The (40-13) Los Angeles Lakers are in Salt Lake City, Utah to face the (32-18) Jazz. The Energy Solutions Arena is a tough place to come out with a win at full strength, as evidenced by their 22-6 home record.
The Lakers won’t be at full strength for this game. The Lakers are still banged up; Andrew Bynum won’t play, Lamar missed practice due to a sore left foot, and Kobe Bryant will be a game time decision.
Kobe Bryant, like several other NBA players has dealt with a sprained ankle before, he knows his body better than anyone else, and he also knows that the team is playing for a Championship.
He has earned the right to make the call on playing tonight and in the All-Star game. However, I would like to see him sit out tonight, make an appearance at the All-Star game to fulfill his obligation of being a part of the event, run up and down the floor a few times and shut it down early in the first quarter.
This would provide him with a nice nine day break, so he will be rested and healthy for the beat down that will be administered to a certain team from Massachusetts on the 18th of February.
The Jazz are playing excellent basketball and are the hottest team in the Western Conference going into the All-Star break. Winners of nine straight, impressively all of the wins have been by at least seven points, and they have won 13 of their last 14 games. This is the third game of the season series, the teams are 1-1.
The Jazz are at home and will be seen as the favorites, but teams are starting to realize what the coaching staff and Purple and Gold fans already know that the Lakers are still a formidable opponent that can win without Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum.
The Jazz are seeking their 10th straight win, a win tonight would be the franchises 10th double digit win streak, ironically their previous game in Los Angeles against the Clippers was their 10th road win; a mark the team didn’t reach until February 25th of last season. Tonight’s game will be the Jazz’ 10th back-to-back game; Utah is 4-5 in the second game of a back-to-back run.
The Lakers need to continue to run their offense through Pau Gasol. L.A.’s frontline of Gasol, Lamar Odom and Ron Artest needs to continue to play aggressive on both ends of the court. The Jazz scoring tandem Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer have been hot as of late and Los Angeles needs to find a way to put the fire out and limit their impact.
The Jazz are excellent executing their half court offense; the Lakers need to play defense without fouling. The Purple and Gold will need to extend their defense out to the three point line and stop the dribble penetration of Deron Williams to secure a win before the All-Star break.
Tip-off: 6:00 PM PST
- Los Angeles: KCAL-TV9 (Joel Myers & “Hot” Rod Hundley)
- Utah: FS N Utah (Craig Bolerjack & Ron Boone)
- Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (Spero Dedes & Luke Walton)
- Utah: 1320 AM KFAN (David Locke, David James & Patrick Kinehan)
- Kobe Bryant (Avulsion Fracture of right Index Finger) Game-Time Decision
- Lamar Odom (Foot) Will Play
- Andrew Bynum (Bruised Right Hip) Out