I've been looking for most of the day on ways that the Jazz can beat the Lakers. When I finally thought I had found a couple of recurring themes in their losses, I remembered that their three losses were all sans Pau Gasol.
Since he's been back, nobody has been able to figure them out. Miami came close but lost on the three-pointer at the buzzer from Kobe.
When they win, they're beating opponents on average by 13 points a game, 108.6-95.6. Jeez. But when they have lost, they've lost in spectacular fashion with an average score of 83.3 to 100. Their offense seems to be feast or famine point-wise with mostly feasting.
The Lakers have had a huge advantage to start the season with 15 games at home with only 4 on the road. The closest I could find to that was a couple of teams with 12 home games. They'll have two more home games including tonight before coming to the SLC on Saturday. That's 17 home games with only 4 on the road to start the season. Of course it will even out in the coming months but it was good luck on their part as Gasol had been out with a strained hammy to start the season.
So what hope do the Jazz have tonight against LA? It will be tough first of all since Bynum and Gasol eat up the rest of the league. Given our defensive presence on the inside, if you can call it that, they could have career-type nights. I have a bit of hope for Boozer as we've seen him be physical in some occasions this season and look like he's giving an effort. With Fess and AK not available to back them up, we'll see a lot of Millsap and maybe the KOOF if there's foul trouble. Really though, we shouldn't give them too much trouble on defense.
On offense though they could do some damage. If Memo continues his hot shooting from the arc, that will bring Bynum or Gasol out of the paint and allow Boozer to work one on one.
Of course, that means that the wings will have to be knocking down shots to keep Kobe from hanging out in the paint. It will be interesting to see who he defends this game. If Kobe is sagging like that though, the Jazz have to run something with Boozer on the opposite side. They can't let Kobe hang out like that.
The matchup I'm interested in seeing will be Matthews and Brewer on Kobe. Matthews has that no fear attitude and backs it up instead of just talking about it. We'll see if he can throw Kobe off a bit.
The Jazz will have to play flawlessly to have a chance to win tonight. They can't get behind early like have in almost every game the past two years in the playoffs against the Lakers.
I don't know how you develop the swagger, but you have teams like Boston and LA that will go into any arena and do not get intimidated. I think a lot of the players on the Jazz still get a little overwhelmed by their surroundings. I don't sense that "We don't give a damn" attitude. That's why I miss Ronnie Price because I would love to see him go up against the Lakers tonight because you know he has that right mindset.
LA has shot just 37% in their 3 losses. The Jazz will have to hold them close to that if they want to win.
This will be another measuring stick for the Jazz as they play the best team in the league on the road. Let's hope it doesn't get out of hand.
Game thread coming shortly.