NBA Regular Season: Utah Jazz (11-10) at Los Angeles Lakers (9-11) -- Game Preview

Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE

Game #22 • Staples Center • Los Angeles, CA • December 9, 2012 • 7:30 p.m. (MT) • TV: ROOT Sports • RADIO: 1280 AM/97.5 FM and 1600 AM ESPN Deportes

NBA Regular Season 2012-2013, Game 22:

Utah Jazz (11-10) at Los Angeles Lakers (9-11)

#UTAatLAL Game Stream -- Silver Screen & Roll (SB Nation Blog) --

I like the idea of calling Enes "Hollywood" as a nickname.

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The Basics:

This is the second game against LA this year. I don't like LA. You don't like LA. Kobe Bryant loves to score on us. Enes Kanter loves to score off the court in clubs. (How does he get in? He's clearly 20 years old....?) Dwight Howard hates going up against Al Jefferson. Mo Williams and Randy Foye played for the Clippers last season and thus also hate the Lakers. And of course, Gordon Hayward is usually on a one-man-mission going up against LA. Basically, there are a lot of reasons to tune in, even if the Jazz and Lakers both have a ton of injuries.

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History:

I would call this a rivalry game, but it appears one sided. All time the Jazz are 59-100 against the Lakers (37.1 winning %), and in LA the Jazz are 17-62. In the STAPLES center the Jazz are 5-20. Not good. Btw, all of this info is from the media notes which were posted earlier, and compiled by the awesome guys and gals working for the Utah Jazz web staff. Last season the Lakers won 2 of 3 games; however, earlier this season the Jazz beat the Lakers in Utah.

The Lakers were playing that game without Steve Nash, and we took advantage. He's not going to play tonight either, but it's not going to be easy going beating them twice in a row.

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Scouting, Stats, and Stereotypes:

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These are two good offensive clubs. Of course, a lot of our numbers are highly skewed by our last game (where we made a billion threes and scored 131 points in only 48 minutes). The Lakers have played in OT games too, so it's not like we're the only team that benefits from it. LA is a better offensive club, and a better defensively club. It's mostly strength against strength here, as both of our paces are greatly influenced by extra possessions from offensive rebounds. We're #3 in offensive boards, and they are #6. Both teams also get a ton of blocks (we're #4 and they are #10), and both also get to the line (we're #6, and they are #1).

Of course, yes, the Lakers don't usually put the other team on the line (10th best at NOT putting the other team on the line), while the Jazz have the reputation of fouling all day long, and as a result, we are 25th in opponents FTA. That doesn't mean it should only go ONE way. We get fouled and we should get free throws too. It's not like we run a different playbook when we're on the road. We're still going into the paint all game long . . . anyway . . . fouls aside, both of these teams do the same things, and do them well.

I think the W/L records are misleading. We feel like we're better than our record. The advanced stats prove that the Lakers are better than theirs. They are Top 10 in three of the four offensive factors, and in three of the four defensive factors. They are vulnerable when it comes to turning the ball over, but they make up for it with their penchant for getting the refs in their favor, and getting all the rebounds.

The Lakers are also quite awesome from downtown this season, as are we as well. So yes, even more strength vs. strength tonight . . . except for the fact that it's a road game. And we're apparently a completely different team on the road.

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Injury Report:

Lakers Injuries --

  • Steve Nash (PG) OUT -- Nash is out indefinitely with a fractured left fibula
  • Steve Blake (PG) OUT -- Blake is out for at least two months with abdominal surgery recovery
  • Pau Gasol (PF/C) DOUBTFUL -- Gasol has tendinitis in both of his needs and missed the last game (Friday)

Jazz Injuries --

  • Al Jefferson (C/PF) QUESTIONABLE -- Big Al hurt his back and has had spasms off an on since his injury last Wednesday against the Orlando Magic. He was a game time decision on Friday night against the Toronto Raptors. I would not be surprised to see him suit up tonight and try to give it a go.
  • Derrick Favors (PF/C) QUESTIONABLE -- Favors is still dealing with plantar fasciitis in his right foot, an injury he sustained back on December 1st against the Houston Rockets. I really wouldn't rush him back at all, especially not when we have only two games in the next 5 nights. Rest is good.

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Advantage --

Worst case scenarios for both teams? I'd think our replacement bigs of Paul Millsap, Enes Kanter, and Jeremy Evans are better than the replacement point guards of Chris Duhon and Darius Morris. So, worst case for both teams means the Jazz are better capable of weathering the storm. I don't think it'll be the worst case for both teams -- I wouldn't be surprised to see Big Al and Pau both play. Either way, the Lakers will be without Steve Nash. So it's a Jazz advantage here.

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The Game:

A motivated Kobe Bryant and a Lakers team circling the wagons look to take out some frustrations on a team that has horrible pick and roll defense, and a historical inability to stop dribble penetration. It's going to be fun to watch to see if we're the same team that worked together so well and helped one another succeed in the Toronto game. I want to write more . . . but . . . this is already 1500 words.

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Player Focus:

Enes "Hollywood Kanter has to step up big tonight. He's had a number of good games against the Lakers so far in his young career, went to HS in Cali, and seems to roost there in the off-season when he's not at a specific work out camp (P3 in Santa Barbara, or Attack Athletics in Chicago). Kanter is a legit big, at 6'11 and a billion pounds in abs; and he's a throwback back to the basket big. While he has more confidence in his midrange jumper -- he's not quite at that stage where that's his primary weapon. And I'm good with that. He's not going to back down against whomever he is going to be matched up with.

And he has the uncanny ability to actually draw fouls on post ups.

With Big Al and Derrick both possible out . . . he's going to have to keep building momentum from his last game, his first NBA start, where he finished with 18 and 8.

Kanter can. I believe in him.

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Pace of play is huge. If we can play our game and not fall into the trap of having to play our offense against their length in 5 on 5 all night long then we can get some transition opportunities. We have previously hurt this Lakers team by attacking them, and we have previously been beaten by them when we slow it down and play the way they want. If the Jazz are capable of getting good looks in transition (transition three being a great weapon for Randy Foye, Marvin Williams, and Mo Williams), or getting advantages in transition that get us to the line . . . then the Jazz fans could be in for a very good night.

It's silly to think we can just beat the Lakers "just because" they don't have Steve Nash and are playing poorly right now. It's still a team with Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard -- and a ton of role players who can hurt us (Metta World Peace and Antawn Jamison in particular). This game is going to be hard, but it'll be less hard if we run on the Lakers. (N.B. The Lakers have a higher pace than the Jazz, but that's because of their offensive rebounding and defense, and not like they're running showtime over there this year.)

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Word from the Badguys:

I'm saving up for a Jazz Jam Session . . . so please be patient : ) for another few days.

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As an aside:

Looking at the W/L record masks how good this Lakers team currently is, and how good they'll be when all the pieces fit together. They can be a monster defensive team, and get all of the rebounds. This game could be real ugly.

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Fearless Prediction:

Jazz win, why? Because this is a rivalry game and some Lakers fans want to get rid of D'Antoni -- so losing to us will only hasten that event.

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