LA Lakers 86, Utah 88
Lakers lead series 2-1
Fighting for their season, Utah finally came up with the goods on their home floor, holding off the Lakers in thrilling fashion. And that was a tough loss. I know I complained about our poor third quarters in the first two games, but I’ll take a good performance in quarters one, two, and four with a shitty third over one solitary good quarter coming out of halftime. Because that’s what we saw tonight, when the Lakers trailed throughout the first half before coming out like gangbusters in the third and jumping in front of Utah by as many as 13. Then, of course, we let the lead evaporate, as we always do, and this time we couldn’t hang on in the end. The two teams went back and forth in the final minutes, but Utah came up with the bigger plays, capped by Williams’ game-winning bucket with 2.2 seconds remaining. Kobe went for the win from an absurd distance when he probably had time to get a tad bit closer, but you know Kobe. He always thinks he can hit any and every shot, especially when the game is on the line, so he pulled up as soon as he got the ball and missed badly, setting everyone up for an intense battle in game four on Saturday.
The sole reason for Utah’s improved play tonight was Carlos Boozer. I think he’s a douchebag, to be quite honest, but he is one heck of a player when he decides to show up. And show up he did in this one, snatching 22 rebounds to go with his 23 points, including a monster in-your-face jam to put Utah up two in the waning seconds. The Lakers did a better job of shutting down Deron Williams, which I suppose is comforting, but we let the rest of the team get off instead. Just like other teams strategizing to contain Kobe, I think we’d be better off letting D-Will get his 30 as long as we hold guys like Korver, Harpring, and to a limited extent Boozer in check. One solitary player can be dangerous – no one knows that better than us – but I’d still take our odds against that one guy than against a full team of players who have gotten their shots working over the course of a full game of target practice. Hopefully we could still keep Williams from going nuts, but under no circumstances should their undersized front line have that big of a game against us again.
On the Laker side, the offense was shit. Kobe had a god-awful game (5-for-24 for 18 points, and even that is generous), Pau looked positively human shooting 8-for-15 in pursuit of his 20 points, and we shot 36.8% as a whole. It reminded me over and over of that loss to Denver a little while back, when, despite the opposition playing a good game, we still had every chance to win it but couldn’t get our offense in gear. The same was true here. Hats off to Utah – they executed their offense much better at home and slugged it out with us down the stretch – but even at full tilt we had chances to take this one. Hell, if we could have just played them even in the fourth we would have walked out with an 8-point victory and a 3-0 advantage in the series. Instead, our offense never got off its fat ass as Kobe tried to shoot himself out of his slump and consequently hurt any rhythm we ever thought about getting. You can’t fault him too much, because more often than not he finds a way to come up with that big shot, but it didn’t happen tonight and it hurt the team’s momentum as well.
So now we face the prospect of a contentious game four in a building where the Jazz feel supremely confident, more so now that they will be coming off a gritty win over the best the West has to offer. This could go two ways. It could energize Utah, convince them of their ability to hang with us, and boost them to another victory. Or it could be a nice slap in the face to our often complacent team, a much needed reminder that NBA teams – and playoff teams in particular – will beat you if you don’t bring your A-game and effort, in which case the Lakers rediscover their spark and whip the Jazz into submission. I tend to favor some version of the latter option, both in terms of what I want and in terms of what I predict. I still say this one will finish up in LA in game six. We’ll know about that soon enough.
Oh, and for the record, Utah fans are classless assholes. How the fuck do you boo a man who took an over $6 million pay decrease to live in a city where his infant daughter could receive treatment for fucking EYE CANCER?! What part of “retinoblastoma” don’t you idiots understand? I get it – you hate the Lakers. We’re damn good, so everybody does. But Fish didn’t just up and decide he’d ditch Utah and resign with LA out of nowhere. Your podunk-ass state couldn’t provide the kind of medical care his daughter needed, so he had to explore other options. He put his FAMILY FIRST, in a move Utah natives supposedly understand and respect, and sacrificed a significant portion of his income to get her the help she needed. So sorry it meant he ended up with a Lakers team that you will continue to lose to, but that’s life. Get over it. And a big FUCK YOU to any of the stupid cunts who booed him, or any of their apologists. Derek Fisher >>>>> you on his worst day.
Here’s the final minute or so of the game, in case you were on another planet and happened to miss it.
Oh, and one more thing. Am I the only one who sees Andrew Bynum sulking out there? Yeah, he’s coming back from an awful injury, but he gets pissy and whiney every time something doesn’t go his way. Sometimes I could swear he was TRYING to pick up his final two fouls as if to make some kind of point. I can forgive his being a step or two slow and getting in foul trouble that way, and Phil should find a way to work the rotation so he can play significant minutes at a time, regardless of the foul situation, but the woe-is-me stuff can go. Just my two cents.