A good point was made today by Jazz play-by-play announcer David Locke, who noted Kobe Bryant has played the equivalent of nearly one regular season against the Jazz.
Including the playoffs, the 10-time All-NBA first-teamer has played 78 careers games against the Jazz. No. 79 tips off tonight at 7 p.m. at EnergySolutions Arena.
"I've had some epic duels against them," the Lakers guard said following Wednesday's shoot around. "When I first came in the league [in 1996] they were getting the better of us pretty much every single time every year. Then things started turning around for us and started being a little more pleasant seeing them."
In 54 regular season games, Bryant has averaged 26 points, 4.2 assists and 4.6 rebounds against the Jazz.
"That's a lot of basketball," Bryant said. "Obviously, I'm pretty familiar with this arena. ... The fans, the city, I've been here many, many times."
Bryant, in his 17th year in the NBA, is 45-33 all-time against the Jazz, and had nice things to say about the franchise's current iteration.
"They have a lot of skill," he said "They have a lot of talent and potential at those [wing] positions. I like [Gordon] Hayward a lot, I'm a big fan of his. And Mo [Williams] and Marvin [Williams] and those guys, I think they're doing a fine job."
Bryant wasn't the only Laker singing the praises of the 1-3 Jazz. Coach Mike Brown said no matter who is playing for the Jazz or who is coaching the team, "they play hard and they play physical."
Dwight Howard, asked about the Jazz's young big men was also complimentary.
On Enes Kanter: "I had a chance to see Kanter in the preseason. I liked him a lot. He's a tough guy, he's very physical, he plays hard and that's all you can ask from a tough player. Once you come in the league and you play hard you'll have a long career."
On Derrick Favors: "I also like Favors, he's another guy from Atlanta. So just to see him get some playing time put in some work, I think is good for him and his confidence. ... He's a little bit younger than I am, I've been watching from afar, I'm happy to see his progress and I'm happy for him."
No Nash • Steve Nash is not with the Lakers as he continues to rehab a left leg injury. Veteran Steve Blake will start in his place.
"Steve Blake is a really good player," Randy Foye said. "He pushes the tempo, he can shoot the 3-ball really well. In this league, when someone goes down it's just an opportunity for someone else. He's proven throughout the years that he's a great point guard."