The second pre-season game between the Lakers and the Utah Jazz wasn’t in the same building as their game on Sunday, but the results were the same. The purple and gold lose again to Utah, 82-74. The crowd at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California was quiet almost the entire night since the Lakers never gave them anything to cheer about, especially in the first 24 minutes of play.
The offense, for the most part, did a decent job of running the Triangle, but the Lakers simply just could not hit any shots — even the wide-open ones. But Steve Blake, as expected, came out firing and knocked down 4 of his 7 attempts, including 2-of-3 from behind the arc. He was so fiesty that he got a technical foul for tiffing it up with Francisco Elson in the first half. Blake finished with 10 points and 2 assists.
The Lakers only made 33.3% (26-78) which is a big disparity from Sunday when they shot $39%. It’s going to be difficult trying to get any rhythm or continuity on offense until Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum are back in their usual form. Kobe is right around there, but Andrew’s timetable is still up in the air even if they say it’s going to be in December.
The good news is having Bryant back in operating status is more than what the Lakers need to establish a routine on offense since Kobe is their primary scorer. With only 6 days left until opening night, I don’t think the Lakers will have to wait very long until that happens.
Kobe played 23 minutes but didn’t have the touch he showed in the 3rd quarter of Sunday’s game where he torched the Jazz for 19 points. He ended up with only 7 points (2-of-7) and 4 rebounds before sitting out the entire 4th quarter Tuesday night.
Pau Gasol was also restrained by Utah’s physical defense on a 5-of-13 performance from the field. The extra bumping and shoving by the defense helped out a bit, but Pau just caught what the rest of the team suffered offensively. Defensively though Gasol was working. He got himself 2 steals and 2 blocks on top of his 11 points and 8 boards for the night.
Pau has much of his basketball legs under him now. It’s the adjustment on his new teammates that’s going to take a little time for him to be at his most effective. That’s important since he’ll be anchoring this team early in the season.
But the gameball for the Lakers goes to Shannon Brown and Matt Barnes. These guys have been getting it done this pre-season with their contributions on both ends of the floor.
So far, re-signing Shannon is turning out to be an excellent decision by Mitch Kupchak. Brown’s improvement on offense this season compared to last year is tremendous. He’s now showing great patience and his shooting stroke has gotten a whole lot better.
This guy has gobs of confidence right now and knows exactly what parts of his game he needs to work on. Hopefully, he puts in the same amount of effort working on his defense as well as his offense. He’s still unsure at times when to help out his teammates and he still doesn’t know how to use his body and strength to keep his man from going around him too easily. Still, he managed to get 2 steals and a block on top of 13 points in 22 minutes.
Barnes continues to be a solid veteran presence off of the bench. I can’t say enough about how Matt can easily affect the way the opposing offense does about its business. The way he makes passers take extra precautions and how well he can make the guy he’s guarding so uncomfortable just sums up his game on defense. Then, you add how effectively he can attack the boards and how he consistently contributes on offense and you can see why so many people pick him as one of the key players for the Lakers this season. Barnes played for almost 25 minutes and got himself 13 points as well and 4 rebounds.
Devin Ebanks is also making the most of his extra minutes with Luke Walton, Sasha Vujacic and Derrick Caracter still on the shelf with injuries. He only played for 11 minutes and tallied 4 points and a rebound, but his activity on the floor and willingness to go after rebounds and loose balls are exactly the kind of things that will impress Phil Jackson and the coaching staff. He knows he has a long ways to get into at least a utility player status in the Triangle, but Devin isn’t pouting at all. But he has to keep his head up throughout this season when he’s not getting the amount of playing time being thrown at him in these exhibition games.
About the biggest differences in this game stat-wise than last Sunday are the Jazz took a huge dip in their shooting accuracy with 39.7% compared to a blazing 50.7% in their first meeting. That and the Lakers commiting only 11 turnovers versus 20 on Sunday. Dialing down the turnovers by a 9 margin is a great indication that the Lakers aren’t too far off of getting into that rhythm I alluded to earlier.
They ran the Triangle almost the entire game with a little bit of hiccups here and there, but right now they’re progressing well and should be good enough to go at the start of the season next Tuesday.
NEXT GAME: Thursday, Oct. 21st vs. Golden State Warriors at 7:00 p.m. (PST) at San Diego Sports Arena. TV: KCAL-9 Radio: 710/1330 AM ESPN.
Other Notes: Sasha Vujacic and Luke Walton could return to action on Thursday against the Warriors.
Great to hear, but I’ll see it when I see it.
Phil Jackson is taking extra precautions when it comes to Kobe Bryant’s health this season. He says that he’s not planning playing Kobe a lot early in the regular season.
Phil usually never worries about these sort of things. It just goes to show how bad he wants to end what could be his final season with another parade down Figueroa in June.
Magic Johnson just made a cool $102 million in less than a week selling his stake of the Lakers at $27 mil and all 150 Starbucks valued at $75 million. Why? Maybe he’s looking to purchase a NFL team instead of running a basketball team in Michigan.
I think the Magic Man is bored and wants to take his business sense to a higher level. More power to you, Magic!