Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Lakers Set To Face Toughest NBA Road Test

EnergySolutions Arena has long been regarded as one of the toughest venues for visiting teams.

This season, in fact, it was the best home-court advantage in the NBA. The Jazz posted a 37-4 home record.

So just what is it exactly about this arena that makes it so difficult on the visitors?

“I enumerated some of the things a couple of years ago and I was fined $50,000,” said Phil Jackson.

I don’t think anybody wants Phil to have to come out of his pocket again, but there are two very distinct features about EnergySolutions Arena. One is physical and the other emotional.

Let’s start with the physical. The building’s design seats the fans as close to the action as possible.

“They are right on top of you, said Jordan Farmar. “And they are really into the game. So, all of that enthusiasm brings a lot of noise.”

“It kind of reminds you of college days,” said Luke Walton. “They sit right on the court. If you dive for a loose ball, you are diving into their crowd.”

“As a player, you kind of like that, but it does make it more difficult to play there and win. And it definitely helps the home team out a lot.”

And then there’s the emotional aspect of EnergySolutions Arena-- with energy being the keyword.

“The energy that is in the building is special,” said Derek Fisher. “The fans are excited. The players are excited. But I also think at times just the intensity in their building is not matched or equaled anywhere else.”

“I don’t think it’s the altitude or anything else. The Jazz play at an intensity on their home court that is different sometimes than any other place.”

But consider this statistic. Of the four losses the Jazz suffered at home during the regular season, one of them was to the Lakers.

However, that still doesn’t mean EnergySolutions Arena is one of Phil Jackson’s favorite road venues.

Said Jackson, “If they get that bear to stop blowing the exhaust from the motorcycle in front of our bench for the first two minutes of the warm-up, it’s not so bad after they gas us!”

No comments: