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Five things to watch in Lakers-Jazz matchup

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1. How will the Lakers respond to rest - Some of the Lakers joked after their 98-91 victory Tuesday over Chicago how their Thanksgiving dinner is going to slow them down Friday in Utah. I can't forsee any Laker player ballooning that much weight, no matter how times they refilled their plate with turkey and stuffing. But the whole rest issue is always something to consider with any team.

The Lakers (13-2) took the day off Wednesday and their light practice Thanksgiving morning consisted of the "Turkey Trots," an annual Phil Jackson tradition that features the team's backcourt match up in a scrimmage against the frontline. Add in the flight Thursday night and the only other practice the team had before the game against the Jazz (11-5) involved Friday's morning shootaround.

The Lakers have experienced a mixed bag thus far after off days. They had an underwhelming performance against Minnesota. They experienced their first loss of the season to Denver. But they responded to another off day with a dominating win over Golden www.googState. Some of the results can point to the opponent more than the Lakers' energy level, but the latter part certainly played a factor in all three contests. This approach will prove to be a solid down investment for later on in the season when fatigue hits in, but it's hard to gauge how this strategy will turn out in early-season contests.

"We're trying to get them established without it going too far," Jackson said, "yet not run our legs off our veterans."

2. How will the Lakers deal with the Jazz animosity?As Utah guard Deron Williams said before the season, "I hate the Lakers." Utah hates them because the Lakers have won the last four regular-season series. They hate them because they eliminated Utah in the past three postseasons, including the Western Conference semifinals (2008, 2010) and first round (2009). And they hate them because Utah's relentless and grinding work ethic usually fall short against the Lakers' superior talent.

So even if the Lakers have had their way with Utah, it also requires more energy and effort in making that possible. The Lakers expect the team to play physical with them and the typically contentious atmosphere at Energy Solutions Arena.

3. Don't get too comfortable with Utah. It might come back. Lakers Coach Phil Jackson recently shared a theory on how the Jazz recently managed to stage four consecutive second-half comebacks.

""When Utah goes on the road, they play flip-flop of every other team," Jackson said. "They play offense on the far end of their court, and when they come back in the second half, they're playing offense in front of their bench, and they generate a lot of points in front of their bench because of that. For whatever reason, teams a lot of times play better when the coach is yelling at the guys to make the right moves and the right passes and whatever. They're more comfortable... It's been in front of their bench that they've been able to do it, but I think they're the only team in the NBA that does that."

This concept doesn't exactly apply in this game since Utah will play at home. But it speaks to their overall tendency in refusing to give up.

4. The Lakers need to take advantage of Utah's poor shooting percentage. Kobe Bryant made a recent comment that the team worries more about how a team's shooting percentage looks than the actual points they produce. The logic points to the fact that it becomes easier to defend a team that requires more shots than teams that endlessly make baskets. Utah illustrates that perfectly as their 13th-ranked field-goal percentage and 20th ranked three-point field goal percentage contributes more to the team's 13th overall mark in points per game and than the fifth-ranked mark it has in assists. That makes it important the Lakers take advantage of their rebounding superiority, with the Lakers leading the league in boards and the Jazz currently ranked at 23rd. It also means the Lakers need to be mindful of Williams, whose 21.3 points per game has come on 43.5% shooting. Considering his recent shooting performance against New Orleans, it'd be wise to mark him as a sharp shooter and then force him back into his slump.

5. This should be a good test for the Lakers bench. This isn't just because it will test its ability to secure a lead. This isn't just because it will test their resilience in an unfriendly road environment. The Salt Lake Tribune's Brian T. Smith recently explained how the Jazz's second unit has inspired its starting lineup. It features a lineup that's sometimes small, sometimes large, sometimes fast and sometimes slow with two point guards in Earl Watson and Ronnie Price and two centers in Francisco Elson and Kyrylo Fesenko. With different combinations working around small forward C.J. Miles, the Jazz orchestrated significant runs in their win over New Orleans.

The Jazz has credited its bench the same way the Lakers have: they believe the sum of their parts have sparked energy and fed the team's hunger level. The Lakers saw that on full display in their recent win against Chicago as the likes of Steve Blake, Matt Barnes and Shannon Brown helped offset poor performances from Pau Gasol, Ron Artest and Derek Fisher. It's not a stretch to believe this matchup will prove a big role in the outcome.

--Mark Medina

Twitter.com/latmedina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, left, drives on Utah guard Wesley Matthews in the first quarter during Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals on Tuesday. Credit: Harry How/Getty Images

 
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Ok I'm excited about 2nites game ... let's see how we measure up against quality opposition on the road ... game recognizes game ... utah got game ... lol but part of that game is driven by their game ... their tired of falling short ... so our student excels among its peers, but come june school's still in session ...

And speaking of game ... PJ pops off some more ... pulled this off espn:

[Ultimately, Jackson stood by his speculation about what could occur if the ultra-talented Heat don't stop their three-game losing streak and turn around their 8-7 record.

"We've been in this game long enough to know what it's like," Jackson said]

like 4 real ... dude's like really calling miami out ... sounds sumthing like this to me ... "

[yo i been in this game long enough to know that Riley's gonna have to come clean up his mess if the heat keep losing and no i dnt care if Riley or Spoelstra or Gundy keep taking this the wrong way cuz umm my team will eat 'em alive" regardless of which of d 3 stooges is coaching ... we're d world champions b$#%%]

PJ ... he's a bad ... shut your mouth ... and um yo miami, la fans are saying the same thing ... pls o pls drag riley's butt out ... we're still on for our rubber match with d celtics

PJ ... he's a bad ... shut your mouth ... and um yo miami, la fans are saying the same thing ... pls o pls drag riley's butt out ... we're still on for our rubber match with d celtics Posted by: segeboy | November 26, 2010 at 04:19 PM
*
PREACH SHERIFF, PREACH!!!!!! Where you been my brother? How are things on the Continent and how goes the business? Oh yeah we're definitely still on to meet the celts again. Only this time it will be a different result. No more of this 7 game close ISH. We will destroy them in 4 or 5 this time!! Good to see you posting my brother and happy holidays although you probably don't celerate it over there.

umm meant part of utah's game is driven by our game (ala they've earned a b.s.c agains us but now come d masters, tougher curriculum) ... typos suck but umm at least i get to trash talk some more ... real talk though, the west needs to step its game up, we're yet to be pushed like webber and the kings did back in d day ... San Antonio, stay healthy come june ... it's been a while since we crushed your dreams ... kinda miss it

Gosh on days like this ... i'm thankful for loving a winning team ... i'm thankful for Blake, Barnes and Brown ... I'm thankful Gasol is in mvp form ... I'm thankful for our All Star in Odom ... for Ron's defense ... and for the gift that keeps on giving, Kobe's game

Happy Thanksgiving y'all

Like 4 real though ... think about it y'all ... when has Kobe disappointed ... even in defeat we saw his passion ...

i got d munchies ...

Hopefully at some point of some game this season, I'd like to see an ALL killer B's lineup on the court.

Blake
Brown
Bryant
Barnes
Bynum

Game Over

Another thing I'll be watching is the Kobe-Raja Bell matchup. Remember Raja rejected the Lakers (and Kobe's personal recruitment) to sign with the Jazz. I don't blame him because I believe Utah was offering twice the money.
And if the Laker had signed Raja it would've precluded them signing either Shannon or Matt Barnes.


IIRC Raja said he preferred trying to help a team get over the hump and win a title as opposed to joining a championship team. I respect his competitiveness, but still I never did like him since the clothesline incident. This song goes out to Raja Bell because I'm glad the Lakers have "One Less Bell"


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzWPZP0iVlE&feature=related

Mamba24 - thank you so much for the sweet things you said about me. I'm touched and also honored that you think of me so highly. I value your friendship as well.

Back to the previous thread on LO after I read through the various comments.

Of course LO is underrated. First of all, with all of his versatility and flat out talent, he's never been an All-Star, yet a certain Coach K understood his value and started him at CENTER in the World's. Carlos Boozer was selected to play on the 2008 All-Star team, yet Lamar was ignored. I know Boozer's numbers were better, but Lamar was more valuable to the Lakers and outplayed Boozer in the playoffs that season which is is just a small example of why he's underrated. Second, during his career with the Lakers his value to the team has been immeasurable, even during his inconsistent times and even when he played like what looked like crap at times during last year's playoffs. Gerald Wallace and Derrick Rose have been All-Stars, people see Russell Westbrook as a bona-fide star now, and Eric Gordon plays for a perennial loser, so those were all bad comparisons.

The worst comparison was Kobe Bryant who, for the 1999-00 season, was viewed as a bona fide superstar, was First Team All-Defense, Second Team All-NBA, an indisputable major player in the Lakers playoff run, and played alongside the clear choice for MVP in the Association. The only people who underrate Kobe Bryant are those who don't put him in the conversation with Michael Jordan. Then again, the blogger who offered these opinions is one of those people, so perhaps this is just a subconscious thing with him. Calling Kobe underrated compensates for the fact that he personally underrates him.

Oh, and as between that blogger and Tom Thibodeau, I'll defer to Thib.

justanother ...
[Mamba24 - thank you so much for the sweet things you said about me. I'm touched and also honored that you think of me so highly. I value your friendship as well.]

Umm is it weird that i felt a pang of jealousy ... lol

Mamba24,
After a decade of celebrating thanksgiving ... it's hard not to celebrate it ... i mean i didn't have a turkey ... but i ain't do much either ... jus enjoyed being lazy on d holidays ... matter of fact, i'm still celebrating thanksgiving, complete with online black friday online shopping from us stores ...

and umm stop asking how biz is going, u putting 2 much pressure on me ... lol ... it's been aite, mostly been in a product development phase ... mostly working on some gwt/appengine online grading app ... hopefully i'll start building a service around it in Jan ...

Happy holidays 2 u and ya fam ...

GAME DAY, BABY !!!
…………………………………………..

For a die-hard Lakers fan, I don’t think it’s possible not to smile when you see Mamba24’s Roll Call – or should we say Role Call. LOL! Great to see the positivity and gratitude in full flow on the blog. I can even forgive the incredibly petty comments about Andrew apparently not joining other players to help the less fortunate on Thanksgiving. Are we now stooping so low as to Google players’ names on every major holiday in some silly stupid effort at judging their character and true value to the team? While I haven’t Googled anybody’s name, I didn’t read any articles about Kobe, Pau, Fish, Phil, Jerry, Mitch stepping up and participating in a charitable event yesterday. Talk about a hidden agenda.

Thanksgiving dinner with the family was great, although I’m glad I no longer have to threaten no pumpkin pie in order to get the munchkins to eat their dinners. Since we went out to eat, it was great not having to clean up and instead enjoying a family game of Maori but the bummer is no leftovers. Watching my three grandkids though is always my greatest pleasure in life, even over watching my beloved Lakers. If you look closely, you can see yourself in their eyes and know that part of you is going to live on and on well after you’re gone. And of course, they’re all being raised as Lakers fans.

Loved Tom Daniels award winning comments. Tom has always been among the dean of analysts and writers on this blog. I also loved MM’s article on Lamar Odom. What still jumps out at me about this team is how much better it is than last year’s repeat championship team. Kobe is on a mission that would rival the best of Call to Duty. Fish is playing like he found the Fountain of Youth. Pau Gasol has once again shown that the best power forward in the game can also play a pretty damn good center. Lamar Odom is finally putting it all together in what may well be his first all-star season. Shannon is the leading candidate for MIP. And the additions of Steve Blake and Matt Barnes have transformed our bench into the most potent in the entire league. LO and the Killer B’s may be the best bench ever.

Tonight’s game against the Jazz will be another chance for the Lakers to take measure of their game. In the past, we’ve been able to have our way with Utah, often because our length took Boozer out of the game. Millsap will make the Jazz a much tougher matchup for the Lakers as should Raja Bell. I’m looking for the Kobe Bryant to have a breakout game tonight, Fish to break more Utah hearts, and the Killer B’s to continue their domination of the other team’s bench. These players may be professionals, but you know to a man that they all heard what Deron William said about hating the Lakers and Kobe Bryant and crew are the master at finding special reasons to be motivated for each and every game.

……………………………….

TOM

Watching some games...


The Heat started their first 1:44min with 0-5, hehe...Eventually they got in track, game is tied now (against 76rs)...says it all.


Celts are solid and consistent, 2nd quarter, 10 points lead and some bench players on the hardwood. As for now, I'd say the finals will be Lakers x Celts again.


Utah will try and try...but the truth is that if the starters play their regular and the bench play their regular too, it will be a blow-out.


I'm worried to say, but we look scary good...


My friend and I, we were talking about going to a Lakers game sometime this season, and he said "I wanna see the Killer B's". He didn't mention watching Kobe or Pau playing, he wanna see the Killer Bs!!!!!!


ME TOO!!!!!

hope everyone had a happy/delicious Thanksgiving-

let's get the Jazz:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F22yKJRZoZc

have a good night & game all-

Mamba24 - thank you so much for the sweet things you said about me. I'm touched and also honored that you think of me so highly. I value your friendship as well.

Posted by: justanothermambafan | November 26, 2010 at 04:49 PM
-
NICE!!!!!
NIIIIIIIICE!!!!!

Taliq - don't be like that - you're my absolute favorite sheriff in the entire world. I highly value your friendship as well - I thought you knew that! You need to come home though - at least for a visit. I want that drink you owe me :)

looking forward to another "DFish" STELLAR DEFENSIVE performance.

why do some of these players make the goofiest jestures with there mouths,it's like they seen a ghost or something, spookey !!!!!

look at his mouth , it's like he seen a ghost, spookey !!!


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