Kobe Bryant made a meaningless game entertaining. (Jae Hong / Associated Press )
Below are five things to take from the Lakers' 114-80 loss Tuesday to the Utah Jazz
1. The Lakers played their worst preseason game thus far. Of course, no one should take any of these games too seriously. But even this game tested the tolerance of Laker fans. The statistics tell some of the story on why they were offensively deficient: 80 points on 37.5% shooting. The on-court performance tells the rest. The Lakers missed wide-open shots. Through most sequences, it appeared they went through the motions. In other instances, they simply looked tired. The Lakers also made absolutely no progress in stopping the Jazz in transition.
Of course, part of this can be traced to the fledgling lineups. Lakers Coach Mike Brown sat Pau Gasol out for fatigue reasons, while other front court players stayed on the sideline, including Dwight Howard (back), Jordan Hill (back) and Earl Clark (groin). The Lakers' bench can't be fairly evaluated when Reeves Nelson and Ronnie Aguilar are in the lineup but the Lakers didn't even bring energy to an otherwise meaningless affair.
2. Kobe Bryant made a bad game somewhat watchable. With nothing else working for the Lakers, Bryant went into Black Mamba mode. His 31 points on 10-of-18 shooting featured him scoring 23 of the Lakers' 24 third-quarter points. Of course, it didn't mean anything in this exhibition game since Utah scored 34 in that quarter.
Bryant scored his points in the third quarter in a variety of ways. He made three consecutive three-pointers. Bryant nailed an array of pull-up and fade-away jumpers. Bryant also attacked the glass aggressively. Bryant's performance at least he made the game fun.
3. Steve Nash had a rare off night. Every open practice and preseason game has yielded one mostly never-ending theme: Nash has run the Lakers' offense with great fluidity, understanding and balance. He showed elements of that against Utah, but this game also marked one of those rare instances where he made some odd mistakes.
In the last 1:25 of the first quarter, Nash committed three of his four turnovers. He threw an entry pass to Bryant that went out of bounds. On the following play, Nash and Bryant appeared to talk at length about the mistake.
It's a good thing Nash rested by sitting out the entire second half, but his off night reveals that even the main contribuor to the Lakers' revamped offense still needs some work to iron out chemistry.
4. Antawn Jamison demonstrated a mixed bag at the startng power forward position. Jamison's seven points on two-of-11 shooting shows he still needs to fix the inconsistencies in his shooting form that he says he's struggled with during training camp. There were plenty of possessions where Jamison hardly did anything on defense. But from a pure spacing standpoint, Jamison showed good chemistry with Nash. He played the passing lanes well and read off of Nash's reads correctly. Many of Jamison's missed looks from Nash were good looks simply not going into the basket.
Jamison still has a long way to go in becoming the Lakers' bench leader, but it's clear that the Lakers should try to pair Jamison with Nash.
5. Jodie Meeks refound his shooting stroke. After hitting only two of his 13 shots through three games, the Lakers' sharp shooter suddenly experienced better fortune. Meeks scored 12 points on a four-of-six clip from three-point range. This obviously will help the Lakers fortunes from the perimeter considering that remained a primary weakness last season. But it also highlights an never-ending quandary regarding shooters. Meeks mostly took goods through all of preseason. This time, the attempts went in the basket. Still, it appears Meeks looks more comfotable knowing where he's going to find his shot.
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