Preseason Chat: Lakers vs. Jazz

Darius Soriano —  October 22, 2013

The Lakers finally return to action tonight, having (hopefully) recuperated and overcome the jet-lag after returning from China on Friday night. The team takes the floor against the Jazz for their first of two games — the 2nd is on Thursday — to close out their preseason action. That’s right, the regular season is just around the corner and with that we’re only a few days away from finally getting to see who makes the final roster.

In terms of tonight’s game, however, there are still some things to look for beyond the battle for that final roster spot. Mark Medina reports reports that Chris Kaman is out (stomach virus) and that Steve Nash is a game time decision with what Mike D’Antoni is calling a “neck thing”. I’ve no clue what a “neck thing” is, but it sounds like Nash had trouble breaking in a new pillow or something. In any event, we’ll see if Nash does suit up, but if he doesn’t it just means more Jordan Farmar and Steve Blake manning the PG spot with a domino effect of likely getting more Meeks and Xavier Henry as SG’s (with Blake manning the “1” a bit more).

We’re now at the point of preseason where things are mostly decided, with us having a fairly clear picture of what this team can be on both sides of the ball — at least as much as possible sans Kobe Bryant. This team looks like one that should be able to score effectively, especially when Kaman and Pau share the floor with any combination of Nash, Nick Young, and Jordan Farmar. Defensively this is a group that looks like they’ll work hard, but will still have issues protecting the paint, especially out of isolations that begin at the mid-range. Their P&R defense looks alright as it seems there’s a clear scheme in place in how they want to handle this action irrespective of where it’s initiated on the floor (up high, above the break, or in a sideline set). This type of organization will be crucial for this group if they hope to sniff a defensive rating that puts them in the top half of the league (which should be their goal — albeit a lofty one — this year).

Before we go too far down that path, however, these games should, at the very least, give the Lakers their last chances to fine tune things on both sides of the ball. And with that said, here’s my list of things to watch for tonight…

*Can this team run an organized offense without Nash, Pau, and Young on the floor? Steve Blake can organize the O, but without tent-pole players flanking him that can serve as the key threats teams pay attention to, the offense typically turns into a game of pass the ball around the perimeter until someone jacks up a three pointer. Blake needs to play with guys who threaten the paint because, more often than not, he’s not going to do so himself. Farmar, meanwhile, can threaten the paint, but when he’s run the offense it’s often just a slew of pick and rolls that don’t inspire much ball or player movement outside of the play that Farmar is trying to make for himself or a teammate. If these last couple of games are about fine tuning things, it would be nice of the guards not named Nash show an ability to access the entire playbook and run a semblance of a complete offense with more than one option utilized.

*Wes Johnson needs to start to show he belongs in the rotation. If you listen to quotes about Johnson coming out of the Lakers’ practice sessions, it’s nothing but good things. He’s athletic. He’s long. He’s having a strong, positive impact defensively. He’s finishing on the break and flashing a good jumper. The issue is that these things aren’t really showing up in the games. Granted Johnson got hurt and that threw things off, leaving him out of the lineup at a time where he could have shown more of what he has behind closed doors. Plus, as I’ve written, I don’t believe playing him at PF is doing him any favors. That said, it’d be nice to see him start to bring his practice game to the actual games so we can start to see how he fits in with the other players who have proven to be rotation ready.

*Will Ryan Kelly see more time? The rookie has only appeared in 2 games, logging about 24 minutes over those contests. In both games he showed glimmers of what he can be offensively, hitting some three pointers, stepping into some mid-range shots after putting the ball on the floor to get by a closing out defender, and even hitting a nice little jump hook when posting up a smaller player. He’s also shown a nice understanding of how to move around the floor by sliding into open pockets and giving his teammates the passing windows needed to get him the ball. With Kaman out, I’d love to see Kelly get more time tonight, next to Pau and Hill so we can get some longer looks to further our evaluations.

*Can the Lakers’ bigs handle the physicality of the Jazz bigs? Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson are gone, but Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter remain in Utah with these latter two being guys who love to try and bully their way down low. Kanter is more of a floor bound worker, but he knows how to use his strength by moving defenders out of his path to get up good shots. Favors is more athletic, but he’s also big and strong, and will bang defenders to try and establish position. Gasol, Shawne Williams, Kelly, and company will have their hands full whenever the Jazz duo are on the floor and I’m interested in seeing how they do in defending the rim and when rebounding their defensive glass.

Where you can watch: 7:30pm on TWC Sportsnet and nationally on NBA TV.

Darius Soriano

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34 responses to Preseason Chat: Lakers vs. Jazz

  1. If anyone would like a (single) ticket to tonight’s game – 200 level – email me at I’ll respond to the first person who contacts me and arrange to leave a ticket at will call. Price is FREE, although an overpriced beer would be nice….

  2. Geez Nash doesn’t look like an nba player anymore. Sad.

  3. Clearly they need Kamen. Kidding

  4. This looks as bad as last year pre season. Can they fire Mike Brown again ?

    Hard to watch!

  5. What type of defense are they playing?

    Super matador.

    2 steps behind.

    Jordan looks bad. They left their hearts in Shanghai.

  6. Wesley Johnson was a bright spot for the Lakers in the first quarter.

  7. 17 bench points already and Wes is making the defense pay for leaving him open.

  8. Nice run there and Meeks hit a layup! This squad went from nearly zero athletic ability last year to a much younger and quicker team this year. Can’t wait to see Kobe back on the floor with these young’uns!

  9. Wow. If the refs were calling moving screens like this in 2008 the Lakers would have one more championship.

  10. Hopefully refs call the same in the regular season. I don’t want to see guys like kevin garnett and Kendrick perkins set anymore moving screens.

  11. Brian Cook is still in the league? He’s got to have photos of someone.

  12. I really impressed by Wes Jonhson play tonight. I think he could be one of the breakout players that we need if we want to overachieve

  13. Referees emphasizing don’t touch the ball after a made basket, players will have to break that habit. Second time in a game and it’s a technical foul.

  14. Kevin is right on. I’ve never seen an NBA player move as old and decrepit as Nash does tonight. I wouldn’t be shocked if he retired mid season. He is after all the oldest player in the league.

  15. Three most disappointing players are Nash, Farmar and Blake.

    Wait! That’s all our supposed point guards.

    Duhon where are you?

  16. Scratch that on Farmar. Must have heard me .

  17. Aaron: and thing is he’s not a dual threat off the dribble anymore. He’s always in playmaking mode throwing assists passes. Can’t create space off picks like he used to for open jumpers.

    Good to see the bench clicking on all cylinders tonight. They should feast on weak benches this year.

  18. Marcus Landry might be cut. Hes the only Laker not playing tonight.

  19. Marcus Landry might be cut. I don’t think hes played a single minute.

  20. I feel like the tree that fell in the forest

  21. Solid game 1st game i see the team looking like its improving

  22. Bench mob was HUGE TONIGHT! Faster and more exciting than the starters. Farmar& Dub Johnson looked really good. Utah is headed for a lottery pick.

  23. The bench is great. A lot better than last year.

  24. I doubt the bench will score 72 ever again lol but looks like we might have a serviceable bench folks, like i said even if its against the Jazz and its preseason looks like a big step fwd

  25. Well…I’m kind of impressed by this most recent incarnation of the Bench Mob. Of course, it’s only a meaningless Preseason game. And the opponent is weak.

    Even so, Jordan Hill had 10 points (!) and 5 boards in 17 minutes. Jordan Farmar led all scorers with 20 points. Xavier Henry chimed in with 8 and 6. Even Jodie Meeks had 15 and looked amazingly spry. And Wes Johnson looked great (especially in the 1st half) with 14 points and 6 rebounds. In fact, the entire bench looked generally better than the starters.

    Now let’s see them do it when it counts.

  26. it’s nice that the team looks well coached.
    yes, it’s different in style than PJ.
    yes, PJ is a better coach, if he can coach…
    but D’Antoni has the team really playing together with purpose.

    my favorite play was when the ball whipped around trhe perimeter twice to find a wide open JHill under the basket. the ball might have touched all players hands twice in a few seconds.

    the was also something looking like defense, once that first quarter ended. this team competes, which is a wonderful change from last season.

    i hope i can stay optimistic beyond tonight, but i am going to enjoy the good feelings while they last. maybe Xavier Henry will continue to be the aggressive monster that he’s been. if he can do it all season, he’ll be what we wished Shannon Brown was. also, i thought Nash looked fine. he’s not going to be prime Nash, i get it, that’s ok. we always knew it was the end of the career, not the middle.

    i thought Wesley looked like a player that can really help this team. these guys aren’t superstars by any means, but they aren’t trash, that includes the Swagster. without Kobe, this is a team that can easily win 40-45 games if healthy. with Kobe, they have at least a puncher’s chance. if a few people get hot, they could go the whole way. remember how hot Ariza got? remember when Dallas got hot? don’t bet on it, but it’s too early to write it off either.

  27. The bench really outplayed the starters… Albeit a meaningless game, you can now see able defense with younger bodies and not from broken down madhines.

    Expect to see worse starting lineups and better benches.

  28. The problem with the starters was Nash is old and slow, Steve Blake is too short to guard any 2 in the league. The bench came in with not just speed at 1 and 5 but also with size at the 2. Also, thank goodness Nash didn’t play the 2nd Half. Like I said a few months ago, a clear sign that this team has plans to tank is if Steve Nash gets more than 15 to 20 mins at PG.

  29. This game can really be built upon. This is a performance of the bench that can instill confidence in their abilities to be scrappy and just flat out out-hustle the opposition. This is where we can assess that some of the players we thought could carry us, are players that might actually be expendable.

    Lower the payroll to get under the tax, find gems in the process. If there is any season where we feel that we can spare as a learning year, correction year and a transition year, this is it.

  30. Ultimately, Jordan Farmar will be Lakers starting PG irrespective of Nash’s health and salary. No problem because Nash may be able to thrive off the bench.

    Farmar, Nick Young, X, and Gasol in a contract year may surprise.

    Farmar will take it to Chris Paul as well. CP3 will not dominate Jordan.

  31. Jay A

    I agree. And I think we will see a lot of old players who can’t play defense (Nash, Gasol, Kaman, Blake). I think the plan has always been to tank. Or at least I’m hoping. This is a bottom three team in the league. And I want a top three pick.

  32. Aaron-

    One of the SSR guys has a somewhat similar theory–thinks some of the signings were “set-ups” in a sense.

    I enjoyed seeing Farmar play well last night. UCLA guys in the Purple-and-Gold are always personal favorites.

  33. The Lakers looked good but that was against a team missing players and are worse then the Lakers when healthy…I do like how D.A> is coaching…Move the ball.. !!!

  34. It was good to see Farmar, Meeks (who actually converted a couple of layups) and Johnson contributing. And due to the fact that Corbin played Jefferson and ‘Cookie’ at the 4 for certain segments of the game, Johnson was able to defend the position relatively well.