Lakers/Jazz Game 4: Break Out The Brooms

Darius Soriano —  May 11, 2010

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Maybe this result was destined from the beginning.  Missing their veteran big man that could stretch the floor for the entire series and their lanky forward that could match the Lakers’ length for two of the four games (and limited in the ones that he did play in), the Jazz were out manned and overmatched from the very start of their match up with the Lakers.  Even the most die hard Jazz fan would have said that this series was always going to be an uphill climb for the team from Utah.  Personally, I thought they’d win a game or maybe even two and give the Lakers a good scare along the way.  In cases like this, I really don’t mind being wrong.  In fact, I kind of enjoy it.  ‘Cause while the Jazz certainly showed that they were a good team and had chances in each of the first three games to take home a victory, they ended up not winning a single one as they fell in game four 111-96 to get swept by your Lakers.  Let that sink in for a moment…

All series one of the predominant themes was familiarity and this game could be described the same way as it started out just like the last two contests between these two teams.  The Jazz began the game making shots and taking an early lead only to see the Lakers chip away, take control of the game, and ultimately show enough mettle and poise to hold off a Jazz run to win the game going away.  And if that was all that needed to be said, I’d end this recap now and link to my favorite broom related video of all time. But, really there were some stand out performances by a couple of guys that deserve a few words.

First was the effort of Pau Gasol.  If there’s a big man playing better basketball right now, I’m not sure who he is (though Amar’e is kind of close).  Pau continued his dominance of the Jazz front court with a stellar night of shot making, rebounding, defending, and creating shots for others.  His line for the night was one of the best of his entire tenure with the Lakers and surely one of, if not the best, of his entire playoff career in the forum blue and gold – 33 points on 18 shots, 14 rebounds (7 offensive), 2 assists, 2 blocks, 1 turnover, zero fouls, with a +18 in 40 minutes of superb play.  And as fantastic as those stats look, I’m not sure they even do his performance justice.  He was just dominant in all phases of the game and was in complete control for every minute he was on the court.  He flashed all the tools of his multi-faceted offensive game with an array of jump hooks, face up jumpers, turn around jumpers, drives to the hoop, and tip-ins/finishes from his offensive rebounds.  Simply amazing.  On one play in particular he jab stepped twice, took a dribble into a post position, then turned and fired a turn around jumper from 15 feet that hit nothing but net.  The man was just in a rhythm that could not be broken by any Jazz defender.

Then there was the fierce competitiveness of Kobe Bryant.  From the get go of this contest, Kobe seemed determined to not let his team lose.  He was consistently aggressive and looked to get the ball into the paint so he could inflict damage on the interior of the Jazz defense.  Whether off post ups or off the dribble, Kobe was in attack mode all night and constantly put the Jazz defense into situations where they were forced to choose between leaving perimeter players to double him or leaving Wesley Matthews on an island to defend a bigger, stronger, and more talented player.  Per ESPN stats and information, Kobe took 18 of his 23 shots from within fifteen feet and converted on 11 of those shots.  And when he wasn’t getting up a makable shot, he was getting fouled and earning trips to the line – taking 12 free throws and making 10 of those attempts.  Kobe ended the night with 32 points, 3 rebounds, and 4 assists and countless will imposing plays that make him the player that we all love to watch perform.  My favorite play of the evening was one where Kobe started at the extended left wing with a live dribble, then after Pau came to set a screen for him, Kobe zigged and zagged his way through the lane ending up all the way on the right side of the key where he elevated, hung, and then double-clutched home a bank shot as he drifted out of bounds.

But this wasn’t just about Kobe and Pau.  Even though those two did the heavy lifting on offense, they were supported by their teammates as the other guys were determined to patiently run our sets and seek out good looks.  For most of the evening, the ball crisply moved from player to player with each pass building on the next with getting a good look the ultimate goal.  Be it Fisher, Shannon, Odom, or Farmar, the Lakers played with the poise of a championship team and with the mindset of closing out this series tonight.  Especially solid were Shannon and Odom who both posted double digit scoring nights off the bench and made some key plays to extend Lakers runs or halt those of the Jazz as they made their customary second half push to try and close the gap.  This was a team win that all the players could take pride in as evidenced by the great statistical *team* numbers where the Lakers posted an offensive efficiency of 120.7 while holding the Jazz to a 104.4 on the other end of the court.

And speaking of the Jazz, I’d be remiss if I didn’t give this team a lot of credit for how hard they fought in this series and the class they showed after the game was finished.  As I mentioned earlier, this team was severely out manned but not once did you hear an excuse about an injured player or any complaints about their circumstances.  Led by the always classy and fantastic hall of fame coach Jerry Sloan, this team just competed as best they could and came up short.  After the game, the players congratulated our guys and Sloan went up to Phil and told him “I hope you win it all”.  That guy is as hard nosed and competitive as they come, but he’s also one of the all time greats at leading men and that should not go unnoticed by us or anyone else.

So here the Lakers are.  A four game sweep has led them to the conference finals for the third straight season.  The Phoenix suns await and I’m sure revenge is on the mind of Kobe, Phil, Lamar and every other hold over on this team from those teams that got eliminated by the SSOL Suns that were led by Nash/D’Antoni.  But that’s still a week away and we’ll have plenty of time to dissect that match up over the break between series.  So for now, enjoy this win and what it means to advance again.  The Lakers are half way to their ultimate goal and that is something to be celebrated.  And while no one is content to just reach this point, it does feel good to move on.

Darius Soriano

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47 responses to Lakers/Jazz Game 4: Break Out The Brooms

  1. I caught Jerry Sloan’s lips too, telling Phil he hopes we win it all. I thought that was very classy, for a guy who’s such a fiery competitor to force a smile afterwards and wish Phil well. Phil’s 5-0 against Sloan, so you know Sloan has to be hurting, so it was a very un-Lebronesque move.

    So now we finally get our chance at revenge for 06-07, different Suns team or not. I wanted the Suns the last couple years, and even though so many hated players/coaches are gone by now, we finally get them at long last.

    Some questions to begin to think about. Will we see Artest on Nash or Richardson? Fish guards Williams very well, but he’ll likely get abused by Nash. Nash isn’t explosive, so Ron may do better, but I can’t see the refs letting Ron get too physical with Nash.

    Kobe on Richardson would be a nightmare, the way J-Rich has been shooting. Kobe would leave him at least 20 times a game, 30 if he’s feeling like a particularly great help defender. I say we put Kobe on Hill and leave Richardson to Artest.

    Matchup I’m waiting to see: the Machine vs the Dragon. I have a sneaking suspicion Phil will unleash Sasha on Goran Dragic at some point. Phil likes to give Sasha specific assignments (Kyle Korver, Von Vafer), and the Slovenian connection might give Sasha added motivation to pester Dragic.

    Am I underestimating Grant Hill’s defensive abilities? I constantly hear how he’s reinvented himself as a stopper, and I do think he’s good – but I don’t see him as the type of defender that can bother Kobe. Maybe I’m wrong. But with Bell gone, I don’t see anyone that can stand up to Kobe in the post. Kobe’s far stronger than any of their wings, and I expect him to feast on the block.

  2. Snoop get out of my brain. I 100% agree with Ron on Richardson. 54% in playoffs on 3’s avg 23 a game. This is key to series. Kobe on Hill makes sense. Also agree with Sasha on Goran. They played against each other as youth. Both from the ex Yugo and Sasha will take that challange full on.

    They have great bench but we have Kobe and Pau. That’s a big Valley in the Sun.

  3. I’m probably just high from watching this win, but the way our team’s comin together and getting better as the playoff goes along kinda reminds me of how the ’01 team ended up making that awesome 15-1 run after coming together at the end of the regular season when fish returned from that injury. in looking at the way we’ve been executing vs the jazz, and at the regular season games vs the suns and how we matched up, it’s not completely inconceivable for us to run through them like we did utah. a possible 10 game winning streak going into the finals?

  4. Super great satisfying game 4 sweep recap Darius, it must have felt good to write this up after the play of the team tonight. That was a great sweeping broom video, bye the way. I will be in a happy mood for a week it looks like, cool…

    “Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn’t know you left open.” – John Barrymore

  5. This Suns team isn’t playing at the same level as when we faced them early in the regular season. They’re were one of the hottest teams in the league post-break, and as much as I love our chances, I think our chances of sweeping are slim to none. I hope I’m wrong, but one series doesn’t necessarily remind me of 2001. I think we’ve matched up very well with the Jazz over the years – probably better than against any other elite team, we’re able to neutralize their strengths in a complete way we can’t do to most teams – and this year they were very shorthanded on top of that.

    Great series win of course, but I think it’s more a product of matchups then of suddenly gelling and making a 2001-like run. I hope I’m wrong, but I expect this next series to push us much harder.

  6. han, I doubt this PHX team is going to roll over. They have great contribution from their bench, and that really does not bode well when we look at ours.

    I’m fairly confident that we’ll win out, mostly because I don’t see them as being more committed to defense than OKC or Utah, and Odom has always been fairly effective against PHX, although that was back when Marion was there.

  7. Really looking forward to the PHX series and to the FB&G analysis over the next few days. PHX scares me. We have to stop the Nash and Amar’e pick and roll, as they were just toying with the Spurs. That transition D practice against OKC will also come in handy, not to mention our 3pt defense.

    Wake me up later this week.

  8. Phoenix don’t match-up well with LA at all, whether they go with a big lineup, a 3pt shooting lineup, or a small lineup. Lakers don’t have to sacrifice speed or size because of Odom.

    They rely on Hill to crash the glass. He’s not going to outmuscle Artest, or pose any more of a challenge than Durant did. Ron is going to drink his milkshake.

    Are they going to try to defend Kobe with Hill? Even if Kobe misses shots, there’s too much size and strength for the Suns frontcourt to contend with; the Lakers are going to dominate the glass and score efficiently because of easy put-backs.

    I think this will be another sweep.

  9. i know that this year’s suns is better compare to 2006/2007 version.
    their bench is better, hill and richardson can be considered as upgrades compare to marion and bell.

    but thinking that gasol and bynum cannot kill the suns flatly, and perform better than kwame brown and odom is unthinkable for me.
    even if people say, this year’s suns is much better.

    kwame brown *sigh
    until now, i still have nightmares about that dark period.

  10. I can feel it! It’s payback time for some of my most heart wrenching moments as a Laker fan…

    Next we take out those pesky Suns who had one of the most painful comebacks against us in 06′. Then followed it up with a beat down in 07′.

    Then we take on the Celts’!… (possibly) And we’ll redeem our 08′ matchup. If not, we could always get payback on the Cav’s for our christmas nuclear meltdown. (I got nothing for the Magic. They’re a lovable group… minus Barnes, he erkes me in a J.R Smith kinda way.)

    As for tonight, Great sweep* Great all around performance* (it’s ok Bynum; just do what you do against the Suns.)

    Yet, Terrible class from ^some^ of the Jazz crowd reguarding Fisher. T-Shirts displaying their hate for his decision he made about his family and career is disgusting! The guy played on one of the days his daughter was being operated on and he lost about 8 Mil. by voiding his contract. The last thing he was abandoning was the fans! Profane words to anyone who falls in that “fand basis.” You should be ashamed and so should your mothers for birthing you.

    Sorry, but they almost ruined a good night… Let the Lakers flags fly freely!

  11. Snoopy is spot on. Ron’s assignment (with some spot relief from Kobe and ShanWOW) has to be Richardson. He has been the consistent third offensive option for the Suns the entire postseason. If Ron can get into J-Rich’s head, this series will swing in our favor. We also have to respect their resurgent bench play and meet their reserves energy. No one on their team can guard Kobe but he has to temper his frive to take the whole Suns team on by balancing the need to feed our post players. If we have our big men active and productive we win this series. Amare is the wild card and we may even see Ron on him due to Amare’s combo of strength and speed down low. Bynum isn’t quick enough with his injury to move laterally but if we force Amare outside with soft doubles and then recover, this will help. And finally, we have to stay at home on their 3pt shooters. This may not be SSOL, but they still feast on transition 3s. Nash will get his, but Fish plays the PNR better than any of our other PGs so we will live with this. Make Nash a scorer only and the game is won. Great series sweep over Utah and good luck with Phx. Go Lakers!!

  12. Good recap Darius – as someone who was disappointed with Kobe’s play for most of 2010, stats don’t do justice to how he carried the team in this series, and this game in particular. Twice when things started coming unravelled for the Lakers and it looked like a classic Jazz-Fans-Referees unholy alliance was starting to run rampant, Kobe took the game in his hand and made good decisions on offense, even on the times they didn’t get the bucket. There just aren’t many players who can impose their will on a game like that.

    [btw refereeing was surprisingly balanced this series, and I usually like complaining about them. both teams had stretches of calls going their way, but no rampant homerism and when the Jazz started getting desperate and looking for calls on every trip they weren’t getting bailed out.]

    Good job by the Jazz though, I hate them but have to admit no-one gets more out of their talent than Jerry Sloan, and that Deron Williams is a badass.

  13. The fans of Utah deserve this win just as much as the Lakers fans do. I would love to be in that locker room to hear Fish’s reactions

  14. And while no one is content to just reach this point, it does feel good to move on.

    sums it up for me… GO LAKERS!

  15. Great win last night. Pau and Kobe were fantastic. Favorite play was where Pau drove base line underneath basket, faked the pass around Fesenko, spun around away from the base line and dropped in a pretty little baby hook. Beautiful footwork. Drew looks hobbled out there right now. There were a number of plays where he got a pass or an offensive rebound under the basket and just couldn’t explode off his knee to finish strong like he usually does. Hopefully the 7 days off helps out a lot.

    The Lakers know how to defend Nash. Make him a scorer. He can put up a lot of points but if he doesn’t get 10+ assists than the Suns offense is not very efficient. Amar’e has been playing great but we will see what he can do against the length and skill of the Lakers. The suns will win a game or two at home because they get hot from the outside, but I don’t think they are good enough defensively to beat the Lakers. They don’t have anyone that can guard Kobe or Pau. Lakers in 6.

  16. When do we start bashing Fisher?

  17. 16, dude shut up, Aaron’s gonna go off like Peter in that one episode of Family Guy where he never stops singing “Surfin’ Bird.”

  18. The statisticians among us like to deal in all the numbers, but this is a real team and each member has a job to do. Some are more talented than others at various things, but the whole is better than the sum of the parts.

    That’s the thing that the Aaron’s of the world don’t understand about team sports. That’s the thing that Phil Jackson, Jerry Sloan, Pops and Red Aurbach understand better than other coaches. That’s why Gentry’s team will give us more problems than some like to think.

    You gotta have the star and talent is a must, but in the end it is all about team.

  19. Aaron is resting. I assume it takes a lot of energy to do what he does.

  20. ahhh, how sweep it is …

    loved how we never chocked when the Jazz were fighting and making their comeback, what did they get it as close as 4, right? then we held on D, gotta couple stops, then a few baskets, thank you Shannon for some late game 3’s, and the next thing you know, we’re back up by 9, 10, 12, and time’s running out and it’s looking like a sweep indeed.
    sweet, sweep!

  21. “The man was just in a rhythm that could not be broken by any Jazz defender.”

    That has to be the best line of the playoffs so far. Great summary of events, too. Really, really nice work.

  22. Solid work on the write and even better overall performance last night. Now let’s rest up and start anew next week!

  23. another thing, I’m really really happy for D Fish!
    when he got taken out on that fast break, the crowd roared, they loved seeing him get (what they thought) hurt, how classless. and speaking of classless, did you see those 2 teenage girls wearing green shirts that said “fisher” and “lied” ? man, what kind of parents do they have? like a man is going to lie about his daughters eye cancer, I can’t really think of words to describe how low these Utah folks can go.
    it made it even better when Fish sank a few of those very deep treys late in the game, those daggers must have felt so sweet going in!
    as someone said above, I wish I could have heard his post game interview…
    I’m sure he was above it, and mr class all the way.

  24. Go check out those lamer suns fans on their homepage saying they got us in 6 lol they finally make it past the spurs and they think their contenders now lol

  25. hollinger, stein and broussard are picking the suns well over at espn. ha…

  26. With the sweep let’s not forget Pau had the game of his Laker career last night. That was really fun to watch. As for the next series with the Suns we all know here in LakerLand that when they are dialed in they are the best team in the NBA. It’s up to Phil to make sure of that….and I think he’ll have them ready.

  27. sheridan picking the suns as well

  28. but broussard got the lakers in 7

  29. Have the Lakers lost since Joe Bryant has been at the games?

  30. This is going to be a very tough series. Anyone who thinks we will sweep needs to start watching non-Laker playoff games and pay closer attention to the league as a whole.

    The biggest problem I see here in the short term is Game 1. Our Laker teams have traditionally been very sluggish after a long rest and this 6 day vacation will make them even more slow. The Suns, on the other hand, have proven to be quick out of the gate. On top of that, our bench has been less than perfect while theirs has been on fire. While I think our starters have what it takes to take us over the hump, I would not be surprised if no team weans consecutive games and the series goes to 7.

  31. ya go suns go. go home don’t even bother showing up lol jk it’ll be a good series can’t wait til monday

  32. The Thunder gave the team fits pushing the ball in round 1 and everyone thought we were doomed. The Lakers spend round 2 beating up on a team that plays purely in the half-court and now everyone is convinced they will wipe out the Suns because of it.
    We here at FB&G have some short memories.

  33. #33. Not all of us have such short memories Tyler. Phoenix will be a test for sure. And we’ll discuss it all over the next 6 days.

  34. true tyler but we’re playing with a bit more intensity now then we were then. not to make it sound cliché but we needed a jump start and they sure gave a nice jolt.

  35. The Lakers just pounded a small team with a fast point guard. sound familar. The Suns are the classic, we just beat our rivals and we are happy and this is as far as we go team. So for people asking the questions in these treads are you scaredof the Suns and my anwser is no. Better coaching better and longer players. More championship mettle. Lakers in 5

  36. This was a surprising and pleasing team victory–and series sweep. We will be meeting a team with similar surprising and pleasing victories and sweep against a real nemesis–but now the tables are turned.

    Some of us still remember the pain of those pre Gasol series losses to Los Suns. I’m certain that Kobe and Lamar remember them well . . . . .

  37. hollinger is just a plain idiot

  38. Comments from a Suns fan here;
    1. Lakers bench improved this series. Bodes well for them.
    2. Pau Gasol is a nightmare matchup for anyone. The only players who could give him trouble are past their prime, out of the playoffs or retired(Garnett, Duncan, Camby, Olajuwon, McHale)
    3. Bynum’s knee may prove to be an issue vs. the quick paced Suns. We’ll see.
    4. Rebounding will be critical for the Suns. I see a big advantage for the Lakers due to their size. This will likely be evident in the area of 2nd chance points.
    5. Suns bench is deep and plays physically and fearlessly. They could conceivably make things very challenging for the Lakers.
    Looking forward to an entertaining series. As much as I love my Suns, I think the Lakers take this series in 6 games or less.

  39. #39. Patrick,
    I think you touched on a lot of the major themes. Phoenix will be a fun series for fans. Thanks for stopping by and continue to touch base throughout the series. We do try to keep it civil here.

  40. 33) – To be fair, OKC would not have had a chance in that series had it not been for free throws. Sorry, I know we aren’t supposed to say that. But it’s true. From the field, they only shot about 40% as team for the series. That brings me to my point about the Suns.

    The Suns will be a tough out for the Lakers. Make no mistake about it. While some fans may be underestimating the Suns I doubt the players will. However, lets not forget the Lakers are playing some of the best (if not THE best) defense of these playoffs. Yes, the Lakers need to worry about the Suns. But the Suns need to be petrified of the Lakers. It is not just size the Suns have to worry about. The Lakers have clamped down defensively and are gobbling up rebounds. If the Lakers can cut off the three point line and control the glass they should be fine.

  41. @39. welcome to all level-headed suns fans. I agree with you that the suns biggest advantage against us is your bench. Right behind that, I would put outside shooting, especially if Frye can bring either Pau or Andrew away from the basket, freeing up space and minimizing the Lakers rebounding/shotblocking advantages (Utah really missed Okur in this regard).

    in the interest of trying to start things off on the right note, although like so many other laker fans the memory of the bell/d’antoni victories over the lakers still burns inside me, I must say as a basketball fan it’s hard not to admire and root for likable guys such as Nash and Hill.

    What will be interesting to me is if Nash is able to ‘probe’ the defense successfully against us– we certainly don’t have a logical nash-stopper (farmar? I don’t think so), so will Nash’s speed eat the Lakers alive or will he find that the presence of so many big bodies in the lane (Drew, Pau, Ron, Lamar) will make it difficult for him to dribble in, explore, and make a decision which is when he’s the most dangerous?

    Anyway, I’m really looking forward to this series and hope to see some intelligent Suns fans around these parts. Long wait until Monday– hopefully both our teams will be at full health by then.

  42. Check Hollinger’s rankings and look at the teams doing well in the playoffs. His stats might be good for the regular season, but they don’t take into account a team’s “hotness”, whether coming back from injury, just “figuring it out”, or matching up well against a team. He’s all stats and no prediction.

  43. Mark (suns fan) May 11, 2010 at 11:29 am

    its nice to read some actual basketball conversation from the REAL laker fans on this blog…all you get on espn.com are homers who say things like “lakers in five, book it”…. i enjoy reading what you guys have to say about the lakers cause i honestly do not watch much of other teams in the regular season and havent watched much of the lakers in the playoffs… so i dont really know how to exactly analyze this series…however i dont think it will be a short series in either teams favor…should be a fun one to watch and good luck…go suns!

  44. Darius, thanks for the welcome. I’ve been a Suns fan since their inception. I watched the first playoff series between the Lakers and the Suns in 1970 when the Suns went up 3-1 only to lose in 7, so I am pretty well versed in the history between the two teams. Interesting bit of trivia in that there have been many former Lakers playing for the Suns and vice versa over the years. The two teams have each had the following players on their rosters; Mel Counts, Kurt Rambis, Keith Erickson, Gail Goodrich, Connie Hawkins, A.C. Green, Robert Horry, Shaquille O’Neal, Smush Parker, Pat Riley. There may be others that I’ve missed.
    Two additional issues that will affect this series;
    1. Coaching. While Gentry and staff have done a great job, the Zen Master has been there, done that. I think the Suns coaches will need to pull some rabbits out of their hats.
    2. Will Robin Lopez play, and if so, will he be effective enough to make a solid contribution? Especially after such a long layoff?
    More points to ponder . . .

  45. >hollinger, stein and [sheridan] are picking the suns well over at espn.

    yes, and Abbott, Adande, Broussard, Ford, Legler, Rose and Thorpe all pick the Lakers. or, the ESPN NBA analysts plump for the Lakers 7-3. typical Lakers fans, seeing only the downside!
    – mr. negativity ; )

  46. Lakers in 6!Kobe for 30-5-5!
    Good luck to both teams and impartial officiating from refs please.