I think we know this about Utah — this is too good a team to roll over, and they are not going to quit when you get up 20 on them. D-Will doesn’t know how to quit. This isn’t some lottery-bound team without the talent or pride to make a push back, this is a quality team in the playoffs. They are going to give the effort.
What would be nice is not to help them, to not make sloppy turnovers (Kobe, I’m looking at you with your poor imitation of a Kevin Love three-quarters court outlet pass). It would be nice to crash the boards hard on the defensive end, body people up rather than expect our length to carry the day, and just grab the ball.
But I’m not complaining about the wins. If I were on the coaching staff I would be, if I were a player I would not be satisfied; but we fans have the luxury of looking at a bigger picture and seeing a comfortable first round win coming.
• Kobe had 26 points last night, but he had assists that led to 22 other Lakers points. Overall, Kobe accounted for 40.7% of the Lakers offense.
The biggest beneficiary of his passing was Andrew Bynum, who was 3-3 on Kobe assists.
• A few thoughts from Darius in the comments I thought worth repeating.
Tonight the Jazz showed that any team with a truly great player (like Williams obviously is) can hang in any given game and push any team to its limit. That’s especially true when the better team doesn’t play a complete game and has mental lapses and gives inconsistent effort as we did tonight. We continued to not do a good job on Jazz players not named Deron and it made this game closer than it should have been. Relaxed box outs, bad helping on screens, playing in between in help situations (where we’re not really helping on Deron but not guarding our man either), and just playing in a loose manner were all too prevalent in this game.
When you add those things to Andrew’s inability to catch and make a move without turning the ball over for the last three quarters, some questionable “playmaking” by every single ball handler at some point during the game, the over reliance on jumpshots when Pau was killing on the low block, and our lack of good screen setting to free up players for easier looks you end up with a game that should have been 15-20 points the entire game and turn it into a 9-11 point game that is stressful at the end. And even though I think Reggie Miller is Captain Obvious, one point he kept making was that when you allow a team with a player as good as Williams to keep it that close, the outcome *is not* guaranteed turned out to be true. I hate to say it again, but we must play better.
One thing I am looking forward to though is going to SLC to play. That may sound strange, but Kobe has always, especially in the playoffs, stepped up his game when we play on the road. I can recall game after game in San Antonio, Sacramento, Utah, etc that he has had ridiculous production and led us to wins. I want the rest of the team to follow his lead and also see big games from Pau, Bynum, and some of our bench players as well. We have it in us to sweep this team, but we must raise our execution level and play a more consistent game over a full 48 minutes.
On a side note, Odom was tremendous tonight. His defense and shot making were stellar throughout the entire night and I think he deserves some major credit for how he played. He’s always been a strong performer for us in the post-season and tonight he was at it again.
• Kwame a. added these thoughts:
Two things stood out: 1) Phil should (as he admitted) shorten the rotation a little bit (Trevor should get 30-35 mins in my opinion). 2) Bynum played very selfishly, each time he got the ball there was no survey of the defense, no pass out and re-post, just turn and shoot. If Gasol doesn’t do that, no way Bynum should be. I still think he’s working on getting back into form, but there is no reason for him to be the focal point of our offense. He needs to move the ball, he’s a good passer.
• I expect us to get one of the two in Utah, but it would be easier on my blood pressure if it was the first one.
• I’m going to miss Mutombo on the court. But I will keep following his more important work off it.