Prior to L.A.’s Wednesday evening tip off in Utah, Lakers guard Jordan Farmar had his three-point stroke rolling in pregame warmups.
Teamed with Adam Morrison, Farmar nailed triple after triple to beat assistant coach Brian Shaw and Sasha Vujacic six consecutive times in a two-on-two shooting drill that takes place before every game.
As it turned out, that stroke carried right into the actual game: Farmar hit 4-of-4 from distance, crucial shots as the rest of the Lakers were only 1-of-9 from three-point range.
“My stroke felt great before the game, but more than anything I’ve been trying to get to the basket,” said Farmar, who scored 18 points off the bench, including some finishes at the rim. “But Sasha hit me with a nice pass at the end of the first quarter, and when that one went in, I knew I was going to continue to feel that stroke.”
Farmar went on to swish three more three-pointers, two off screen and rolls between his teammates, with the final triple – which came from 25 feet with 6:50 left in the fourth quarter – serving as an early dagger, quickly turning Utah’s ‘can we still do this?’ 12-point deficit into a slammed door 15-point mountain.
With Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum out of the game, Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol were massive for the Lakers as well, combining for 47 points, 30 rebounds, five assists, four steals and seven blocks. Paired with Farmar, the three were a modicum of efficiency, making 24-of-35 shots (69 percent). But as Farmar explained, the Lakers got something from everybody else as well in the 96-81 victory.
“Nobody wants Andrew or Kobe to be hurt, but it does give guys more opportunities to go out there and do what they can do,” said Farmar. “Most touches run through Kobe, and after Pau (Gasol), Andrew probably gets the next most opportunities. So the touches had to disperse somewhere, and that’s going to start with Pau, Lamar and Ron (Artest).
“But you saw Sasha making big plays, Shannon (Brown) doing his thing, myself being able to be aggressive. It just helps everyone play more in rhythm, and that’s what we had to do with (Bryant and Bynum) out.”
Even when Bryant and Bynum both likely return after the All-Star break, the Lakers can use a back up point guard who’s made nearly 42 percent of his three-pointers in January and February combined.