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NBA Playoffs: Lakers Jazz Game 1: The Lakers are a big, long team and that's a problem for Utah

May 2, 2010, 7:12 PM EDT

Boozer_Lakers.jpgIt was feeling like a lazy Sunday at Staples Center — Mr. Pibb and Red Vines equals crazy delicious. The Lakers were exploiting their numerous matchup advantages against the Jazz, Kobe was getting into the lane, the crowd was checking their Blackberries and LA was comfortable and up between 8 and 12 points for seeming ever. The end seemed a foregone conclusion.

But this is LA, they need some drama. The Jazz kept executing. Relentlessly running their flex offense. Defending. They were balanced  (five guys in double figures) and CJ Miles and Wesley Mathews gained confidence. Meanwhile the Lakers bench did, well, whatever it is that the Lakers bench does. It’s usually not pretty.

Suddenly we had an interesting game, with the Jazz taking the lead in the fourth quarter.

However, the end was still a foregone conclusion. The Jazz’s execution does not make up for the matchups battles they just can’t win — it was the microcosm of the game, the Lakers won 104-99.

It might be the microcosm of the series.

“Unless I grow three inches by tomorrow, there’s not much we can do…”
Deron Williams said. “Nothing we can do about it, we just have to attack

The Lakers will take the win. Not that they were all that happy.

“I thought one through seven we did pretty good, but our bench let us down,” Phil Jackson said.

Didn’t matter. Late in the game Pau Gasol was getting the shots he wanted inside and he had five blocks. Kobe Bryant drove the lane and had a wide highway to the basket for a key layup.

The Jazz played the Lakers close, but close is useless in a playoff game.

It didn’t look like it would be close at the end early on. Coming off a series against the long and athletic Thunder where every shot was contested, it had to seem like Christmas for a while for the Lakers against a smalerl, slower Jazz squad.

Kobe started 6-6 from the floor, several of those coming on layups as he blew past his man and no help could be found.

“We were playing a young guy who has never played Kobe Bryant before,” Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said of Wes Mathews.

Meanwhile, coming off a series against the undisciplined Nuggets, Denver had problems with the long Lakers front line. It took away the easy shots and the Jazz settled for poor choices. Like a Carlos Boozer fade-away 17-footer over the outstretched arm of Gasol.

“We shot a lot of jump shots early on, rather than working inside out…” Williams said. “They are a way better defensive team than Denver.”

In the second half the Jazz adjusted to get the inside-out play they need by trying to go with more guard penetration. They started to attack the paint more, and the Lakers started to look fat and happy. Kobe and Gasol sat (as did Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer) when the Jazz made a run. The Lakers offense started to settle, took the easy shots.

The Jazz, as they do, kept executing. This team got the ball inside, started passing big to big. The layups came. The shots started falling. The Lakers lead started dropping and the game looked like the style that the Jazz wanted.

Then Gasol and Bynum got next to each other again and the Lakers length intimidated the Jazz. Two straight trips down they settled for and missed threes. And that started the Lakers comeback.

The Jazz did what they could, but in the end, the Lakers are bigger and longer than the Jazz, and that is something you can’t just adjust for.

  1. Jazzman - May 2, 2010 at 9:50 PM

    What a game it was great, just as we all thought. Tell me how the media can constantly talk about length and speed but never address the REFs? Both of the Jazz series so far have been marred by game control by the REFs. Yes, thats what I said, we have watched three games with the Denver Nuggets that all three were runaway games. Then we see the REFs start calling touch fouls that keep the Nuggets in the game til the end and then the REFs let up on calling the touch fouls in the final minutes and the Jazz pull away to win the Game. Hmmm very interesting, this game against the Lakers looked just like those games against the Nuggets. I realize the Jazz are undermanned and under sized but Damn the REFs were in control of the Game and the score and the Lakers and Jazz should both be upset with the media and refereeing . Stern you should empty your pockets.

  2. Lakerwilldestroyall - May 2, 2010 at 10:29 PM

    Jazzman, you are delusional. If you are blaming the refs for this Utah loss, you are blind. The Lakers simply outplayed the Jazz. The Jazz match up poorly against the Lakers and have lost to them 3 years in a row in the playoffs. The same thing will happen this year, it’s just a matter if it’s going to be 4 or 5 games. The way it looked today, the Lakers only worked hard when the game started to get close. This series was over before it started.

  3. momo - May 2, 2010 at 10:32 PM

    Proof read, Kurt.

  4. jazzman - May 2, 2010 at 10:44 PM

    Did you even read what I said. I agree with all you say. Did you not see the Ridiculous calls made. Ok what I said was (read between the lines) it looks like the media is sure close to the outcomes so that the Ratings will be high for certain benefactors. Same with the Cleveland and Chicago game, Atlanta and Milwakee game. Its play-offs so let the teams show who they really are. Not what the Media wants to see for the ratings game.
    Bye the way the Lakers bench is pitiful no wonder all the starters are injured. At least the Jazz have depth and who is the player with the foo man choo stache that looks like he is stoned. Is that a Gonzaga Alumni. Poor Lakers

  5. jazzman - May 2, 2010 at 10:55 PM

    OH and one more thing We are missing Two Big Men that play huge minutes and score but you already knew that. We have FEZ and Koufos one is 21 years old and the other is well, old enough to play better than he does.

  6. nresq - May 3, 2010 at 12:25 AM

    That’s right, Jazzman. You’ve got those 2 other “big men.” Your team has really torn up the league when you’ve got all your players. Oh, that’s right, you haven’t been to the Finals since the ’90’s, when Jordan and the Bulls cleaned your clocks! Before that, oh , right, NEVER! Guess the Lakers caught a break this series! Seriously, as you probably know, Utah will be lucky to take 1 game in this series. P.S. Don’t take it personally; I always thought your organization was classy, from Larry Miller to Sloan to Malone/Stockton, etc. Just never had the group to put it all together. Won’t happen this year either (or next)! Let us know how you enjoy LA/Cleveland in the Finals!

  7. Mike - May 3, 2010 at 12:37 AM

    The Laker starters dominated early, their horrible bench play let Utah back in the game and then the starters came back in and dominated the final 4 minutes of the game. End of story. If Pau Gasol keeps getting the kind of easy shots he had today with a completely overmatched Carlos Boozer guarding him, this series won’t even make it 5 games. Did anyone else notice Boozer running to get out of the way as Kobe put the game away with one final layup? As a Laker fan, I was worried about facing Denver in the second round. Luckily, we got Utah, a team that is about as soft defensively as any team in the league. Bring on the Spurs!

  8. Jeff - May 3, 2010 at 1:06 PM

    You are right Jazz man. The NBA is fixed and all they want is the Lakers / Cleveland final. The league has been fixed for years and years…I don’t even know why I watch. The Jazz / Lakers game last night was comical the last 4 minutes when the Jazz had a three point lead. No calls for the Jazz and all the calls were for the Lakers…Kobe wasn’t even touched on one play and they called a foul. I just laughed and showed my wife the horrible calls…thanks to the DVR. NBA is worse than boxing…fixed fixed fixed.

  9. NBAisRIGGED - May 4, 2010 at 4:38 AM

    I agree with Jazzman! Game 1 in this series was controlled by the refs. The game was great until the 4-5 minute mark of the 4th quarter when the refs came in and took control. No calls on one end and touch fouls on the other end. Guess which side benefitted from the calls? The Lakers, as always.

  10. NBAisRIGGED - May 4, 2010 at 4:43 AM

    You saw the exactly same things that I saw Jeff. Thank you for pointing them out as the majority of normal NBA fans can not see these things believe it or not. I honestly do not understand why a bigger deal is not made out of this. I guess it is because Stern wants LA in the Finals because it is such a huge market. He is all about the money and his ratings. No way would he want the Jazz in the Finals. That would get horrible ratings because the entire state of California wouldnt even tune in!

  11. Ben - May 4, 2010 at 5:04 AM

    Yes, the refs obviously caused Utah’s interior defense to be painfully unable to adjust to Kobe’s isolations, get a defensive rebound, or make a concerted offensive play over the Lakers’ length inside. Channeling their magic powers, naturally.

  12. NBA is Fixed - May 5, 2010 at 1:41 AM

    Jazzman is right that the Lakers are getting all the calls in this series, but is sadly mistaken about the Denver series when Deron Williams averaged more than 12 free throws a game (leading the league in the playoffs and 2 plus more per game than Lebron). Also, in that series Carmelo Anthony averaged 5.2 fouls per game after averaging 3.7 in the regular season. So get your facts straight. Yes you are getting screwed in this series just as Denver did in the series with you, and the bulls in the series with cleveland and dallas in the series with San Antonio. League knows that Dallas and Denver were legitimate threats to LA so both were eliminated. Jazz would beat LA if they got the same FT averages as they did in Denver series and if they put Kobe in teh same kind of foul trouble Carmelo had. Jazz led the league in fouls per game during regular season yet somehow rank in the lower half during the playoffs. denver led league in getting to the line during the regular season yet somehow again only sat near the middle in the series. I am going out on a shaky limb and guessing that LA will get more calls throughout this series with Utah and D Will won’t be averaging anywhere near 12.2 FT’s a game. Just a guess.

  13. NBAisRIGGED - May 5, 2010 at 2:12 AM

    Wow, good point man. I didnt think of it that way but you are abolsutely correct about the Nuggets and Mavericks being legitimate contenders to upset the Lakers. To be honest, those are the only two teams in the west that could beat them in a best of 7 series, in my opinion. I am a HUGE Jazz fan and Deron Williams fan and I have to admit, I felt like we got favorable calls in the Denver series. I watched the Spurs Mavericks series and thought the refs favored the Spurs pretty heavily. The Mavericks players felt so too. I believe Dampier was fined for his comments regarding the referees.
    Anyways, game 2 happened tonight in LA and once again the referees kicked in with under 5 minutes to go.
    This is a pretty eye opening stat. In games 1 and 2 so far of the Jazz/Lakers series there have been 24 free throws shot in the last 5 minutes of the game. 18 of those were shot by the Lakers and only 6 by the Jazz. Its not like the Jazz weren’t attacking the basket, because they were. Somehow the Lakers got the whistle and the Jazz didn’t.
    It just so happens that the Jazz run took place just before that 5 minute mark and once the Jazz got close or took the lead (as in game 1) the whistles started blowing on one end and not on the other. Strange…

  14. jazzman - May 5, 2010 at 6:54 PM

    OH wow what a shock Ben, Is that why the Lakers were sweating the entire game.

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