Friday, December 27, 2013

Game-Time Chat: Lakers @ Jazz

First and foremost, let's applaud the Lakers' effort against the Miami Heat. The Lakers played with energy and poise in the Christmas day loss to the defending champions and they managed to hold the NBA's best player, LeBron James, to 19 points and 8 rebounds, however, they couldn't contain Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh, who both finished with 23 points. Wade, in particular, carved through the Lakers defense, shooting 11-17 and racking up 7 assists and 6 rebounds.

The Lakers still couldn't close Miami out, despite Nick Young's 20 points (including 17 points in the second half) and now we move on to Utah. The Lakers will travel to Utah to face the young and very rough-around-the-edges Jazz. They may be 8-23, but that does not mean they should be taken lightly, as they have the talented and versatile Gordon Hayward, one of the Western Conference's front runners for Rookie of the Year in Trey Burke and a duo of young, high potential big men in Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter. The Jazz have talent in their starting lineup, however their bench is lacking, led by Alec Burks, who for some reason, doesn't start over the reanimated corpse of Richard Jefferson, and by Marvin Williams, who was part of the early poster of the year (thanks, J.J. Hickson!).

The Jazz are one the worst offensive team in the league, ranking in at 25th in Offensive Rating at 100.9, and are the very worst defensive team in the league, being dead last in Defensive Rating at 110.5. Obviously, the Lakers will look to exploit that horrid Utah defense with pick and rolls and Nick Young isolations. The Lakers should look to jump out ahead early and not let themselves get lazy on the defensive end; the Jazz are still an NBA team and will take advantage of any mental mistakes on the Lakers' part. Los Angeles can't give the Jazz free chances; they need to take care of the ball and finish off defensive possessions by rebounding as much as possible. Limiting offensive rebounds and contesting three pointers will make this game difficult for Utah. Hopefully, the Lakers can continue their energetic play and not take any unnecessary risks against an inferior opponent.