On a night when Kobe Bryant received the top individual award in the sport–the Most Valuable Player Award–his team shined, using a balanced effort to knock off the Jazz 120-110 to go ahead 2-0 in their best of seven series.
The newly crowned MVP scored 34 points in addition to pulling down eight rebounds and dishing out six assists. After the game, Kobe said that his team was “excited” to head into Salt Lake City with a two game lead in the series, crediting the rhythm the Lakers established heading into the postseason.
Coach Jackson praised the Lakers’ fast start, using the energy of a gold-clad STAPLES Center crowd, obviously amped up after Bryant received his MVP award prior to tip-off.
“We got off to a great start,” said Jackson. “The energy of the crowd and Kobe’s night gave us a real quick start. I just didn’t think we played well the second quarter, and they kind of carried the ball from there on out the rest of the game. They kept attacking and we were able to manage point for point, but we were never able to gather momentum in the second half.”
“I think it definitely energized us in the beginning and the emotional moment of Kobe getting that trophy was nice, and it was exciting,” said Pau Gasol, who scored 20 points. “It gave us a lot of energy.”
The Lakers coach praised Derek Fisher’s 22 point effort for helping propel the team to a fast start, while keeping Jazz point guard Deron Williams at bay until a late surge.
“Fish was really great,” said Jackson, calling Derek a “fixture” for the team tonight. “First half, you know, he had a magnificent half, did a lot of things defensively that were right on beat.”
Jackson also time took to address the Lakers’ improvement in the rebounding department from Game 1 to Game 2. After being out-rebounded by a 58-41 margin in the series opener, L.A. muscled down tonight and only lost the rebounding battle by four points, 41-37.
“Well we rebounded better tonight, we didn’t get beat by as many boards,” said Jackson. “We got beat by four in the game tonight. Obviously their offensive boards are still a factor, but you know we rebounded, and Lamar had a great game rebounding for us.”