Kobe can't believe he shot 5-24 in game three. Sasha just made a fart joke.
After two games, the Lakers held a 2-0 lead over the Utah Jazz, surrendering large leads before finally putting away the less talented team. At the end of game one, Phil Jackson was furious with the effort that his team put fourth. Mind you, the Lakers led by 20 points in the first half and won by 10 in game one. Jackson was quick to point out that you're not going to win another 15 games that way (the amount of wins the Lakers need to raise banner number 15). As usual, Phil was right.
The Lakers led the Jazz by 13 points in the third quarter of game three in Utah before allowing the eighth seed to creep all the way back and steal one at home. With a horrendous 5-24 shooting from Kobe, the Lakers didn't help themselves shooting a paltry 62% from the free throw line. My boy the Hypeman pointed out the silver lining that even with Kobe somehow turning into Stephon Marbury over night, the Lakers managed to only lose by two.
There is no silver lining. Disinterest is a symptom of laziness. The Lakers played two disinterested games after amassing large leads in game one and two and it came back to bite them in game three. If the Lakers were interested in actually putting away the Jazz, they would be running the same pick and roll with Kobe and Pau that tied the game with 11 seconds left when they had to have a bucket, more than once.
Last year, the Jazz also won game three before the Lakers took the next two to win the series 4-1. So, I'm not freaking out over one game. But it's very telling for a team that preaches focus, dedication, never underestimating your opponent and a renewed effort on the defensive end to allow a less talented team playing in a must win game to come back from 13 points and win game three after you almost let that Jazz pull the same trick in game two.
The Lakers will win this series. They're too talented for the Jazz and with a determined Kobe killing himself for that fourth ring, I'm keeping the faith.
But why must the Lakers make that road so much more difficult? Is it laziness, or are they just bored?
Friday, April 24, 2009
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Monday, April 20, 2009
One down, fifteen to go. The Lakers crushed the Jazz in their first round game 1 victory. A mediocre second half made the game interesting, but the end result was hardly in doubt. Kobe made some incredible shots including that drive directly down the throat of the Utah defense capping it off with a dunk and one. But Kobe was not the story of the game.
Trevor Ariza finished with a playoff career high 21 points on 8-10 shooting. The Jazz could not find an answer for him the entire game. During last year’s playoffs, Ariza was activated during the western conference finals, but never had a chance to contribute in such a limited role. This year Ariza paced the Lakers during an explosive second half in game one with a much improved shot and a sniper like 3-4 from three point land. But Ariza was not the story of the game.
Pau Gasol is one of the top three power forwards in the NBA. Scary thought, but an ever more frightening reality for the Jazz. Paul Milsap, Utah’s lunch pail guy down low, couldn’t handle Gasol on the block, in the paint or if he was sitting in a chair. Gasol’s footwork is the gold standard for any big man in the NBA and no one can question his toughness anymore. When the Lakers need a bucket, just dump it into that furry looking dude in the paint and watch him operate. But Gasol was not the story of the game.
Shannon Brown was the story of the game. Derek Fisher picked up two quick fouls and as Jordan Farmar has a better chance of growing a third eye than stopping Williams, Phil Jackson summoned Shannon Brown to the floor. The first reserve off the bench wasn’t a Laker for the better part of this season. Brown finished with 9 points hitting 3-3 on three’s.
Shannon Brown is the plug for the leaky hole that is the Laker point guard situation. Derek Fisher simply can’t bring it every night and Jordan Farmar’s star is dropping faster than Octomom. A mid-season trade masquerading as a salary dump now appears to be another coup for the rock steady Mitch Kupchak. Brown is the point guard the triangle demands. Brown’s willingness to commit to defense is earning him more and more minutes and that shot isn't too shabby either. With guards like Williams, Chris Paul and Tony Parker in the West, and a potential showdown with Mo Williams looming, Brown provides Phil with a point guard who thinks defense first. The points are just icing on the cake.
Along with Ariza, Phil now has two defenders that can guard the players usually only reserved for Kobe. This keeps Kobe’s minutes down and as a result, fresh in the fourth quarter. Having Brown and a healthy Ariza during last year’s finals would look something like this: Kobe on Rondo, Ariza on Pierce and Brown on Allen. In other words, this play would be erased from existence and the world would surely be a better place.
It’s just one game in the long second season called the NBA playoffs. How much meaning can one game have? It was also just one mid-season trade sending a proven shooter to the Bobcats for a draft day bust and that other guy.
That other guy may have just changed everything for these Lakers.