Lakers/Jazz: Los Angeles Didn’t Like Getting Any Favors From Utah

Rey Moralde —  December 27, 2013

Well, that was a better game than I had anticipated. But it’s worse when you root for the Lakers as they go down to the Jazz in a nailbiter, 105-103.

It was actually a close game throughout, although, for the most part, both teams seemed to be allergic to defense. Both teams’ rotations are awful and, sometimes, you wondered if they would just rather play XBoxOne instead of playing in this game. That or they had too much Christmas food. I know I did but I digress.

The Jazz killed the Lakers in transition; Utah had 25 fastbreak points compared to the Lakers’ 12. It was also frustrating to see the Lakers miss so many defensive assignments early (yes, the Jazz did the same thing but there’s a reason why they were 8-23 coming into this game).

The Lakers went on a 6-0 run to cut the deficit to 97-96. Jodie Meeks would tie the game at 99. But the Lakers got careless in the next few possessions, as Meeks suddenly reverted to last year’s version of himself (which led to a Hayward three) and wasting a possession that resulted in a sloppy Jordan Hill turnover. Still, the Lakers were able to tie the game at 103 with Jordan Hill foul shots. Unfortunately, they didn’t box out Derrick Favors, who got the follow dunk with 2.1 seconds left. That was partly made possible by Gordon Hayward’s drive as they made the Lakers collapse. Lakers had a chance to tie or win but it ended with Meeks attempting a three from Dan Majerle range (a 35-footer essentially).

Young was a bright spot. He scored 21 points and was throwing fireballs for most of the game, going 10 of 17 from the field. But he fouled out halfway through the fourth; the Lakers could’ve really used his offense. Jordan Farmar played well, going for 16 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, and three steals. Chris Kaman had great chemistry with Farmar, scoring 19 points overall. Hill ended with 16 points and nine boards.

The Lakers did have a chance to win the game but I wish the Lakers had a better sense of urgency as, again, they looked mostly sluggish early. And they got beat by the team with the worst record in the Western Conference. But give Utah credit. Hayward blasted the Lakers with 24 points and nine assists. They couldn’t stop Favors on the boards (18 points, 14 rebounds). And Trey Burke gave some good play in spurts (14 points, seven assists).

The Lakers have now lost four straight but they do have a four-game home stand coming up. They have Philadelphia on Sunday and Milwaukee on Tuesday. Their first game of the new year is a rematch against Utah. These are winnable games. Hopefully, they can get back on track at Staples Center.

Rey Moralde

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45 responses to Lakers/Jazz: Los Angeles Didn’t Like Getting Any Favors From Utah

  1. The thing that stood out was when the Lakers fell behind in the 1st half, they were playing catch-up for the rest of the game. This is often a Sisyphean task and the Lakers need a leader like Kobe in these situations. Nick Young did his best, but he was in too much of a hurry and thus fouled out.

    We can argue about the details, or learning to win, but there is a reason clubs would prefer to trade the lead back and forth, rather than continually try to catch up.

  2. These are winnable games…that is what the other team is also saying…The Lakers are who they are…a hard working bunch who can lose just as easy as they can win..

  3. I may be accused of hallucinating, but–even though the Lakers lost to a 9-23 team (but 8-9 in their last 17 games)–I’m somehow kinda, sorta encouraged. Let’s put things in perspective.

    1) The Lakers were playing, obviously, without key players. The Jazz were at full strength.

    2) Nick Young, who had been on absolute fire, fouled out of a game for the first time in 47 years. Still, the Lakers fought back.

    3) The Lakers’ entire roster consisted of no players who were starters in the NBA last year. Not one. They’re essentially doing battle with a backup club.

    4) Even so, the Lakers had 6 players in double figures. Yes, I know. Several players disappeared. (Wes Johnson and Shawne Williams come to mind.) But by an large, the team shows balance, grit, and an extraordinary fighting spirit.

    5) The Lakers played in Utah which has been a snake-pit for years. Even so, they took this game down to the wire. They could easily have disappeared.

    6) Several players are clearly coming into their own, namely Nick Young (21 pts.), Xavier Henry (12 pts. on 5-7 shooting), Jordan Hill (16 pts., 9 rebounds, 2 assists), and Jordan Farmar (16 pts., 7 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 steals). And Chris Kaman was huge (19 pts., 10 rebounds, 3 blocks, 1 sprained ankle). Three of these came off the bench. And not one of these was a starter at the beginning of the year.

    As a result, this team has still got to be considered an unknown quantity. If and when Kobe, a healthy Pau Gasol, and Steve Blake come back, games like this will not be lost. And the Lakers–I believe–will be a vastly different, and, I think, better team.

    Now sceptics, tear apart my reasoning. I am not a cock-eyed optimist. But I see some encouraging signs here. All we need is for this team to become whole.

  4. Part of the issue is that too much of the Laker’s talent is concentrated at the center position. They have four players who are “centers” in D’Antoni’s offense and none of them really fit his prototype. Conversely, they do not really have a power forward to balance out the defense. That leaves the relatively slow footed Gasol, Kamen, and Sacre to defend around the free throw line and slide to the rim. This is exacerbated by the rest of the team failing to keep the ball out of the paint. It will be interesting to see if Kupchak tries to address this midseason or wait and see how free agency plays out.

  5. Next 2 are at home against the 2 worst teams in the East, Philadelphia and Milwaukee. Then Utah again, here.

    As I noted in the other thread, Utah is now 8-9 (counting tonight) over their last 17. Trey Burke makes a big difference and Corbin adjusted the lineup, going smaller with Marvin Williams at the 4 and Favors at the 5. So, Utah is not that bad.

  6. I understand Craig, but this deals with a Lakers issue more than it is a trade issue. In case you didn’t know, Bynum was suspended for conduct detrimental to the team.

    Adrian Wojnarowski ?@WojYahooNBA 6m
    About Bynum suspension, league source tells Yahoo: “He doesn’t want to play basketball anymore. He never liked it that much in first place.”

    That being said – if he is cut by 1/7 he is only owed 6 Million.

    It deals w/ Lakers tax issues.

  7. This team is tank-tastic…sing it with me everyone: tank-y, tank-o, tank for me oh will you tank for me today…

  8. Craig, its a relevant issue because of the most-recent news regarding Bynum. Maybe I was too specific in posting the actual deal but it has more to do w/ Lakers’ opportunity to get below tax, not disgrace Pau and actually balance the roster.

  9. Tank 4picks may not be a song writer, but at this point its time to go tank mode. Send pau away for pick(s), even a contender. Get Kobe a new running mate.

    I have no idea how they will do this, but we’ll wait for the trade deadline.

  10. nice breakdown Mid. I´m always buoyed by your posts, especially after tough losses.
    (this season, of course, we can´t count on any type of consistency in terms of wins, but it´s still a downer when we do lose one like last night´s game or even like the Christmas day game).
    ___
    Craig,
    re: Sysphean task –
    is the squad wallowing down in Hades this season? eh gads, I´d thought we did enough traveling around down there last season! ;)
    & that darned rock is just getting heavier and heavier! (read: injury plagued team, again!!)
    ___
    I´ve a feeling we´re gonna bounce back tomorrow against the 76ers, Go Lakers!!

  11. Prediction: Technically – my 4-1 prediction is intact. We just now need to win 4 straight : ) Then again – if we just go 47-5, we could win 60 games.
    Gasol: We let him expire. No incoming garbage.
    Mid: “The Lakers’ entire roster consisted of no players who were starters in the NBA last year. Not one. They’re essentially doing battle with a backup club.” If this “encourages” you then more power to you : )
    Team: These upcoming games “should” be wins, but since we have a reduced roster, against horrible competition, win or lose – it does not allow for any sweeping conclusions.
    Eastern Conference: While there is no doubt that the West is better, I do find it a little interesting that the East has the best two teams, and has won the last two titles. Some used to say the AFC was the better conference during the time period when the NFC won 13 straight super bowls.
    Another Interesting Stat: In addition to rebounding here is another: In 2009-2011 our rankings for turnover plus/minus were 3rd, 11th, and 10th. Since then for 2012 through present we have been 30th, 30th, and 26th. Something must have happened between 2011-2012.

  12. Just read the info on Bynum. WOW! Now he is a $6M boat anchor for Cleveland.

  13. Just get a real coach! Please! This is real suffering. The last play, with 2.7 seconds left, Lakers couldn’t even run a decent play to get a open look. Why would MDA put Sacre in there? You have 5 guys on the floor. One inbound passer, Sacre barely has an outside shot, so 3 real shooters left, with 5 Jazz players guarding you. 5 on 3 !!? How do you expect to get a good look? Is it time to put Kaman, who is at least a possible threat that Jazz has to send one player to guard? At least an option as a decoy!!!
    MDA is a sad coach. Please don’t credit MDA for getting these young players to compete every night. Lakers are playing hard, because all these guys are on one-year deal, and were never given a real chance to show their talent.
    Instead of MDA asking fans to root for other teams, why not just have him coaching other teams? Let’s see if he can sucker another team into a 4-year contract. Whatever success Phoenix had in the good old days. Please don’t credit all on MDA. Nash would probably have won a title with a better coach.
    As long as MDA is still around, we can also forget about Lakers having a chance drawing top-tier free agents. Any sane player would not come to play for Lakers just to get a chance of being jerked in and out of the game by MDA. Just ask Kaman!

  14. Bynum,
    `detrimental conduct, banned from all activities realted to the team ´
    yikes,
    you think he was caught with a fake handicapped parking permit?

  15. Yes Craig, an anchor indeed.

    A good executive evaluates all aspects of the team. Getting under the tax NOW means we can go over it later. Getting under today, while we’re transitioning is wiser than doing it while contending. By getting under this season, and the next obviously, the Lakers will be able to start paying the tax in 2015 where the big time signings will start to fall in line. This is also year 2 of our supposed retool and we’ll be much closer to our championship aspirations then.

    Just like the guys who advocate tanking, they intend to say “sacrifice now and reap benefits later.” While I do not advocate for this strategy at all, you got to admit it IS a stratgey/plan nonetheless.

    Same thing w/ getting under the tax. Except we have every incentive to do this NOW more than later.

    Forget not, you would also be placing Pau in a “good situation” where he can see himself getting looks from the post where he likes it, under a coach that supposedly loves bigs as opposed to MDA who supposedly hates em.

    Balance. Savings. Win.

  16. that’s my drew. follow your heart!

  17. rr: Craig used the term “boat anchor”. Bynum has also been with multiple teams and his best days are behind him, which means he is a “vagabond”. It goes without saying that he is a “problem child”. I guess he is a trifecta of what a GM would want in a player.
    WWL: The easiest way to get under the cap is to let Pau’s contract expire. Saving the FO money during this season does not help us in the next of season. It only matters how much we have under contract in June.
    Craig: Pau’s contract is a boat anchor for an aircraft carrier.
    Purple: “Detrimental” I think it was a delayed reaction to this:
    http://www.usatoday.com/story/gameon/2013/02/19/andrew-bynum-hair-photo-philadelphia-76ers/1930683/

  18. They’re essentially doing battle with a backup club

    Well, yesterday, I pointed out that the Lakers have an entire team of guys who are more or less equally effective. They have 11 guys with PERs between 11 and 17 and nine between 13 and 17. The two outliers are Williams, who is below 10, and Hill, who is above 20.

    PER is just one number, but it tells you something. But Farmar is as good or better then Blake. It is unlikely that Pau would have outplayed what Kaman did last night, and Young and Henry were a combined 15/24 from the field. Meeks had a rough game, but some of that is continuing regression to the mean. Hard to see Kobe topping/changing that.

    Given how close the game was, obviously an argument can be made that having Kobe, Blake and/or Pau would have made a difference down the stretch. But the Lakers’ basic problems, which are lack of elite talent and exceptionally poor interior defense, are inherent to the roster. Kobe IMO cannot be considered an elite player until he gets back, stays on the floor, and proves it, and, as we saw, the perimeter defense was actually worse when he was there.

    Finally, while Pau’s and Blake’s health issues are not directly related to age, one reason among many that prognosticators were down on the Lakers was health concerns among the older players, and at the moment Pau, Blake, Kobe and Nash are all unavailable, and the team is in 12th place, playing at a 37-win pace–exactly as generally predicted.

    That said, the next four games are certainly winnable, so they could get back to .500. But they also have a rough little road trip right after the home stand.

  19. But by an large, the team shows balance, grit, and an extraordinary fighting spirit.

    This goes back to what many said in pre-season: all of these guys, except for Kobe, now, and Sacre, both of whom are going to play hard anyway, are playing for next year’s contract, and most of them are in places in their careers such that what is on the line for them is getting no offer, getting the minimum, or maybe getting 3-5M a year or maybe more in 1 or 2 cases. Guys in that spot do not want to be tagged as uncoachable or selfish (ask Devin Ebanks). This is not to say that they don’t deserve credit for playing hard or that MDA does not deserve credit for getting them to play hard, but “grit and fighting spirit” are kind of built into the team’s economic structure. In addition of course, the Lakers have two guys (Williams and Henry) who are getting better shots than they did elsewhere, two guys who specifically wanted to be in LA and be Lakers (Young and Farmar) a guy trying to save his career (Johnson), and two older guys trying to prove they still have it (Blake and Kaman). These things probably help with motivation as well.

  20. With Young playing so well there is no way he opts into a league min deal. So, if the Lakers are going to lose him anyway why not trade him now – when he has the most value to an acquiring team. It’s decisions like this that make no sense to me. If your not going to make a championship run what difference does it make if you win 35 or 25 games.

  21. the other Stephen December 28, 2013 at 10:43 am

    ^chibi: #bankineverycity #followyourdreams #anythingispossible

  22. Up till now I think the FO was hopeful that the stars would align and the team would truly be in the hunt. The hope was also that the stars (Kobe/Paul/Nash) would put butts in the seats. The FO should be applauded for making so many nice moves on the cheap (Farmar/Young/Johnson). However, they will ultimately earn praise by selling current assets for future picks which will be used to acquire premiere talent via trades or the draft.

  23. Trade Pau for Bynum, waive Bynum, get Nash to retire, tank, get Wiggins, and have plenty of cap space to boot. Perfect storm, admitted, but you never know.

  24. If the Lakers intention is to tank by default then they should already have scouts in place. Because the Lakers picks below the fifth pick have not been players that one would associate with the ability to warrant; ticket prices, concession stand, jersey sales, court side seats or the Time Warner deal. Let’s look at their picks that are/have a sustainable career in the NBA since 2000:

    NAME YEAR PICK
    Mark Madsen 2000 29th
    Chris Jeffries 2002 27th
    Brian Cook 2003 24th Luke Walton 32nd
    Sasha Vujacic 2004 27th
    Marcus Douthit 56th
    Andrew Bynum 2005 10th
    Ronny Turiaf 37th
    Von Wafer 39th
    Jordan Farmar 2006 26th
    Cheikh Samb 51st
    Javaris Crittendon 2007 19th
    Sun Yue 40th
    Marc Gasol 48th
    Joe Crawford 2008 58th
    Toney Douglas 2009 29th
    Patrick Beverley 42nd
    Chinemelu Elonu 59th
    Devin Ebanks 2010 43rd
    Derrick Caracter 58th
    Darius Morris 2011 41st
    Andrew Goudelock 46th
    Chuckwudiebere Maduabum 56th
    Ater Majok 58th
    Robert Sacre 2012 60th
    Ryan Kelly 2013 48th

    Marc Gasol, Patrick Beverley and Toney Douglas are players that the Lakers traded or were cut from the team. Regardless of why the Lakers traded Marc Gasol, or the reason that they cut Toney Douglas (GSW) and Patrick Beverley (Rockets) these two players are solid rotation players on good teams.

    Having a plethora of draft picks in the upcoming draft is not a panacea to what ails the Lakers, more so the Lakers need to determine the coach and the system to which they are adhering to, to ascertain which players to trade or retain and which players to draft going forward. Are the Lakers going to be a run and gun team that plays little to no defense, are they going to be a team that runs their offense through the post and plays a hybrid SSOL offense, are they going to allow Kobe to hold the ball at the elbow for the next 2 ½ years, or are they going to get the best athletes available regardless of the teams needs and then use those players as future concomitant in trades for the players they really covet?

    The Lakers concupiscent dreams of retuning to a championship level or even a point of prominence in the next few years is hampered by the lack of feasible free agents willing to forego their current teams to join the Lakers, and the CBA. Even if the Lakers somehow manage to land Parker or Wiggins there is no guarantee that either will become elite players in the league. Chances are that some other unknown player in the draft will become a better player. Most every draft there is a player that is relatively unknown that becomes a better player than the players drafted ahead of them. Thus for every Dwayne Wade there is a Darko Milicic, and for every Marc Gasol there is a Greg Oden.

  25. Tanking is so disgusting, i hope the NBA do whatever is planning to do to eliminate it. If it means getting rid of the draft so be it. Im tired of reading about teams being terrible on purpose. Its a blight on the game, if owners cant put a winning team on the court gtfo and let someone else try.

  26. MidWilshire: I don’t know about encouraging or cockeyed optimism. I’d just call your great post “an appreciation”. This is entertainment folks, and this team is fun to root for, you want these underdog guys to succeed, and, refreshingly and excitingly, they want to succeed too. And it’s a pleasure to watch, even when they struggle and fail.

    Reminds me of the LA Times Sports Letters-to-Editor today (if anyone read them). What a bunch of negativity! And for what?

  27. Im fine with the rebuilt, im not exactly thrilled at the team performance the last couple of weeks but we all knew it was going to be a long season. Its going to take a couple of seasons to get back to contender status, when people complain about the FO, MDA and Jim Buss they should look at the NY teams, ugh that is a mess. Those Nets are setting a new standard and the Knicks are not far behind. The most important thing here is to get this team under the cap with the flexibility that comes with it. If it takes until 2016 so be it. I been a Lakers fan for over 30 years, a couple of bad seasons are nothing new nor a big deal, at least for me.

  28. Re: Bynum, interesting to note that as Arash Markazi pointed out, had Bynum not been traded for Dwight, maybe Bynum doesn’t go “bowling” and the Lakers easily could have signed Bynum to a max/near-max contract which they would be stuck with now.

  29. Hearn, Fern and Burn(working ion a song)

    Lot of talk about 1st round picks etc. unless I am wrong Lakers have only one in next 2 years as they gave 2 away.

    Isen ‘t that needle in the hay stack planning?

  30. Ken, I’m not advocating the Lakers tank for lottery picks, as I rather like that the Lakers let other teams prove that a draft pick is a stud and then try to get them in free agency. Drafting a Magic, Worthy or Kobe is far too rare, indeed trying to find a needle in the hay stack. The list of Lakers draft picks since 2000 should be enough to scare any one away from the concept of tanking for lottery picks.

  31. Ken, i dont count on the draft to rebuild, at best we get a serviceable player, hopefully a wing and as good this next draft supposely is we might get that , we wont get the next Kobe, the next Magic, not even the next Bynum, if we get a quality player thats golden, if you want to rebuild thru the draft, well we have to suck for several years, you ready to endure that? And you go and draft #1 and could get Anthony Bennet or gulp!! Kwame Brown, building thru the draft is a lot of luck, the Thunder got lucky, the Cavs?not so much and its not the Lakers way and im glad is not, tanking makes me sick, once we get our cap situation in order, we can reload faster than any other team in the league. The Lakers with cap room is the most scary thing in the NBA, every other team knows it. Thats why im not concerned about the team situation this season or even the next. It should also be noted that the Lakers hold onto THIS year draft, the deepest one since 2003 for a reason.

  32. Disappointing loss but I’ve been pleased by the effort level always on display.

    As for the future, the FO has had a game plan to get cap space over the next 2years. They can let their current contract expire and go out into the market or trade attractive expiring contracts to bring guys in this year. Really the only thing that would disappoint me is bringing in a bad contract this year just to try salvage a few more games.

    Really though I like what management did on a shoe string budget this year and the options left open going forward.

  33. C.Hearn: Nice post. So since the year 2000 we have had 26 picks. Of those 26, two of them have made ether the ASG or the All NBA Team; Bynum + M Gasol. They were each selected once. And a quick review of the list, would reveal that M Gasol is the only guy on the list who has any chance of making the ASG or All NBA in the future. Now, we could bash Mitch (and I certainly would not frame that list of I were him), however in reality, it’s typical results,. The draft is a dice roll at best unless you are lucky enough to have the top pick in a Shaq or Ewing year.
    However, that is not the part of your posts I really like. Rather it is this:
    ” the Lakers need to determine the coach and the system to which they are adhering to, to ascertain which players to trade or retain and which players to draft going forward. ” We have until June to make this determination.
    Fern: I love your loyalty to the team, however I think you would agree that breaking the all time Laker record of 8 years in a row of not being in the Finals is a big deal. We make the Finals around here every other year, and win it every fourth year. We are a favorite at this point to not even be in the Finals for 8 years plus. That – for this long term fan is a big deal : )

  34. Robert, we are in year 3 of not going to the Finals, so slow down cowboy,and for me going to the Finals and not winning it is meaningless. Twelve years without a championship now that hurt, im loyal but also a realist, the making the Finals every other year is a statistic not reality. The next championship era will come but not right away. We need to take our lumps and endure. We be fine.

  35. Last thing Rob hope dont bother you to call you Rob , who the hell can predict the NBA landscape for the next 8 years, do you have a Delorean? Lol, who knows in 8 years we might be seeing the Bobcats or the Pelicans winning their 4 championship in a row. I mean c’mon man.

  36. Fern: We are in year 4. You yourself said that the next 2 years are for rebuilding so that will make 6. And I said we are a favorite to break the record and we are. I have made careful note of something you said above, which I also vehemently agree with: “if owners cant put a winning team on the court …… and let someone else try.” I am curious as to your timeframe associated with that? : )

  37. Ferm

    I am old . The older I get the more losing bothers me. It’s like saying your child is not very smart but maybe in. 4 years he will figure it out. You still love him but can’t help but being disappointed when his grades are poor. Old guys like me want to see positive results not hoping things might change in 9 years.

    I grew up with the Lakers and watching them decline with bad management and questionable coaching hurts.

    Name a time on the past 20 years where a guy shooting 36% and averaging 4 points a game ever started for this franchise.

    Still love me but I can’t be happy watching this array of players.

  38. Ahh Ken, hush, we all knew this is was going to be a long season, Shawne is not that good but looking closely to his stats he is a decent defender and rebounder and he be gone after this season. There is a bright side for you. Im old too, enough to seen this before, now get off my lawn ya punks!!!

  39. Ken, I agree with you. The Lakers are an iconic brand, and as such there is an expectation for a certain product to be on the floor. Instead of a team that contends for the playoffs and a potential opportunity for the finals, the fans are expected to be content with players that play hard. In that vein, we have truly become the Clippers and the Clippers have usurped the Lakers persona. Think of it this way, the brand Mercedes Benz decides to build a new model that is similar to a Yugo but expects to charge the same price for the Yugo that it would for an S-class. And, tells its clients that the Yugo really tries hard would the client be expected to buy such a vehicle? We both know that a brand has certain characteristics that must be adhered to, otherwise it is a fad.

    I am merely posing a perspective.

  40. C.Hearn, really? Im dissapointed, we have a yugo unless you can cough up the 150 million extra money and damn the cap.

  41. If I am not mistaken, wasn’t it the Nets who said ‘damn the cap’? Now that turned out really well.

  42. Exactly Craig, a year ago the Nets have a boatload off assets to build a contender, now they dont have 1st round draft picks until 2019.

  43. CHearn

    Well I worked the numbers. So if we have patience with the current LA Yugo’s, in 27 years the gas saving on the Yugo turns out to have more dollar value then the Mercedas.

    So I see now the theory of patience as Laker fans. Hope my son grows up to be a Laker fan or he will miss put on the next championship.

  44. Robert, say what you will about Jimmy boy but all this is a by product of the trade that did not happen.