It is time we admit how great Kobe Bryant is. He is the greatest of all time. He is unstoppable. He is the Black Mamba, a nickname that so aptly describes him it could only have been created by the great one himself.
I wrote a similar piece before game 2 against Denver and we all know how game 2 turned out in that series. Thought I would keep up with the tradition. I never said I wasn’t totally superstitious.
1. Rough up Pau Gasol-
It’s amazing what a different player Pau Gasol is when you body him up and push him around. I don’t care if you get called for a foul or two. You have to just flat out make Pau Gasol uncomfortable. I am looking at you especially, Carlos Boozer. You need to use your leverage to just push Pau out of position. If he catches the ball in the low post, I don’t care how fundamental your defense is, you are toast. Gotta do your work before he gets the ball. I don’t care if you poke him in the ribs, pull on his beard or just whoop and holler at him. You can’t respect him. And if you push him around, Pau will play more poorly. He’s soft. I don’t care how many angry faces he makes. He’s soft. Challenge him. Or else just let him shoot 4 foot hook shots over you. That’ll work too.
2. Guard Kobe Bryant differently
The Jazz didn’t really have time to gameplan how they would handle Kobe in the 4th quarter, so it’s forgiveable that it was poor in game 1. It’s gotta change for the upcoming games. Kobe Bryant isn’t the player he was even a year ago. He is a fantastic shooter, but if you force him to put the ball on the floor, he isn’t as quick as he once was to the basket. But CJ Miles should never be guarding Kobe Bryant in the last 6 minutes of the game. CJ is much improved defensively, but he still lacks the strength and know how to be able to guard Bryant. The problem is that CJ is probably too small to guard Ron Artest. But I would rather have the Lakers looking to Artest for 4th quarter points. And I thought Deron guarded Kobe well. Kobe just made some jumpers over him. It happens. But CJ needs to guard either Artest or Fisher in the closing minutes. Deron and Matthews should get him on the final possessions. They make Kobe work.
3. Play at a faster pace
I don’t mean that the Jazz need to run more fast breaks. They are running pretty well when they have the opportunity and their fast breaks were successful when they had the opportunity to run. But in general, the team just needs more movement and faster play. Boozer can’t methodically break down Pau Gasol in the low post. It isn’t happening. Gotta get the ball and make a quicker move. Millsap was a little more successful attacking Odom and the Laker defense. Boozer had some good offensive rebounds and putbacks due to this. If you try to set up the Lakers, their defense just sets up and then they know what to do. They are a great half court team defensively. Go at them and go at them quickly. Keep the pressure on them. The Jazz need to run their offense and with more purpose. They need to run their cuts more quickly and sharper. Take it to the Lakers on offense and defense. And capitalize on fast breaks too.
4. CJ needs to shoot open three pointers
I like the fact that CJ is attacking the rim. But he also passed up a lot of open looks from 3. He also shot about 3 or 4 pull-up 3 pointers off the dribble. CJ, please shoot an open 3 point shot with your feet set. You are going to get open looks from Deron’s penetration. Line it up and shoot ‘em up. Pump fake sometimes and attack the basket. That’s fine. But don’t shoot any pull up 3’s off the dribble. Mix it up. But most importantly, shoot the ball with confidence. This is no time for you to be getting nervous. You wear big boy pants now. Show us you can keep them unsoiled.
5. Time to wake Fesenko up
Fes has disappeared a bit since his great plays in games 2 and 3 of the Denver series. It is time to get him back. I vote that he starts the game guarding Pau Gasol. Tell him to rough Gasol up a bit. Or call him out. I don’t know. Do something. We need him to be with us in this series. I wish that playing Kosta Koufos any minutes would be a big enough wake up call to Fesenko. I am not ready to give up on him now. And he can still play a big role in this series.
And most importantly….let’s go Jazz. Game 2, Tues, 10:30 PM EST