It's just a preseason game, but did anyone see this coming? Led by Gordon Haywards's 13 points, seven Jazz players scored in double figures as Utah (3-1 preseason) defeated the Los Angeles Lakers (0-4) 114-80.
Guards: Jamaal Tinsley was solid in Mo Williams' absence, with eight points, three rebounds and a steal. It was also nice to see good performance from Gordon Hayward (13 points), Alec Burks (12 points, 4-of-4 shooting), Randy Foye (10 points) and DeMarre Carroll (eight points, four assists). Nobody could slow down Kobe Bryant (31 points on 10-of-18 shooting), but that's OK, since every other Laker had an inverse stat line: nothing but ugly. Plus, Bryant was simply on fire, given his 4-of-6 display from three-point range. How many times has it been said that it's OK if Bryant gets his as long as the supporting cast is limited— or, in this case, struggling? GRADE: A-
Forwards: The starting forwards (Paul Millsap and Marvin Williams) may have struggled a bit from the field (combined 6-of-16), but Derrick Favors, if anything, picked up the pace on the bench with 10 points (on 3-of-3 shooting) and five rebounds. (What a surprise.) Millsap pulled seven rebounds in less than half the game. Considering Laker starting forwards — and veterans — Antawn Jamison and Metta World Peace shot a combined 3-of-17 for 10 points, these Utah 3s and 4s can be proud, even in a preseason contest. GRADE: B+
Centers: A good 22-minute effort from Al Jefferson (12 points, seven rebounds, two assists) and an even better 19-minute performance off the bench from Enes Kanter — arguably your preseason league MVP — Corbin and Co. can feel good. The Turks' line: 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting and six rebounds in 19 minutes. Of course, life was different against rookie Robet Sacre than it would have been against Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol. GRADE: A-
Bench: Utah's reserves outscored Los Angeles' by a whopping 31-point margin, 63-32. The mighty Jodie Meeks may have led the Laker bench with 12 points (on 4-of-9 shooting, but he was the only Los Angeles bench player to reach double figures. Burks (12 points), Favors, Kanter and Randy Foye (10 apiece) all had that distinction. The bench saw eight turnovers, but it was comparative to the Utah starters, who had seven. The Jazz first five averaged 19.6 minutes for the game compared to 18.7 for any reserve that notched at least double-digit minutes. GRADE: AComment on this story
Overall: One can be dubious about any preseason game, even if it's a 34-point throttling. But the Jazz — and its fans, considering the opponent — will take it. A performance like Utah's should at least indicate that the games between the two clubs will indeed be close in the regular season, even when Howard and Gasol (and really Steve Nash, given that he only played 12 minutes) are suiting it up for Los Angeles. Perhaps the most encouraging Jazz statistic: 9-of-16 shooting from beyond the arc, a big improvement over nearly every game last season. Doesn't matter if it's an All-Star or benchwarmer waving their hands on those attempts. GRADE: A-
Rhett Wilkinson attends Utah State University, and is the co-founder and editor of Aggie BluePrint, USU's first student magazine. Previously been an intern for the Deseret News. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter: @wilklogan