In Wednesday’s match-up with the Utah Jazz, the Los Angeles Lakers continued to show troubling signs.
The Lakers once again had trouble holding on to the ball. Four Jazz starters collected a minimum of 2 steals, Al Jefferson leading the way with 4. For their part, LA didn’t communicate well enough to take advantage of passing lanes opening up. At the end of the night, the Lakers had coughed the ball up a total of 18 times. Out of those 18, 12 turnovers were the direct result of a steal by a Jazz player. Those are alarming numbers. Though the Lakers did help in the cause, the Jazz have to be credited for smothering most of what LA had going on on offense.
Playing the Jazz became a quick study in a contrast of playing styles. The Lakers were the very picture of stagnation. Throughout the entire game, LA mustered a collective 11 assists. The Kobe system took over for a bit, large fractions of the offense going into a one-man-versus-all set. I usually don’t make any note of that, but the Utah Jazz were all over the place. Defensively, rotations were made sharply. The shifts in defense caused by the occasional skip pass became negligible, if not altogether non existent. To be fair to LA, they got the free throw line…a lot. In fact, the Lakers took 46 free throws, compared to Utah’s 18. LA would make 32 of those attempts.
And there was the Utah offense. The Jazz moved the ball very well, to the tune of 21 assists before the final buzzer sounded. Randy Foye found himself open on several occasions. As a result, he let it fly from deep, making 5 of his 9 three pointers on his way to 17 points. Al Jefferson collected his usual line, 18 points and 10 rebounds, adding his 4 steals.
For the Lakers, one positive to take away from this game involved Kobe Bryant. In his efforts to take over the game, Bryant struggled early, going 3-10 at one point. Finding his stroke at the line (15-17), Bryant would finish with 29 points on 7-17 from the field. Through 5 games, Bryant looks good.
In an 82 game season, analysis of 5 games early in the season can seem pointless, but it’s a trend the Lakers want to cut off immediately. Otherwise, some people are very likely going to lose their jobs before the all star break rolls around.
Mohamed Abdihakim is a journalism student at Florida Atlantic University. He is a Phoenix Suns fan, who is not prepared for the possibility of Nash winning a title in a Lakers jersey. Mohamed is also a contributor at “Les Snobs”. Interests include International basketball, Mad Men, and blues music. Nearly all stats are credited to Hoopdata or Basketball-Reference.
Twitter handle: @Abdi_hakim