The Lakers are long.
That could win “Obvious Statement of the Playoffs” honors, sure … especially if you ask the Utah Jazz.
In L.A.’s 111-103 Game 2 victory over the Jazz in Tuesday afternoon’s Western Conference Semi’s, Laker bigs Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom totaled 50 points on 18-of-24 shooting (75 percent), 44 rebounds and nine blocks.
When the final buzzer sounded, all three had double-doubles while playing over the top of Utah, led by Gasol’s 22 points and 15 rebounds, Bynum’s 17 and 14 and Odom’s 11 and 15.
“We had some great play tonight from our big guys,” said Lakers coach Phil Jackson. “All of them played pretty well.”
“That’s their size,” added Jazz coach Jerry Sloan. “We knew that coming in. Their rebounding tonight was just something we could not handle.”
Perhaps no play better symbolized L.A.’s big advantage more than a sequence with just under four minutes to go in the game: first, a free throw miss from Derek Fisher, which Gasol easily corralled off the rim over Carlos Boozer; then Ron Artest missed a three, but Odom was there on the weak side for the board; finally, Artest added the third offensive window clean of the possession by tipping in his missed layup to put the Lakers up 103-94, one point off the final margin of 111-103.
“I think the talent and the will is there, as far as us three (big men),” said Odom. “We keep going after it, and when you see us crash the boards like that, most likely we’ll win the ball game.”
The score might have showed a much larger margin had Utah not responded to Sloan’s pregame quip that the Jazz repeatedly hit their heads against a wall to practice their toughness. Indeed, Utah never gave up despite the Lakers consistently being up double digits, instead repeatedly driving back and cutting L.A.’s lead to as few as four midway through the final quarter.
“They were very aggressive attacking the ball tonight,” said Jackson, describing a Jazz team that caused 20 Lakers turnovers. “I think they stayed aggressive for most of the game.”
In addition to L.A.’s big night from the bigs, Kobe Bryant was again moving around very well throughout, hitting the 30-point margin for the third straight playoff game in getting nine of his 30 in the fourth quarter, plus a team-high eight assists (seven coming in the first half), five rebounds and three blocks.
“I thought he was quick tonight,” said Jackson. “He did a real good job in the first half making plays for other guys. In the second half I thought he (picked up) his scoring.”
The Lakers held Utah to just 39.6 percent shooting from the field, due in no small part to L.A.’s 13 total blocks, six of which came in the fourth quarter. The 20 L.A. turnovers produced 28 Jazz points, to just nine Lakers points off 10 Utah turnovers, and Utah managed to make 8 three-pointers in 19 attempts while L.A. made just 4-of-17 after hitting 2-of-12 in Game 1.
Ron Artest added 16 points, six rebounds, three steals and three assists, though he struggled once again from the three-point line in making only 1-of-7 attempts. And while Fisher took only four shots, making one, he added five assists and was effective guarding Deron Williams, who made just 4-of-16 shots for 15 points in the game.
Utah’s offensive production came from bigs Boozer (20 points) and Paul Millsap (26 points), plus 20 more from C.J. Miles, but it wasn’t enough for the road team.
Both teams now have the benefit of three days before Saturday’s Game 3, which the Lakers in particular are eager to use for R&R purposes.
“We’re hoping (the days off) are going to something positive for a number of guys that have minor injuries,” said Jackson. “‘Drew obviously, and Kobe (in particular).”
We’ll be in Salt Lake City when the Lakers look for a road win, but until then, your numbers:
103 Combined number of points (50), rebounds (44) and blocks (9) for Laker bigs Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom.
30 Point margin reached by Kobe Bryant for the third straight playoff game. He made 10-of-22 field goals and 10-of-11 free throws for 30 points in Game 2 after he scored 31 in Game 1 and 32 in Game 6 against Oklahoma City.
20 Turnovers by the Lakers, off which Utah scored 28 points. L.A. had just nine points off 10 Jazz turnovers, but scored easily in the offensive halfcourt and grabbed 18 offensive rebounds.
19 L.A.’s rebounding edge on the defensive glass. Gasol, Bynum and Odom had 31 defensive rebounds themselves, nine more than Utah’s 21 total.
7 First half assists for Bryant, who took advantage of early Jazz double teams by finding open teammates.