UPDATE (10:55): It seems that Mehmet Okur is out for Game 3. Andrei Kirilenko will start in his place. And while we're here, Andy and I are set to sit in tonight for 710's postgame show, for an hour following the game. Radio magic. BK
With the Lakers having controlled Games 1 and 2 of their Western Conference Quarterfinal at Staples Center, most of the lingering questions about this series (I'm talking about outcome here, not LA's performance, something the coaching staff believes still needs some tweaks) involve how things could change in tonight's Game 3, kicking off the Salt Lake City portion of this playoff tour. After all, them folks at the EnergySolutions Arena have a well earned rep for volume, and the Jazz are in nearly every measurable way a better team on their home floor.
It's a tough place to play, no question, but the Lakers say they're looking forward to it. To the point that yesterday at practice, Kobe and LO actually called it fun: "It's a little different than a good game of Monopoly, or something like that," Odom said. "It's a different kind of competition, you know? Somebody telling you that they hate your guts, and then you can make a spin move and make them go "Ahhhhhh!" in the same breath? You know? That's the rush that you get from playing on the road."
Love that quote. And it's exactly how AK and I feel when we head into an enemy arena and fire up the laptops. Same. Exact. Thing. (We will not be accepting letters debating the point.)
Certainly Derek Fisher is aware of how nasty Utah fans can get, but believes much of the ugliness he encountered last season is indeed a thing of the past. Now, he says, he gets booed because he's a Laker, not a former Jazz.
But while the Lakers are braced for the worst, they may not get it. With the Jazz searching for positives/moral victories after the first two games, and Mehmet Okur's status still an open question, fans aren't exactly steeped in optimism. Tickets were still available for the game as of Wednesday afternoon, and talk radio chatter in SLC is, at best, wrought with pessimism. There could even be (gasp!) some Lakers fans in the crowd.
Whoever shows up will get a chance to see Andrew Bynum, who is still feeling a little discomfort in his right knee. The Lakers aren't terribly concerned, and Phil Jackson said yesterday he sees fatigue and a natural adjustment to his brace as larger issues for Bynum than pain, and Drew himself didn't seem concerned. As a precaution, Bynum didn't do much at practice, but headlines like this one still give a fright.
More news and notes:
- The Lakers have shown this season that they can get physical themselves with teams that try to beat them up.
- An interesting profile of Jordan Farmar in the Jewish Journal, including some interesting information about the history of Jews in the NBA.
- Kobe hasn't had to go off yet, but it's nice to know he can when it's necessary.
- As good a reason as any not to have a mascot.
- We're all having fun now, but labor issues loom on the NBA horizon.