I'm a big fan of the idea that it's now how you treat someone when you're at the bottom that matters, it's how you treat others when you are at the top. And in the zero-sum game of the Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Lakers it would appear that this season the Utah Jazz are likely going to be on top. This isn't some over-zealous belief in my team; rather, it's evidence based information about our opponents. The Lakers are injured.
Their old guys are injured. And their young guys are injured. And these injuries aren't just acute ones, but will persist throughout the season. The Jazz are likely to see Jeremy Lin tonight, someone they missed in the 33 point drubbing. But will not see Steve Nash (everything), Jordan Clarkson (calf), Nick Young (thumb), Xavier Henry (knee), or Ryan Kelly (hamstring). That's five players from their normative 10 man rotation. And regardless of what's going on with the Jazz, there is no excuse for a loss tonight.
For the Jazz, Trevor Booker is listed as doubtful for tonight (ankle) by national sites, and the Jazz media document. Part of that could be legit, part of it could be a quiet 'tone it down' injury to keep him out of the limelight while the league reviews the softest flagrant foul in the history of fouling things. The good news is that Alec Burks is set to return, as he is listed as probable. And woe to the Lakers guards if he is back to his "destroy all humans" mode. Before getting injured he was shooting 50 fg% as a guard while getting 16 ppg. Kobe Bryant is Kobe Bryant, but if he couldn't keep up with Burks when Alec was a rookie . . . is he really going to be able to do it when he (Kobe) is four years older?
For the Jazz I think that it is likely that the team isn't going to be making every shot they take again. Three nights ago the team shot 51.2 fg% against the Lakers, en route to 119 - 86 pantsing. (Is Pantsing a word?) It was such a debacle that Steve Novak, Toure' Murry, Jack Cooley, Brock Motum, and Dahntay Jones all got to play. Worse still, four of those five guys scored against LA.
Carlos Boozer, Jeremy Lin, and Kobe Bryant stand to give it a little more effort as a collective unit, and energy guy Ronnie Price is best suited as a non-starter. How Dante Exum deals with him is going to be interesting to watch. But, ultimately, the Jazz are just too big inside and should look to establish that early. Even without Trevor Booker ("injured"), the Jazz have plenty of bench lob targets in Rudy Gobert and Jeremy Evans. It should be a fun night, because their bigs can't handle our starting bigs. And I can assume that with five rotation players out the Lakers aren't likely to be putting up much of a fight on a Sunday night.
If we are looking for anything in particular, I want to see how the Jazz react to the Lakers adjustments, and pick and rolls with Lin in control. It'll be an educational game for both fan bases. Hopefully one that will have Jazz fans celebrating at the end of the lesson.