Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

The (32-13) Los Angeles Lakers are back at the Staples Center tonight hosting the (27-17) Utah Jazz.

The Lakers did a good job of meeting the challenge of their opponent by bringing their ‘A Game’ against the Denver Nuggets. The Lakers are in search of consistency in their play. The have to be at their best because the schedule will continue to get tougher.

The Lakers need to shake this trend of not getting back in transition, late close outs, poor or late rotations, needless double teaming non-threatening post players,  allowing too many three-point shots, and shooting poorly themselves.

January 22nd was the five-year anniversary of Kobe Bryant posting the second highest scoring mark (81 points) in a game and torching everyone in a Toronto Raptors jersey in the process. Allow me to put you on Kobe Bryant achievement alert, The Black Mamba is closing in another milestone.

Kobe is continuing his all out assault on the NBA record books he is 34 points away from passing Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon (26, 946) for eighth all-time. Kobe is averaging 26.2 points against the Jazz; he could achieve the latest milestone at the earliest tonight or against the Sacramento Kings on Friday at the latest.

Both individual and team defense are top priorities in every Lakers practice. The Utah Jazz are a familiar foe. The Lakers have won the last four season series against them. They’re 7-3 in their last 10 regular season games against the Jazz. The Lakers are 18-3 all-time against the Jazz at Staples Center during the regular season and have won their last eight straight at home (16 in a row including the Playoffs).

The Jazz are out of sync right now and the Lakers need to capitalize and not give this team any hope.

When Jerry West talks about the Lakers, people tend to listen. The Logo came out and said that the Lakers are too old to D up teams. I have nothing negative to say about West. He has a valid point with several players over age of 30, but the Lakers have to play the game at their pace.

The Lakers have to control the tempo of this game, everyone wearing Lakers jersey needs to get back in transition. They need to stop the dribble penetration of Deron Williams, do a good job defending the screen and roll plays, quickly rotate out to open shooters, and limit the Jazz to one shot per possession.

The Lakers need to establish Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol in the painted area and provide them with a significant amount of touches. They need to come out aggressive on both ends of the court to out-rebound and out-work the Jazz.

The Lakers owe the Jazz a beating for a loss to them earlier this season.

Starters
Lakers: D. Fisher, K. Bryant, R. Artest, P. Gasol, A. Bynum
Jazz:
D. Williams, R. Bell, A. Kirilenko, P. Millsap, A. Jefferson

Tip-off: 7:30 PM PST

Television

  • Los Angeles: FS West (Joel Myers & Stu Lantz)
  • Utah:  FS Utah (Craig Bolerjack & Ron Boone)

Radio

  • Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
  • Utah: 1320 AM KFAN (David Locke, David James & Patrick Kinehan)

Injuries

Lakers:

  • Matt Barnes (Torn Lateral Meniscus, Right Knee) Out
  • Theo Ratliff (Left Knee Surgery) Out
  • Andrew Bynum (Hyper-extended Right Elbow/ Contusion to Ulnar Nerve) Day-to-Day

Jazz:

PF Francisco Elson (Quadriceps, Tendinitis) Day-to-Day