Originally I posted the following as 4 different blogs, one at the end of each quarter of the game, each containing my thoughts as the game was happening. After all 4 were posted, a reader suggested in combine them and that’s what THIS blog is… all 4 quarter plus post game thoughts.
— FIRST QUARTER —
Q1: (In game blog)
The Lakers looked dazed by the hostile Utah crowd to start the game. Lakers came up empty their first 6 possessions with either missed shots or turnovers.
The Jazz out rebounded the bigger Lakers 21 to 9 in the quarter. Boozer had 11 rebounds, Bynum 1. The Jazz are showing the Lakers what it looks like to play with heart with Olympians Derron Williams and Carlos Boozer leading the way.
For the Lakers, Bynum had 2 dumb early fouls. The first started when Bynum went over the back of AK47, then tangled with him and threw him to the floor. The 2nd foul, at 7:39, Bynum held his right arm straight up but lowered his left and smacked Collins on the chest… in other words that arm was pretty low, yet Bynum whined about the call claiming he was stationary with both arms up. By the way, Bynum wasn’t stationary either; he hopped and spun 90 degrees counter clockwise as he committed the foul.
There are some that say the Lakers can’t win a championship without Bynum. There are also some that say Bynum has yet to show up. Fine, Drew, you aren’t 100 percent, but please stop crying and work your way back. Carlos Boozer missed 44 games with his knee injury and stunk for awhile too when he first returned, but stink or swim, he’s played with heart.
The Lakers best play this quarter came with the score tied at 7 and 7:07 on the clock… excellent and unselfish ball movement and body movement leading to an Odom 3 and a Bryant assist. Why not do that more often guys?
It occurs to me that the reason THIS play stands out is the ball movement is pretty stagnate.
Interview with Rondo… he’s fine, they just carried him off the court because the bottoms of his feet hurt.
The crowd chants, “Lakers suck,” and they are right… so far at least.
Defense and hustle aren’t switches you switch on when you need them, they are habits and the Lakers are getting schooled by the Jazz on how to play with heart.
Can the Jazz keep this up all game though?
Commercials… can’t wait to see X-Men Orgins Wolverine.
Oops! Focus, Tom.
— HALF TIME —
First Half: (in game blog)
Kobe 1 for 10, 2 assists, 4 rebounds. Might be a good idea to set others up and give the jump shots a break.
Shannon Brown is 0 of 3, but has the highest efficiency rating of any Laker, so perhaps he’s still contributing.
The smaller Jazz out rebounded the Lakers 40 to 25. Boozer 16 rebounds, Brewer 10.
Pau has 2 fouls. Lakers bigs aren’t yet much of an advantage for the Lakers.
Ariza stinking shooting 0 of 3 and has 2 of the Lakers 5 turnovers.
Odom is 6 of 8, 13 points, 9 rebounds, 1 block and is playing like he knows he is needed.
Vujacic is only 1 of 4, but is hustling and has 4 rebounds and 2 steals.
The Lakers had 4 assists on 14 field goals. The Jazz had 13 assists on 17 field goals. It appears the Lakers were not moving the ball as well as the Jazz.
Reminds me of the comment I made in the first quarter: the Lakers are stagnate.
InsideTrax clip at 7:12:
Phil Jackson tells the Lakers to “use the ball to move the guys.” In other words, pass and make holes in the Jazz defense.
Wow, I feel so smart now. 🙂
As the half progressed, the Lakers looked like they finally get it: they are going to have to hustle to win this game. The Lakers allowed 26 points the first quarter, and just 17 the second. Excellent defensive adjustment.
Can the Lakers avoid their defensive A.D.D. all game though?
— END OF THE 3RD QUARTER —
Ah, defense. Basketball is so much better when you play both ends of the court. The Lakers’ defense didn’t let up from their 2nd quarter effort, turning over the Jazz.
The Lakers defense held the Jazz to 17 points for the second straight quarter and the Lakers now have a comfortable lead. Coincidence? No way.
The Lakers led by as much as 13 this quarter.
Can the Lakers keep it up the rest of the game though?
Carlos Boozer has 17 points, 20 rebounds, and you wouldn’t believe it but most Utah fans hate the guy and want him out.
Kobe starts off hitting a 3 then a 2, then went cold again going 3 of 8 for the quarter. Taking 8 shots in a quarter when you are struggling is too many shots, but he did get 6 rebounds and 4 assists.
Bynum never came to play. What a waste.
Bynum came out playing like he’s finally picked up his wake up call, then picked up his 3rd foul and went to the bench. Yes, Millsap flopped and the Jazz enjoyed home cooking this call, but had Bynum not got 2 dumb fouls early, he’d be playing now. It’s not the ref’s fault he has 3 fouls, it’s the ref’s fault he has 1 foul and his own fault he got 2. Do you think he’ll be mature enough to see it that way? Me neither.
Bynum was a no show in this game, having contributed next to nothing. Camera shots of Bynum on the bench show him complaining.
Victim mentality. Victims, by definition do not feel in control of their own lives, thus they cannot summon the power to change the circumstances around them.
The Lakers have the lead, but again, can they keep up the defensive effort or is their lack of killer instinct and their part time commitment to defense going to bite them on the backside?
And when are they going to box out?
With 1:24 left in the 3rd, Craig Sager gave some interesting information on Ron Brewer, who guarded Michael Jordan in his day, and Ronnie Brewer, his son who is currently on the Jazz guarding Kobe Bryant. The elder Brewer stated he felt Jordan was the better player because Jordan was intense from tip off to the final buzzer, where Kobe, by his own admission, can coast for awhile during games.
— GAME OVER —
(This is part 4 of an in game blog)
When do you “know” something? When you become aware of it? Or when your behavior reflects it?
Supposedly the Lakers learned their lesson about the importance of defense and rebounds in the 2008 NBA Finals. At least that is what they kept telling everyone when the season started. Sorry guys, but you definitely do not walk the talk.
Maybe the Utah Jazz should bring their white jerseys with them when they go on the road, they are SO DIFFERENT at home than they are on the road.
Wiith 16.9 left Carlos Boozer started with what looked like it was going to be a back down of Gasol with power dribbles, suddenly he blew by the snoozing Gasol and dunked the ball with a primal scream.
You know the guy was tired, but that was heart and that was smart.
If the Lakers ever thought about not renewing Lamar Odom’s contract next year, they ought to reconsider.
11.7 seconds left…
Score tied at 86.
One person touched the ball, dribbled into the heart of the Lakers “defense” and took the lead with 2.2 left in the game. As Derron Williams blew by 3 Lakers defenders, the crowd should have yelled, “Ole!”
So, Lakers, you learned your lesson last year did you?
The Lakers gave up 28 points in the 4th quarter, the worst defensive quarter of the game. They couldn’t defend for 48 minutes. We shouldn’t be surprsied though, seeing as the Lakers didn’t do it all season long either.
The Lakers were out rebounded by a shorter team that was missing their starting center… 50 to 66.
Kobe stunk shooting (5 of 24), but he contributed in other ways.
Bynum contributed nothing but tears this game and Coach Jackson, seeing what a worthless contributor he was, didn’t even bother putting Bynum back in the game the whole 4th quarter.
Had Kobe Bryant made that last long 3 pointer and won this game, I doubt the Lakers would have learned their lesson about the consequences of not boarding and defending.
The Lakers may actually win by losing, because now they’ve finally felt the consequences of ignoring the importance of rebounds and defense. Up until now, the Lakers have been sheltered from the consequences of not rebounding and defending by their astounding offensive talent. Having dropped a game to the 8th seed, maybe now they realize defense really does win championships, and rebounding doesn’t hurt your chances either.
The Lakers cannot keep playing their opponents instead of the game. The Lakers got up and got coasting, thinking they’ve got it made, and in so doing they gave up the most points ever in a quarter that game.
The Phoenix Suns rose then set, all the while playing in denial of the importance of defense, will the Lakers peak and fade with the same problem?
— THE MORNING AFTER (An EDIT containing post game comments) —
It’s been asked why the Lakers went to that particular play as the last shot, with Kobe shooting the long when the Lakers only needed 2 and Kobe had a horrible shooting night.
I don’t know, but here was the game situation:
(1) 2.2 seconds left. Basically whomever catches the inbound pass will also be the shooter.
(2) The Lakers had no time outs left (the Lakers used their last time out after William’s made shot to advance the ball to half court), so whatever play the Lakers called, they had to make sure they could get it in bounds ’cause they couldn’t call another time out… hence the pass to the top of the arc.
(3) It was HIGHLY unlikely that the Lakers would get a foul call in Utah in that situation, so the shooter shouldn’t be in traffic where he’d shoot with contact. Plus, if anyone WOULD get a foul call in those circumstances, it would probably be the reigning NBA MVP, so Kobe on the last shot a good call for Phil.
(4) Kobe has pulled rabbits out of hats before to end games, just ask the Suns.
Now, that said…
(1) From where the ball was inbounded, it would have been possible to get off a mid range shot from the short corner or elbow.
(2) Gasol has a nice outside touch and was shooting better than Kobe. Think specifically about the jump shot he made over Boozer with 7:09 left in the 3rd quarter on this same side of the floor.
(3) The Jazz would not have expected this play to be called for Pau instead of Kobe, so Pau would have had the element of surprise.
(4) Pau is quite a bit taller than his defender and could have caught a high lobbed inbounds pass without too much trouble.
(5) Pau’s height would have allowed him to shoot over Collins for an outside shot even if covered fairly well.
(6) Pau was the MAN for Spain, he can handle the pressure and the hero role.
I like the idea of using Pau as plan A for the tie, and Kobe as plan B if they can’t get it in to Pau.
Maybe Phil wanted to give Kobe, who had not played well, a shot at redemption. Phil has given that as a reason before in years past for giving certain players the first option on game winning plays. He says it gives them their confidence back if it goes well, if not, well, they’d been having a bad game anyway.
I definitely do think it was a good thing that Kobe missed that final shot. When you are shield from the consequences of your behavior, it is harder for most of us to change.
When I was in high school, I had a best friend who was a kleptomaniac. He loved to steal, and he would do it all the time to show off. We’d walk out of a store and he’d pull something out from under his jacket and laugh at our amazement, ’cause he’d do it right under our noses without us knowing.
He got so cocky that he started taking dares, then he started taking orders… “Guys, is there anything you want me to get you today?”
Then one day he got caught taking a pack of gum in a grocery store.
The staff held him and called the police and they literally arrested him over a pack of gum.
He was so rattled when he thought of all he’d gotten away with and what if he’d have been caught those times.
They let him go without charges, but not without force feeding him a huge piece of humble pie.
My friend never stole again, and to this day he still looks back at that moment as something that turned him around.
Offensively, the Lakers are just so darn good that they’ve been able to shield themselves from the consequences of their defensive lapses. Not totally however, they should have had 70+ wins and home court in the Finals, but they feel they did well enough.
But the Lakers just dropped a game to an EIGHTH seed with an injured, former all star starter.
That SHOULD hurt.
That should cause them to resolve, “NEVER AGAIN. From here on out, we are taking care of business on both ends.”
Last year’s Celtics were on a mission to the championship, and it showed defensively.
This year’s Lakers are on a stroll to the championship, and it showed defensively.
Perhaps this loss will snap the Lakers out of their denial.