It’s a good sign that normally nervous Lakers fans biggest concerns yesterday were whether the fans at Staples should be doing the “We Want Tacos” or “Utah Sucks” chant and if they are in bad taste. (I personally think the second chant is in bad taste, while the tacos just taste bad.) It was a great game to be at.
In some ways it was a perfect game for the coaches — the outcome was never in doubt but there was plenty for the coaches to pick apart and push the team on after the game. For example, the play in the entire second half, particularly on defense. In the first half the Lakers were moving their feet and bigs were rotating well, in the second half they got lazy and that led to penetration by Utah’s guards, sloppy reach ins by Lakers players leading to fouls, and a horrid job keeping the Jazz off the offensive glass.
Darius talked a little about the fouling.
The Lakers kept on fouling and the Jazz benefited from it by going to the line and staying aggressive. And let’s forget about Crawford for a second and understand that the Jazz we bullying their way to the basket. If you’re defending those types of plays/players, you must play better position defense and cut off driving angles in order to make the offensive player stop, change directions, pass, etc. The Lakers didn’t do any of those things, rather they reached more and were late on rotations. And on a couple of occasions they just let the Jazz go right by them seemingly saying, “score or miss, I’m not going to foul right now”. This happened with Gasol letting AK47 get right to the basket and miss a layup and Odom letting Harpring do the same. Next game we must do better.
Expect the game not to be called as tight and a more physical contest. The Jazz are likely to try to ugly it up. Both teams need to adjust to that.
For Utah, Memhet Okur is a game-time decision, although reports in the morning papers out of Salt Lake call him unlikely. That really hurts Utah, they need him to pull Gasol or Bynum out to the three-point line, opening up the paint when D-Will drives the lane. There was very little pick-and-roll from the Jazz without him in the lineup.
The Lakers did a very good job in the first half of last game in inducing the Jazz into jumpshots (and they are not a good jumpshooting team). The Lakers again need to dare them, and to keep them out of the paint.
Bottom line tonight — I don’t care if there is a “We Want Tacos” chant or not, although you’d like to think in the playoffs fans would have more important things to care about. But I hope there is reason for the chant.