Originally posted on Purple and Gold Blog  |  Last updated 12/27/11


With the previous 2 games resembling a team that has no place in the playoffs, the Lakers (1-2) took refuge at home and defeated the Utah Jazz (0-1) for their first win of the new season. They came out with better focus defensively and made sure their offense ran from the post.

No one took advantage of that more than Pau Gasol, who was at his most aggressive self opting to score before he even surveys the floor for open teammates. On defense, he was going after layups and provided a presence usually reserved for Andrew Bynum resulting in 5 block shots. Gasol took second highest-scorer with 22 points (10 from the free-throw line) and 9 rebounds.

As for his partner in crime, Kobe Bryant settled down quite a bit in terms of shot selections and simply taking what the defense gives him. That also included allowing Gasol and the rest of the team get involved on offense early. In fact, Bryant only took a 3-pointer in the opening quarter before making 8 of 17 field goals for the game-high 26 points and a team-high 5 assists.

Remember when there were so much concerns over Metta World Peace when he came to camp out of shape? Well, there's very little of that now, if any at all. Last season, I wondered why Phil Jackson never utilized him in the post more given how dangerous he is downlow against anybody. Mike Brown sure knows what he has in Metta and isn't shy about exploiting him in the paint. Metta got himself 14 points last night and is averaging 12.3 points in just 3 games compared to 8.5 PPG last year. And no, he isn't playing more minutes this season. Peace is currently averaging 27 minutes versus 33.4 last year.

Steve Blake continues to take good shots and pushes the ball each time he gets. That's exactly what Brown wants out of him this year. In fact, he'll need to have a shooting guard's mentality a bit more since the Laker bench does not have a more reliable shooter after him. With the Lakers still possessing 2 bonafide post players, Blake can't be tentative at all whenever the bigs kick the ball out to him when they get doubled. It's all about filling his new role with this team. Blake had 8 points on 3 of 9 shooting, including 2 longballs.

I must say that Josh McRoberts has the nose for the ball. His activity and scrappiness on the floor will pay dividends for this team. But he really has to finish stronger around the basket whenever he finds those loose balls instead of just flicking shots up. He rushed a couple of those shots because he has not confidence in his free-throws which puts us back to my point earlier about finishing stronger. At least that way he has a better chance of making his putback and have 1 less free-throw to worry about if he gets fouled.

Troy Murphy had zero points before fouling out last night. But he outworked his teammates around the boards with 11 rebounds. Murphy has the reputation of being a shooter, but everyone often forgets how good of a rebounder he is and how hard he works on the defensive end. Just like everybody else, he should be even more effective once he gets his basketball legs back later on.

Outside some of the nitpicky mistakes the team is still doing, the Lakers turned out a much better effort against the Jazz than the one in Sacramento the previous night. Offensively, they are starting to find their places and are moving around without bumping to one another. Yes, they are still standing around at times (especially when Bryant is operating), but it's looking like they starting to absorb where to move on each play and making sure the floor is balanced when the shot goes up.

Defensively, they are rotating better and are challenging shots without fouling. Transition from offense to defense is yet to get better but don't expect it to improve immensely. That's what floor balancing is for on the other end. Once the offense operate the way Brown wants it to, the Lakers should see less uncontested baskets during fastbreaks.

As much as Pau played last night, he was caught flat-footed around the glass a few times allowing Al Jefferson and Paul Milsap get in better position and scoring rather easily after an offensive board. That also goes for both McRoberts and Murphy. I know they are told not to make a bad situation worse by fouling when there's no chance of stopping a basket go in. But this is the pro league. Easy baskets shouldn't happen at all.

I didn't quite expect the Lakers to be showing this much potential in executing Brown's system in just the 3rd game of the season with very little practice already. I'm not saying they're already half way there, but the signs that they are working hard to head in the right direction is exciting. Until then, at least that egg that's been sitting underneath that "W" is officially gone.

Player of the Game

Pau Gasol: I thought Pau showed something a little more than any Laker. He didn't let up on offense at all and made a conscious decision to be a shot-blocker, as well.

Head-To-Head Stats

JAZZ: 32.2% FG (29-90) | 7.7% (1-13) 3-Pt. FG | 70.6% (12-17) FT | 46 Rebs. | 20 Asts. | 6 Stls. | 6 Blks. | 10 TO | 36 Pts. in Paint | 16 FB Pts. | Biggest Lead: 5 Pts.

LAKERS: 42.3% FG (30-71) | 37.5% (6-16) 3-Pt. FG | 81.1% (30-37) FT | 46 Rebs. | 17 Asts. | 8 Stls. | 9 Blks. | 12 TO | 32 Pts. in Paint | 16 FB Pts. | Biggest Lead: 29 Pts.

Next Game

Home: Thur., Dec. 27th vs. New York Knicks at 7:30 p.m. (PST)
TV: TNT
Radio: 710/1330 AM ESPN
For special offer on tickets, click image below:



THE SMALL PRINT: 'Melo and Co come to Staples to take on Kobe tomorrow night. For this heavyweight match up, our ticket partner TiqIQ has a special deal for Lakers fans, courtesy of ScoreBig.com, where fans can "make an offer" on the price they want to pay: For example, a "2 star" ticket (as described by ScoreBig.com) that would typically sell for $110 (after shipping + handling fees) can be had for an offer of $80 all-in (with no additional costs for shipping or handling). Meanwhile, a "3 star" ticket that usually retails for $250 after fees can be purchased for an offer of $125 via this promotion. But Lakers fans need to move fast, as this deal expires at 7pm Pacific TODAY!


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