The Lakers are going into their fourth pre-season game tonight in Orange County, and are still looking for their first victory. The Lakers will get a rematch of Saturday’s game against the Utah Jazz at the Honda Center, home of the Anaheim Ducks. Despite solid performances from the starting line-up thus far, the Lakers’ bench has been struggling in the pre-season. Therefore, the second unit will be and should be aiming to up their performance tonight to not only make an impression with the coaching staff and the team, but to calm the critics and the fans’ worries.
The entire Laker roster is still getting used to playing with one another and are figuring out each other’s styles. As I wrote yesterday, we must remain patient with the bench especially as we are still just in pre-seaon play. Despite the difficulty of that, the bench must improve their performance incrementally throughout the pre-season, and especially tonight against the depth of the Utah Jazz.
Frontcourt: Al Jefferson is the face of the Jazz frontcourt and has a knack for quietly having big games. Jefferson is averaging 8.0 points and 6.0 rebounds on just 39 percent field goal shooting so far this pre-season. Jefferson’s backup, Enes Kanter cannot be forgotten by the Lakers’ defense, just as he proved Saturday night.
Kanter put up 14 points and 14 boards in 20 minutes against LA. Sophomore Derrick Favors is averaging 5.7 points and 3.3 rebounds on 33 percent shooting from the field so far. However, against the Lakers on Saturday, this Jazz frontcourt combined for 32 points and 26 rebounds.
Backcourt: Mo Williams is proving to be a great addition to the Jazz backcourt despite struggling from the field on Saturday. Williams is averaging 11.0 points and 5.0 assists in 22 minutes per game.
Marvin Williams is having a solid pre-season thus far, averaging 12.3 points and 3.3 boards per game on 60 percent shooting. After scoring 14 points on Saturday against LA, I expect Metta World Peace to up his defense on Williams tonight. Gordon Hayward has proved himself enough to the coaches to earn a full-time starting spot on the Jazz. On Saturday, Hayward scored 10 points in 19 minutes against Kobe Bryant.
Jamaal Tinsely added 11 points and 5 assists on 5 for 7 shooting in 17 minutes to Utah’s bench against the Lakers on Saturday.
Keys to Victory:
Stay Strong in the Second Half – As stated above, the starting five for the Lakers did a credible job on Saturday by performing well and establishing a lead by halftime. Then the bench only contributed 33 points, which should be much more considering the amount of minutes they are playing in the pre-season. On top of that, the bench only scored 17 points in the fourth quarter, while giving up 30 points to Utah, which sealed the game for the Jazz. The reserves need to increase their contributions in tonight’s game. I would like to see Jodie Meeks insert himself more into this game, as he has struggled so far in pre-season play.
Control the Ball and Defend the Paint- The Lakers committed 16 turnovers against the Jazz on Saturday night. Pau Gasol was responsible for five of those 16 turnovers, while Kobe Bryant contributed 3 turnovers. The Jazz were able to score 20 points off of the Lakers’ 16 turnovers. The Jazz essentially lived in the paint on Saturday, scoring 50 points compared to the Lakers 30.
Of course, this statistic will look drastically different once Dwight Howard is in the line-up, but if the Lakers want to win a few pre-season games, they absolutely cannot give up 50 points in the paint again. Besides solid performances from the Utah bigs (Jefferson and Kanter), a good portion of their 50 points in the paint came from their 23 fast break points.
Utah Jazz (2-1) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (0-3)
7:00 PM PST, October 16, 2012
Honda Center, Anaheim, CA
TV: TWC Sports Network
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) 1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Jazz Projected Starting Line-up
PG: Mo Williams
SG: Gordon Hayward
SF: Marvin Williams
PF: Derrick Favors
C: Al Jefferson
Key Reserves: G Jamaal Tinsley, C Enes Kanter
In case you missed it, our exclusive interview with Mychal Thompson, Pt. 2! What does he have to say about the future of the Lakers, AFTER Kobe?
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