What Went Right:
• Kobe gutted his way through a back injury to score 33 points in addition to pulling down eight rebounds and dishing out 10 assists in a near triple double effort.
• Pau Gasol (23 points, 10 rebounds) and Lamar Odom (26 points, 13 rebounds) provided excellent secondary support for Kobe. Odom in particular excelled down the stretch, nailing a clutch three pointer with under a minute to go in regulation and throwing up the game-tying layup to send it into overtime.
• Sasha Vujacic provided a big spark off the bench in the first half, coming through with 11 points to help the Lakers weather the Jazz’ strong first half effort.
• For the first time all series, the Lakers matched the Jazz’ rebounding tenacity, tying Utah in rebounds at 41 and winning the offensive rebounding battle by a 12-7 margin.
• Derek Fisher has proved himself as a pest on defense in this series, snatching away 2 more steals to raise his playoff average to 2.5 a game. The Lakers veteran also scored 15 points—most of which came during a pivotal fourth quarter stretch where the Lakers cut down a 12 point lead in a little over three minutes.
What Went Wrong:
• While Kobe had a statistically superb night—shooting percentage aside—he was clearly hurting from a shoulder injury sustained in the opening minutes of the game, missing 20 of
• The Lakers suffered an early blow to their already thin front line when backup forward/center Ronny Turiaf was thrown out of the game in the first half for a rough foul on Ronnie Price. Although the flagrant-2 certainly looked like it ignited the team, they missed Turiaf’s presence the rest of the night.
• Pretty much every other Laker aside from Kobe disappeared in overtime as the Lakers were outscored 15-7. Coach Jackson said after the game that his teammates “bailed” out on him in the extra period.
• For the second game in a row, Deron Williams thrashed the Lakers with 29 points on 9-13 shooting and a game-high 14 assists.
• Mehmet Okur’s outside shooting has burned the Lakers all series and was a big factor in helping Utah build a double-digit lead in both halves. The Turkish center finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds.
• Bench production was an issue again as L.A.’s reserves—heralded as one of the top benches in the league during the regular season—were invisible for most of the game aside from Vujacic’s strong first half. Overall, Utah’s bench outscored the Lakers’ by 23 points, 39-16.