Traditionally, "Friday" and "13" combine to represent the ultimate symbol of bad luck. Any 13th of the month falling on a Friday carries the potential for terrible events, particularly if you're hanging out at Camp Crystal Lake. This Friday/13 connection, however, has nothing to do with the calender year, today being April 2nd and all. But there's still plenty of bad luck in play.
On this particular day, "13" represents the number of consecutive games -regular season or playoffs- the Jazz have dropped to the Lakers at Staples Center. The last time Utah won in L.A.'s house was on January 1, 2006, a game Kobe Bryant watched on TV after being suspended for an admittedly deliberate elbow to then-Grizzlie Mike Miller's grill. The Lake Show summarily trotted out a starting five of Brian Cook, Chris Mihm, Lamar Odom, Smush Parker, and Luke Walton and still managed to keep the loss within four points.
For that matter, the Jazz haven't enjoyed much success this decade in visiting arenas, period. Check out their road records over the last several seasons, all boasting a postseason:
The last time Utah sported a winning road record was a 25-16 clip during 2001 season, meaning their currently pedestrian 19-18 would qualify as "kicking ass and taking names."
What does this all mean?
Well, the Laker Nation and even the players have been on edge since the recent 2-3 roadie put an ugly bow on an unimpressive March. Save the San Antonio game's second half, the Lakers were never dominant. More often than not they were flat out bad. But were one inclined to play devil's advocate, explanations could be attempted.
Three of the teams (Spurs, Thunder, Hawks) are playoff-bound and all five are above .500 at home. Chris Paul is back for the Hornets which always makes them considerably more difficult. Andrew Bynum's absence is still an adjustment in progress. You could even speculate Kobe's increasingly demonstrative frustration had teammates nervous he might opt out of his contract, then L.A. altogether.
But these excuses all ring more hollow for tonight's game against Utah. Yes, they're playing well of late, but the overall track record at Staples stinks and Kirilenko is out. Thus, no crying about Bynum, whose unideal matchup with the perimeter-oriented Okur often makes him a non-factor, anyway. News of Kobe's extension doesn't just provide a sigh of relief for players, the front office and fans alike. It should create an electric atmosphere inside a building where the Lakers have only lost five times all season. The Lakers are determined to make a definitive statement, and this seems as reasonable a setting as any for heels to get dug in.
Thus, if the Jazz manage to snap a drought, "13" is no longer a symbol of unluckiness for the Jazz, but perhaps instead a sign of the Lakers' status quo. Maybe they're just not all that great to begin with, a fear already creeping through the back of every fans' head.