The Lakers trailed for much of the game, but rallied to within four of the Jazz at before a critical turnover gave Utah their first win of the series 104-99 and the Lakers, their first loss of the 2007-08 post-season. Carlos Boozer led the way for the Jazz with 27 points an a playoff career high-tying 20 rebounds as his team won for the fortieth time in 45 tries this year at Energy Solutions Arena.
“(Kobe) fumbled the ball that’s what’s wrong,” said Coach Jackson about the team’s critical turnover in the waning moments of the fourth quarter. “I don’t know if he was trying to get it out of his hands too soon or what happened but it looked like he had it, and he just didn’t wrap it up.”
“We turned the ball over quite a bit,” said Bryant after the game, drawing parallels to his final mishap and the team’s sloppy play throughout the night. “Down the stretch in a critical situation we put them on the line four or five straight possessions and gave them easy opportunities. We clawed back, but with that said we can’t turn the ball over 18 times. We had a lot of open looks that just didn’t go for us. You can sustain a night like that, when shots don’t fall. We’ve really got to keep our turnovers down and not allow them to get out in transition and get some easy points.”
Jackson attributed his team’s slow start for giving the Jazz the kind of momentum they needed to close the series gap to two games to one.
“Well they got after us today early in that first quarter after Fish [Derek Fisher] got his second foul and we had to make an adjustment out there,” said Jackson. “I think they went on a 15-3 run and kind of maintained the energy that first half. I thought we came back, had our shot at the end of the game; we had a play on a tip that didn’t work, you know we didn’t execute very well, and lost our opportunity as they scored two in a row.
Despite the tough loss, Jackson praised his team for fighting their way back into the game in the fourth quarter despite playing in front of one of the most opposing arenas in the league.
“But you know I told the guys they made a good comeback,” said Jackson. “They came back to win that ballgame, they just couldn’t get the right plays at the right time.”
Kobe kept the Lakers in the game with another MVP-worthy performance with 34 points, six rebounds and seven assists, but was unable to come through when the Lakers needed it most, down four at 103-99 with under two minutes to go. The Lakers second and third options on offense–Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom–both had quiet nights, only managing to score 12 and 13 points respectively.
“This is a game in which Pau was looking at the referees every time he got stripped there in the first half and they were just attacking him every time he put the ball on the floor.”
The game marked the first time this post-season that the team failed to score 100 points. Overall, the Lakers have not won a playoff game in Salt Lake City since May 15, 1988.