Sunday, April 19, 2009

Utah Game 1 thoughts

You can never argue too much with a win where nobody gets hurt, but since we're working toward a championship here I'll mostly be looking at areas for improvement.

* Way too many turnovers in the first quarter, this thing could have been over really early but for some really sloppy play.

* As I noted as a concern in the preview, Fisher picked up two early fouls. Credit to Brown for an excellent game (9 points on 3/4 shooting and a team-best +20 in 22 minutes) but Fish falling into early foul trouble will come back to bite us, especially on the road.

* Utah got into the penalty with 7:45 to go in the 2nd. Again, we managed to survive it today but that is something that can cost us a game.

* Even with the first quarter turnover woes, shooting 66% (!) in the first half makes for pretty damned good overall offensive production.

* After the first half offensive explosion that gave us a 22 point halftime lead, you can't like the flat play to start the third quarter. Half of that big lead disappeared quickly, and while we were able to keep them at arm's length the rest of the way we also never really put the game away, and it was because of that stretch of poor execution and effort.

* Bynum played in foul trouble in foul trouble throughout, picking up his 4th early in the third and his 5th early in the 4th, limiting him to only 20 minutes and greatly limiting his aggressiveness and effectiveness. Obviously he is still working back from the knee and a little out of sync, but he has to play smarter.

* The fast break points (19-10 LA) do not reflect it, but the transition defense was really poor in the second half. Too many easy baskets off of secondary breaks and transition screen rolls.

* Very, very poor defensive rebounding in this game. Utah rebounded 20 of their 51 misses (39%), which is just way too high. That's just effort and technique. Millsap's 7 offensive rebounds helped them catch up and keep the game close, over and over.

* Pau also fell into foul trouble late, picking up his 5th with 4:15 left and fouling out 43 seconds later. Had the game been a little closer, that could have been a difference-maker. Combine the foul trouble and the rebounding, and the theme there is that our bigs need to match the intensity of Utah's undersized frontline.

* A 35-32 free throw advantage for Utah, on our floor. Between that and the offensive boards, they shot 87 field goals and 35 free throws to our 72/32. And had three fewer turnovers. That's a lot of extra chances to score, and we can't continue to count on them just missing those shots.

* Our length indeed bothered their shooting, a 9-0 edge in blocked shots and a number of alters as well. Need to take better advantage of that on the offensive end going forward, that is a huge advantage to exploit.

* Rumors of Carlos Boozer's death were greatly exaggerated; 27 and 9 on 11/16 shooting.

* Trevor (21 on 8/10 shooting including 3/4 threes, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, a couple of spectacular dunks, generally causing chaos) was the best player on the floor for LA. I'm not sure if it was his best game of the year, but it was certainly his most important big game.

So, in summary, a win is a win but there is a lot to work on between now and Tuesday. The season-long tendency to give away big leads has to stop. I don't know Okur's status going forward, but this team showed that they are troublesome no matter who suits up, effort and execution cannot let up.

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