Utah Jazz: Big Al's 'problems,' Hayward's All-Star aspirations and Laker talk
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
LOS ANGELES — The Utah Jazz are well aware of the Los Angeles Lakers' problems.
They just don't want to talk about them, focus on them and certainly not worry about them.
After all, they do have their own particular issues to be dealing with leading into tonight's 8:30 game at Staples Center.
"My dog's sick. My mail got lost the other day," Jazz center Al Jefferson said at Friday morning's shootaround. "I've got all types of problems."
Lately, winning games hasn't been among those country-song-like problems.
The Jazz bring a four-game winning streak into this contest — overall and against the Lakers.
In fact, Utah can wrap up the first regular-season sweep of the Lakers in franchise history with a win tonight.
The Jazz (23-19) are also looking to extend their franchise-best winning streak against this L.A. squad (17-25) to five. Before this success spurt, which includes two wins this season and two last year, the Jazz had never beaten the Lakers more than three times in a row.
"It means nothing. You can't afford to think of nothing other than what we need to do tonight against how they're playing and how we're playing to be successful," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said.
Utah views the slumping Lakers as a sleeping giant of sorts, considering the team has stars like Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol.
"This is a good club, man. They haven't played their best basketball just yet," Corbin said. "But they're a veteran group that can get it going and if you think anything other than executing how you have to play against them to get a win, then you're setting yourself up for failure."
More short shots from shootaround:
— Gordon Hayward, the ninth pick of the 2010 draft, on that year's No. 10 pick, Indiana small forward Paul George, being named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team:
"I'm excited for him. He's a great player and very talented," he said. "I get a chance to work out with him in the summer. I'm just extremely happy for him. It's cool to see guys from your class become All-Stars."
— How that affects Hayward's All-Star aspirations:
"It motivates you," the third-year swingman said. "You want to be an All-Star in this league, so when you see guys who are already doing it, you've just got to put in that much more work to try to get there."
Hayward is averaging 13.5 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists for the Jazz, currently No. 7 in the West. George has averaged 17.3 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.7 assists while carrying the 26-17 Pacers' load for the injured Danny Granger.
"It kind of just puts a little bit of a time frame on it," Hayward added about his All-Star hopes. "It shows that somebody else has done it, so why can't it be you? It just means there's a lot more work to be done."
— Jefferson on the troubled Lakers, losers of four consecutive and 10 of 12:
"On paper, they've got a talented team. They've got what it takes to win. Whatever's going on with them is going on with them," Big Al said. "We've got our own problems. They're most definitely a team you can't walk on the court and think they're just going to be sweeped. You've got to go out there and play them.
— Hayward on his tough match-up and past success against Kobe:
"Anytime you go against one of the greatest to ever play, you want to play your best and do whatever you can to make things difficult for him. I'm just out there being a competitor," Hayward said.
"There's a lot of things that I could learn from him," he continued. "There are guys in this league that you can learn a lot from, so any time you get to play against them and stuff like that, you can pick up on little things they do to help your game get better."
— Corbin on Jefferson, Paul Millsap and Hayward being overlooked as All-Star reserves:
"I don't know how considered our guys were. I couldn't vote for my players, but I think they were very well deserving of an opportunity to be selected to the All-Star team. I'm disappointed we didn't get anybody again," Corbin said.
"You look at our guys' numbers compared to other guys in there and how our team's doing, I think they're deserving of a position."
— Jefferson, who thought David Lee and Marc Gasol were deserving of All-Star consideration, pointed out that he especially thought Golden State has a legitimate beef:
"I thought Stephen Curry should've got in, too," Jefferson said of the sensational shooter, who averages 20.9 points, 6.6 assists and 4.1 rebounds. "Top five team in the West, averaging 20. I think he should've got in. Maybe next time."
Maybe for Big Al, too?
"It's my ninth season in the league. I've been in the situation before. In Minnesota, I didn't make it ... (and) I used to be mad, but then I realized who they want in there is going to be in there, so I just don't worry about it."
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