Derek Fisher – Deron Williams
Kobe Bryant – Raja Bell
Ron Artest – Andrei Kirilenko
Pau Gasol – Paul Millsap
Andrew Bynum – Al Jefferson
The Utah Jazz dropped their last 4 road games, losing to three teams with records under .500 (Wizards, Nets, and 76ers). The Jazz picked up a win in their last meeting against the Lakers when they played in Salt Lake City. topping L.A. Deron Williams had a magnificent game, pouring in 29 points with 12 assists against the Lakers. His team rallied late in the fourth quarter after the Lakers had built up a 19 point lead earlier in the game.
In recent news, Jerry West stated the Lakers’ defense has slowed down due to old age. However, Deron Williams doesn’t see it that way. Williams is right, the Lakers will always be ready and confident around playoff time.
The Jazz are second in the lead with assists per game, behind only the Boston Celtics. In the last meeting between the two teams Utah dished out 10 more assists in the game than the Lakers. That was the biggest deficit the Lakers had on the stat sheet against the Jazz that night. Jerry Sloan has Williams move the ball well, which results in easy buckets for Jefferson, Millsap, and Bell. Utah’s bench has been inconsistent, but players like Ronnie Price and C.J. Miles can spark up runs for the Jazz.
The Lakers simply showed dominance against the Denver Nuggets in their last game on Friday night. Los Angeles shot 53% from the field and out-rebounded the Nuggets 47 to 27.
Keys to Lakers victory:
Stop Deron Williams – D-Fish saw plenty of him in the playoffs and will see plenty of Williams in the next few seasons. Deron is much faster than Fisher and will burn him once Williams takes that first strong step towards the hoop. Not saying Derek can’t keep up all night, but he will have a tough time staying in front of the All-Star point guard. Phil Jackson will probably try out different looks on defense, throwing in Shannon Brown or Steve Blake to guard Williams.
Take advantage of the post-game – Millsap and Jefferson’s post-up defense needs a bit of work. Gasol and Bynum are quicker than both Jazz big men and can plant their offense near the rim faster.
The Jazz bench loves the three ball – Watch out for Miles and Hayward as they can light it up from behind the arc and cut or build a huge lead quick.