Tag: Lakers Jazz Game One

Quote of the day, Jerry Sloan is a graphic man

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“They will take your nose and stick it in the ground and turn around on their heels on top of you, that’s how good they are.”

–Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, describing how tough the Lakers are after losing game one.

NBA Playoffs: Lakers Jazz Game 1: The Lakers are a big, long team and that's a problem for Utah


Boozer_Lakers.jpgIt was feeling like a lazy Sunday at Staples Center — Mr. Pibb and Red Vines equals crazy delicious. The Lakers were exploiting their numerous matchup advantages against the Jazz, Kobe was getting into the lane, the crowd was checking their Blackberries and LA was comfortable and up between 8 and 12 points for seeming ever. The end seemed a foregone conclusion.

But this is LA, they need some drama. The Jazz kept executing. Relentlessly running their flex offense. Defending. They were balanced  (five guys in double figures) and CJ Miles and Wesley Mathews gained confidence. Meanwhile the Lakers bench did, well, whatever it is that the Lakers bench does. It’s usually not pretty.

Suddenly we had an interesting game, with the Jazz taking the lead in the fourth quarter.

However, the end was still a foregone conclusion. The Jazz’s execution does not make up for the matchups battles they just can’t win — it was the microcosm of the game, the Lakers won 104-99.

It might be the microcosm of the series.

“Unless I grow three inches by tomorrow, there’s not much we can do…”
Deron Williams said. “Nothing we can do about it, we just have to attack

The Lakers will take the win. Not that they were all that happy.

“I thought one through seven we did pretty good, but our bench let us down,” Phil Jackson said.

Didn’t matter. Late in the game Pau Gasol was getting the shots he wanted inside and he had five blocks. Kobe Bryant drove the lane and had a wide highway to the basket for a key layup.

The Jazz played the Lakers close, but close is useless in a playoff game.

It didn’t look like it would be close at the end early on. Coming off a series against the long and athletic Thunder where every shot was contested, it had to seem like Christmas for a while for the Lakers against a smalerl, slower Jazz squad.

Kobe started 6-6 from the floor, several of those coming on layups as he blew past his man and no help could be found.

“We were playing a young guy who has never played Kobe Bryant before,” Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said of Wes Mathews.

Meanwhile, coming off a series against the undisciplined Nuggets, Denver had problems with the long Lakers front line. It took away the easy shots and the Jazz settled for poor choices. Like a Carlos Boozer fade-away 17-footer over the outstretched arm of Gasol.

“We shot a lot of jump shots early on, rather than working inside out…” Williams said. “They are a way better defensive team than Denver.”

In the second half the Jazz adjusted to get the inside-out play they need by trying to go with more guard penetration. They started to attack the paint more, and the Lakers started to look fat and happy. Kobe and Gasol sat (as did Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer) when the Jazz made a run. The Lakers offense started to settle, took the easy shots.

The Jazz, as they do, kept executing. This team got the ball inside, started passing big to big. The layups came. The shots started falling. The Lakers lead started dropping and the game looked like the style that the Jazz wanted.

Then Gasol and Bynum got next to each other again and the Lakers length intimidated the Jazz. Two straight trips down they settled for and missed threes. And that started the Lakers comeback.

The Jazz did what they could, but in the end, the Lakers are bigger and longer than the Jazz, and that is something you can’t just adjust for.

Andrew Bynum will start for Lakers, how long he goes remains to be seen

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Andrew Bynum is going to give it a shot in game one, and Phil Jackson is going to start him, he said in his pregame press conference.

“Andrew is prepared to play…” Jackson said. “If he’s limited in what he can do. His ability to run, pull out, if it’s something that’s going to hamper him we’ll have to measure that.”

Meaning, he’s going to go and will play unless he sucks. And Jackson will try to limit his minutes, if at all possible.

Jerry Sloan said that Deron Williams will start and is fine. And he said it in Sloan’s classic old-school way:

“If he can pull on the jersey he is 100 percent.”

Some other pregame notes here from the bowels of Staples Center.

Phil Jackson is concerned that without a dominant scorer to cover, Ron Artest’s mind will wander to… well, wherever it is that Ron Ron’s mind goes. Not sure it’s a place I want to visit. But because Pau Gasol gives Carlos Boozer trouble, Artest will start the game on CJ Miles and may get some Wes Mathews time. Also, look for Jackson to match Artest up on Millsap.

Sloan said the key for his team is shot selection. He said that the Laker length provides problems and the Jazz have responded with bad shots, which fuels the Lakers in transition. He wants the team to focus on getting good shots.

NBA Playoffs, Lakers Jazz game 1: Phil Jackson and Jerry Sloan get together, again

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Thumbnail image for Jackson_Bryant.jpgDid Phil Jackson and Jerry Sloan even bother to look at the advanced scouting reports for this series?

These two coaches — running the exact same systems — have been going at it since the mid 1990s. There are no secrets here. No surprises, no new counters that have not been tried multiple times before. This is a well-known dance between coaches.

But Jackson keeps coming out on top, because he has had the better players. That likely does not change, either. The Lakers pose some matchup questions that the Jazz cannot answer, especially as banged up as they are along the front line.

These two teams last played a month ago and the Lakers blew the Jazz out of the water with a 20-2 first quarter run. The game was never really in serious doubt after that (although the Jazz made a couple runs of it against the sad Lakers bench.)

The Lakers defense made that run, for a couple reasons. One was they forced the Jazz to start their offense farther out on the floor than they normally like, to the point a couple early turnovers came because Jazz players just stepped out of bounds.

Jazz turnovers will be key– the Jazz run the crisp-passing flex offense, and they run it better than anyone, but it is an offense with a lot of interior passing. The Lakers bigs have long arms. They knock down some passes, and those tend to be quickly become transition points for the Lakers. Unlike in the last round against the youth Thunder, now the Lakers want to get out and run, they are the better transition team. If the Jazz cut the turnovers down, they cut out some easy offense for the Lakers.

One Utah matchup that always gave the Lakers trouble was Mehmet Okur — to get easy points against the Lakers need to pull their bigs away from the basket. You need a stretch four (I hate to type that, it’s becoming a clich√©, but it rings true here). But Okur is out for this series with a ruptured Achilles tendon, and that is going to be trouble for the Jazz, because the Lakers bigs will have more freedom.

And the big matchup advantage for the Lakers in this matchup has long been inside. And it’s not just that Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum — who will play through his knee injury, but look for Phil Jackson to try to get him rest — can score at will. It’s that they slow down one of the keys to the Jazz offense: Carlos Boozier.

Boozer averaged just 11.3 points in four games against the Lakers this year, on 39 percent shooting (thanks to Forum Blue & Gold for that). And he averaged less than 10 shots per game. The length of Pau Gasol really hampers Boozer in the post, and Gasol is long enough to challenge his jumpers out at 15 feet.

The Jazz may try to counter that with the return of Andrei Kirilenko, at some point. However, how much of an impact he can have remains to be seen.

Where the Jazz have the advantage is Deron Williams. He is as good a point guard as there is in the game, he can slash the lane, shoot the three, and averages 10.5 assists per game. He will utterly destroy Derek Fisher. Destroy.

This is where the lack of Okur hurts — the Lakers bigs will try to block off the paint and force Williams to pull up with the 12-footer. This season, Williams shot just 32.8 percent from 10 to 15 feet (via Hoopdata).

One other little matchup the Lakers can fall back on — Kobe Bryant vs. Anyone. Slowed by injury or not, Wesley Mathews is not stopping Kobe when it matters.

This is a matchup the Lakers should win — the matchup advantages all fall to them. But Deron Williams can win a couple games himself. Bynum is slowed and Kobe Bryant is banged up. And we know this — the Jazz are a good team that plays hard. They will not roll over. The Lakers will have to fight for this one. But they probably will, at least just enough to win.

Andrew Bynum has 'small' cartilage tear


Kid cannot get healthy. Just can’t do it.

Mike Bresnahan of the LA Times is reporting that Andrew Bynum has a “small tear” in the front cartilage of his right knee.

According to the Lakers’ medical staff, the tear is asymptomatic, with Bynum being completely unaware of the tear. Unfortunately, the tear started as what was described as a “very small tear” which then turned into a “small tear.” As in, getting bigger.

That has to scare the daylights out of every Laker player, coach, and fan. Bynum has suffered multiple knee injuries over the past three years. And each time, his recovery has been slow, often slower than what is predicted every time. Bynum was a huge part of both the Lakers’ success in the regular season and their win over the Thunder.

Bynum is listed as questionable for Sunday’s Game 1 versus the Jazz, but says he will most likely try to play. For the Lakers, they’re facing a difficult situation. It’s clear the tear is increasing with the wear and tear he’s incurring, but they’ve honestly shut him down several times already, and they need him too badly in what is their best chance for a championship for the next few years, though they will remain contenders.

Phil Jackson will have to manage not only if to play Bynum, but how many minutes. Such a tricky situation for such a young guy.