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Preview - Utah Jazz @ Los Angeles Lakers

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It kind of blows heading into a game where you don't have any realistic expectations for a win.  Winning in LA hasn't happened since Excite and Lycos were still the dominant search engines.  Oh, and don't forget Alta Vista.

It would be hard enough even with a full roster.  There was a slim chance that Harris would play tonight, but he's out.  Fesenko has also been ruled out.  So much for that Fess/Kobe confrontation we were hoping for.  He hurt his thumb in practice against Millsap.  I don't know to what extent he hurt it, but I would hope he would have gone if it was just pain.

So that kills one part that I was looking forward to.  So what's left?  Avoiding carnage.  Avoiding having to see Kobe sitting on the bench the entire fourth quarter, smirking and laughing and telling jokes that Gasol feels compelled to laugh at even though he doesn't get them.

With  the Spurs having already won tonight, LA sits three games back of first and two and a half games up on Dallas.  San Antonio has two games against the Kings and Jazz before playing LA.  So they could lock up the 1 spot before they ever get to LA.  The Lakers have some tougher games against Portland and OKC before their match-up with the Spurs.

The downside to facing the Lakers tonight, as opposed to you know, every other night, is that they just came off a disappointing home loss to the Nuggets.  That was only their second loss since the All-star break.  So you know they're going to have a little extra motivation to get it done tonight.  If they needed a quick pick-me-up, a home date against Utah would be just the ticket.

So we look forward to the things we've been looking for the past three months and that's improvement.  You're not going to be able to gauge the team as a whole due to the fact that we barely have enough players to put on the court.

We can look for individual improvement though, mainly from the rookies.  From the start of the season to now for example, Hayward has improved leaps and bounds.  He's still trying to be more assertive and learn the basics and nuances of the NBA game, but his shooting lately has been tremendous and his D and play-making ability has been great.

Jeremy Evans has been thrust into a role where few, including himself, envisioned he would have.  He went from a garbage time player to playing significant minutes and even starting.  He's expanded his shot as the season has gone on.

We'll continue to watch the progress of Derrick Favors.  It's great to see him go up against the Lakers bigs, some of the best in the business, and develop his game.  I hope he gets a lot of PT tonight, at least 30 minutes.  

So sit back and try to enjoy the show tonight and hope the Jazz can keep it competitive and close and make LA work for it.