By: Nathaniel Lastrapes
Los Angeles Lakers will face the Utah Jazz one more time in Hawaii after failing to beat them in the first outing. The Lakers will go into their second preseason game looking for redemption against the Jazz after they gave the game away in the second half of their first action. In their first exhibition game, the Lakers shot poorly from the field, but the play of their new additions was encouraging. D’Angelo Russell showed poise in his starting role, Julius Randle crashed the boards with ferocity, Roy Hibbert anchored the defense and made things difficult for the Jazz in the paint, and Lou Williams showed promise of being a scoring threat for the second unit.
Gordon Hayward is beginning his fifth campaign with the Jazz and will be the number one offensive option on the perimeter. Hayward has always been an exceptional shooter, but he will look to take smaller players down on the block since he’s gained approximately 20 pounds of muscle over the off-season. In his first matchup with the Lakers, Hayward struggled a bit from the field, shooting 4-for-10, but changed the dynamic of the game with his newly acquired size, grabbing nine boards. Hayward only played 28 minutes in the first exhibition and will probably play a similar amount of minutes in the second game against the Lakers.
Derrick Favors had his way with the Lakers young backcourt in their first matchup. He finished with 16 points and nine rebounds in just 24 minutes of play. He excelled in getting to the free throw line for multiple and-one opportunities and was a matchup nightmare for the Lakers all night.
Another player who got to the line even more frequently than Favors was French big-man, Rudy Gobert. The Jazz guards did a nice job penetrating the defense and the Lakers rotated poorly, leaving the 7’1″ Center open under the basket for open dunks. When the Lakers did rotate, they rotated late and could do nothing more than to foul Gobert, who went to the charity strip nine times. Gobert also finished with a near double-double with 10 points and 8 rebounds.
One surprise for the Jazz in the first game was the 6’1″ Brazilian rookie point guard, Raul Neto. Neto did not change the game offensively for the Jazz, but he certainly made his defensive presence known to the Lakers guards. There were countless times in their first matchup where Neto ripped the ball from the Lakers guard before they were able to establish the offense, creating fastbreak opportunities for the Jazz. With second-year point guard, Dante Exum, missing the year due to a torn ACL, Neto has a chance to make the roster. The Lakers should expect more aggressive play from the young point guard on Tuesday night.
Also, expect a better game from Alec Burks, who laid a goose egg in the scoring column on Sunday. Granted, Burks only played 22 minutes, but he missed all of his five attempts from the field in the Jazz victory. The Lakers should expect a resurgence of the Jazz frontcourt in their second exhibition.
Keys to Victory:
Play Defense on a String: Too many times the Jazz guards were allowed to penetrate into the paint, causing havoc on the Lakers defensive rotations. When this does happen in the future, the Lakers need to communicate and rotate in a timely fashion to prevent easy layups in the paint.
Limit Fouls: The Lakers poor help defense left them with one option to stop the Jazz from making easy layups: foul. The Jazz shot 48 free-throws in their first game against the Lakers and made 34 of them. By comparison, the Lakers only made 13 of their 21 free-throw attempts.
Establish Tempo: The Lakers are a young team in search of an identity, so they still are not sure of what speed they will consistently play at. They are a mixed bag of young springy gazelles and older wily veterans, so they will have to play at a pace that accommodates everyone on the roster. In a game with so many free throws, it is impossible to find a rhythm or establish a tempo, so if the Lakers can rotate better defensively they will limit the Jazz from the free-throw line and have a chance to establish a tempo in the game.
Utah Jazz (1-0) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (0-1)
9:00 PM PST, October 5, 2015
Stan Sheriff Center, Honolulu, HI
TV: TWC SportsNet / NBATV
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)
Jazz Projected Starting Lineup
PG: Trey Burke
SG: Alec Burks
SF: Gordon Hayward
PF: Derrick Favors
C: Rudy Gobert
Key Reserves: PG: Raul Neto, PF: Trevor Booker, C: Jeff Withey
Lakers Projected Starting Lineup
PG: D’Angelo Russell
SG: Jordan Clarkson
SF: Kobe Bryant
PF: Julius Randle
C: Roy Hibbert