It is clear the Jazz are figuring out what they can do on offense that the Lakers struggle to defend – in game one Utah’s offensive rating was 103 (points per 100 possessions), in game two it was 111, game three it was up to 118.
There are a couple things the Lakers can do to stem and reverse that trend. We’ll start inside the paint — the Lakers must have a stronger presence inside and on the boards. As Kwame a. suggested, I would love to see more of Odom on Boozer – yes he’ll pick up some fouls but he is the best Laker rebounder right now and this match up puts him closer to the basket, plus Odom’s length will bother Boozer. Also, more minutes for Turiaf who has been the best Laker interior defender would be a plus.
Next, a few defensive thoughts from Daruis in the comments:
I really think we just need to tighten up our defense to keep the Jazz out of rhythm. In the first two games, we let them run their sets….but since we’re familiar with their sets this allowed us to squeeze them and make their offense less effective. We pushed their offense further from the hoop, dictated where the next pass would go, and then used our quickness and length to contest shots. In game 3, they went away from their traditional sets more and we did not have solid defensive responses to what they were doing. We broke down. If we come back in game 4 and have some answers for limiting Deron’s penetration while being able to defend the rim and effectively rotate to the 3pt line, the Jazz will have to adjust again, and we will again have an advantage (their offense will be put on it’s heels and our offense is really tough to completely stop). Is this easy? No. If it was easy to defend the rim AND the 3pt. line when getting beat off penetration, Phoenix and Golden State wouldn’t lead the league in scoring every year. But we can start by not letting Deron beat us when he goes away from the screen….funnel him (as best you can) to the screen and then play your regular defense. We have to make the Jazz reactive on Offense like we did in the first 2 games.
One way to help limit D-Will’s penetration: Sasha as the backup PG.
Another key is right out of the Denver series – slow the Jazz offense by taking care of the ball on your own end. It’s been said a lot but it matters, the Lakers had 18 turnovers in game three – more than 20% of their possessions – and that meant some easy transition baskets for the Jazz. Take those away and make them earn points in the half-court offense.
Speaking of offense, Kwame a. had some ideas on how to get the Kobe/Gasol pick-and-roll going again.
We did not run a lot of (effective) Kobe/Pau pick and roll. When we did run it the Jazz did a good job of chokin off Pau’s angle to the hoop. What I found most problematic is that we have a counter to that, it’s the quick interior pass from Pau to Odom. 2 reasons that didn’t work last night are 1) Pau held the ball too long and 2) Odom was not under the hoop, he was on the perimeter. Pau had a terrible first 3 quarters, but his teammates didn’t help because they were not moving like they had been in the first 2 games (and they were being held, but hey, that’s splitting hairs)
I’m not terribly worried about the Laker offense, the last game is an outlier, but the Lakers need to see more quick decisions and aggressive moves from Gasol and Odom. Not just for the points but also because it would make Boozer work more at both ends of the floor.
For a fresh Jazz perspective, check out the new SLCDunk blog (which actually is a new look in the quality SB Network for a long-time good Jazz blog).