It’s exchange week between SLC and LA. We’re hosting Hollywood at Sundance and they’re hosting the Jazz against the Lakers on Tuesday night. Andy Kamenetzky of ESPN Los Angeles exchanged thoughts with Salt City Hoops about the matchup between the Jazz and Lakers. I should have asked if he missed James Franco at all this week. Instead, here’s what he had to say:
SCH: Tuesday’s game is a rare time when both team teams have been struggling, so how do you (or do you) help fans maintain perspective while things seem to be falling apart?
AK: I laugh because it’s true.
No doubt, things get pretty intense in this neck of the woods when the Lakers drop a few games. Former Salt Lake Tribune Jazz beat writer Ross Siler used to cover the Lakers for the L.A. Daily News, and he once described each Laker game as Game 7 of the Finals to fans. Pretty accurate depiction.
With that in mind, I guess I help maintain perspective by reiterating how I truly feel about the regular season: It’s often a horrible barometer for what happens in the playoffs. Not that the first 82 games are meaningless or without purpose, of course, but it’s just dicey to use them as a road map. Last season, two bad losses to the Cavs convinced the entire basketball universe LeBron that the gang had the Lakers figured out and that Kobe was changing cities. Well, Cleveland didn’t even make it to the Eastern Conference Finals. A LOT happens over the course of five months, so you have to take each loss (or win, really) with a certain degree of salt. That doesn’t mean you should gloss over bad performances or habits, no questions asked. Being critical of the team is part of my job. But I tend to assess situations through the prism of “is what happened fixable?” Assuming the answer is “yes,” and with a team this talented it typically is, my faith in the long view tends to be strong.
Plus, NBA basketball is supposed to be fun, and I don’t want to ever be responsible for sucking the joy out of that experience for our readers. You can be dead honest about how the team is playing without making it deadly serious.
SCH: Speaking of not serious, do you miss Sasha and Jordan Farmar? Vujacic made such an excellent villain; his cartoon persona was like a perfect storm of annoying for so many Jazz fans. And their recent performance for the Nets against the Jazz has me convinced they were the secret to the Laker success last year.
AK: As a writer who likes to blend comedy with analysis, Sasha is definitely missed. Dude provided me some of my best material since Slava Medvedenko and Von Wafer were teammates. Never a dull moment with The Machine.
On the court, however, I wouldn’t say either guy is truly “missed,” even though certain elements of their skill sets occasionally are at times.
For example, Steve Blake does a better job running the triangle than Jordan Farmar, if for no other reason than he’s willing to do it. Because Blake considers this priority one, the second unit has generally been more cohesive, particularly while at full strength. However, with Matt Barnes out, some scoring punch is missed, which means Farmar’s tendency to call his own number might come in handy. At the very least, Blake needs to be a “poor man’s Jordy.” He’s simply not shooting the ball enough.
Nor, for that matter, is he making enough of those rare shots. In theory, that outside touch could be provided by Sasha, but in practice, not really. Vujacic was buried in the rotation, and they really are a better bench unit with Blake running the show. He just needs to become more of a scoring threat.
Follow the Kamenetzky brothers on Twitter @espnlandolakers.
Jazz vs Lakers | ESPN Game Preview
8:30 PM MST | NBA TV
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Staples Center / Los Angeles