The Lakers last evening put on a great impression of the Los Angeles Lakers, c. 1993, led by historic coach Randy Pfund, and featuring the play of the likes of Sedale Threatt, Anthony Peeler, Doug Christie, and Eldon Campbell. They only lost the game by nine points, but it really was not that close. The game did feature the continued heroic play of the injured Kobe Bryant, the return to being a presence on the court of Pau Gasol, the appearance on the court, during a game, of both Luke Walton and Matt Barnes (where are you, Jason Kapono – tonight, maybe?), and the physical play and SCORING of Ron Meta Tag Loonie World Piece, who scored a career high (since his name change) of 19 points.
On paper, the Utah Jazz appear to be a similar team to Sacramento, maybe not quite as talented but certainly more experienced, on the the court, that is. What they lack is the biggest asset the team had for the preceding two decades, the coaching of Jerry Sloan. Sloan retired during last season, turning over the reins to Ty Corbin, and his ability to coach at the NBA level is yet to be determined. The 8-20 record he led them to after taking over last season is not, however, encouraging.
What can be expected tonight is the Jazz’ mountainous front court attempting to manhandle the Lakers finesse guys. In Derrick Favors, Al Jefferson, and Enes Kanter, the Jazz can throw three 6-10″ or 6″11″, 260-290 pounders out there. Meta Tag Piece Thingy will earn his stripes tonight, helping out Gasol and the much lighter McRoberts and Murphy. This is the kind of game that a Lakers team with Andrew Bynum and Darrick Caracter should win easily, but the lack of match-ups size-wise could be a killer tonight.
The Lakers are favored by 5-1/2 but it is really anyone’s game given no Bynum and the Lakers’ overall play so far. But, add in the coaching equalizer element, and I’ll say the Lakers beat the spread tonight, though Gasol, McRoberts, and a few others will need tomorrow’s off day to ice their bruises.