Los Angeles Lakers: Bear

Lakers at Jazz: What to watch, with Salt City Hoops

January, 11, 2012
Kamenetzky By Andy Kamenetzky
When last we saw the Lakers and Jazz pitted against each other at Staples Center, the Lakers avoided an 0-3 hole to start the season by kicking the ever-loving snot outta their guests. The 96-71 loss was an inauspicious start to the Jazz's first full season sans Jerry Sloan and in full "rebuild" bloom. But ever since that drubbing, they've actually been, well, good. 6-3 "good," to be exact, and in the midst of a five-game winning streak. Granted, none of those victims sport a record above .500, but the same caveat can be slapped on the Lakers, whose 7-4 record contains just one win (home vs. Denver) against a team universally considered high end at the moment.

You can't control who the schedule makers place in your path, just the results.

In any event, a win in Utah would surprisingly be considered impressive at this moment. For some insight on the Jazz, we called upon Spencer Ryan Hall of the True Hoop Network's Salt City Hoops blog. Here are some thoughts from Hall, plus a few of my own.

Soobum Im/US Presswire
Count Josh Howard among the surprises in a surprisingly good start for Utah.

Land O' Lakers: Ever since getting beaten badly by the Lakers on December 27, the Jazz have played pretty well. What, if anything, has changed during these winning ways?

Spencer Ryan Hall: Hard to blame the Jazz for being disorganized at the beginning of the season; I'm just surprised they snapped together so quickly. Earl Watson has kind of made it his team and Ty Corbin has created an open rotation that allows any of about 11 players to spark the team on a given night. Josh Howard has been a revelation, something I didn't expect. Also, the team has taken on a shot-blocking identity and somehow is leading the league.

LO'L: When the Jazz played the Lakers, there was absolutely no discernible clue as to how their offense runs. How would you describe it, and in particular, how can it succeed against the Lakers?

SRH: The Jazz offense is still a bit of a mystery. Occasionally and old pick-and-roll will show up, but usually the ball ends up in Al Jefferson's hands on the left side, he waits 10 seconds and then puts up some variety of shot-put/old-man shot that usually goes in. Devin Harris is still figuring out what to do, but the Jazz are succeeding mostly on the back of Jefferson and [Paul] Millsap combining with contributions from anyone else. The surprise factor from the others is what's been fun to watch so far.

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Kobe Bryant
22.3 5.6 1.3 34.5
ReboundsJ. Hill 8.0
AssistsK. Bryant 5.6
StealsR. Price 1.5
BlocksE. Davis 1.2