If the Jazz's play in a 96-71 loss against the Lakers in the Staples Center on Tuesday night is an indication of their play for the season, then it’s going to be a long year.
A 32 percent effort from the field, including 1-13 from three-point range, said plenty about the ability of the Jazz's perimeter players and is only the start of the problems that plagued the Tyrone Corbin-led squad against the Lakers.
GUARDS: Starters Devin Harris and Raja Bell combined for 5-13 shooting from the outside, including 1-4 from long distance. Harris did notch six assists. Harris' backup, Earl Watson, went 0-3 with three turnovers in 21 minutes, while rookie Alec Burks was a non-factor. Meanwhile, Kobe Bryant's 26 points, eight rebounds and five assists helped overwhelm Utah. Veteren Derek Fisher also out-impressed both of the Jazz's primary point guards, especially Watson. Neither Harris nor Watson has shown signs of being clear team leaders. Grade: C-
FORWARDS: Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors combined for 15 points on 7-15 shooting from the field and matched Lakers starters Devin Ebanks and Josh McRoberts. However, Los Angeles' Metta World Peace scored 14 points and grabbed five rebounds in 27 minutes to give the Lakers the edge. Paul Millsap seemed to be the only Jazzman that deserved to be on the same floor as the Lakers, scoring 18 points on 7-15 shooting from the floor with eight rebounds in 27 minutes. Josh Howard's play was encouraging, scoring 10 points while playing half the game. Grade: B-
CENTERS: Al Jefferson ought to put a large weight of the loss on his shoulders. The 6-11 big man went 2-16 from the field for just four points, though he did grab 10 rebounds; the Lakers' Pau Gasol scored 22 points on 6-11 shooting from the floor, with nine rebounds. Rookie Enes Kanter went just 1-7 from the field in 21 minutes. Perhaps the presence of Mehmet Okur could have helped? Grade: D
BENCH: Millsap and Howard headlined the bench play, though Watson was clearly outplayed by Fisher and Steve Blake and Kanter played awfully. C.J. Miles also didn't make a case to start by going just 1-8 from the field with four fouls in 18 minutes. The poor play of Watson, Kanter and Miles, along with World Peace's solid play, gave the Lakers the edge in this category. Grade: C-
COACHING: It may remain unclear how much Corbin has to work with, although he must be able to count on Jefferson if the Jazz will be any kind of successful this season. It is difficult to put much of the blame on him when veterans like Jefferson, Miles and Bell played so poorly. Corbin will continue to make tweaks to his rotation in order to help the team be more effective, although it may be difficult to cut Bell's minutes if Miles is not performing and Burks isn't ready to play regular minutes. The same goes for Jefferson, with Okur traded and the next option being the rookie Kanter. However, a good grade cannot be given in a 25-point loss. Grade: C+
OVERALL: Outside of Millsap and Howard, the Jazz veterans must perform better in a big-venue situation. Jefferson, Miles and Bell highlight the list of players who just didn't make that cut. Jefferson was brought into Salt Lake City in summer 2010 to be a foundation of the team. He will never fill that role when he gets completely outplayed by someone who is supposed to be compatible in terms of all-star status. Millsap may emerge as the leader, though he is not the foundation of the team, especially if he is going to be a sixth man. Such clear guidance is not yet found at the point guard position in Harris or Watson. Grade: C-
Rhett Wilkinson is a journalism and speech communications major at Utah State University. He has previously been an intern for the Deseret News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at Twitter: wilklogan
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