Kobe Wills Us To 3-1
Posted by hiphopmama on April 25, 2009
LA Lakers 108, Utah 94
Lakers lead series 3-1
Now THAT was more like it. That was the game we all knew we could play but were scared to hope for too much. You know what I’m talking about. Defensive effort for long stretches of time. Controlling the glass with solid box-outs and all-out effort. Smooth flowing offense and good transition defense. And maybe, now and then, a jaw-dropping game from Mr. Bryant.
Kobe came out determined to wipe out the memory of 5-for-24, and he started his mission 17 seconds in with a jumper at the top of the key. Drilled it. A minute later and he’s back at it, just inside three-point line. Swish. 40 seconds later, another. And so on and so on, till he had gone 6-for-8 in the first quarter and gotten us off to a decent start.
To be honest, our start wasn’t particularly impressive as we were outscored 25-20 in the first, but we found our rhythm in the second with some big shots from the bench. First Luke makes a three from the corner. Then Sasha drills one straight out. And finally Shannon Brown drains one to give us a two-point lead that we never looked back from. When Kobe came back in from his customary early-quarter rest, he took the game back over with a couple free throws and two long-distance jumpers, one for three, sending us into the locker room up seven, 60-53.
The third quarter was us entirely. Both teams traded shots for the first ten or so possessions, neither side missing a shot, until…well, until nothing, really. After a fast-paced start to the half, with Kobe owning the Jazz again to the tune of four straight deep J’s, things sort of slowed down, to our benefit. The Jazz started having to grind it out and our defense stepped up, so that, with a free throw here and a lay-up there, we were able to work the lead up to double-digits. From 11 to 14 and finally to 19 to close the third, it was a steady upward climb.
The fourth quarter was more of the same. Shannon got us out of the blocks nicely with some good hustle play as part of Phil’s new favorite back-court: Brown, Vujacic, and Kobe. They were out there with some combination of Walton, Odom, and Gasol at various times, and it worked well for us. It’s a very atypical thing for Jackson to do, but credit to him for switching it up when necessary. Utah did eventually string a few points together to get it down to around 15, thanks to some lax play from us, and I was encouraged to see Phil call a time-out to convey his unhappiness with the casualness. We ended up with a 14-point win and a convincing victory in an arena where we’ve had our problems.
This win was just what the doctor ordered after having our faces slapped in game three. Utah basically said to us, “Yeah, you’re the best team, but you still have to beat us.” We weren’t up to the challenge on Thursday, but we most definitely were tonight and I don’t see us looking back after this performance. I’ve already used the word multiple times, but I was so encouraged to see us play like this in response to a tough loss on the road. This bounce-back is what the playoffs are about, at least for the victors, so it was – yes – encouraging for our team to step up so thoroughly.
Oh, and that Kobe guy? He’s pretty darn good. He went all Michael on the Jazz tonight, and it was all they could do to wave a hand at him now and then. Not to say they didn’t play some serious defense on him. He just had better offense, every single time. I can’t even count how many contested jumpers he drained with a hand or two in his face, falling away, out of rhythm, after two or three ball fakes. That kind of skill should be blasphemy. It’s just completely unfair. Gosh it’s nice to have him on our team. =)
So what’s the word tonight, Josh? “Pwned”? That gets my vote.