Los Angeles Lakers: Have They Bounced Back or Is Utah Just Terrible?

Andre KhatchaturianCorrespondent IIIDecember 28, 2011

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 27:  Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates after making a basket in the second quarter against the Utah Jazz at Staples Center on December 27, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  The Lakers won 96-71.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

What did we as fans learn from Tuesday's nights Lakers beat down of the Utah Jazz?

Did the Los Angeles Lakers collectively come together, regroup and execute properly finally? Or are the Utah Jazz just so bad that the Lakers were able to trounce them?

The answer to this question is a little bit of both.

It's true that the Utah Jazz aren't the Miami Heat or the Boston Celtics and they certainly aren't the same Utah team that faced the Lakers in three consecutive seasons in the playoffs, but they're also not the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Never forget that the Jazz actually got a fairly reasonable deal when they dealt Deron Williams to New Jersey. The Jazz acquired Derrick Favors and Devin Harris, who are two young players the Jazz plan to build the team around.

They probably won't make the playoffs but at the same they're not going to be absolutely terrible. The Lakers and their fans shouldn't get overly excited, though, because beating the Jazz at home is something the Lakers are supposed to do.

That's what we learned from the Jazz—that they're in rebuilding mode and they're probably not going to win many basketball games with their young team.

That being said, there was a plethora of information we digested from watching the Lakers play today.

First of all, the Lakers defense has been the highlight of the team in the first three games. The credit for this goes to the whole team. Everyone has been chipping in.

Pau Gasol leads the team in blocks with eight. He recorded five last night against Utah. 

Derek Fisher and Kobe Bryant each have five steals. Troy Murphy and Josh McRoberts have exceeded expectations, compiling 46 rebounds between the two.

Even in the games against Chicago and Sacramento, the Lakers defense was something the team could be proud of despite losing. 

The Lakers held a Chicago team with the former MVP, Derrick Rose, and another offensive threat in Carlos Boozer, to just 40 percent from the field. 

In the Sacramento game, the Kings drained nine of their 18 three-point attempts. There were times when the Lakers defenders left people open, but at the end of the day, it's up to the player to make the three. The Lakers defense really can't be blamed if the opposing teams' players have hot hands at home in front of a boisterous crowd.

Overall, the Lakers have kept opponents to 39.4 percent from the field. It may be only three games but it's the largest possible sample from every team because the Lakers have played the most games thus far. If the Lakers can keep that up, they're going to win plenty of games.

Finally, let's not forget that the Lakers are doing all of this without Andrew Bynum. Not only is he going to bring a presence in the paint offensively, the teams rebound and block totals are going to skyrocket once he's in the lineup. 

Plus, it'll put less pressure on Pau Gasol.

All that being said, the Lakers are still without Bynum for one more game and they have a major test coming up this week when they play host to the New York Knicks.

When one talks about high-octane offenses, the Knicks are one of the first few teams that come to mind. We'll find out a lot more about this defense then.

Until then, breathe easy, Laker nation, and cling tight to the old adage that defense wins championships. Right now, it's the one of the few things keeping the Lakers afloat and quite frankly, it's a pretty safe and secure flotation device.