NBA Preseason 2012-2013, Game 3:
Utah Jazz (1-1) @ Los Angeles Lakers (0-2)
Game 3 . . . and our first game our of three in LA. The Lakers made a big splash in the off-season, but who knows how long it will take for them to gel. Utah did not stand pat this off-season either, and the Jazz picked up parts that are supposed to work immediately. So far Marvin Williams and Mo Williams have been killing it for the Jazz. Steve Nash has hardly played, and Dwight has yet to suit up. Unless you think Robert Sacre is a big time player then I think so far, on the court, the Jazz got better than the Lakers.
Of course, this is still just the preseason . . . and in the hype driven NBA, it's really the stars you add that matter. And no team shines as brightly as the Lakers do. (Barf) Like how despite them both having zero NBA experience, Darius Johnson-Odom (drafted after Kevin Murphy) had a higher rating in ESPN NBA Player rank -- just because the Lakers took him.
The Jazz and Lakers split the season series last year, the Lakers took the first 2 games (a blowout in LA, then a 3 point overtime win in Utah); and the Jazz returned the favor with a close win at home, and a surprising upset in LA. These two teams have a lot of history -- and to be honest -- our off-season moves every season seem to revolve around trying to adjust for the Lakers. When we figured out that Carlos Boozer was a kitty cat the Jazz went out and got a guy who wasn't afraid of their length. Now we're getting younger guys who can both bang *and* wing players who can get to the rim and draw fouls.
Last season the Jazz did not run against a tired Lakers team in our first game, which was their third game in three nights. By the time the played their last game of the season (on March 18th), the Jazz let the young horses run. And good things happened.
The Lakers are too good to be beaten by us at a slow, methodical pace. We struggled defending Steve Nash last season, adding him to the team that usually gets our goat makes them so much harder to deal with. That said, all of their experience can be a disadvantage. Some of the players on our team right now are too young to know that they should pack it in early and accept a loss.
We beat them in LA in Gordon's rookie year. We beat them in LA in Alec's rookie year. The curse is over. And our team will trend upwards again, while the Lakers window finally closes in the next few months... until they get their next HOF guard in a tricky way . . .
The Jazz played last night, the Lakers last played on Wednesday. They are more rested, but have more serious injuries -- with Dwight Howard recovering from back surgery, Kobe Bryant being day-to-day, and Jordan Hill being out (back) as well. The Jazz will be without Paul Millsap. I have no clue if Jamaal Tinsley will be back for tonight's game. I do know that Earl Watson and Raja Bell will both be out. But hey, you knew that much already.
The Spell in Staples is broken, but the Lakers don't "want" to lose three straight games. Kobe is too much of a competitor for that, so I'm sure if he's playing he'll be playing for keeps. He's just not going to be playing 40 minutes long tonight. He will be playing the most intense 16 minutes there are. Hopefully.
Word from the Badguys:
Again, I failed to get this done ahead of time (if it's not working why fix it?) . . . and I really know a lot of great NBA Blogosphere Lakers fans . . . but I had to pull our my own personal Rolodex on this one. After all, some of the most beautiful and cherished people in my life live in LA and are Lakers fans . . . so I dialed up my Nissan Altima brother Adam R, and asked him to give me the scoop on a few things:
Amar: What's the deal with Dwight? How many minutes do you think he should be playing right now?
Adam: There is absolutely no reason for Dwight Howard to get any preseason minutes at all . . . and tonight Kobe shouldn't be playing any more than 18.
Amar: What's the deal with Nash's hair cut?
Adam: Nash is good friends from the boys from One Direction, they're giving him sylting tips.
Amar: Awesome. Okay, what is one thing that Head Coach Mike Brown has done or changed this season that gives confidence to Lakers fans?
Adam: Well, he's relinquished and has no control over the offense anymore. The offense is now run by Assistant Coach Eddie Jordan. [Amar's Note: Eddie Jordan is supposed to be running the Princeton offense, kinda, and has an NBA Head coaching resume spanning 9 seasons and 600 games, by the way. But if you are as old as I am, you may remember him from his days as a Los Angeles Laker player.]
Thanks so much to Adam for taking my call. Most people let it go to voice mail when I ring them up. (I really wouldn't know why . . . ) I would have loved to put up a picture of Adam and myself here in this section, but I don't think we have any photographs together. Which is something we'll have to fix next time we're in the same time zone.
Also, I have no idea what One Direction is. (Bad Joke Alert: It's Al Jefferson's focus in bball) I think the idea of delegating responsibility for Xs and Os is a smart move. I watched a lot of Mike Brown's games when he coached the Cavs, offense was not his forte. Putting the ball in the hands of his best players, on the other hand, worked great. Giving the keys to the offense to Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant >>> any play Mike Brown could have designed.
It's all about Gordon Hayward here. Dude just gets up for playing the Lakers. So does Alec Burks. Hayward has had a bumpy preseason so far, shooting only 5/20 (25 fg%), but still is managing 9.0 PPG because he's been money at the line so far. (Per 36 he's getting to the line 9.5 times a game) His aggressiveness and "I'm taking the ball here" attitude needs to shine if we're going to beat LA. The one place they don't have an automatic HOFer at is SF. This has to be our main point of attack. Hayward with the driving, dishing, and finishing at the rim. Alec Burks is going to do it too, he's shooting 54.5 fg% this preseason and gets to the line all day long too. He just needs to make his FTs (went 42.9 FT% last night). Lastly, in our three pronged wing attack, Marvin Williams needs to continue being an offensive force playing within the team concept, but still doing it from distance, with his back to the basket, and in transition.
On the other side of the ball, the X-Factor for the Lakers will be their three point shooting. That'll need to change if they want to open up their entire offensive arsenal. Over all the Lakers have shot "okay" form the line, but subpar from the floor. This is mostly seen from downtown. So far this preseason they've gone 7 for 27 from deep.That's very un-Laker-like. Nash always performs against us, and Kobe is becoming increasingly hit-and-miss -- but still destroys us every time. IF guys like Devin Ebanks, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Andrew Goudelock, Steve Black and crew get their threes to fall it could be a very difficult night for the Jazz; who so far have only allowed the opponent to shoot 6/30 from deep (20.0 3pt%).
As an aside:
A lot of Jazz fans are upset with Tyrone Corbin -- take a look at what former Coach of the Year Mike Brown does, and maybe we need to take a step back and recognize just how spoiled we've been by Jerry Sloan all these years. Not all NBA Head Coaches are GREAT at their jobs. Ty has big shoes to fill. And yeah, it could be worse. It could be much worse . . . we could have Vinny Del Negro . . .
The Jazz win. Why? Because It's only the 3rd preseason game and Lakers "coach" Mike Brown isn't going to play his old guys very much (hopefully) tonight.