The Lakers survive a quarter where they were outscored 35-22 and take home a 108-105 victory, eliminating Utah and advancing to the Western Conference finals where they will meet either the Hornets or Spurs.
One of the reasons you don’t see any shirts, balls, etc being tossed into the crowd at STAPLES is that sometimes those things have a way of finding their way back onto the floor. A squishy ball just did that, almost tagging Ronny Turiaf as he stood near the lane waiting for the huddle to form. If there were a baseball team closer than Denver (minor leagues not withstanding) maybe they’d have a chance of getting it near someone, because I can’t imagine the first guy drawing the ire of Jazz fans is #21. I don’t think he would even be Ronnie Price’s first choice.
Boozer is out of the game after he goes over Pau’s back trying to get an offensive board. Just in the nick of time too as Boozer was getting real aggressive on the offensive end. Kobe follows that up with an extremely awkward heave after Harpring foul for a three point play. Tack on Kobe’s in your face trey on the last possession and you can put #24 into the “he’s feeling it” area of his game.
The Jazz will be shooting foul shots for the final 5:17 on every foul.
Phil Jackson calls a timeout after the Jazz cut the lead to single digits (91-82) for the first time sine four minutes left in the first quarter. The crowd is back into it, but not at the ear deafening levels of Game 4′s overtime (…yet). Phil sends out the lineup that made the huge comeback in that game–Fisher, Vujacic, Bryant, Odom, & Gasol–to finish out the final 6:22.
The crowd is revived as Milsap’s free throws cut the lead to 11, but Pau quickly comes back with a bucket.
A team still holding a 13-point lead should not be heading into a huddle screaming at each other. Lamar is all over Luke, Ronny chastising Sasha for poor rotation, and Jordan Farmar trying to stay out of everyone’s way after being the whipping boy throughout the playoff run. Four unanswered points by the Jazz is nothing to lose your head over, weather the lead is three or thirteen. Pau and Kobe return, Fish will get a couple more minutes before brining it home.
Boozer picks up his fifth foul as Ronny drives to the hoop just a minute into the quarter. Look for the Lakers to take it right back at him the rest of the way.
The Lakers were held to just 24 points in the third quarter, but Utah was only a +3, giving the Lakers a 16 point lead heading into the final period of play. 86-70.
Pau woke up offensively in that quarter, leading the LA charge with nine points.
Kobe continues to pack the lane, leaving Brewer completely open from the outside.
A Jazz fan in my section just screamed “Where Fixed Games Happen”, a take on the NBA’s “Where Amazing Happens” marketing campaign. He must be questioning the validity of the foul calls because as sheer numbers go, the Lakers have had two more attempts from the charity stripe than Utah has.
The Jazz started out the quarter quick and cut the Laker lead to 11, but with 6:10 left Lamar Odom puts the lead back to the original 19-points with a freebie from the line.
The vaunted Utah crowd has been pretty quiet most of the game as the Jazz were been behind by double digits for the final 16 minutes of the half.
As the graphic to the right illustrates, just nine of the Lakers 21 buckets in the first half were from more than a foot away. That means 12 were either layups or dunks (trust me, there are 12 little dots there stacked up on top of each other right around the rim).
Pau Gasol was largely ineffective on the offensive end, but after being invisible on the boards in Game 5, Pau has ripped down 11 rebounds in the first half. Kobe is being Kobe and Sasha is on fire.
Lamar missed Kobe for the easy alley-oop as he strolled down the lane unchecked, but made up for it as he found him a couple seconds later… still unchecked. Get a body on that guy.
Double screen pick and roll from the three-point line works to perfection for Kobe and Pau out of the timeout. That’s one of those “just how they drew it up” kind of plays.
Kobe and Fish return at the eight minute mark, a couple of minutes ahead of their normal schedule, but they also got some extra rest in the first. The second unit returns almost an identical lead to the starters.
The Machine is oiled up and doing it all tonight. We’ve seen a triple from the hip, a mid-range from the corner, and an authoritative drive to the rack to start the game for him. He’s also been doing a good job of running through screens to hang with Korver despite an injured big toe that has hampered Sasha since Game 2.
Good matchups for the Lakers to start the quarter – Sasha/Korver, Ronny/Milsap, Pau/Okur, Luke/Harpring, and Jordan/Price.
33-20 in favor of the Lakers at the end of the quarter. The first two games of this series had the Lakers turning in one big quarter and hanging on from then on. They just got that quarter.
Taking a look at the numbers shows the Lakers shooting 50% to just 30% for the Jazz and leading just about every other category. Only one turnover so far is nice, but the number of the quarter is 11, as in fast break points for the visitors.
Sasha getting booed as he enters the game. Mission accomplished. Salt Lake City is just another victim on the rap sheet.
Sometimes you dont even have to look at the score to know how the games going, you can just look at the Lakers bench and it’ll tell the story. Tonight’s story is about as good as they come because Jordan is popping off the bench to high five guys as we head to a timeout and Ronny even got a little dance on early after a Lamar dunk. If you do want to look at the score board it reads 28-14 LA with 2:04 left in the quarter. A score like that treated us to our first ever (in this series at least) 30-second stretch of the crowd being out of it. Didn’t even know that was possible.
I’ve gotten a lot of sarcastic “So how was Utah?” remarks since our first trip out here and my response has generally been “Not bad actually”. Everytime they play Ace of Base’s “I Saw the Sign” I want to retract that statement. Just got my fifth dose in three games (and I’m sure there’s a sixth coming in the third quarter if the ops crew holds to form) and I want some of those ear plugs certain guys on the bench are wearing.
Almost nothing makes me happier than watching Vladi rain down threes from the corner, but there’s also a special place in my heart for when he finishes in the paint. It never looks right, it usually doesn’t feel right, but it’s always satisfying and they still count for two so why not.
Even though Andrei Kirilenko has had a fair amount of success guarding Kobe Bryant (more than he has had with his Visa of late), the Jazz start with Ronnie Brewer on the MVP. Bryant is also guarding Brewer on the other end and is giving him plenty of room space on the outside. Makes sense since the kid only shot 22% from deep this season.
Those of you on the ESPN side of things missed the Lakers hot start due to an extended last 25 seconds of the Cavs game, but the Lakers came out aggressive with a Vladi three, Kobe run out, and Fish jumper to take a 7-0 lead before Okur got the Jazz on the board. LA has already created a couple turnovers as well, but picked up two quick team fouls in the first two minutes, including one to Derek Fisher, who couldn’t stay in the ball game the last two games the Lakers played here.
Phil Jackson commented on the pre-game pyrotechnics in today’s pregame address after commissioner David Stern talked about it. The crowd here is legit and loud, that’s fine, but the level at which they blare the PA system is ridiculous. Especially considering the age of the building and the lack of a quality sound system. Most of the stuff sounds blown out.
The team seemed loose in the locker room before the game, talking casually and with an air of confidence.
The Cavs are about to finish off the Celtics and force a Game 7 on Sunday. Yet again the home team wins in the second round and Boston has yet to win a game on the road in the playoffs.