(Editors Note: Long time reader and new contributor Phillip is the author of this post. He’ll be joining us here at FB&G more frequently this season with lots of goodies for all of you. Please welcome him and enjoy his first post.)
The Lakers went into Wednesday night’s wire-to-wire rout of the Jazz winners of two consecutive games without Kobe Bryant. The Jazz came into the game winners of nine straight and 13 of their last 14 games.
The Lakers came out firing on all cylinders and closed out the first quarter with two huge stops with a fast break dunk and a buzzer beating three after each stop to take a 31-18 lead going into the second. At the half, the Lakers would have a 56-41 lead, but didn’t go into intermission until D.J. Mbenga got loose on two fast break dunks. The Lakers took advantage of Utah’s lack of energy coming out of the half to raise the Jazz deficit to 19 going into the final period. And, after a Utah run at the beginning of the fourth, the Lakers were able to close out the last 6:50 of the fourth quarter out scoring the Jazz 17-13.
This third straight win can be attributed to how well Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom have played together on the floor. For the second straight night, both Gasol and Odom lit up the box score, both bigs recording double-doubles in the 96-81 victory. Gasol dropped 22 points while adding 19 rebounds and five blocks for the second straight night. Odom finished with a game high 25 points and chipped in 11 rebounds.
For those who missed the game, the Lakers Blog at Lakers.com had a running diary of the game, highlighting all of the major events by quarter.
Here, Brian Kamenetzky over at Land O’ Lakers explains how the Lakers got back to moving the ball and making better decisions sans Kobe.
“You could see it in the final sequence of the first quarter. With 27.4 seconds remaining, the Jazz came up the floor looking to get the frame’s final points. Utah’s Ronnie Price waited just past half court, allowing time to come off the clock before making his move against Jordan Farmar. With about 10 ticks left, he did, trying to come over a Carlos Boozer screen at the top of the arc.
Rather than lose Price on the drive, Farmar delivered a foul the Lakers had available. Off the inbound with 8.4 seconds remaining, Ronnie Brewer tried to penetrate, and was blocked at the rim by Pau Gasol.
Pau fed Sasha Vujacic, streaking up court with under four seconds to play. With just over a second remaining, Sasha dished to Farmar, who alertly had filled the right wing behind the arc. Farmar stepped into a rhythm triple, which he drilled, putting the Lakers up 31-18.”
Also, the K-Bros discuss Kobe’s injury and the Lakers’ reserves collective mindsets going into games without KB on their podcast.
Over at the Salt Lake Tribune, Gordon Monson does a great job in putting the Jazz’s nine-game winning streak in perspective and some analysis of Utah’s streak-ending woes for the Utah’s faithful:
“Still, playing the Lakers without Bryant is better than most of what the Jazz had accomplished in their hot streak, a span during which they had won 13 of 14 games. There were, indeed, some nice victories mixed in, but beating New Jersey, Sacramento, Milwaukee, the Nuggets without Chauncey Billups and Carmelo Anthony, Portland without its big men and Brandon Roy, and the Clips, doesn’t inspire a whole lot of legitimate chatter about a bona fide move toward greatness.”
Just a couple of other game notes:
*Against Utah, Lakers point guard Derek Fisher competed in the 1,000th regular season game of his career. Both Fisher and Bryant, who were both drafted in 1996, were sitting on 999 wins going into the game against the Jazz. Maybe, for the first time in their long histories together, this was the first time Fish was able to beat Kobe to something.
*Also, the Lakers Lamar Odom, along with Kobe was named as one of 27 players to the 2010-2012 USA National Team. This summer, the team will be competing in the World Championship tournament in Turkey. The U.S. National team hasn’t won the tournament since 1944. Andrew Bynum declined a spot on the team.