Like the Lakers, the Jazz have stumbled in the early part of the season, dropping their last three games – all road contests – at New Orleans, San Antonio and Memphis.
Utah, however, has historically fared better at home than on the road, and coach Mike Brown believes the Jazz are a much better team than their record indicates.
“They’re a good team,” explained Brown. “I don’t care what their record is. They play hard, they have big bodies, we always struggle against their big bodies and Utah is a tough place to play. We have to come out ready to go, or else we’re going to have a tough night.”
More than anything else, the coaching staff is stressing taking care of the ball, which in turn, will cut down on fast break points. The Lakers had just 15 miscues in their win against Detroit, but on the season, are averaging 18.5 per contest.
“Our transition defense to begin the season and in the preseason wasn’t great, but it’s gotten better,” said Brown. “What’s killing us now more than anything is not necessarily the transition buckets off our misses, but our turnovers. That’s hard for anybody when you turn the ball over (because) your floor balance isn’t there. When your floor balance isn’t there, you’re going to give up points in transition.”
Aside from cutting down on the turnovers and their opponent’s fast break points, the team is still trying to get healthy, too.
Kobe Bryant missed practice for a second straight day, but plans to suit up against the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night.
“Hopefully, I’ll be about 90 percent,” he said.
Kobe, who is still dealing with a strained right foot and sore right ankle, is averaging 37 minutes per game this season, a slight decrease from last year when he played 38.5 per contest.
Though not at full health yet, the 17-year veteran knows his body is able to take on an increased workload if needed.
“I’m physically able to play a big bulk of minutes,” said Kobe. “I’m in really tip-top shape so my body can handle that, but if I don’t need to play that many minutes, then all the better.”
Through four games, the Lakers co-captain is averaging 26.8 points on nearly 60 percent shooting.