Friday, November 30, 2007

Jazz Dismantle the Lakers

The Jazz hosted the Lakers, and before tip-off received the crushing news that two starters would miss the game with injury. Undoubtedly the hearts of Jazz fans sunk when they heard that Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur would miss the game with injuries. So much for the great start to the season - losing 37 points and 16 rebounds a night would be fatal against the Lakers.

Instead, in a shocking display, the Jazz crushed the Lakers 120-96 (box score). Sure, the Lakers came in on the 2nd night of a back to back - but before you write this off as Laker fatigue - consider that the Jazz scored 70 points in the first half and led by 19 at the break. This was not a typical back to back outcome where the road team wore down in the second half, as this game was over long before fatigue was the issue, plus the Laker's blew out Denver last night and were able to rest many guys.

It was a Jazz night all around:
  • Deron Williams scored a career high 35 points and took it upon himself to pick up some of the scoring slack with Boozer and Okur out.
  • Andrei Kirilenko's line was ridiculous - a triple double, the 3rd of his career and plenty more. AK47 produced 20 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists, 6 steals, and 4 blocked shots - with no turnovers in 41 minutes.
  • Paul Milsap tied a season high with 20 points and added 9 rebounds while starting in Boozer's spot. Milsap is two things that the Laker big men are not - fearless and physical.
  • Ronnie Brewer worked hard against Kobe, didn't get lit up for 50 again, and put up a nice line scoring 14 points, 6 assists and 2 more steals.
  • The NBA got it's first peak at Kyrylo Fesenko, Utah's 7'1", 20 year old rookie who out hustled and over powered the Lakers interior players in his first NBA action with 6 points, 7 rebounds, in 17 minutes - just one night after playing for the Utah Flash in the NBDL. He's big, he's agile, but he's very young and raw.
  • Utah Jazz Injury Update: Boozer's sore ankle is healing, but still has some swelling. I'd guess he'd be ready to roll Monday Night. Okur's back spasms also sound like he is close to return, and he also looks to be ready to return Monday.
For Lakers, a few things worthy of note:
  • Kobe got his average with 28 points, and put on a show in the 2nd quarter - but failed to torch the Jazz and maintain the dominance that he has asserted against Utah over the last few years. Credit team defense and individuals Brewer and AK for big defensive efforts.
  • Fisher has a miserable return to Utah. 1-8 shooting for 3 points and was absolutely torched in the 2nd quarter by Deron Williams.
  • Andrew Bynum shows flashes, but is young, isn't a strong finisher yet and the Lakers seem to give up on him pretty easy. That said, the kid had 8 points and 10 rebounds in 26 minutes. To AB's defense it's hard to contribute on offense when the triangle seems set to produce jump shots.
  • What happened to Odom? He is a good shooter, but was Lamar sleepy or what? He was a pedestrian with 7 points, only 5 shot attempts in 29 minutes. This guy has to be big if the Lakers are going to be and for him to disappear on the road is surprising. I subscribe to theory that stars play almost the same at home and away, and it's the average and young guys that fluctuate. Odom is too good to disappear like this.
  • Insanity! Phil Jackson signed on for two more years for a reported $24 Million. What the heck is going on? Phil has had some amazing benefits in his coaching career - big money, big stars, and now dates the owner's daughter while earning $12 Mil per year with little prospect of getting out of the first round. Sure, he spouts enough philosophy to keep some lunatics in line - BUT has had the pleasure to always have at least one of the top 3 players in the league on his team, and at times has had two of the top 10 at the same time.
In closing, this game was terrible fun for Jazz fans. With two stars out - the Jazz saw their remaining stars DWill and AK just take over and the team as a whole played very unselfish team ball the whole night. Williams ball-handling was an amazing display. Poor Farmar and Fisher got absolutely scored in the 2nd quarter. All the bench guys stepped up big and just hammered the Lakers. Los Angeles has to be very embarrassed by this display.

Want to read on the opponents? I'd recommend The Forum Blue and Gold to get a lot of good content and comments on the Lakers. Up next for the Jazz is Miami, you can peak ahead at the Heat by reading some strong stuff on the MVN's Miami Heat Blog - Crazy From The Heat.

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