Wednesday evening’s contest in Utah marks the eighth game in 14 days – all in different cities – for the Lakers.
Having been in the midwest, on the east coast, in Canada and back west, L.A. now finds itself amidst the mountains of Salt Lake City set to play in what’s long been known as one of the tougher arenas in the NBA.
Why so tough? Phil Jackson explained that and more in his pregame media session:
Jackson said that Utah’s a tough place to be in large part because of a rabid fan base that’s always energetic, particularly when the Lakers are in town. He also Utah’s bench (though not tonight with Carlos Boozer and Andrei Kirilenko out) and Jerry Sloan’s system. Having just walked out on the court, I can attest that the fans are closer to the action (and player’s benches) than in any other arena.
Jordan Farmar, in Jackson’s mind, has been playing pretty well lately. “He’s doing things we want,” the Zen master explained. Jackson did say that Farmar had lost a bit of confidence in his shot at Cleveland, but doesn’t consider it an issue.
Phil said that most NBA teams play three-guard rotations and some get a fourth guy in regularly for a few minutes, but there are hardly any that play five guards. Thus, Shannon Brown’s on the outside looking in. Likewise, Morrison is the third small forward on the depth chart – like Vladimir Radmanovic – but could see some action in specific times where L.A. needs shooting. He’s active tonight instead of Sun Yue.
As far as Luke Walton’s strengths go, Jackson explained that he “knows all the nuances of our offense.” Yup.
When asked about the All-Star game once again, Jackson responded that he cares slightly if the team wins (or more accurately, he cares that the players care), and explained that he asks each the team if there’s anybody holding any nagging injuries that would prefer to play fewer minutes. In all the game’s he’s coached, he said only Karl Malone and Brad Daugherty have asked not to play due to illness.
Jackson expects to run some screen and roll with Kobe and Shaq in Phoenix.