Thanks to the NBA lockout, there was a lot of anticipation leading up to the Utah Jazz regular season opener. Reality set in quickly. Against an LA Lakers team playing its third game in three nights, the young Jazz squad came out flat, falling 96-71.
With little flow on offense and looking overwhelmed on defense, Utah was a welcome opponent for a team that was 0-2 going into Tuesday’s late nationally-televised game. Kobe Bryant led the way with 26 points, followed by Pau Gasol’s 22. Utah was led by sixth man Paul Millsap who finished with 18 points. Newcomer Josh Howard was the only other player in double figures with 10.
Offensive woes: Where to start? Here are some not-so-savory statistics to illustrate the evening:
- Until Devin Harris nailed a jumper at the close of the second quarter, the Jazz had 28 rebounds – and 29 points.
- The Lakers were anything but spot-on with their marksmanship, hitting just 15 of 38 in the first half (39.5 percent). But Utah made them look stellar, registering a miserable 26 percent in the first 24 minutes. Before hitting four of the last eight field goal attempts, Utah was 9 of 42 (21.4 percent). The Jazz bumped up a touch in the second half, ending with a dismal 32.2 percent mark.
- The third quarter only escalated the situation, as LA pounced on Utah with a 27-9 run.
- Without recently-traded Mehmet Okur, the Jazz were just 1 of 13 on 3-point attempts.
- Utah’s point totals the first three quarters: 17, 14, and 15.
Growing pains: Each of the young guys—Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks, and Enes Kanter—took his lumps in the season opener. Due to two quick fouls, Favors sat out the final 20 minutes of the first half. He finished with eight points and six rebounds in 19 minutes. After a dominant performance the last time he visited STAPLES Center, Hayward was quiet with seven points.
Burks made a two-minute cameo in the game opening but was pulled quickly after he forced a shot and got lost on defense a few times. Kanter had a somewhat rude welcome to the NBA, getting the ball blocked or slapped out of his hands repeatedly early on. To his credit, he fought on the boards, pacing Utah with 11 rebounds.
It is TNT’s fault: While Utah fans were impatiently waiting for the conclusion of the TNT broadcast of the Miami/Boston game, the Jazz raced out to a 15-11 lead, thanks to 7 of 12 shooting (five different players scored). It did not take long for point guard Devin Harris to match his preseason assist total with three early dimes. By all accounts, the Jazz offense looked crisp.
Then, just as TNT picked up the simulcast, the Lakers promptly took advantage of a four-minute Utah 0-10 shooting drought to go up 18-17 at the end of the first quarter. The Lakers never looked back from that point on
David Smith will provide instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage this season. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also blogs for the Utah Jazz 360 website. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.
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