Lakers 111, Jazz 110: Game 3 Running Diary

60397237Lakers – Jazz Gameday Page
The Lakers looked to follow up consecutive home victories over Utah at STAPLES Center with Game 3 in Salt Lake City. We were there to make sure you didn’t miss a thing:

Lakers: Sasha Vujacic (ankle)
Jazz: Mehmet Okur (Achilles)

Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol and Bynum
Jazz: Deron Williams, Wesley Matthews, C.J. Miles, Carlos Boozer, Kyrylo Fesenko

By The Numbers Preview
We took a look at some of the standout statistics from L.A.’s first two games with Utah and the previous six in the playoffs to preview Game 3 in Salt Lake City. To check it out, CLICK HERE.

60397278First Quarter
12:00 The crowd’s always among the league’s loudest in Salt Lake City, but the atmosphere was not as electric as Oklahoma City in Round 1 (no doubt in part because that was OKC’s first ever playoff series). The last time L.A. was in this building in the playoffs, Kobe Bryant responded to a 5-for-24 Game 3 by going nuts in Game 4 with a 38-point performance on 16-of-24 shooting. On Saturday, Bryant opened the scoring for L.A. with a mid range J, though Utah hit back-to-back jumpers to take an early 5-3 lead.

6:08 Andrei Kirilenko, making his first appearance since March 26, tipped in his own miss to push Utah’s early lead to 15-6. They’d been doing most of their damage on the glass (10-4) and from three, making 3-of-4 including two from C.J. Miles. Bryant then hit a three, however, to give him all nine of L.A.’s points. Utah was effectively overloading the paint and conceding open perimeter looks for the Lakers, who just weren’t hitting anything (0-for-6 other than Kobe) inside.

1:30 Now that’s a small line up. Utah subbed Carlos Boozer out and went with Paul Millsap at center (he had come in four minutes earlier for starting center Kyrylo Fesenko), Kirilenko at the four and Kyle Korver at the three. L.A., however, couldn’t punish the Jazz inside, as Shannon Brown missed an open layup and Gasol a baseline jumper while Utah managed 3-of-4 free throws at the other end to go up seven. Gasol countered with two freebies of his own to cut the margin to 22-17, which the Lakers would take after shooting just 29 percent from the field.

Second Quarter
8:50 Utah’s bench had quite a start to the game, reaching 17 points, more than half of their 36, with two Millsap free throws following seven points from Korver. A 13-point lead was the result of that production, the Lakers not yet clicking at either end.

5:08 And then came the answer from L.A.’s bench, Brown and Farmar combining for 14 quick points as Brown nailed a three-pointer, his fourth straight field goal make after an 0-for-4 start. In the process, L.A. cut the Jazz lead to seven, the team seeming content to hang around before the presumed second half push.

2:45 While Brown and Farmar’s boost was critical for the Lakers, Bryant was clinical, nailing his fifth shot in six second quarter attempts to reach a game-high 19 points, including a superbly-athletic-body-control pull-up J in transition. Completing the Lakers’ backcourt contribution was Fisher, who hit a three, drew two offensive fouls on Williams, then D-Will’s third personal while attempting a three-pointer. Those three free throws, and one more from Kobe, helped L.A. cut Utah’s lead to just four at 54-50 heading into the half, much of the momentum sucked out of the home team despite Gasol, Bynum and Odom combining for only six points.

60397030Third Quarter
11:15 Would Gasol’s 15-foot jumper bode well for L.A.’s bigs in the second half? Tell you in 23 minutes. Utah got five points from their first two possessions, however, an and-1 layup and Fesenko dunk affording the Jazz a seven-point lead.

7:44 L.A.’s first big surge of the game came courtesy of a solid stretch of defense, which came as no surprise to the Lakers’ coaching staff. Jim Cleamons detailed in yesterday’s Practice Report that the Lakers were eager to play defense in front of their own bench, as the visiting team is afforded the right to choose. Sure enough, two turnovers were key in an 8-0 burst capped by Kobe’s three-pointer, giving L.A. its first lead since the game’s opening bucket.

4:24 With Utah finding its way on offense, L.A. needed both of Artest’s three-pointers, which he sank after being left all alone on the perimeter, finally punishing the Jazz neglect after struggling to hit from distance in his first eight playoff games for the Lakers.

0:28.8 Though Odom and Bynum took only three total shots without a make in the third, Gasol scored 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting, including a late tip in (L.A.’s sixth offensive board of the quarter) that capped a 32-26 edge in the period and gave the Lakers a two-point lead into the fourth. A solid push for L.A. it was, since Utah was certainly playing hard despite an outwardly nervous crowd.

60397995Fourth Quarter
10:35 Artest opened the quarter with another deep jumper to reach 13 points, but Utah reeled off five straight to retake the lead on a Korver three. Korver then hit yet again to finally get an almost dead crowd fully back into the game until Artest, so criticized for his shooting throughout the playoffs, nailed his fourth triple from the corner. A huge momentum breaking shot for Ron Ron, who followed it up by driving to the hoop, drawing a foul and hitting both freebies to put L.A. up 89-88.

8:29 The Artest offensive show continued, as Ron Ron first got to the line, then stuck a tough reverse layup to reach nine points in under four minutes, getting to 20 for the game. Timely, too, as Korver got to 8-of-8 on the game for Utah as the teams traded buckets.

3:10 With Kobe missing three straight shots for a suddenly quiet Lakers offense, the Jazz tacked only two points onto its lead, Williams getting two foul shots to go after a three minute scoreless stretch for Utah.

1:06 Though Bryant nailed a baseline J to follow Odom’s three-pointer, putting L.A. up one, Korver hit another three to put Utah back up two. Gasol was then called for over-the-back, getting Wesley Matthews 1-of-2 free throws, after Artest’s corner three rimmed out.

0:54.0 Black Mamba mode for Kobe, draining a pull-up three-pointer early in the shot clock to tie what had become an increasingly fantastic game for the Lakers. Moments later, Williams swished a baseline jumper to put Utah back in front as the lead changed for the 21st time of the ball game.

0:28.6 In 2004, Derek Fisher nailed his “0.4″ offering against San Antonio; last season, he won Game 4 of the NBA Finals for L.A. with two late daggers. And while Game 3 of a series that L.A. led 2-0 wasn’t as critical as either circumstance, Fisher was at it again in Utah, burying a deep three-pointer that put the Lakers up 109-108 with 28.6 seconds remaining. An absolute dagger, which gave Fisher 20 points to match Artest.

0:04.4 The ending was fitting for a terrific game. First came a wide-open three-pointer that Matthews missed, then Boozer’s missed layup after an offensive rebound. Bryant stepped up to hit the ensuing two foul shots (35 total points) after Utah wrapped him up, putting L.A. up three. Phil Jackson then opted to foul Williams before he could attempt a shot, the Illinois product making both freebies to cut L.A.’s lead to one with 6.1 seconds to play. The drama reached a fever pitch when Fisher appeared to get wrapped up from behind by Matthews, but no call was made, Utah regaining possession on the inbounds turnover, 4.4 seconds to play. Let’s take a breath…

… OK. Jazz ball, a chance to win the game. It was Williams calling his own number from the top of the key with 1.8 to go, but his J rimmed out … as did, JUST barely, a tip-in attempt by Matthews. As the ball rolled off the rim, L.A. had secured a 111-110 victory to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the Second Round series.

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