Los Angeles Lakers (9-11, 101.4 ppg, 97.8 ppg allowed)
- Dwight Howard (18.8 ppg, 59% fg, 1.8 apg, 11.5 rpg)
- Antawn Jamison (8.3 ppg, 47.8% fg, .7 apg, 4.9 rpg)
- Metta World Peace (12.77 ppg, 40.8% fg, 2 apg, 5.4 rpg)
- Kobe Bryant (28.4 ppg, 48.8% fg, 5.0 apg, 5.2 rpg)
- Chris Duhon (3.9 ppg, 45.8% fg, 3.5 apg, 1.9 rpg)
Utah Jazz (11-10, 100.5 ppg, 98.8 ppg allowed)
- Enes Kanter (6.1 ppg, 51.9% fg, .4 apg, 4 rpg)
- Paul Millsap (17 ppg, 45.8% fg, 3.1 apg, 9.6 rpg)
- Marvin Williams (10.4 ppg, 45.4% fg, 1 apg, 3.8 rpg)
- Randy Foye (11.5 ppg, 41.9% fg, 1.8 apg, 1.4 rpg)
- Mo Williams (13.8 ppg, 43.9% fg, 7.1 apg, 2.1 rpg
The Los Angeles Lakers return to Staples Center to take on the Utah Jazz after going 1-2 over their first road trip of December. The teams have already faced one another once this season, in Utah, in a game that will be forever infamous for being the genesis of the "Kobe Death Stare".
With a day of rest since taking a loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder the Lakers should be rejuvenated returning home to wear the Sunday whites. It was only a week ago that the Orlando Magic pulled the Lakers collective pants down in Staples and defeated them. In the week that has passed the Lakers have gone 1-4, their only win coming against a depleted New Orleans Hornets team. Orlando exposed the Lakers defensive deficiencies, as did the Houston Rockets (along with the lack of hustle on the glass. Unbelievable that the Lakers gave up 21 offensive rebounds). The Oklahoma City Thunder? The Lakers played well. They didn't play great, or phenomenal, or anything above average, but they still played well enough to not be ashamed of the performance. But Russell Westbrook was throwing haymakers in the first round similar to the Juan Manuel Marquez counter right that put Manny Pacquiao on the canvas.
So, back home the Lakers go, still with no window on a Steve Nash or Pau Gasol return. Reports have surfaced that when Pau does return the Lakers may consider bringing him in off the bench in a sixth man type of role, but until the tendinitis in the knees is taken care of it's difficult to project which Pau Gasol awaits once he's freed from trying to move with cement blocks for knees.
When these two teams last met it was Randy Foye hitting daggerific three point shots to keep the game away from the Lakers. He ended the night with 17 points on 5-9 three point shooting. Al Jefferson had 10 boards and 18 points, and Mo Williams had 16 points and 7 assists. The final score on the night was 95-86, Kobe had his death stare, and Mike Brown was exiled from Lakerland (along with the millions of dollars he's still being paid). The Lakers offense had absolutely nothing going for it. Kobe put in 29 points, but on 7-17 shooting. The rest of the Lakers weren't doing much better and the Jazz walked off of their home court with a solid win.
It'd be nice to say this will be two entirely different teams going into Sunday evening's agme, but the Lakers are still showing the same tendencies they did at that point. Their performances are commonly littered with turnovers, poor defense, allowed offensive rebounds, and stretches of offense that are completely out of sync. The Jazz, however, are coming off of a 131-99 victory over the Toronto Raptors, and that was without Al Jefferson and Derrick Favors. Both big men are considered questionable tonight, but the Jazz certainly didn''t appear to miss two of their key front court players when playing the Raptors. Enes Kanter started in place for Jefferson, who is dealing with back spasms, and had 18 points and 8 rebounds. The Jazz's strength is the amount of quality, and potential, depth they have with their power forward and center position, and they certainly flexed that against the Raptors. Overall, they had 8 total players in double figures as they steam rolled Toronto.
Which is disconcerting for the Lakers defense. The Jazz are 2nd in the league in total assists, doing a great job of moving the ball around. Where do the Lakers struggle, perhaps the most, on defense? Adjusting to an offense that is constantly swinging the ball around and keeping them off balance. The Orlando Magic did a great job at spreading the ball and not settling for poor shot selections. Utah will do the same, fresh off of a victory in which they had 31 assists as a team while putting up 131 on their opponent.
With the Lakers now 9-11 on the season and a heavy road schedule still ahead as the month progresses, this isn't a "must win" or anything in that vein of hyperboles, but after losing one of their three home games scheduled in the first three weeks of December, a win tonight would be... welcome. Lets hope they cleaned the blood off of the Sunday whites that the Orlando Magic left behind.
On This Soundtrack
A Tribe Called Quest - Jazz (We got the...)
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