Game Preview: Jazz vs. Lakers

For the first time in 33 years, the Lakers (0-2) are trying to avoid an 0-3 start. They had a chance to start the season with a “W” against the Chicago Bulls on Christmas but missed free-throws and key turnovers turned a holiday into gloomday. Last night in Sacramento, the Lakers didn’t look as sharp defensively as opening day and their lack of focus and everything associated with speed and athleticism denied them another win.

Tonight, they’re hoping they do enough of what Mike Brown has been teaching them since Day 1 to earn their first win of the season against the Utah Jazz (0-0) at Staples Center. However, tonight’s game will be the 3rd in 3 nights for the purple and gold. We all know that the Lakers have had a not-so favorable history when it comes to consecutive games, and with Derek FisherKobe Bryant and Pau Gasol still ailing and dealing with conditioning, there’s an even bigger concern for Laker fans coming into this game.

The Jazz had their own drama last season having lost future Hall-of-Fame head coach Jerry Sloan and star Deron Williams. But Utah has talent in their frontcourt to give the Andrew Bynum-less Lakers trouble in the paint.

Last time these 2 teams met at Staples Center, the Jazz broke their 17-game losing streak 86-85 because the Lakers didn’t pay much attention to Paul Milsap and Gordon Hayward with each scoring 22 points.

But the past isn’t something the Lakers or their fans are interested in right now, they want a win. They want to see a positive direction starting tonight in terms of teamwork, execution and overall attitude on both ends of the floor.

However, the Lakers are still trying to shed a lot of their bad habits. They’re still not communicating as much as they should on defense. They’re still relying on Kobe to compensate for their mistakes. And the focus isn’t there when it supposed to be.

The good news is there’s still time to correct their errors. The bad news is they don’t have the luxury of time to get everything and everyone on the same page while keeping themselves in playoff talks.

The Lakers are hoping tonight is the start of something good.

Matchup of the Game

Al Jefferson vs. Pau Gasol: The post is the key for success for either team. Whoever capitalizes more inside with their weapons should win the game. Gasol is the more talented player but Jefferson has youth and bulk in his corner. It’s important for Pau to step it up and for the Lakers to keep looking for him on offense.

Keys for the Lakers

Execution: The Lakers will start putting together a string of wins if they can clamp down on their execution on offense. Fisher has to make sure he establishes the offense by continuing to dump the ball to Gasol inside.

Defense: This is the side of the floor the Lakers must continue to focus and put their collective energy into. They’re no longer a team who can outscore their opponents, so the quicker they embrace that, the faster we’ll start seeing some consistency.

Game Info

Where: Staples Center
When: Tonight at 7:30 p.m. (PST)
Radio: 710/1330 AM ESPN