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We took a look at the Lakers – Jazz contest in Salt Lake City while it was happening, entering a thought or three each quarter as the Lakers closed out their pre-All-Star-break schedule.
Lakers: Andrew Bynum
Jazz: Kosta Koufos
Lakers: Fisher, Brown, Artest, Odom, and Gasol
Jazz: Deron Williams, Ronnie Brewer, Andrei Kirilenko, Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur
Kobe Bryant Misses 3rd Straight Game, Fisher First to 1,000
When Kobe Bryant missed his first game since Dec. 8, 2006 in Portland on Saturday, he had played in 999 regular season games. Tonight in Utah, Derek Fisher had joined him with 999 games played after starting against the Blazers and Spurs on Monday. Thus, when Fisher started and Bryant stayed in the locker room rehabbing his ankle, Fisher beat Bryant – by a game – to 1,000 for their respective careers. For more, CLICK HERE.
7:39 Yesterday, Lamar Odom went to have an MRI on his sore left foot, but the results were negative and he said he’d play against the Jazz. That begs the question, what sore foot? Odom was everywhere early on, scoring consecutive and-1 buckets – the second a big driving dunk – to get to eight points in the first four minutes and earn a 15-10 lead for the Lakers.
6:19 Getting his second straight start in the absence of Kobe Bryant, Shannon Brown nailed his third shot in four attempts to get to seven points early. This was a nice sign for L.A., since Brown made only 3-of-13 attempts against San Antonio in a Monday start for eight points.
0:00.2 Jordan Farmar capped a terrific 12-0 Lakers run with a buzzer-beating three-pointer as the clock expired, the play a result of Pau Gasol’s third block of the quarter at the other end. The big run also included Odom’s third and-1 play (he finished the quarter with 11 points and six rebounds) and a gorgeous passing play from Odom to Brown on the wing and finally Gasol, who tapped in Brown’s errant alley-oop pass with one hand off glass. Pretty, pretty basketball from the Lakers to earn a 13-point lead after one.
8:38 A lineup composed of Farmar, Brown, Sasha Vujacic, Josh Powell and D.J. Mbenga – usually the second team in practice when L.A. is healthy – ran off a quick 5-0 run to push L.A.’s lead to 16 points at 42-26. First came Farmar’s second three-pointer (eight points), then a pretty play in transition orchestrated by Vujacic, who stole the ball from C.J. Miles then dropped if off behind his back in transition for a one-handed Mbenga dunk.
5:26 The bench continued an impressive stretch with another Mbenga throwdown in transition – again courtesy of Vujacic’s steal – and another Farmar bucket at the rim. L.A.’s backup point guard thus reached 10 points in 10 minutes on 4-of-5 shooting, including two triples, allowing the Lakers to maintain its 16-point lead.
0:41.9 Gasol’s offensive rebound was L.A.’s eighth of the half, and his put-back layup gave him 12 points to go along with 12 rebounds, three assists and three blocks. The Jazz managed to hit two free throws after missing eight of their first 13 to pull two points back, but the Lakers still took a 56-41 lead into the tunnel. Odom finished with 13 points and seven boards in the half, while Farmar’s 10 points and Vujacic’s three steals and four assists were key off the bench.
7:54 Gasol’s line started to look ridiculous again, swelling to 16 points, 15 boards, three blocks and three assists while the Lakers added a point to their halftime lead after four minutes.
5:12 After missing his previous five shots, Brown skied upwards from a standstill position under the rim to throw down a dunk that put the Lakers up 18, matching the largest deficit from which Utah had come back all season. Meanwhile, the loudest the Jazz fans got all game was when Ashton Kutcher (err, Kyle Korver) checked in for the first time.
2:02 On the same day he was selected for Team USA’s pool of players, Odom continued to shine by first converting his fourth and-1 layup, then drawing consecutive fouls while cutting to the hoop, making three of four free throws to reach 19 points and 10 rebounds. Sometimes it’s too easy to forget how good Odom – who usually comes off the bench – can be due to L.A.’s depth of talent. The quarter ended with the Lakers holding a 19-point lead, their final bucket coming on Farmar’s third triple in as many attempts.
9:35 The Lakers, for the first time all game, had a poor two-minute stretch lowlighted by consecutive turnovers on offense. Utah capitalized with back-to-back buckets, but the lead remained at 16, much work to be done for the Jazz.
6:10 Scroll back up to see how many times we’ve mentioned Odom’s name tonight. Can’t help it. He almost literally couldn’t have played better, helping halt Utah’s comeback attempt with a deep jumper, his seventh make in eight attempts from the field. Add his nine free throw makes in 10 attempts, and Odom had 23 points to go with 11 rebounds and two blocks. Also key in that stretch was Farmar’s fourth three-pointer in as many attempts (the rest of the Lakers were just 1-of-9 from three).
3:20 Among a flurry of daggers was Fisher’s driving finger roll, pushing the lead back to 18 as the Salt Lake City crowd began its departure from EnergySolutions Arena. The final score wound up at 96-81 in L.A.’s third straight victory without Kobe Bryant. Odom was dominant with 25 points (a season high) and 11 boards, while Gasol added an equally impressive 22 and 19, plus five blocks and four assists.
Up next, the All-Star break, but until then, your numbers:
100 L.A.’s winning percentage without Kobe Bryant after tough wins at Portland, vs. San Antonio and at Utah. Portland and Utah are arguably the two toughest places for the Lakers to get road wins, yet win they did in convincing fashion.
81 Total points for the Jazz, the fewest L.A. has ever allowed to the franchise.
30 Combined rebounds for Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom. The Lakers as a team were +6 on the glass.
14 Point margin in L.A.’s dominant Game 4 win here in EnergySolutions Arena last spring in Round 1 of the playoffs. The primary difference between that win and tonight’s 15-point win was, of course, that Kobe Bryant had 38 points last year.
12 Free throws missed by the Jazz in the first three quarters alone. They finished by making just 13-of-25.
5 Straight turnovers for the Lakers to start the fourth quarter, allowing the Jazz to cut a 19-point lead down to 14.