All Balls Don’t Bounce

Completely Random Sports Non Sequiturs From A Completely Random Hip Hop Head

Just Barely

Posted by hiphopmama on April 21, 2009

Jazz Lakers

"Oh, were we supposed to keep playing? Even in the second half??"

Utah 109, LA Lakers 119
     Lakers lead series 2-0

What’s new? We can’t keep quick guards out of the lane and we can’t hold a lead. Oh, and we rarely lose. I guess I’ll take those first two as long as they come with the third. We came out strong again tonight, building up another big lead in the first half and squandering it due to sloppy play in the third quarter. We had a strong finish to the third to set us up for the fourth quarter up double-figures, but that disintegrated after a while too and we found ourselves up just three points with three minutes remaining. An Odom lay-up and Kobe pull-up put it into the cooler, if not the refrigerator, but Ariza’s three with 33 seconds to go put the game on ice and shipped it back to Utah for game 3.

What was so disappointing here was that the boneheadedness was distributed throughout the team so evenly, even creeping into the play of bona fide clutch-masters like Kobe. Up just 5 points with 1:42 to play, Kobe throws a ridiculous full-court pass off a steal that gets intercepted but thankfully only leads to a Utah shot clock violation. Pau missed a pair of free throws late that would have left the ending much less in doubt. The whole team played lackadaisical basketball throughout the third and fourth quarters, seemingly drinking the Kool-Aid and believing their own hype. Deron Williams was a fucking beast again, and he refused to let his team go quietly into the night, firing away for 35 points and 6 three-pointers. His 9 assists outweighed his 7 turnovers, but the TOs hurt him in the end as they squashed any chance of a Utah comeback. 

This is the kind of game we’ve seen the Lakers play all year, and we attribute it to regular season malaise. “They’re just too good for the competition,” we say. “Wait for the postseason. They’ll get it together then, when there’s something to play for.” To which I say: bull…shit. There is no proverbial switch. You build and lose momentum incrementally, and you cannot simply turn it around because you feel like it. That means that you MUST play the entire game like every possession – both offensive and defensive – is crucial. No more of this taking quarters off business, especially the third. It’s inexcusable. We’re not THAT good, for pete’s sake. No one is.

Still, at the end of the day, we head back to Utah up two games to none and looking, realistically, for a split in the two games in Salt Lake City. We don’t have the most pristine record facing the Jazz away, so I don’t foresee a sweep, but one win out of two seems like a reasonable prediction. Then, if we don’t make too big a mess of it, we should be poised to close things out on our own home court in five games to give us ample rest time before the second round. Looking too far ahead, you say? Nah, never that. Just reading the writing on the wall, as even Jerry Sloan seems to have done. We’re still the best team in basketball, albeit by a slim margin (kudos to Mike Brown and Cleveland), but we’re going to have to play like it to claim that title officially, and tonight was not the best indication of our potential. Phil should yell/scream/meditate/WHATEVER some sense into them after that game and remind them that the better teams WILL make them pay for those kinds of lapses. Fool me once, shame on…shame on you. Fool me twice……can’t- can’t get fooled again.

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One Response to “Just Barely”

  1. Josh said

    Thanks for the comment. Yeah … I would agree with your predictions. Tonight’s game pissed me off quite a bit. I was literally screaming at the TV … like they could hear me or something. I donno … in game 1 it felt like we shut D.W. down pretty well, jumping out on pick-n-rolls and generally just bugging the crap out of him … making him dish the ball. Tonight, not quite as good D on him and we just kinda allowed him to get open looks from beyond the arc whenever he felt like it. Tonight he hit those shots and when he passed it to Mr Booooozer, he knocked down his shots as well … lights out. So Utah shot well tonight. Good for them. We shot better, luckily. Our first 2 quarters were ridiculous, in a good way … but we all knew it wouldn’t last 4 quarters ….. at least the die-hards like you and me did (:

    Here’s why I was pissed. Our bench sucks. It’s to the point where I get effing nervous in my stomach when I know it’s approaching bench time. Not only do they make poor decisions and turn the ball over, they can’t even HOLD leads anymore. It’s a virtual count-down to when Phil can pull them and put the ‘real’ players back in to keep things rolling. So yeah, part of the second quarter, part of the third, and the beginning of the fourth quarter freak me out and piss me off at the same time.

    Anyways …. we won. Kobe made some bad decisions, as did everyone else on the team in the 2nd Half. But we pulled together and never lost that lead – even though it got down to 5 (yikes!) There were also alot of good things tonight. Fisher had some great shots …. good to see him back in the saddle hittin those big jumpers. Shannon, continues to impress. Ariza … a repeat strong performance, Bynum hit the ground running with quick points at the beginning of the game. So yeah .. good things to be happy about too (:

    I’ll give props to Utah. They are a tough team – mentally and physically. They just don’t give up. Sucks to try so hard and to keep losing … but they do have grit. And like Kobe said, they are a very good team … not a true 8 seed. They will fight and claw their way back into the game and can score with the best of them.

    Onward and upward to Utah. I feel like Kobe will explode here in one of these away games and just dominate … for some reason that’s what Im feeling he’s on the eve of. He does not like Utah … it’s obvious. Especially since they dissed Fisher so hard after his move to LA. Hopefully Kobe’s crusade for dominance doens’t take us down! haha.

    I agree with you. 5 games. It ends in LA.

    -josh

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