Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

A 29-point win. It’s no 55-point rout but the Lakers will take it, especially over a quality team like the Utah Jazz (recent slump notwithstanding, they’re still 27-18). The three-day lay-off did the “aging” Lakers some good, apparently, because they looked fresher and more energized than they have in awhile. There was a spring in their step, an extra gear in their defense and the ball movement was, simply put, beautiful to watch.

During the Lakers’ practice before tonight’s game, Kobe Bryant said that they’d played the Utah Jazz so much, that the two teams could switch jerseys and run each other’s offense. If that’s the case, then Utah needs new playbooks because the Lakers have them absolutely memorized.

The Jazz are a slow-starting team, often giving away the first quarter then eventually recovering in the final three. After experiencing this “recovery” first-hand in the loss in Utah, the Lakers were keen enough to lay the smackdown early…then kept on smacking. Tonight, the home team led by 15 after the first 12 minutes, 28 after the second and third quarters, and, before the final 29-point victory, toyed with 30+ point leads. Utah shot just 33% in the first half, and eventually finished with a 42% field goal percentage. When the opponent shoots 62% as the Lakers did, adding insult to injury with some lockdown defense, there wasn’t much that Utah could do.

Again, the Lakers’ big men showed off their might. Combining for 56 points, 26 rebounds and 10 assists, when Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom are clicking the way that they have been since Bynum’s return, the defending champs are hard to defeat.

Gasol had 20 points, needing only 13 shots and two free throw makes to get there, adding seven rebounds and five assists for a well-balanced evening. Paul Millsap is no defensive stopper, especially against someone as skilled as Gasol. Gasol merely shoots over him or passes past him with very little to no problem. Al Jefferson, who has had his share of big games against the Lakers forward, did not fare well tonight (just 10 points on 5-11). Gasol definitely had the upper hand…

…especially because his running mate is another 7-footer. Andrew Bynum, 19 points on 6-9, 11 rebounds and three blocks, was another opponent that Jefferson and the Jazz could not compete with. As if his offensive abilities were not enough, Bynum had to go and be this rim keeper, shot blocker/changer too. The young center may have only three blocks recorded in the box score, but he altered many Jazz attempts at scoring. This has been the most impressive part of Bynum’s season so far – his defense. Whether due to the newly-tweaked system or just the fact that he’s playing with more confidence, his game is more than just hook-shots and dunks now. Whether he’s protecting the paint or happens to be on the opposing guard after a defensive rotation, his awareness is much sharper, out-jumping players to a rebound (10 of his 11 boards were defensive) or merely contesting their shot. Either way, he’s become an enforcer, and the Lakers could use one of those.

Lamar Odom – are there any words left to gush over this man’s season? Odom had 17 points on 7-8, eight rebounds and four assists – a stat line that has become a Lakers staple. He hit two from downtown, converted a lob from Steve Blake, and then tossed in a left-handed over the back of the backboard trick shot as he was getting pushed/fouled out of bounds…and then he hit the free throw to complete the three-point play. It is absolutely unfair to have the amount of skill that Odom has.

Kobe Bryant, choosing lately to wear his facilitator hat more often, had 21 points on 7-11, adding six assists in the process. THIS is the Kobe that helps his teammates find their offensive flow before he starts to find his. THIS is the Kobe that reminds everyone that he is more than just a scorer. THIS is the Kobe that wins championships. I like this Kobe. I hope he’s got about 60 more games in him.

Rounding off the help were the Lakers reserves. Trying in the last month to regain their former, productive selves, the bench tonight outscored Utah’s bench 45-37. Even despite his two missed dunk attempts, Shannon Brown was in good spirits, scoring nine points and handing out five assists. Steve Blake had an efficient evening as well, with five points, four assists and three steals. He also won a jump ball against the taller Andrei Kirilenko. Luke Walton, able to get some floor time until Matt Barnes’ return, went four of four from the field for his nine points, adding three assists. If this version off the bench could travel, the Lakers would be an even more difficult team to overcome.

The defense tonight was active and consistent (keeping the Jazz at 42% shooting). The offense flowed to the tune of 34 assists on 44 made baskets. Other than the 18 turnovers, the Lakers played a nearly flawless game, and with the schedule getting still more difficult, now’s a good a time as any to solidify these excellent habits.

It’s not about getting old. It’s not about getting tired. It’s about getting through a long regular season. These Lakers are no novices to the NBA grind. It’s all about their experience. Give them some credit.

Box Score
Pre-game Thoughts:
The last time the Lakers met Utah, they let an 18-point lead get away from them. The Jazz are on a 4-game losing streak so there’s no mistaking how badly this team is yearning for a win. Keep the ball out of Deron Williams’ hands and make Al Jefferson work for every shot. These teams have played each other so many times, there shouldn’t be any surprises to be unprepared for.
Half-time Thoughts: 38-66 – Other than the 4 turnovers and 3 missed free throws, there’s not much to criticize about the Lakers’ excellent play in the first half…except maybe that they have to do it again for the second half. Kobe Bryant leads the way with 15 points, but the point distribution is even all around. The defense has been active and alert, and the ball movement has been deliberate and precise.
Most Thoughtless Player(s) of the Game: Utah Jazz – who were as unrecognizable as we’ve ever seen them. They had no flow on either end of the court, and looked absolutely disjointed.
Most Thought-filled Player(s) of the Game: There were so many candidates tonight, but just for hitting that trick, left-handed, sideways while going out of bounds, and over the back board shot, it’s got to be Lamar Odom.

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  • Eidraq

    There is a fine line that Kobe walks when it comes to a scoring-facilitating balance. You don’t want him to do too much of either (unless he’s feeling it or his teammates are feeling it, respectively). Either way Kobe has been playing the game very very well.

    It’ll be silly to think he’s only going to take 11-15 shots with harder teams coming up. I expect his shot quantity to go up (esp. since he’ll actually play in the the 4th quarter). As long as they are good shots and shots that he’s taking when he’s feeling it, I’m fine with that.

    The bigs need to show up for the big February test coming up. This is where the Lakers can strike.

    • edsel Pinoy 2

      I agree. But when it comes to Kobe, there’s no such thing as a good or a bad shot, its just a Kobe shot, whether it falls or not, heck, they’re just beautiful to watch. I think age is keeping up a little bit with the mamba, but I’d never bet against him, win or loose. I want him more on the post just to let everyone knows that he has the game’s most complete footwork, and I think he’s more productive down there against smaller guards/forwards. But I think being a facilitator-guising-as-aggresive-shooting-junkie suite him just fine. Somebody said, Kobe plays above his ears, so we could not really think it up for Kobe, the Einstein of basketball. All we could do is enjoy the guy while his at it. Man, i miss him already. lol. Dati ganyan din ako maglaro. hehe.

  • edsel Pinoy 2

    Regarding the Logo’s comments, I do see where his coming from. Indeed nobody wins against Father Time. Except. Perhaps. If you’re a pyramid. And these lakers are not. But what is not surprising, is the ability of the vets to space themselves really well. Sure they could be beat, and we them more often than not, by young, athletic, agile pups of the league. But are we expecting? I could not agree more with Anna:

    “It’s not about getting old. It’s not about getting tired. It’s about getting through a long regular season. These Lakers are no novices to the NBA grind. It’s all about their experience. Give them some credit.”

    Come playoffs time, our Lakers usually turn back the clock. The playoff’s is their real regular season. These are just 82 hard fought scrimmages. So let’s not get too full of the regular season. We’re fine.

  • Ray

    West’s comments were for motivational purposes. It’s classic Jerry West. He loves his Lakers. Thanks Mr. West

  • si pepe

    you are right sir!

  • 242LakerFan

    It’s good to see that we CAN put our foot on the throat of an inferior opponent and complete a game like this without lapsing into lazy defence and sloppy play, letting big leads disappear in protracted runs.
    Not much to add, just let’s keep up this effort through then next 5 months and we’ll be watching another parade (wherever the city/Lakers can afford one, maybe just around the Staples Center a few times.)

  • Kobe4Life

    It’s a shame that Laker greats have to modivate this team to play hard, instead of the players just wanting to go out onto the court every night and kill their opponents. This team needs to play like this EVERY NIGHT WIN OR LOSE! Bostons coming up, I hope we slaughter them! It will be a Celtic massacre! GO LAKERS!

  • daboss1848

    Take that smack down Jerry… Too old yea right

    • daboss1848

      thats no way to talk to a legend, hack – y arent u in skool?!

      • dabοss1848

        2 hackers – addressing the first: (would never talk to Jerry in such a bad manner)

        the second: thats is missing an apostrophe & “skool” is spelled school – maybe you should try attending.

        • daboss1848


          • daboss1848

            To all you hackers out there: Beware of the real boss, my wrath will be swift with words you are too stupid to understand.

          • daboss1848

            you meant “his wrath”, hack . . . and thats not true – i always use elementary language to communicate with u hacks.

          • daboss1848

            ahhhh – true colors revelaed . .

        • daboss1848

          im lost! whos who and whos me . . . its actually “his/her wrath”, but everything else very well put.

          • daboss1848

            well then you can suck my d*** or lick my p****

          • daboss1848

            ahhh- true colors revealed (wrong place 1s time)

  • 242LаkerFаn

    Loompia Please

    • 242LаkerFаn

      now i’m being hacked, wow.
      Kids these days!

  • 151rummer

    No doubt a good win. didnt let up from the tip-off……but im sure we can all agree that well see how good thy are come sunday….