Preview & Chat: The Utah Jazz

Darius Soriano —  December 27, 2011

Projected Starting LineupsLakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Devin Ebanks, Josh McRoberts, Pau Gasol
Jazz: Devin Harris, Raja Bell, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Al Jefferson

The Lakers Coming in: The Lakers are still looking for a win but will now try to get it playing their third game in three nights. I’m not sure if the schedule makers were being kind or a special kind of evil by putting the Lakers’ lone BTBTB stretch at the start of the season (on the one hand it gets it out of the way; on the other, the Lakers are without Bynum and have a new coach with new schemes to learn on the fly) but either way, here they are. Their legs are surely weary and with rotations still be settled on, the comfort level simply isn’t there yet.

The lone positive that I’ve seen in both the Laker losses is that after halftime they’ve come out playing much better, with improved focus and execution on both ends of the court. Whether that’s a product of coaching adjustments or a good old fashioned ear chewing in the locker room is unknown, but I like how this team is playing in the 2nd half of contests. Now, if they could only close out games a bit better we’d be on our way…

The Jazz Coming in: Where the Lakers are already playing their third contest, tonight will be the first official game for the Jazz. Such are the quirks of a 66 game schedule in a compressed time frame. So, expect the Jazz to have fresh legs and the bounce in their step that comes from finally playing a game that counts.

Also expect to see some new faces for the Jazz as they’re now a completely different team than the one the Lakers faced in the playoffs just a few seasons ago. Last year Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer both went east. This year, Memo Okur and Andrei Kirilenko have joined them. These new Jazz are full of youth with Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward, rookies Enes Kanter and Alec Burks, and Jeremy Evans all looking to make their name in the league. This team still does have a good veteran presence – Devin Harris, Al Jefferson, CJ Miles, and Raja Bell all bring varying levels of experience to the roster, but make no mistake this team is one that’s rebuilding through the draft. If Favors, Kanter, Hayward, and Burks all reach their potential, they’ll have a very good lineup one day. That day just isn’t today.

Jazz Blogs: Salt City Hoops and SLC Dunk are both great outlets for all you Jazz analysis and news.

Keys to game: If there were ever a game where the Lakers need to dictate the terms of the game, this is it. The Jazz will be full of energy and they surely see a wounded, tired Laker team that they can knock down another peg. The Lakers will need to counter this with deliberate offensive sets that slow the pace of the game and take the air out of what the Jazz want to do on both ends of the floor.

Offensively, this means being patient and running coach Mike Brown’s sets all the way through. When the Lakers have the most success on O, they work the ball from side to side, use the screen actions that free Kobe coming to the top of the key and their big men to the strong side post in order to open up all options. L.A. will need to do this on more possessions than they have been in the first two games in order to get the Jazz D moving, get them to scramble, and the attack in the gaps. Obviously this means a heavy dose of Kobe and Gasol in the post and at the elbows, but this is also a game where Ebanks, Barnes, and MWP will need to work the creases of the D and make themselves available for the types of passes that create easy buckets. What I’d like to avoid is the de-evolution into isolation ball that plagued the Lakers down the stretch of both the Chicago and Sacto games. Kobe is to blame for some of this approach, but as it was under Phil Jackson, his teammates are complicit in this approach by giving him the ball and watching him work. The onus is on everyone – Kobe, his teammates, and Mike Brown – to keep the focus on ball and player movement.

Defensively, the Lakers face another speedy guard that will play a lot of P&R basketball with shooters spacing the floor to open up the driving lanes when coming off the screen. The Lakers will need to show out hard on Harris, make him give up the ball and then go back to playing strong positional defense by recovering to their men from their help positions. LA’s lack of foot speed has made this difficult but the accuracy the Bulls and (especially) Kings showed in shooting the long ball only exacerbated the issue. It’s understandable that fatigue will be an issue, but the Lakers will need to rotate to Bell, Hayward, and Miles whenever they’re camped in the corner and make them put the ball on the floor to create their own shot. The latter two are capable playmakers off the bounce so closing out with discipline is needed but I’d rather run them off the three point line and/or contest hard than let them bomb away taking clean looks.

The Lakers will also need to continue their good job of protecting their defensive backboards. The Jazz offer four above average big men (Favors, Jefferson, Millsap, and Kanter) who all seek out contact on the glass and like to bang underneath. Gasol, Murphy, and McRoberts (who is questionable with a sprained toe) will all need to do work on the glass to combat the Jazz bigs. But the Laker wings and guards must also do their part by closing down the foul line and pinching the bigs from the backside in order to wall off the paint to aid on the glass. Ebanks, MWP, and Barnes are all capable rebounders and their efforts will be needed tonight. (On a sidenote, one player that really needs a body put on him is Jeremy Evans. He’s a leaper and loves to come in for tip dunks when no one boxes him out. Whenever he’s on the floor, he must be marked as he will put one down on your head if you’re not looking out for him.)

Where you can watch: 7:30 start time on TNT. Also listen at ESPN Radio 710AM.

Darius Soriano

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75 responses to Preview & Chat: The Utah Jazz

  1. Lets make sure that this ‘1’, as in first victory of the year, is for Warren … Lets Get It.

  2. I am beyond excited to see Enes Kanter in action tonight since the NCAA deprived me of watching him play last year at my alma mater. I have a buddy who has connections with the program and he told me Kanter scrimmaged against Cousins and Patrick Patterson when they were there for summer play and Kanter ate them both alive in the post. He probably would have been the number 1 pick had he been allowed to play.

    It would be nice to get this win because beating the Knicks without Bynum is a tall order.

  3. I’d be fine with the Jazz leaving town with a victory if they also departed with a TPE and left Paul Millsap behind.

  4. I doubt that Kanter will even play because the Jazz are so clogged up with big men. They should trade one of them and get a perimeter player and a good shooting guard.

  5. Funky: The Jazz are under the cap, and probably will stay that way, hence they will not need a TPE. They also already have a $10 mill TPE from the Okur deal. Bottom line: These things are not very valuable in general. They are only valuable for specific situations and making them work. We gotta hope Mitch has one of those in mind. Our TPE does not work for Hedu, but it does work for Jameer.

  6. TPE: One good thing about the LO deal, was that it took away the Mavs larger TPE. Their TPE was $12 million and they used $9 million on Lamar. Hence they “could” have used this for Hedu, but no more. They are no longer in the serious running for DH as a trade. Give credit to Mitch (this is twice in 24 hours for me giving credit to Mitch).

  7. Mimsy,
    Responding to a post on the previous thread – I think the real issue is that we still want to view the Lakers as contenders, and are having a difficult time squeezing that blood out of the turnip that is the current roster.

  8. Robert, they were not going to use their TPE (they didn’t have the pieces to make a trade for Howard). They just want cap space next year, while still being good this year, so that they can try and get Howard and Deron WIlliams in free agency. They may actually be able to pull it off too if neither one is traded this season and they don’t sign extensions.

  9. one reason the lakers have done so well against the jazz recently is b/c they had to prep for them 3x in the playoffs. however, there is a lot of new laker personnel so i don’t expect them to defend the jazz as well as they have in the past.

  10. I heard the Dallas pick is top-20 protected this year. Not sure about subsequent years, but it’d be nice if it wasn’t, given their poor start and Hollinger’s early (even for him) gloom-and-doom story today.

  11. Mavs have about 41$ million committed in salaries in 2012-2013,not just 33,per Hoopshype

  12. 13/Gosh: they can amnesty haywood to get to $33M. i guess they could go even lower if they can somehow find a team with caproom to take haywood/marion.

  13. I just heard on espn radio 710 that Steve Blake is starting tonight. I came on here to see if it was true and it says fisher is starting. Is it true Steve Blake is starting tonight!? I sure hope so

  14. Hopefully we don’t come out flat with this being the 3rd game in 3 nights. I think it would be disasterous for us to lose this game knowing we have the Knicks next without Bynum.

  15. #14. Fwiw, even $33 million would only give them $25 million of cap space with a $58 million cap (and projections say the cap may not grow much above this year’s number). That’s a lot of space but not enough for two max contracts. They’d be taking even bigger paycuts than LeBron, Wade, and Bosh took in year one (and beyond) plus they wouldn’t get full Bird’s Rights raises from year to year either. Just something to consider.

  16. @ #15, J: Hope it’s true that Blake is starting tonight for 2 simple reasons:

    1. As much respect that I have for ‘El Presidente’, he isn’t and imo, hasn’t brought anything to the table since the ’10 Finals. Blake, @ this point, is our best option @ the 1. Which brings me to:

    2. Hopefully, Coach Brown will now deactivate either Luke or Kapono and give ‘The Young Pup’ Morris an opportunity to show what he can contribute (couldn’t be any worse than Fish). It will also, if nothing else, give us some fresh legs on the 3rd night of the back 2 back 2 back.

  17. @ J and Tra: shows the following probable starters:

    #3 Ebanks
    #6 McRoberts
    #16 Gasol
    #24 Bryant
    #2 Fisher

    Note the word “probable” though… Ebanks has that very same status on the injury list.

  18. ryan et al: You are correct that Cuban is a big player if DH goes free agent. If u review my post, I said they r out of the trade competition. If the Magic is dumb enough to pull a Lebron with DH, then Cuban will be a genius. Mitch must show them the light. And in the process – give us some hope.

  19. mojo: Milsap is not happening. Since u follow the #’s, as I stated above, the Jazz are already under the cap next year and will likely stay there (small pockets). They also already have a $10 million TPE from Okur. These things can’t be combined, and as u see it is hard to use even 1 small TPE (Sasha), let alone 2 big TPE’s.

  20. I do not have a good feeling about tonight’s game…

  21. exhelo: I think the real issue is that we still want to view the Lakers as contenders, and are having a difficult time squeezing that blood out of the turnip that is the current roster.

    (ESPN) Lakers’ Brown: We’re going to be in the playoffs

    time to line up with the expectations of the coach, folks.

  22. Please, can somebody tell Mike Brown that he is living in the Matrix?

  23. tsuwm: BINGO Not to re-live this board’s spat of a few days back, however, aren’t we all optimists? Some have given up on the championship and find optimism in the way Troy Murphy combs his hair. Others like myself are delusional and are still grasping at straws to hope that somehow this mighty dynasty still exists.

    We need a win tonight in any case.

  24. We are one acquisition of an average starting PG to being better than last year without even bringing in Dwight Howard. So lets cross our fingers Mitch knows what he is doing. He hasn’t let us down yet… Besides feeling he owes Derek Fisher the kind of loyalty only superstars deserve.

  25. Miami’s defense is so, so fast. Last year (after watching them initially) I actually didn’t watch them that much. I found them fairly boring actually. This year, I’m not afraid to say that I’m having a lot of fun watching this Heat team. They’re so blindingly fast up the floor, so blindingly fast closing out on the defensive end. Fun to watch as a basketball fan.

    I like their rookie. Cole has some poise. The Celtics look a lot like us. Mismatched, confused parts.

  26. Can someone explain what protected draft rights mean in a trade? If the Draft pick the Lakers got from the Mavs are in the top 20 the Lakers automatically lose the draft pick back to the Mavs?

  27. kenny – yup. Then we wait for the following year. If the pick is also top 20 protected in 2013, then we lose the pick and wait for 2014. The protection often decreases in subsequent years. Eventually the pick (sometimes after 5-6 years) becomes unprotected. I haven’t seen any clear explanation of the exact protection of this Mavs pick beyond this season, so I don’t think we know exactly what we’re dealing with.

    WOW this Miami team is fun. Remains to be seen if they can keep up this kind of pressure over an entire year.

  28. This is the kind of constant pressure people were expecting Miami to exert last season. I know it’s very early but they look ominous.

  29. Good article by Beckley Mason breaking down our P&R defense woes:

  30. Things to watch tonight:

    1. Foul Trouble on bigs.
    2. Turnovers from guards.
    3. How many times Fisher falls on his butt.

  31. miami hasn’t shown me any eye-popping execution in the half-court. in the playoffs, teams will take away those 1st and 2nd options and Miami will be back where they started: Lebron Iso and Wade PnR.

  32. Wish there’s a “Like” feature on here. Warren made an astute insight in watching tonight’s game.

    As a lot of my friends have said, there’s a lot of gloom and doom in Laker Land. A lot of the band-wagoners have jumped off and jumped on the “Lob City” Train LOL.

    I personally think we should wait and see as we’re only 3% into the regular season, and Mitch has proven himself time and again. Until we get Bynum back and our rotation stabilizes (MB not experimenting like last game), we should be a bit more patient.

  33. Darius Morris inactive again. Hope Lakers send him to the D-League so he can get some playing time

  34. The Miami-Boston game got off to a late start because the Heat had to spend 25 minutes not hanging anything.

  35. Miami falling apart against Boston’s zone.

  36. We’re 0-2 and TNT gives us Reggie Miller? That’s just kicking us when we’re down.

  37. Could it be? A Kapono sighting?

  38. Can somebody please offer Reggie Miller a coaching job? Pretty please?

  39. McRoberts, Blake, Kapono, Murphy, and Peace on the floor.

    Please somebody tell me this is a dream.

    Bring in Luke just so I know it is the Lakers.

  40. does enes kanter have neanderthal dna?

  41. Patience. Bynum’s back after one more game. Hopefully, he comes back with a vengeance, re-energizes PAU and kills any talk of a DHoward swap for the near feature. Assuming Bynum and Pau play well, Kobe can start to sit out more and rest that wrist.

    I don’t care if we don’t win it all this year. This is an asterisk year so any championship won this year will be tainted – I don’t care who wins it. I’m more concerned about what our long term strategy is.

  42. Love having an athletic big running the floor hard!

    Third straight game tonight, it’s going to be interesting to see how Brown uses the bench in the second half.

  43. @ #43, Chibi: HILARIOUS

  44. Ron Artest (MWP) with the SLAM DUNK

  45. Love McRob’s activity to get the block and Peace’s finish to cap the sequence!

  46. Jesus…MWP with the monster slam – I never thought I’d live to see the day:D

  47. Are they playing on 8-foot high baskets? MWP throwing it down? Wow!

  48. Kobe with the crossover and dunk

  49. What do these Laker big men have against boxing out?

  50. That’s a perfect example of how frustrating Pau can be. Grabs the board and then has it stripped.

  51. When Kobe moves without the ball, good things happen. When Kobe moves the ball, good things happen. When he isos…. it’s going to be a long three years if he can’t age with grace.

  52. Shaq is predictably not understandable as a commentator.

  53. @Vor, 56. I love Kobe, but I’ve been thinking that for the last couple of years. Ever since 08 and Pau’s arrival. I’m hoping that a new voice in Brown will help drive the message in. For as much as Kobe had a great relationship with Phil, I thought it was also apparent he had tuned Phil out to some extent. Phil was a great coach, but all coaches start to lose their players after so many years. Even Phil admitted that.

  54. Does Reggie realize that the “old” Lakers that are outrunning the “young” Jazz are Ebanks and McRob who are both young, extremely athletic and run the floor well?

  55. 59

    Did I mention that I want someone to offer Reggie a coaching job?

  56. fish break!

  57. The Jazz look pretty bad tonight.

  58. If murphy can keep getting 8+ rebounds per game of the bench, and when mcroberts goes to the bench when big drew comes back, and when Mitch kupchak gets us a decent point guard, not much gloom after all for this season.

  59. @ 60, Joel, The Clips replacing Vinny? The comedy potential of him going up against Mark Jackson’s Warriors would be comedy fodder. Ex bad color guys battling each other regularly in the division would be entertaining.

  60. Chownoir – totally agree. I really think Kobe can extend his career if he is willing to change his game. Not sure his ego will let him.

    And man, Utah looks bad.

  61. Re Kobe changing his game: another reason a guard upgrade is so long overdue. As long as we are so reliant on him to make plays off the dribble it will be very hard to get him to adjust his approach.

    And yes, the Jazz look pretty awful.

  62. lakers up 27 and pau still running hard.

  63. Vor, maybe not as much ego as sense of belief. The same thing that makes him so successful, belief in himself against all odds, may work against him.

    I make that distinction because if it is ego, then it would be very hard to reach him and change his ways. But the belief can be modified and reached with a new voice showing him how he can continue to be successful by changing.

    Kobe’s always been a student of the game, I keep hoping that he studied the way other great players changed as they aged. He’s adapted his game as he’s gotten older relying less on athleticism. Here’s hoping he takes the next step in that evolution.

  64. This is when it would have been nice to get Morris some burn instead of Luke being activated.

    I wonder how Barnes is handling the lack of playing time.

  65. if this world-peace-murphy-mcroberts frontline can find some chemistry, that’d be a huge boon for gasol-bynum.

  66. lakers doing a nice job of freeing up artest and feeding him in the post.

  67. Chibi, I think the lineup can work due to complementary parts but it’s dependent on Peace making right decisions. He operates down low, Troy high post for his shooting and spacing, McRob on weakside to clean up boards and garbage points. Theoretically it should work as long as Ron can finish when he overpowers his guy or passes when it’s the correct play.

    It should open up shooting for the guards too. It really can be a great second unit and uses Peace effectively.

  68. The season’s first Taco Chant. All is as it should be. 🙂

  69. Well, they’re not going to go 0-66.

  70. Finally, first W for the season.

    Short post, just a big thank you. Do it again on Thursday against NuYok Melo &

  71. 72/chownoir: mwp could set screens/pin-downs and free up decent shooters like goudelock, ebanks, and blake.

    also, shaq on tnt #1

  72. @chownoir re: Barnes’ playing time:

    I think I heard somewhere that Barnes is dealing with a nagging bursitis problem in his hip…does anyone else know?