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Lakers defensive issues start at the top, lead to 117-110 Jazz win

Dec 10, 2012, 2:07 AM EDT

Utah Jazz v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

The Utah Jazz are not the most talented team in the Western Conference, but they work hard. Every possession, every game.

That is far more than the Lakers, who showed no passion or consistent effort on the defensive end. Starting with their stars and filtering down to everyone.

The result of that sad effort was a 117-110 rare Jazz road win that sinks the Lakers to 9-12 on the season, having lost four of their last five.

Utah scored at a 133.1 points per 100 possession pace in this game — for perspective, the Thunder have the best offense in the NBA this season at 111.3 The Jazz shot 54.2 percent for the game and seemed to consistently get the shot they wanted, either in transition or the half court. Combined the Jazz big men — Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and Enes Kanter — combined for 52 points on 21-of-37 shooting (56.8 percent).

The defensive issues with the Lakers start at the top, and it’s not just Steve Nash and Pau Gasol still being out. Howard couldn’t stop the Jazz big men and he is becoming more and more frustrated — rightfully — when nobody helps the helper. When the Lakers guards get beat and their man starts to drive Howard steps out to cut off the lane, but nobody rotates to get his man and suddenly it’s easy buckets for opposing bigs.

Kobe Bryant doesn’t get off cleanly here — more than once he didn’t get back on defense really at all after staying to glare and gesture to referees when he didn’t get a call on a drive on the offensive end.

Utah shot 55 percent in the first half but the score was close until midway through the second quarter when the Jazz went on 11-0 run. That separated the teams and gave Utah a 60-51 halftime lead. There were defensive lapses by the Lakers but credit the Jazz who got hustle plays from DeMarre Carroll. The Lakers got hustle from Jordan Hill (17 points and 6 offensive rebounds for the game) but not much else.

Adding insult to injury, the deliberate Jazz had 14 fast break points in the first half, which is tied to the Lakers nine turnovers in the first half.

Lakers came out on a run on the second half and this was back to being a close game immediately. They were doing it with threes — Los Angeles was 15-of-28 from three. The Lakers got 40.9 percent of their points from three. Which is a good sign for a team that has been worried about outside shooting.

All night long Lakers offense was fine, led by Kobe Bryant’s 34 on 9-of-24 shooting.

But that’s moot if you don’t get stops.

The Lakers made it interesting with a late push, actually defending with energy and with a Jordan Hill fastbreak dunk and some Kobe free throws we had a six-point game. But in the end, Utah just keep putting up points and the Lakers clock management at the end was a mess. Mo Williams finished with 22 for Utah, Gordon Hayward had 14 off the bench.

Utah is 12-10 and continues to be a solid team in the West. There are a lot of questions about this team’s moves with a lot of late year contracts as they head into the trading deadline, but they are not playing for tomorrow. They are grinding and working for today.

It’s not too early for the Lakers to get healthy and find a groove, there are more than four months of regular season left. We are just a quarter of the way into the season. But the hole the Lakers have dug themselves will hurt with their playoff seeding and very possible first round series on the road (unless you think they can catch the Thunder, Spurs, Grizzlies or Clippers).

  1. dko83 - Dec 10, 2012 at 2:32 AM

    Don’t worry, if Kobe has to.. he’ll kick everybody’s ass in that locker room.. Zzzzzz

  2. badintent - Dec 10, 2012 at 2:45 AM

    Coach Brown, have any ideas ? Coach Jackson ? I meant Coach Mark Jackson, GS is playing some sweet ball now.

  3. zblott - Dec 10, 2012 at 2:47 AM

    “more than once he didn’t get back on defense really at all after staying to glare and gesture to referees when he didn’t get a call on a drive on the offensive end.” — What a nice way of saying that Kobe rarely makes an effort getting back quickly on D, especially if it starts with his turnover or terrible shot that’s as effective as a turnover.

    • nbascreed - Dec 10, 2012 at 6:51 AM

      Yeah, Kobe has upset me with this for years but other guys do this and this is one of the negative functions of the coach-player relationship in the NBA. There really is no recourse for a coach to discipline a star player for this type of lack of effort. Kobe should be better, I could be wrong but I never remember MJ giving up on a play to plead his a case to an official…SO MUCH. I’m sure it happened once or twice but this is a habit with Kobe.

      • qdog112 - Dec 10, 2012 at 7:55 AM

        I guess he made the all defensive teams for 1000 years because he refuses to play defense.

      • skids003 - Dec 10, 2012 at 7:58 AM

        Kobe don’t and never has played defense. That award is usually given to the big name players.

      • zacksdad - Dec 10, 2012 at 12:03 PM

        The defensive team is voted in by the coaches, so why would they vote for the big name players? I understand the all star voting by the fans is a popularity vote, but coaches do it also?

      • wsuperman4445 - Dec 10, 2012 at 1:21 PM

        nbascreed, what makes this worse ( and interesting) is now the Lakers have whiner 1 Kobe and Whiner 2 Dwight. I am betting this team simply Implodes at before the end of the year.. to many head cases like I predicted .. the whiner Brothers, ( Kobe, Dwight) the Head case ( Metta) and Mr Insecure (Gasol)

  4. 32magicman - Dec 10, 2012 at 3:07 AM

    All these writers think its a given the lakers will make the playoffs. It takes 5 solid players plus a good bench to get there, especially in the west. L.A. has 4 decent players and no bench and all of their starters have injury issues constantly. Im not so confident.

    • ron05342 - Dec 10, 2012 at 3:31 AM

      Anyone who would describe Bryant, Howard, Gasol, and Nash as “decent” is biased and the comment should be discounted. There are other issues with your comment, but its a waste of time to go further with it.

      The defense is the main issue. Personally, THAT’S the aspect I don’t see changing, unless these guys actually start trying. Right now, there isn’t much effort. And defense is basically about effort.

  5. 32magicman - Dec 10, 2012 at 4:11 AM

    No bias. I am a laker fan and always have been. But kobe is inefficient, nash is past his best and will struggle with the new breed of athletic guards, gasol wont get post opportunities where he is most effective and howard cant shoot. I dont think they will make the playoffs with the current coach and roster. I hope im wrong

    • barkley4life - Dec 10, 2012 at 9:02 AM

      Kobe will drag this team to the playoffs on his own. However your dead on with everything else. Perimeter and transition are not the areas you can struggle in the Western Conference.

      If they are to trade Pau its to get more athletic on the wings…this team has no problem scoring points…even without Nash.

    • mogogo1 - Dec 10, 2012 at 10:38 AM

      The bigger question is what would they do in the playoffs? Defense wins in the playoffs and right now they simply aren’t playing it. I like D’Antonio but I still don’t see how this roster fits his style outside of Nash. (And Nash isn’t as young (or healthy) as he was when he excelled in this system, either.) To expect a shot within 7 seconds means you’re going to be rushing back on defense A LOT over the course of a game. That’s tough on old and tired legs and tougher still if you’re not fully committed to the process, which it appears Kobe is not at the moment.

  6. abchome - Dec 10, 2012 at 4:13 AM

    The Lakers were 1-8 now when Kobe scored 30 points or more this season.

    • lmoneyfresh - Dec 10, 2012 at 1:01 PM

      Who would have thought that getting your teammates involved could be beneficial.

  7. hoodheisman - Dec 10, 2012 at 4:15 AM

    The Lakers are just as bad with D’Antoni as they were with Brown. Both these coaches are soft. They don’t know how to instill any discipline in their teams. The Lakers’ turnovers, poor rebounding, and blown assignments on defense are the direct result of this. This is where Phil excelled. He knew how to kick these guys in the ass when they needed it.

  8. davidly - Dec 10, 2012 at 6:28 AM

    Jamison’s line really sticks out:
    Six shots, four assists, three turnovers and two fouls in only fifteen minutes. Not sure what to make of that.

  9. davidcl77 - Dec 10, 2012 at 6:32 AM

    Kobe needs to play more like Lebron, setting up his teammates. His taking 50 shots won’t cut it. He’s past his prime and come playoff time, it will show as it did last year.
    Howard needs to hire Rick Barry to help with his free throws. He could get him to 75% with no problem.
    The hiring of D’Antoni was amazing. Amazingly awful that is.
    “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”

  10. fanofevilempire - Dec 10, 2012 at 6:53 AM

    I really hope that Nash and Gasol will make a difference, but right now I hate to say the Lakers
    don’t look like a playoff team.

  11. qdog112 - Dec 10, 2012 at 7:58 AM

    “It’s not too early for the Lakers to get healthy and find a groove, there are more than four months of regular season left.”
    Is it required that you be drunk to write this stuff? Wouldn’t it make slightly more sense to say: “It’s not too LATE for the Lakers to get healthy and find a groove, there are more than four months of regular season left”?

  12. loungefly74 - Dec 10, 2012 at 8:08 AM

    Kobe is shooting at a 48% clip right now…not bad for a high volume SG…he is at 87% on the strip. as mentioned before…Defense is the main issue…you score a 110 points…you should win. a lot is riding on Nash to kickstart their entire “game flow”…we will see…

  13. rodge1 - Dec 10, 2012 at 8:13 AM

    “Kobe Bryant doesn’t get off cleanly here — more than once he didn’t get back on defense really at all after staying to glare and gesture to referees when he didn’t get a call on a drive on the offensive end.”

    Also known as getting old with declining skills and holding your own team back because of your salary.

  14. paulhargis53 - Dec 10, 2012 at 8:45 AM

    Check out what Phil Jackson is quoted as saying about Kobes defense and his being named to the all defense team.

    The quote is taken from the book he wrote while coaching the lakers.
    Hint: It’s not complimentary.

    • loungefly74 - Dec 10, 2012 at 9:38 AM

      oh yeah…that book. a book equivalent of a scorned chick ripping her ex in every way possible…or a dude involved in nefarious activities himself and writing a tell-all to cash in.
      yeah..Kobe may have been an All-Pro defender back in the day…but not anymore. the last few awards were on name-sake alone. kinda like when Jeter was getting Allstar votes during a horrible 1st half.

    • fanofevilempire - Dec 10, 2012 at 9:59 AM

      isn’t your team the Celtics……………

      • bozosforall - Dec 10, 2012 at 11:22 PM

        The team of the biggest crybaby fans on the planet. Pudhummer53 being the biggest crybaby of all.

  15. omniusprime - Dec 10, 2012 at 9:09 AM

    After wasting a quarter of the season it is too late for the Lakers to find their groove Kurt Helin. As long as Dumbtoni is coaching the Lakers they will never find a winning groove. Their lack of effort on defense is a sure sign that they are not being coached properly. Dumbtoni is clueless on defense so why expect the Lakers to be rotating to help their mates?

    Yes the rot starts at the top, the little idiot buss boy is to blame for the Laker’s woes. If Jerky Boy Jimmy wasn’t so arrogant and ignorant we’d be enjoying another round of Phil Jackson championship Showtime, even with injured players riding the pine. Kupcake seems unable to talk any sense into the billionaire trust fund baby trash, so we end up with Dumbtoni.

    Dumbtoni is on a seek and destroy mission, he has been sought out by the little idiot buss boy and now he’s destroying the premier franchise of the NBA. Dumbtoni is the problem and only his firing will give the Lakers a chance to bring back Phil. When are you going to get over your bromance with Dumbtoni Kurt Helin and start calling for his firing?

    Fire Dumbtoni!!! Fire the little idiot buss boy!!! We Want Phil!!! We Want Jeanie!!!

  16. tomdrec42 - Dec 10, 2012 at 9:20 AM

    Is it obvious yet that dantoni was a bad hire? The lakers just out there shooting a lot then giving up a lot of wide open shots. On top of that their offense despite the number isn’t very fluent or efficient. It’s also pretty ridiculous that the lakers pretty much lose every game Kobe scores a lot but the fool still out there shooting 25 times a game. As bad as Howard is in the post, the lakers are a much better team running the offense through him and featuring him. Our best games were when he was the focus through out the game n Kobe needs to pass da damn ball

  17. jammer73 - Dec 10, 2012 at 9:40 AM

    Lakers are going nowhere this year. They are old and washed up and DH will leave after the season as well. Welcome to the lottery…HA, HA, HA!!!!

  18. klownboy - Dec 10, 2012 at 10:08 AM

    This is why I thought the Lakers should have brought back Phil Jackson. You can’t tell me that the Lakers would have been rolling under a familiar and respected face. Jim Buss is obviously intent on running this franchise into the ground.

  19. spthegr8 - Dec 10, 2012 at 10:34 AM

    Our D is F**KIN PATHETIC!!! It was with brown & now it is with D’antoni. Which tells me it’s the PLAYERS!!!! Everybody STOP blaming EVERYTHING on the coaches!! @ some point we gta look @ the players!! Playing D is a want, a desire. That we don’t have right now & our record shows it!! It’s really quite simple. Better effort on D = more W’s!! It’s not rocket science. I don’t care WHO your coach is, he can’t guard your man for you or make you rotate & help your teammate. That is the PLAYERS!!!

    • wsuperman4445 - Dec 10, 2012 at 1:39 PM

      To Spthegr8 Well, you Laker Groupies had it all figured out.. Remember you have now the Defensive Player of the NBA on your team.. so what’s the Problem? or could it be.. that Dwight looked so good because the team ( The Magic) was designed around him? and now he is exposed, he is just another over paid better than average player? as this season wears on.. the Magic are looking more like Prophets and less like the laughing stock that some thought them to be for letting Howard Go and not taking return. . by the way hows that guy working out in Philly? anyone seen him? oh yea hurt his knee again bowling.. this from a guy that suppose to be rehab his Knees for a Start in Philly.. Lake fans its only going to get worse for you.. I am waiting on Dwight to get Frustrated enough and pull a ” My Back hurts” line on the lakers like he did the Magic and sit out the rest of the season until trade time… you heard it here first.. .

      • spthegr8 - Dec 10, 2012 at 5:50 PM

        Somehow I am not surprised, too find a BITTER magic fan “TROLLING” on a Laker post. I can’t blame you guy’s, for resenting us Laker fans. I mean look @ our history together. Shaq left that JOKE of a franchise, too come too LA and become a champion. Then we KICK ur A$$ in the Final’s a couple of years ago. Then Dwight force’s his way outta there and come’s too LA, too become a champion. Do you see my point??? See what I am getting @ ??? In case you are slow, which I presume you are being that you are a magic fan in all. I’ll just be a nice guy and tell you. We are SUPERIOR too you LOSER in EVERYWAY.!!! That’s the REALITY here. We ALWAYS have been and I think it’s safe too say, we ALWAYS will be. You should just accept it, because it will help you move forward and try too get over ALL that we have done too your PATHETIC lil franchise. You should thank me for enlightening or giving you a REALITY CHECK!!!!!!

  20. paulhargis53 - Dec 10, 2012 at 11:18 AM

    lounge: Too bad its a well known fact that Phil Jackson kept a journal of each f his NBA seasons as coach.
    That book wasn’t ” a scorned man” as you make it out to be. It was an honest personal assessment of a team HE COACHED. He’s never been one to pull punches for the sake of egos.

    fan. If you are referring to me, yes I am a Celtics fan. So what? There are no rules saying I can’t comment on other teams. You just don’t want to hear the truth about your team.

  21. paulhargis53 - Dec 10, 2012 at 11:48 AM

    Too bad its a well known fact that Phil kept journals of each season he coached, huh lounge?
    These were his thought DURING the season He’s never been known to pull punches because of ego either.
    I feel sorry for you and fans like you. Your inability to accept that your team is flawed and to admit players/teams deficiencies is why yo can’t understand 9-12.

    • bozosforall - Dec 10, 2012 at 11:26 PM

      Your team isn’t winning a title, idiot boy. The recent gap between the two teams is FIVE titles to ONE. Sounds like you are merely a jealous loser.

  22. paulhargis53 - Dec 10, 2012 at 12:34 PM

    zacksdad: It’s presumed to be done by the coaches. Anyway, a lot of players are voted in by reputation alone. Kobe has really never been an all world defender.
    He’s usually matched up against the worst offensive player. He’s more about offense than anything. As he ages, its more noticeable that he isn’t defending at a top 10 level.
    I don’t think coaches take the balloting quite as serious as you think. If they did, Kobe wouldn’t be 1st team 9 times.

    He’s not even worth 2nd or 3rd team.

    I’m not saying he can’t play defense, its just that he’s not top 15 defense. wise let one top 5.

    • zacksdad - Dec 10, 2012 at 1:05 PM

      I trust the coaches opinions that actually coach against him than any of us wanna be bloggers. For all the awards voting, what do do think is the most reliable? Writers have grudges against players that will not talk to them and fans are team blind. I would say he two best reliable voters are coaches and other players. Now the coaches poll in college football is bad because they do not play or watch the teams they actually vote on.

      I know Kobe has faults, but he wants to win more than almost anyone else. There are very few you can put in the same boat with him, Jordan is one also. I believe Shaq and LeBron are much better natural athletes than Kobe or Jordan, but Kobe’s and Jordan’s desire to win makes them much better players.

      • bozosforall - Dec 10, 2012 at 11:28 PM

        Zacksdad, great observation. Particularly since Pudhummer53 is easily the biggest wannabe on here. Also the stupidest.

    • limonadamas - Dec 10, 2012 at 8:51 PM

      “Kobe has really never been an all world defender.”

      You don’t really believe that, do you? He’s certainly dropped off a lot over the past 4 years or so, but prior to that, he was definitely top 5 on that end.

      And if you’re gonna make the requisite Jordan comparison (which no one asked you to do), it would be unfair to compare the current Kobe with the memory you have of Jordan in his prime. I’d say the current Kobe plays much better defense than Wizards Jordan.

      But I do agree with the notion that Kobe’s defense has been overrated for several years. I don’t think you’ll find anyone arguing against that.

  23. paulhargis53 - Dec 10, 2012 at 2:12 PM

    I take nothing away from his offensive game.
    He is not in the same stratosphere as Jordan defensively though.

    No, I don’t trust the coaches balloting on this award. It’s a reputation vote.
    Kobe hasn’t been a top tier defender for years, yet he still makes 1st or 2nd team all defense.
    How do you explain that? It was by design that he doesn’t play defense, he would expend to much
    Energy to be able to hoist up his20-30 shots per game.

    Look, just because you’re a laker fan and I’m not, doesnt mean
    You can’t admit he isn’t a top flight defensive player. I’m being a realist a out it.

    Also, I apologize for the double posting.

    • barkley4life - Dec 10, 2012 at 2:28 PM

      You saw the most telling sign that Kobe could no longer be the ballstopper that he once was during the Shaq run, in the second tussle with the Celtics for the championship. Much of that series he was switching and playing Rondo for long stretches and although Rondo’s perimeter game was virtually nonexistent he was making Kobe work immensely in transition and pick and roll. Big reason for Kobe being 7 for 23 in Game 7 was that he had to expend so much energy on both ends and no longer had the athleticism etc to do that like he once did.

      Fast foward that to last year and the OKC matchup and when Kobe had to guard RW there just wasn’t any way he could keep up. His best defense was wearing out James Harden on offense which was the key to Harden having a terrible series.

      However Mamba is still Mamba(BEAST) doesn’t take away hes still a great player even if he’s declining a bit. However Father Time always wins.

    • bozosforall - Dec 10, 2012 at 11:33 PM

      If that is true, then Kevin Garnett is also living off of his reputation and getting recognition solely based on his past reputation. It really sucks to be Pudhummer53, where his words continually bite him in the ass.

  24. unxpexted1 - Dec 10, 2012 at 3:49 PM

    Kobe has been a top tier defender throughout his career and even in his “ballhog” days was guarded the best player on the other team throughout the year. The problem obviousy is age when it comes to his defense. The biggest thing i notice is he cant get around pick and rolls like he used to. That body is older, he cant fight through this screens quick enough. The other is not his fault, people talk about how he struggles defensively againt a Rondo or a Russell Westbrook. Kobe is 6’6, asking him to guard younger and shorter(quicker) players is just ridiculous. He doesnt stand a chance, thats just an indictment against Laker PG’s throughout the year. you’d call artest a defensive stopper? You notice they dont ask him to guard russell westbrook and all these smaller players. So number one the fact that Kobe is willing to guard these players shows his defensive mindset, unfortunately they are just bad matchups for him at this stage in his career, yet there seems to be nobody else on the team who stands a chance.

    If i had to critique Kobe’s defense on one other thing is that I feel like he cheats in the paint too much and doesnt have the speed to close out on shooters like he once did i.e. Danny Green play

  25. paulhargis53 - Dec 10, 2012 at 5:22 PM

    unex: I will take Phil Jackson’s opinion over yours or any othe poster any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

    Just type in Phil Jackson Kobe overrated defense.

    Kobe hasn’t been elite defensively for a long time. Saying he has been throughout his career is blatant homerism.

    I think PJ would know better than anyone.

    • bozosforall - Dec 10, 2012 at 11:35 PM

      Phil Jackson…almost as bitter as Pudhummer53.

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