The Lakers played exceptional ball for three quarters on their way to building a 34 point lead before beating the Jazz 123-109. The Lakers shot 54% from the field for the game and 58% from three point land. Kobe scored 31 points to lead the way for the Lakers along with five other L.A. players who scored in double figures. After the game, Coach Jackson attributed the Lakers’ success to their superior preparation, noting that his team came out with a certain edge after being manhandled by Utah in their last meeting.
Looking ahead to Sunday’s much-anticipated matchup with the Boston Celtics, Jackson said that the team’s historic rival would provide a great challenge for the Lakers, praising Boston’s exceptional defense, athleticism and solid bench play as reasons for their early success. Jackson also said that the addition of Kevin Garnett has made it much easier to cover up the Celtics’ deficiencies.
Jackson tied legendary Boston Coach Red Auerbach’s record for most wins tonight and will have a chance to surpass Auerbach this Sunday. While Jackson said that there was a certain sense of irony in the timing, his 500th win with mentor and coach Bill Fitch on the other side of the floor was more important to him.