I watched Game 2 between the Lakers and Jazz tonight and I definitely agree with what Doug Collins and Kenny Smith said on the TNT broadcast, the Lakers are quicker and longer and it's frustrating the heck out of the Jazz.

The issue that I see with the series though is the way the first 2 games have been officiated. Phil Jackson said as much in his in-game interview in Game 1, how all the ticky-tack fouls were making it difficult for either team to get a feel of the game. Now, in Game 2, the Lakers have adjusted by using their speed and length in combination with the whistle-happy refs to gain a significant advantage. This is a long sequence from the first quarter but I think it represents what the first 2 games have been like so far in this series,

Both the Lakers and Jazz play great defense, but from different perspectives. The Jazz have strong rough physical defenders, Harpring, Boozer, Williams, Kirilenko. The Lakers have speed and length in Kobe, Odom, Gasol, Fischer, Farmer. I usually take physical over speed (opposite in football), because physical gets you rebounding as well. The Jazz have out-rebounded the Lakers and that is one of the reasons why they kept both games close.

Because of their superior foot quickness though, the Lakers have been able to really stick to straight M2M with passive help defense in contesting shots,

On the PNR, Kobe is switched out to cover Okur. Kobe is a former all-league defensive player and uses his quickness against Okur who tries to dribble drive and spin on Kobe,

The great thing you can see in the clip, is what coaches say when "you play defense with your feet and not your arms". That is why the Lakers have the 2-0 series lead, because they have quicker feet and they aren't falling into the trap of picking up the hand checking and arms not straight up fouls that the Jazz are afflicted with. That foul by Okur was a critical one as it sidelined him on the bench with Boozer for the rest of the half allowing the Lakers to build up a double-digit lead.

At the same time though, I do agree with Jerry Sloan and his beef with the way the games have been officiated. By calling the slightest bit of contact, the refs have given the Lakers the advantage. Well, you could say, simply that the Jazz shouldn't foul and move their feet instead. The problem with that though, is that the refs have allowed physical play in the playoffs, like we've seen in the Jazz/Rockets series. So why go from allowing a lot of physical play to allowing none? Why the inconsistency from series to series?


I may sound like a Jazz sympathizer at this point and I wouldn't blame you if you did. I just think they got the short end of the stick so far these 2 games. I really didn't like the fact that the Jazz only had 1 day to prepare for Game 1. You can say that the #1 seed should get the advantages, but to me, home court advantage should be enough and it wasn't like the Jazz went to Game 7. Now that the Lakers have made the best of their advantages, we'll see if the Jazz have what it takes to take back this series.

If you like solid M2M defense, you should check out Chris Lowery's new DVD on Transition Defense and Halfcourt M2M. Coach Lowery is the brains behind the Southern Illinois tenacious defense. Don't forget to check out the X's and O's of Basketball Forum to talk about this and your favorite basketball topics.