Farmar in the rotation during the playoffs. If he plays Farmar, that’s just taking minutes away from Fisher. It’s going to be a 2 PG rotation with Fisher and Brown. Sorry Farmar, you’ve been Smushed!

  71. it’s weird – Shannon is taking and making the open jumpshot, but it looks like he’s got a hitch in his form. Maybe something with his elbow? It’s definitely not quite effortless, but can’t argue with the results.

  72. Here’s what Phil needs to do with Shannon Brown. In the offseason, Brown needs to move into Fish’s house. He needs to room with Fish, eat with Fish, train with Fish, eat and breathe Fish, do everything with Fish except maybe showering.

    My hope is that Fisher’s restraint and great decision making will rub off on Brown. If that happens, he will be a great contributor for years to come. Fish’s brain + ShanWOW’s athletic gifts = just wow.

    Of course Brown’s playing great now. This is all based off my prediction that as Brown grows more comfortable he’ll start to make some of the poor decisions Farmar makes, given Brown’s history. But for now, and for this year, Brown is great.

  73. If you’re going to foul somebody, don’t let them make too along with the free throw(s).

  74. No, Pau, no…

  75. wiseolgoat – Shannon will definitely need to revamp his shooting form in order to become even a solid shooter. His mechanics are way off.

  76. *the basket too; I forgot to insert that.

  77. machineeeeee!

  78. Did you see that contest by Brown to save a hoop from AK47 at the end of the half? unbelievable play.

  79. Does Bynum have a lisp? Why has no one reported on this before?

  80. Brown is just ridiculously athletic. His blocks, or at least alterations, on the defensive end are LeBron-esque. I concur with Snoopy — if Brown can settle down, harness his athleticism, and develop a good shooting stroke, he’s going to be a great player in the future.

  81. Just got home- Why all the free throws? how’s ShanWOW been doing tonight?

  82. I must have seen a less entertaining half of basketball, but I don’t remember when. I always forget Utah turns every game into a wrestling match.I’d rather see them play ANY other team.Just because I hate watching these kinda games.

  83. What I like is Sasha 4-6, +10, he is getting his shots tonight.

  84. lma0 utah has 30 free throw attempts and were up by 1?! must suck for utah

  85. the thing is, we’ve been the ones fouling instead of playing defense (not so much Utah) and it was really hurting us. When we settled down and played more fundamentally sound defense, they’ve struggled to score out of the paint.

  86. This is one of the sloppier games we’ve played, Kobe looks like *he* should be playing for the Jazz with all his fouling, we’re missing dunks and we’re still up by one. I know that the Jazz are without Okur, but I think he’d be even less an impediment to Bynum on the block than Collins is, so while he’d be huge for them on offense – he’d be equally bad on defense. Williams is a superduper PG, but unless the rest of these guys step up I don’t see how they win this game.

    I’m really liking what I’m seeing from Shannon so far, but I’d also like to see him play less P&R and initiate more to the wing so he can cut and try to get into the lane off the pass vs. getting into the lane off the dribble. Otherwise, defensively, he’s been solid on the ball and tremendous off the ball. His contest at the end of the half and his block when recovering on the break were not only tremendous athletically but great plays instinctively. On the ball against Deron, it’s tough because when you’re out there on an island against one of the best change of direction players, it’s a difficult task – but he’s holding his own in this area too.

  87. Darius – I think Kobe secretly wanted a night off.

    I agree that I’d like to see less of Shannon attacking off the dribble (esp off the pick and roll). While athletic, he seems to share the same problems Farmar does when it comes to finishing in the paint. Both of them pick up their dribble a couple steps too early, and on one play Brown settled for a contested fallaway just outside the paint when he should have gone hard to the rim and looked for contact. They’re not great finishers, so looking to move off the ball and utilize his teammates’ great passing abilities via cuts is a great idea to have Brown play more efficiently.

  88. ShamWOW could be the kind of guy who benefits from spending a summer at IMG (or a similar place), where he works on his shot, his decision making, his conditioning (not that it has been an issue) and comes back with more confidence.

  89. I guess the IMG would be a good 2nd choice if bunking with Fish doesn’t work out.

    Does anyone else really want to see Matt Harpring get thrown to the floor? I wonder what it looks like when Harpring and Artest play each other.

  90. Williams is leaving Fisher for dead time and time again.

  91. clear path foul??? They were nearly neck and neck and he was definitely reaching for the ball!

  92. Roy or D-Williams? Who would you rather take?

    A year ago I would have laughed at the comparison, but Roy is quite special. And he often a PG role. I’d still take Williams, but I think it’s at least debatable.

  93. Man – when D-Will gets a full head of steam going he’s LeBron-esque in his ability to get to the hoop

  94. the other Stephen April 14, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    i swear that there are many parts of this game where i think it’s on 150% speed, but it’s really just deron williams running right through our defense at full speed.

  95. It’s amazing how quickly a team’s confidence and dynamics change. Bynum’s completely invigorated everyone. The bench is up screaming after every play.

  96. Collins impressing me, the rare occurrence of using a highlight to make a point other than “look at this play.” I like seeing that communication on defense, no matter how basic it is it’s cool to see.

  97. 93

    Tough question, those are 2 of my favourite players. I’d go with Williams just because I’d always have the best player on the court at his position (he usually outplays Chris Paul) which is something you can’t say about Roy.

    The Northwest division is LOADED with young talent though: Roy, Williams, Anthony, Jefferson, Durant, Aldridge, Westbrook, Oden, Green… The list goes on and on.

  98. What an unselfish play by sasha there – passing up the open 3 to get Farmar a 3 point opportunity.

  99. OK, I am on the bandwagon of beating Utah tonight and then taking them out in the first round…

  100. reggyray – AWESOME vid, props for finding that

    Wow I guess Harpring is even stronger than Artest. If he actually had any skill whatsoever I might respect him.

    Artest is crazy, but you gotta love someone giving the classless SLC fans what they deserve.
    (not in any way saying Jazz fans in general are classless, it just seems like a lot of crazies show up to the arena, esp. when we play them)

  101. Farmar has looked a lot better in the 4th. Nothing spectacular, but I can’t remember him making a bad play.

  102. he did just have a 1 on 3 out of control drive to the hoop that missed, but fortunately he was bailed out by Pau getting fouled on the offensive board attempt.

  103. Joel,

    He’s been forcing it a little on his drives; aside from that, he has been dishing the ball pretty well though. Williams has notably turned down the aggressiveness meter though; Farmar was burned by him earlier in the game.

  104. And, right as I start praising Farmar…

  105. 1st quarter excepted, tonight has been an absolute offensive clinic. 37 dimes on 46 makes? Absurd.

  106. And then Farmar carries the ball into the lane and triple coverage, sits there and eats the three second call.

    Ugh.

  107. What is wrong with that guy? Geez

  108. Poor Farmar really has no ability to finish in the paint. He stops his dribble too quickly. He doesn’t have the hang time to stay in the air and ‘out-hang’ a defender. He doesn’t have the footwork to put the defender back on his heels and sink a teardrop.

    I would have Farmar study tape of Nash and Parker, the way they keep their dribbles alive. They can get into the paint, and if they see nothing, they’ll come out on the other side and pull the ball back out. But a couple more steps on the part of Farmar will get him in better scoring position. Right now he’s stopping too early and then is stuck trying to pump-fake guys with 1 foot on him.

  109. Anyone else a bit surprised by this guy? lol

  110. Coolest nickname ever. The Ukraine Train, for Kyrylo Fesenko.

  111. Farmar passes up a 5 footer and takes a fadeaway 15 footer….i’ll I have to say is ShamWOW…..

  112. BCR….may I?

    Powell needs dunking practice.

  113. Josh Powell needs dunking practice.

  114. Every time I see Korver I feel like calling on the Force.

  115. Jordan shot nearly 60% on shots in the immediate basket area last year. This year, it is down below 50%. All the other close range shots are down as well.

  116. Snoopy – +1 sir. well played.

    Well it’s been a great 82 games, here’s to getting 16 more wins!

  117. Before we go to the playoffs, I’d like to thank everyone here for their insightful commentary and for the cheers, laughs, and tears we’ve shared as we’ve watched this team go through the season. I earnestly hope this goes into the future.

    Let the stretch run begin.

  118. How was Andrew -10 in 30 minutes tonight?

    Let the playoffs begin.

  119. I liked Jordan’s defense in the 4th quarter. He had low position, funneled Williams into the bigs, and didn’t overcommit. It may not be quite what we want, but he’s taking baby steps towards where we want him to go.

    Our team is really coming together at the right time. We scored 125 points without having any one scorer above 22. We had 39 assists on 48 baskets. Sasha is coming out of his shooting slump. Shannon is becoming a serviceable backup right when we need him most. Bynum has come back and looks to be about 80-90% of his former self. We closed out April going 7-1, with a head full of steam going into the playoffs. Great season by the guys, looking forward to the playoffs

  120. The Dude Abides April 14, 2009 at 10:43 pm

    Great to see Sasha hit from range tonight. Machine reboot! Anyway, Utah is definitely sweepable. They don’t have anyone who can stop our bigs down low, they have nobody who can match up with Kobe, and we really made D-Will work tonight.

  121. And yea, Josh Powell needs some serious dunking practice.

  122. hat foul by D Will on Bynum was chump, the league should look at it, I do like the way Kobe was chewing at him after it though, pure chump imho.

  123. Odom +28, 7-11, 16 pts, he is unbelievable off the bench and the rotations are better.

  124. Just got back from my first Laker game this season, and my first ever *courtside* seat in over a decade of fandom! Some observations:

    - The Machine practiced jumpers by himself for a good 20 minutes straight before the rest of the team came out for the pregame shootaround. Does he always do that? Could be why he was so on tonight.

    - Part of why the Jazz are so bad on the road may be because they seem VERY susceptible to heckling. Not even the good stuff. I sat and laughed while Matt Harping, AK47 and Ronnie Brewer got genuinely disturbed (glaring, cursing, etc) at a single drunk guy yelling “Hey [blank]…YOU SUCK” every time there was a lull in the action. I would’ve chimed in but I was within strangling range of Sloan.

    - Deron Williams is unguardable. The amount of momentum he can generate and still be under control is far beyond what any normal human being can do (much less do backwards/laterally). This has to be seen in person to be truly believed. He’s the only player on the Jazz that scares me.

    - 70% of the Laker girls are as gorgeous up close as you think they’d be. The other 30% have this freakish ‘aging beauty queen desperately clinging to youth through botox and pancake makeup’ look about them

    Anyway, I had a great time. We didn’t play our best ball and it was still a blowout. Bring em on!

  125. Before I saw Josh Powell, I never thought I’d say this, but…

    I think it’d be a higher percentage shot if Powell stopped trying to go up hard and dunk, and actually laid the ball off the glass.

  126. I was one of the doubters who really wanted to avoid this utah team in the playoffs, but I must say I didn’t see much today to give me pause. only williams (and I suppose milsap) is a favorable matchup for them, and boozer and AK-47 look like shadows of the players we saw last year. i know it’ll be different with okur forcing pau to the perimeter, but I don’t see them having any response to pau, drew, lamar, and that kid from lower merion.

  127. And…playoffs!

    Wooh!

    Well, this has been a great RS for the Lakers, and although we didn’t accomplish nearly everything we wanted…this team is a considerable lock for the championship. Barring the Knee Scare that is Andrew Bynum, I haven’t got much to complain about.

    Let the real season begin. April-June Madness!

  128. I just want to say , THANK YOU LAKERS! Put the Jazz on stop and worked hard to get us our 65!

  129. Without the unbelievably bad refereeing in the first half (seriously – how many touch fouls did the Lakers get called for?), that game would have been a 30 point win. Very efficient offensive game for us, but we did get pushed around a little down low, though I have to wonder how much all of the crazy first half foul calls played into that.

    65-17. Not too shabby.

  130. Wow, what a roller coaster ride this season has been. Starting off an such a high, then getting worried because Boston was on a historic pace, then getting pumped up again after XMas day, then the Bynum injury and the collective depression of Laker nation, followed by the struggles of the bench. And now with Bynum’s return, the attitude and confidence of this team has flipped 180. I don’t think we can say we’re peaking, but Bynum’s being integrated back into the system, players have reprised their roles from the beginning of the season, and we have discovered the ShamWOW.

    The only missing ingredient? Returning to the hard trapping, active, focused defense we began the season with. I think we’ll see an increase in intensity in that area as the playoffs wear on.

  131. It’s ShanWOW you guys, gota have the ‘n’ in there you know for Shannon!

    We have to get this right before the Utah series, because I think it will be used alot in these games, imo.

    “You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother.” – Albert Einstein

  132. lol I’m used to ShamWOW….it’s 3 AM…typos happen

    Although saying the Lakers have spent the season discovering a highly absorbant towel is kind of a big typo.

  133. 16 Wins left

  134. FWIW, Farmar has closed the season with a single-digit PER. I honestly think he’s on the way out after this season. He’s in Phil’s doghouse at this point.

    On a bit of a brighter note, we are the only team going into the playoffs to boast three players with a PER above 20 (Kobe, Pau, and Andrew). San Antonio would be the other, but Ginobli is out injured.

  135. PER is very qualitative given that the official stats recorded are not that in depth so PER by dependence on these stats is also not s in depth. We’re not Darrel Morey or Mark Cuban here. Farmar had an off year but has potential. He’ll be fine.

  136. besides the sample size on Bynum is small and they were feeding him in small minutes

    However, I’m most concerned with Bynum’s rebounding. He has gotten very few rebounds while he has been in (sign of fear of contact?) and he should be dominating the boards in his limited minutes with his extra energy. We don’t need him to score. We need him to be Tyson Chandler- very good rebounder, run the floor, play good team defense, alter shots, be strong in post defense, and be an effective target and inside passer in pick-and-rolls (which gives three excellent Kobe options for Big men pick and rolls). Any offensve rebounds Bynum gets will be a welcome bonus

  137. The Utah game was more than could’ve been hoped for BTW. Odom played absolutely fantastic. He transitioned seemlessly between the first and second units playing very effectively (as usual) with the starters and passing off Kobe and Gasol as well as integrating Bynum well with interior and lob passing.

    He also energized the second unit greatly. Having him out there meant a primary offensive focal point that all the reserves played well off. His passing along with Luke’s helped that whole second string back in Rhythm.

    Also having Bynum back means a 32-32-32 split for Pau, Gasol and Odom in the front courts’ 96 minutes with only temporary spelling by Powell (who has been very good this year; 10-16 minutes maybe) which allows a strong and fluid passing unit on the floor at all times. It was very good for both farmar and Vujacic all night and I hope the game plans for the playoffs look very similar to last nights.

  138. The Lakers are almost unnecessarily deep for the playoffs- like a team with too many starting pitchers. There is little drop off 7 through 11.

    The Lakers have a quality starting 5(6) obviously with the Odom-Gasol-Byum inside rotation ariza-kobe-FIsh outside but then farmar, machine, ShanWOW, Powell, Walton who are all on par as reserves.

  139. Has anyone noticed that Mitch is exceedingly good with trades? He has not only improved the talent on the Lakers but the youth factor and the finances. Look at the Cavs with their $90 million+ payroll and bad contracts. They have horrible future flexibility while the Lakers have exactly 0 bad contracts and a ton of flexibility

    I mean we all disliked the playing styles (or should have) of Radman, Brian ‘shoot every play’ Cook, and Mo Evans and he turned them into ShanWOW, Trevor and a nice prospect for the 3, Morrison while improving the future cap flexibility. Talk about the MIdas touch. (We can forgive him I hope for the Butler for Brown trade since he turned him into Pau…)

    Plus the Shaq deal is still paying dividends. Odom, Gasol and Farmar are all products of the value received in that trade. Lakers got from Shaq: 3 titles and players for shots at several more. The Heat?: 1 title and the Bill.

  140. Some more interesting statistics on Utah’s struggles this year:

    “If you wake up this morning and look at the standings, you will realize the Jazz went 1-20 this season on the road against teams that presently have winning records. Hard to argue they deserve much better than the No. 8 seed in that case. Same with their 3-18 record in the second game of back-to-backs, which is on par with the Washingtons, Memphises and Sacramentos of the NBA.”

  141. Max you are so on point! The future is def. bright. However, everytime you see Mitch during a game he looks like he is spaced out. What’s up with that?

  142. Wasn’t able to watch until the beginning of the 4th quarter last night. Perfect timing, haha.

  143. Someone may have already brought this up, but if
    Portland, Houston and San Antonio win tonight,
    they will all be tied with Denver for the second spot
    in the West. I hope it happens so we can see how
    convoluted the tie breakers get to solve the rankings.

  144. Am I the only one that is very worried about Fisher’s struggles? I love the guy but he was such a liability offensively when he was on the floor last night. I hope he gets out of his slump soon.

  145. Fish has been in a slump, but looking back on his career the dude always steps up in the playoffs.

    He is getting up there in age for an NBA player though. He doesn’t look like he’s aged appearance wise, but it does seem to be catching up to him a bit on the court.

  146. joem,

    Denver already clinched the division over Portland, but Houston has the tie breaker over them. The Nuggets hold the tie breaker over SA. Followed by Houston over Portland, and Portland over SA. I’m not sure about Houston and San Antonio because they were 2-2 against each other, and share the same Conference and division records. I don’t know what the next tie breaker is.

    It’ll be interesting.

    Does the NBA still rank the Division winners top 3 seeds? Or does it only guarantee you a spot now?

  147. Max,

    I just commented on another blog about the Lakers getting contributions from every player this year. Every player (outside of Ammo, who shouldn’t count) has played a decent amount and was needed. I can’t imagine a single player looking back at the season and not being happy with his PT or role on the team. outside of Radman, who was shipped out.

    What other team could boast that?

    Credit PJ for getting every player on the team able to contribute when asked. He’s really done a great job.

    Credit Mitch for having a great eye for steals. Seriously, after the drama of 2007, he came through in the clutch. I will never question his decisions ever. He has to be one of, if not the best talent evaluator in an NBA front office right now.

    He gets them, and Phil develops them. Perfect combo.

  148. Fish played a lot of minutes this year. I think our original 3 yr plan for him was to introduce Farmar last year and reduce his minutes this year. Didn’t work out that way and I think Fish is showing the results.

    The Playoffs have no back-to-backs so I expect him to improve.

  149. lolsaangkeleesr April 15, 2009 at 10:56 am

    141. If you want to go even farther, the result of trading Shaq was immediately a draft lottery season.

    Anyone want to remind me who we got in that draft?

  150. GREAT article talking about what many of us have discussed here often – the fact that the NBA IS in a new Golden Age, and will likely be in one for some time to come:

    http://thepaintedarea.blogspot.com/2009/04/painted-areas-2008-09-nba-mvp-lebron.html