LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 02: Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers controls the ball against Paul Millsap #24 of the Utah Jazz during Game One of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2010 NBA Playoffs on May 2, 2010 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers won 104-99. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Whew! That was close. The ABC announcers almost had to go off-script. I'm not sure what they would have done had the Jazz actually won that game. They were stuttering enough as it was when the Jazz actually had a lead late in the game. Maybe they had the rough draft instead of the final cut?
So, are we getting closer? Closer to writing a new ending to this tired script?
We've seen in games of series past where the Jazz get blown out early, make a comeback, only they can't get over that 5-point hump and then end up losing by 10 points after a couple of missed jumpers and Lakers and-1s.
Well, we made a bit of progress in that the Jazz were able to get over that hump and actually have a lead, 93-89 with just a little over 4 minute remaining in the game. The game started out the same with the Lakers making anything that they put up and Gasol playing keep-away from everyone with his height.
Yet the Lakers could never put the Jazz away. As we've become accustomed, the Jazz had one bad quarter against LA and then played them pretty even the rest of the way.
In that first quarter, LA was getting everything within about 5 feet of the basket. They got to the rim any time they wanted and everything came inside the three-point line.
Their lead got as big as 14 in the second quarter before the Jazz held their ground a little bit and then chipped that lead down to 8, 45-53 at the half.
The Jazz were able to go on a 13-4 run in the third quarter to cut the lead to 3. LA then proceeded to go on a 6-0 run of their own to push the lead back to 9. At the end of 3, the Jazz were still down 8.
That's when we saw the Ronnie Price from a series ago come in and lead the second team to a remarkable comeback. Check out the lineup: Price, Miles, Koufos, Korver, and Millsap. The Lakers countered with Bynum, Odom, Brown, Walton, and Farmar. Those are the lineups that are worth the price of admission.
While most of the starters got a rest, the second teams went at it. This happened in the second quarter as well with the Lakers bench able to increase their lead. This time around it was the Jazz that went on a run of their own. 12-1 to be exact.
When Deron checked back in for Ronnie P, the Jazz had an 85-82 lead. You can't say that Sloan should have left Price in. Despite his hustle and extra Laker-hating motivation, Price isn't going to give you the same chance to win as Deron is. Ronnie Price and the rest of that second team deserve a whole lot of praise for what they did. Normally they're just called on to maintain the lead or keep the team within striking distance. When they're able to put on a run like that, that's just icing on the cake. I would have liked to have seen Ronnie P stay out there with Deron and move Matthews to the 3 possibly. That would have provided mismatches though for the Jazz, you know, even more than normal.
The Jazz weren't able to hold that lead unfortunately. They held that four-point lead late before their offense went cold. After Matthews made a steal on Gasol on one end and a layup on the other, the Jazz had the 93-89 lead. They wouldn't score again until Deron went to the line with just over a minute left in the game.
On the Lakers side, Kobe went into takeover mode. He scored 7 straight points over that stretch with 5 of those coming at the line. He then finished off the Jazz with another 6 points.
The missed shots down the stretch included a Millsap jumper, a CJ three, Boozer blocked, Boozer losing the ball on the way up, and a DWill missed layup.
I rewatched those last 4 minutes and the Lakers simply packed the lane and swarmed anyone that drove. On Deron's drive and Boozer's block, every Laker had a foot in the lane. Both times Matthews and Miles were standing out on the three-point line. I don't know if they would have made them, but they would have had wide-open looks on kickouts.
The game was lost when the Lakers were up 1, 96-95 and Kobe just missed jumper. Boozer was going out to help on Kobe's drive allowing Odom to sneak in behind Booze and grab the offensive rebound. His put-back put the Lakers up three. Even at that point, it wasn't over but the next offensive possession was Boozer's turnover when he lost the ball on the way up for a shot. Kobe then drove the lane and put the Lakers up 5 with just 22 seconds to go.
The Jazz certainly had their chance to steal this game. The Lakers could have put the game away but credit the Jazz for not laying down and for coming back. I'm afraid they're not going to be able to sneak up on LA in game 2. They might have finally awoken the beast.
We'll see how both teams respond in game 2 Tuesday night.
Player and game notes
- The Lakers only had three players in double figured, Kobe, Gasol, and Derek Fisher. The Jazz on the other hand had 5, Deron, Boozer, Millsap, Mathews, and Miles.
- Deron had only 2 points in the fourth quarter. He had 2 FTs and only 2 FGAs in 6 minutes and one of those attempts was a desperation three. His other attempt was a driving layup that missed. He still finished with 24 & 8 and had what's becoming an annual ferocious dunk on the Lakers.
- CJ was very up and down in this game. He finally started taking it to the rim late and played Kobe decent. I'd like to see that CJ earlier in the game. His confidence level seems to be just as big of a rollercoaster. He had 16 points with 7 of those coming at the line. More of that please.
- Boozer had 18 & 12 including 6 offensive boards. I wasn't swayed one way or the other by his play.
- Millsap was a part of that fourth-quarter run putting up 8 & 2. He finished with 16 & 9.
- I thought Matthews played well on Kobe. He was up on him the entire time and challenged shots. Kobe just hit nearly everything that he threw up. He had 14 & 7 and a couple of threes. I'm looking forward to him playing Kobe in game 2.
- Korver hit a bucket.
- Fesenko wasn't a factor in the game. He wasn't slowing down LA's big men at all. He played only 13 minutes and the KOOF got those extra minutes.
- The Jazz were 18-21 from the line tonight which is a big reason why the Jazz were in this one.
- Gasol is going to be the MVP of this series. He had 25 & 12 with only 1 PF. He's going to get whatever he wants insides.
- My appreciation for Boler and Booner increased exponentially after listening to that hack crew on ABC. They only know the Lakers and seemed to be confused when the Jazz were playing well. They weren't quite sure what they were supposed to say when the Jazz had the lead late. "This isn't going to plan. We weren't trained on what to do in this scenario! "
- Silver Screen and Roll
Why do I have to watch a :30 clip for a :27 video?