There were just 88 possessions. There were fouls galore. The Lakers strayed away from their offense because of the physicality. Bynum got in foul trouble and had a horrible game, so when they needed him to grab boards at the end Phil had him planted on the bench.
There were a lot of people in comments here and around Lakers nation that wanted to blame Kobe for not sharing the ball when he clearly was cold. And he should have passed more. But remember there are two parts to an assist — the other guy needs to make the shot, and there wasn’t a lot of that happening (the Lakers shot 40% eFG%) for the game. We saw this a lot a couple years ago, when the offense bogs down, Kobe will keep willingly taking on more of the load. You can complain that he was not sharing the ball, but it is a two-way street — how many guys were moving off the ball and putting themselves in good positions to score? Odom is the only one I can think of.
Through all of the ugliness, there are positives. Starting with the Lakers playing maybe their worst offensive game of the season and still only losing by two on the road. And the Lakers defense was pretty good overall — too many backdoor cuts given up (that is just being aware), The Lakers had maybe their best game of the series on D-Will.
Another good part was the start of the third quarter, which Nomuskles broke down with a live blog — notice that what the Lakers did during that stretch was not some magical formula; they just executed the game plan.
Start of the 3rd Quarter
11:40 – First possession of the half. Lakers start with the ball and run a play for Lamar. He loses it going up for a shot in the lane but it rolls to Ariza who finds Kobe in the corner for a three that he drills. Kobe almost never shoots that shot. Utah played good defense, but didn’t matchup quickly enough once the ball was recovered by Ariza. LAL 42, UTA 43
11:24 – Lakers play tough defense on screens away from the ball and limit AK-47 to a contested 20-foot jumper. Lakers are also lucky to come up with the rebound as Milsap is hustled for it. LAL 42, UTA 43
11:09 – Utah brings a hard double team on Kobe in the post. Lamar gave him a post entry pass and then when his man went to double, he went to the rim. No one rotates and Lamar gets an easy dunk. Lakers take the lead that will last them for a long time. Unfortunately not long enough. LAL 44, UTA 43.
11:00 – Deron turns on the afterburners and sprints to the rim early in the shot clock. Fisher can’t slow him down at all. Pau and Odom started the second half and both of them provide okay help, but neither one truly stops Williams. He slices through them and gets the foul as Odom blocks his shot. Questionable call but TNT doesn’t show a replay, so it’s hard to know. Gasol gets whistled for the foul but if anyone, it should have been Lamar. In my book, that’s a no-call. Either way, Williams gets to shoot two free throws. Williams misses the first and makes the second. LAL 44, UTA 44.
10:46 – Kobe and Pau run the sideline pick and roll. Kobe uses his dribble to weave through the trap and gets into the lane. A 10 foot jumper is uncontested and good. Boozer was guarding Gasol and needed to do a better job contesting Kobe’s shot after the pick and roll. LAL 46, UTA 44.
10:31 – Brewer fakes Kobe out of his shoes and takes it to the middle of the paint where Odom puts his arms straight up and brewer forces it. Brewer lost control and the ball goes to the Lakers. Not exactly awesome defense here from the Lakers, but they get the stop. LAL 46, UTA 44
10:20 – Kobe is matched up with Williams on the right block and backs him down. Kobe tries the turnaround jumper but Brewer comes over to help and blocks Kobe’s shot, a pretty rare occurrence on his jumpers. Great recognition and help by Brewer there. LAL 46, UTA 44
10:14 – Williams pushes the ball up court and the Lakers are lucky to escape unscathed. Williams through the ball too low and too hot for anyone to reach. It goes out of bounds. That’s a pass he’d want back. This isn’t good LA defense here. It’s just a bad pass. LAL 46, UTA 44.
9:52 – Kobe works the top of the key. Gives it up to Ariza and gets it back on the left pinch post. He shoots a standstill jumper over Brewer and it comes up short. Not a good use of the triangle offense or his teammates there. Neither team really in sync. LAL 46, UTA 44.
9:40 – Williams is again over the halfcourt line in three seconds. Williams and Boozer run a pick and pop at the top of the key. Boozer jacks up a contested jumper as Ariza flies at him and then runs past. Fisher grabs the long rebound and throws it up court to a streaking Ariza. Williams fouls him and Trevor will shoot two. Ariza makes the first one. Pau backtaps the missed second attempt. Ariza penetrates in traffic and finds odom inside for an easy layup. More of that kind of movement by the cutters can really help the Lakers beat the Jazz’s weak rotations. More of that energetic defense against the Jazz will also help. LAL 49, UTA 44.
9:05 – The Jazz give the ball to Boozer on the block against Pau. Pau holds his ground, contests, the shot and it’s a miss. One of the few times, the Lakers managed to keep in front of Boozer all night. Lamar is there to snag the tough rebound over Milsap.
8:42 – Lamar took an early three point shot that was pretty short. The rebound bounces long to Pau and the Lakers will reset the offense. Phil calls timeout to remind the team not to take those early jumpers. Kobe shoots a double teamed leaner from the left elbow and drains it. Impressive shot but not exactly high percentage. Pretty much sums up Kobe’s night. Lakers on a 16-2 run going back to the first half. LAL 51, UTA 44.
8:16 –Williams dribbles into the front court and shoots a runner drawing a foul on Kobe. Williams makes the first and misses the second. Lakers rebound. LAL 51, UTA 45.
7:58 – Some comments called for Kobe to be a distributor. He was an excellent one here. He split a double team off a sideline pick and roll. Weaved his way through a couple of players. And then made a nice jump pass to Ariza for the sideline three. Wet. LAL 54, UTA 45.
7:35 – Kobe and Pau dare Brewer to shoot from about 15 feet away and he takes them up on it. He nails it. Sagging off someone is one thing. Blatantly leaving them wide open is another. Lakers aren’t really doing anything super impressive yet. LAL 54, UTA 47.
7:08 – Kobe works at the top of the circle against Brewer and gets triple teamed. The ball goes around to the weak side and Gasol finds himself in the position of needing to shoot to beat the clock. He hits a 20 footer that is a bit outside his usual range. LAL 56, UTA 47.
6:57 – Boozer gets doubled in the post and he can choose to pass to Williams who’s camped out on the three point line on his side or Brewer on the opposite side. Option C was Kirilenko cutting to the basket down the middle of the lane. Either Ariza tipped it, or it was just too hot, because Kirilenko had it skip off his hands. Fisher makes a great play to get to the loose ball. Great play and indicative of the kinds of plays the Lakers need to be making more regularly. It’s a 4 on 1 break and Ariza gets the dunk. So far, that’s a 15 point swing in this quarter as the Lakers were down 4 to start the half. LAL 58, UTA 47.
6:28 – Two baseline screens for Utah’s shooter… Ronnie Brewer? Wouldn’t they much rather run that play for Korver (who’s not in)? Anyway. Brewer misses the jumper short. Lakers rebound because Fisher came back into the play to poke it towards Lamar. That’s two or three positive plays by Fisher in a row. The Lakers make a mess of it and Odom fumbles it. Jazz come back quickly on the other end but the Lakers recover. Jazz reset and run a pretty ugly play. The ball squirted free right to Boozer who laid it in. LAL 58, UTA 49.