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Game Thread - Los Angeles Lakers @ Utah Jazz

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There's probably not much I could tell you that you didn't already know about the Lakers. We play them four times a year. You see them for at least 15 minutes a night on SportsCenter. They're on ABC and ESPN every other night. We've been knocked out of the playoffs by them too many times to count. You know these guys.

They're the #1 team in the west right now and that's with injuries to Bynum, Gasol and Kobe this year. They are vulnerable though right now and that's even with all of them playing. Tonight though, both Bynum and Kobe are out so the Jazz are gifted again playing a great team without a couple of their stars.

They play very well in close games and they're always in it. They've been blown out in two games that I can see and both were against Denver.

In comparing the two teams offensively, the Jazz are actually a bit better with an offensive rating of 110 compared to LA's 109.6. On the defensive side, the Lakers are the #2 team in the league using the defensive rating system while the Jazz are 9th.

So what are we looking for tonight for the Jazz to win? First, if we could avoid a six-point quarter, that would be great. Mostly though, you can used the same formula for every game and call it good. That is, pass the ball and get good shots. When the Jazz have a high percentage of assists to FGs made, they're usually going to win.

And the other thing is to get defensive rebounds. You can't give a team like the Lakers, or any team for that matter, many second chances. It's no coincidence that the team's focus and increased performance on defense has led to a better offense.

No longer are they worried about having to score each time down because they can't get a stop on the other end. Instead, they're relaxed knowing that is shots aren't falling or if they get behind, they're always in it because they can still play D and play off of that.

The Jazz can beat the Lakers tonight. It's still a tall task even without them being at full strength. I just hope the vacation plans aren't already in their minds and that they are complacent with what they've done over the past month.

And if anyone is at the ESA or heading there tonight, please boo a Laker fan for me. Thanks.