Lakers Win Big Against Jazz In Season Opener 102-84

Phillip Barnett —  January 25, 2013

All preseason Mike D’Antoni had been telling media that for the Lakers to play their best, Kobe Bryant would have to sacrifice some shots and look for his teammates early and look for his own shot within the flow of the offense — and that’s exactly what he did on the Lakers season opening win over the Utah Jazz. Bryant would finish the game with 14 points, eight rebounds and 14 assists on seven-for-10 shooting in what would be a very balanced scoring night for the Lakers, who are starting the season for the fourth time this year.

The beneficiaries of Bryant’s willingness to give were the whole team as he was the fifth leading scorer with four guys scoring at least 15 points. One of those guys were Dwight Howard, who got rolling early. Within the first four minutes of the game Dwight had already recorded eight points and six assist, with six of those points coming from dunks, two off them alley-oops. Howard would finish with 17 points and 13 rebounds on eight-for-12 shooting and only one turnover. Howard looked a bit more spry on the evening than he had in recent games moving great laterally on defensive rotations and jumping through the roof to contend shots at the rim.

Pau Gasol also had a decent game off the bench with 15 points on seven-of-eight shooting. Gasol also added seven rebounds and three assists, with a couple of them coming on 4-5 pick and rolls with Howard. The offense seemed improved on the night with both Gasol and Howard on the floor together as there were multiple buckets with the Lakers going to their Horns sets and getting the ball in Pau’s hands and allowing him to make decisions — which resulted in Gasol playing one of his most decisive games of the season. We saw him take the ball to the rack a few times, hit Howard on the roll or the oop, and hit the jumper with a decent regularity.

Gasol’s improved game opened things up for both Ron Artest (17 points) and Steve Nash (15 points). Nash didn’t record an assist in the first half of the game, but he was aggressive looking for his shot early, filling the void Bryant left on the perimeter while Artest was great from behind the perimeter, shooting five-for-11 from the three-point line.

Most importantly, however, the defense was fantastic for the whole night. Perimeter defenders fought hard to fight through screens, but when they were beat back side defenders rotated well and contested shots around the rim. The only gave up 37 points at the half and were able to keep both Al Jefferson and Paul Milsap — both guys who have had huge games against the Lakers — at bay for much of the night. A lot of the production from both Jefferson and Millsap came from backside rebounds and put backs after either Pau or Howard slid over to help out on penetrating guards.

Perimeter defenders did a great job hedging down onto the Jazz’s post players and getting back out to run shooters off the three point line after kick-outs. Utah only shot three-for-14 from the three point line — making two fewer than what Artest made all game.

While it feels great to get a win, the celebration cannot continue past tonight as they’ll still have a lot of work to do with Oklahoma City coming to town and the Grammy Trip looming. Regardless, it’s great to see the Lakers get their season started off on the right foot. Not too many complaints from this one, hopefully the trend can continue.

Phillip Barnett

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26 responses to Lakers Win Big Against Jazz In Season Opener 102-84

  1. Great win against a good team, another test looms against the the best in the west on Sunday.

  2. much better energy from D12 tonight. hope this is the beginning of some consistent effort. has KB24 decided to change his game to improve the outcome or was it just an anomaly due to matchup? nice to see some fire in Pau’s belly!

  3. We Can Stll Win 17 January 25, 2013 at 10:32 pm

    Clean up the turnovers. Nice pace. Kobe and Steve have to switch roles. Mitch MUST get rid of all bad freethrow shooters, except D. Howard.

  4. I feel a light when in with Kobe and this team. It’s like they all decided to block out Mike D and run their own offense. Happy team with even scoring and it resulted in tough defense.

    Beware league the ” light were on and everyone was home”.

    Best game of the year for Kobe, Pau and Metta.

    Guess I will start going to games again!

  5. The Lakers Players decided to ignore D’Antoni’s Loser Offense. Kobe should be the primary point guard and Steve Nash should primarily be a shooter – like Steve Kerr was for the Chicago Bulls. Kobe as point guard draws a lot of defenders to him, opening up holes for both Pau and Dwight and Metta and Steve Nash. As a Shooter, Steve Nash has to be guarded, improving spacing on the floor compare to when Nash was the primary point guard, particularly since Kobe can’t shoot threes well. This is the configuration that allows Pau and Dwight to play well together. Pau looked. Lot more active and aggressive as a result.

    The best thing is that a working offense helped improve their teamwork on defense.

    This looks a lot like the Bernie Bickerstaff offense.

  6. That was Bernie Beautiful!!!

  7. @James. Exactly man…dats our formula4success right there. Cheers!

  8. So we traded Fisher for Nash, it seems.

    I’ll take the win, but not sure if I feel confident that this formula can be repeated.

  9. Preseason? Season opening win? Whaaa??

  10. Kenny Smith of TNT had a good point where he said (something to the effect of) that systems are for the guys who don’t know how to play the game. The guys that do know how to play the game make plays on both sides of the ball. The system is implicit, not explicit.

    His point was that the Lakers aren’t making plays despite a roster of guys who DO know how to play the game.

    At this point, they have to throw out the formula, and figure out how to play together.

    How to build trust and communication. Otherwise, they’re done-zo.

    Tonight, for example, was an easier game for Kobe. He has to see that at this point in his career, with this defense (read: Steve Nash), he has to up his defensive game for the Lakers to have a chance and out of respect for what Howard is tasked to do if the Lakers are to have a chance. More nights like tonight, and he will have the energy to play defense, which is the birth place of trust.

    Un-coincidently, there were relatively few breakdowns in the transition defense tonight.

  11. Even with all the anguish of this year so far, if you had told me before July 2012 that we could have this lineup and D’Antoni coaching but we’d have to start the season in February and all we’d have to do is outpace Houston, Portland and Minnesota by four games over the last three months of the season to get our playoff berth, I think I would have taken that bet. I won’t put too much stock in this season, at this point, or the Utah game — and another embarrassing exit from the playoffs would be nearly as bad as missing the show altogether. But when you look at it from the perspective of that scenario I just outlined, I think I’ve written them off too soon.

  12. Good game,but its just one game, this team dont seem to be able to sustain any momentum and i wiuldnt be surprised if they lay a dinosaur size egg on Sunday. This is the way it should be, but unless they are able to put this effort consistenly, they are done.

  13. Kobe at point guard works well when he is paired with Steve Nash as the shooting guard because Steve Nash is such a great shooter – the best on the Lakers career-wise – and of course such a great passer, that Steve Nash’s defender can’t leave him to double up on Kobe. Steve Nash is then a much much better version of Derek Fisher. Nash also as a superior 3pt shooter who can also penetrate and pass forces defenses to open up the floor for Pau and Dwight who can both then be active on offense. Pau had room to drive to the hoop and had an easier time taking midrange shots. Both bigs could actually work closer to the rim on offense with Kobe at point guard and Nash at shooting guard. With Nash at shooting guard, Kobe is actually having more space to work with the ball. He can’t as easily be double-teamed or triple-teamed since Nash is such an offensive threat. This allowed Kobe space to dribble and not turn over the ball as the facilitator. Kobe couldn’t be point with any of the other guards as easily since they aren’t as great a threat as Nash. Nash as the shooting guard actually gives Lakers secondary options since he is then freed to pass.

    When Nash was the primary point guard what was obvious is that the offense bogged down.
    The other players are simply not as good as shooters nor as quick as the players he had in Phoenix – including Kobe. This allowed the opponent to crowd Steve on defense preventing him from doing any Magic as a passer. They could pack lane and stifle Pau and Dwight. Since no one other than Kobe could create his own shot, everyone would simply stand still as Kobe tried to score and was not a passing guard.

  14. Like. I started the day not planning to watch it – as if it were an off day. I came home close to 6pm to find out that 4 hours ago our team beat up Utah.

    Maybe I should start missing games altogether now?

  15. Nice opening game Write up. BTW kobe had 9 rebs missing out a triple double.

    Kobe got 14 asst mainly due to the fact that the guys to whom he passed the ball made their shots simple as that. With Kobe playing as the PG and Nash as SG we have opened up the floor for the Bigs.

    Pau and Dwight showe that they can co-exist beautifully with each other umder Bernie’s offense and todays game showed it again.

  16. I’m in the same boat as Warren–I miss the game for maybe the second or third time all year and they win–maybe they will keep winning if I stay away

  17. …and it is on my sons birthday. Best present he got today I think!

  18. Can’t say I’m not excited about the win; we seriously needed a victory. But at the same time we are still not the talented team everyone makes us out to be. Under the great play of our starters was the weak play of our bench. Gasol played well, but we have no life from any peremeter players on the bench. Duhon had a solid game, but isn’t dependable, Meeks just isn’t that good, and Jamison is also up and down. If we are going to take any real steps forward, Pau needs to be traded for roll players to fill out the rest of the roster. Nothing against Pau, but he can net us some more talent to make us a more balanced team. Does anyone really think that we can be successful with no reliable back ups for a backcourt that has played a combined 35 seasons? We cant expect the starters to play perfect every night and have zero relief coming off the pine; it’s just unrealistic. Everyone clamorous about getting equal value for Gasol, but the fact of the matter is that we don’t necessarily need equal value, we need solid role players to support our stars.

    Ken Berger of CBS.com wrote an article yesterday with a series of possible destinations for Gasol that included Toronto, Milwuakee, Minnesota , and Utah, but I say we need to look at teams like Detorit and Sacramento that have an abundance of talent that could strengthen the roster. (edited for trade speculation) Again, nothing against Pau, I still think he may be the most skilled big in the league, but we have waaaay to much invested in our starting line up in a league driven by guard play, speed and depth. If the Lakers team is serious about saving this season and competing for a title, then we Ned to make some improvements n the rest of the roster.

  19. I regret to say it frankly but I’m still not pleased with our head coach. Just a simple suggestion, can we pls. re-hire the services of the Zen Master? I believe he’s just waiting for a call. And the time is now!

  20. great win!

    we still need a young long defender to help Kobe gaurd their best players

    Ariza? Delonte?

  21. Lucky, much to your dismay, too much is going on between Dr Buss’ son and son-in-law-to-be. You would like to entertain the possibility of Phil, but truth is, its not possible. May I ask you to please live with it?

  22. Who were those guys? Six players getting between 8 & 16 fga’s. Five guys scoring between 14 & 17 points. Everyone sharing the ball & the team hitting over 53% from the field leading to a much needed win. Who were those guys?

  23. Upon watching the replay I also thought they were the Spurs.

    Lovely ball movement. Pau had a very strong and impactful game too.

  24. Game: One of the most enjoyable of the year. Let’s see if there is follow through.
    Kobe: Incredible. Perhaps he read the Kobe Alert – as both dimes and rebounds were mentioned.
    MD: I can see that this debate will rage on. Yes – hoping for Phil to come back (although I would love it) is a bit of a reach. However hoping for the Lakers to truly evaluate the coaching at year end, is not. Pining for Phil and accepting that MD is our coach for the next 3 years, are equally illogical at this point.

  25. Good showing of energy and pride last night by Lakers core, but these sporadic wins are transitory because the real problem has yet to be resolved in this D’Antoni system, which has proven to be flawed and untested in the highest level of playoff competition. The game is much easier when played inside-out, utilizing the bigs in high-percentage post-up scoring rather than settling for low-percentage field goal shooting. That’s a major strength of this team which has gone unnoticed by this dogmatic head coach.