Lakers/Jazz: The Lakers Let One Slip Away

Darius Soriano —  April 5, 2011

Over the past twelve quarters, the Lakers have played well for two of them. Unfortunately, that’s not enough to win consistently and tonight – like Sunday – that poor play resulted in another loss, this time to the Jazz by a score of 86-85. Any hopes of home court in the West have now slipped away and the Lakers find themselves in a dogfight to stay ahead of their chief competitors in the East (while also falling 2 games behind the Bulls in the loss column). Just a frustrating night all around.

Really, this game was summed up quite well by 3ThreeIII in the comments:

Sometimes the ball does not go in.

Lakers shot pretty poorly, all across the board, with only Gasol (5-10) and Barnes (2-4) shooting even 50%.

Fairly uncharacteristic, and with Bynum (5-13) and Lamar (5-12) shooting poorly, we really cannot even say it was nothing but bad shots… We got the bigs the ball for 35 looks, and only got 15 of them to drop.

Shame to waste a good night (otherwise) by Bynum, with 39 minutes, a fantastic 23 rebounds (7 on offense) and a monstrous 4 blocks.

Honestly, as badly as the Lakers shot tonight (38% overall, and 20% from three point land), it is only the excellent defense that kept it close.

*shrugs*

The bigs are healthy, Bynum is learning to be a BEAST game in and game out, and this is still just the regular season.

I am really looking forward to the playoffs.

There was, however, more to this game. The Jazz showed grit and effort throughout the entire night when the Lakers did not. Jazz rookie Gordon Hayward flashed a versatile offensive arsenal driving to both hands, moving well off the ball, and finishing both off the bounce and off his jumper to the tune of 22 points on only 14 shots. He also did quite well as a playmaker throughout the contest (and especially down the stretch), tallying 5 assists as the Jazz put the ball in his hands to create for his team. Meanwhile, the Lakers again struggled to control their defensive glass, surrendering 16 offensive boards even with Bynum (16 defensive rebounds, 23 total) doing yeoman’s work on the glass. Worse yet, on a night where the Jazz missed 51 shots no other Laker even had double digit rebounds with Pau (3 defensive rebounds, 5 total) performing especially poorly on the glass. Plus, the Lakers also had their second straight game of sloppy mishaps, committing 19 turnovers offense while also committing 22 fouls (which was one more than the normally foul happy Jazz committed). This three headed monster of bad qualities (rebounds, fouls, turnovers) truly did the Lakers in and it’s a wonder that this game was even close at the end.

The end of the game, however, was the kicker. In the last 1:17 Kobe Bryant hit two tremendous three pointers – the first to cut a 5 point lead to 2, the second to tie the game at 85 – that positioned the Lakers to win the game. With the game tied at 85, Hayward drove the ball into the teeth of the Laker D, earned a foul, and proceeded to knock down 1 of 2 from the line to put the Jazz up by a single point. Then, with 6 seconds left, the Lakers ran a play to get Kobe the ball at the top of the key. Kobe drove right, ball faked, tried to step through, and had the ball slip out of his hands for a turnover. Game over.

In the end, I’m disappointed with this contest and would have hoped that the team would have come out with more intensity. That said, the Lakers seem to have lost some of their pre-existing rhythm on offense and aren’t doing a lot of things well on that side of the ball. I think they could really use some time in the film room to identify some of their issues as they’ve clearly gotten away from the screening and off ball movement that fueled their offense during their run. Sadly, that time will have to wait until Thursday as they play at Golden State tomorrow and then visit Portland on Friday. At this point, I’m not too concerned but, again, I would like to see some of the sharpness return to their offense to match their still-very-good-defense. Tomorrow is a new day, folks. I suggest you let this one wash away.

Darius Soriano

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21 responses to Lakers/Jazz: The Lakers Let One Slip Away

  1. agreed. It’s a shame so many guys played badly to give the jazz the moxie to see it through. Blake, brown and barnes need to play better. very questionable calls by the refs, but the lakers had so many chances. So much for catching the spurs.

  2. All I want to know is when the hell is Phil going to let Bynum close the game. The last two games the lakers lost because lamar couldn’t provide what Bynum does best that’s defensive rebounding and protecting the paint. Kobe shouldn’t have lost Gordon Hayward on that last play, but Odom was late on the help.

  3. Kobe’s old…nuff said.

  4. 2,
    Phil was letting Bynum close games during our dominant post All Star break run. He held him out against the Nuggets because of the tweak Bynum felt in his knee. Of course we subsequently lost to the Nuggets because of Drew’s absence. Tonight I believe Phil didn’t handle the rotation well enough. Andrew played 38 minutes before being taken out with 3 minutes to play. To be honest he looked tired when Phil pulled him… And for good reason. He and Artest basically carried the Lakers tonight on defense. Honestly… Was anyone else even on that half of the floor besides RonRon and Drew? I understand if Bynum was fatigued, after all he was on the court with no break since 2 minutes to go in the third quarter. Jackson has to switch around his roatations so The Beast (that nickname is now an understatament) can get a break to start the fourth quarter as to be fresh for crunch time.

    3,
    Yes Kobe looked old tonight. Nobody can argue that. But it’s one game. Is he the player he was 7 years ago? Of course not. But he is still a top 5 player in the NBA and more than capable of leading the Lakers to another championship. Having said that… I did mention yesterday that the only problem I see heading into the playoffs is the inability of Kobe to draw double teams. That’s how great players make their teammates better. The fact opposing teams haven’t even bothered to double Kobe for often this year is a combination of his age and the extreme talent that surrounds Bryant.

  5. i say luke walton should not be allowed to shoot at all. bynum should get all his shots

  6. Teams are taking the Phoenix strategy now. Don’t double Kobe, swarm Gasol as soon as he makes a basketball move, and dare Ron Artest and the other lakers to hit 3’s. Kobe realizes this and is really trying to attack and put the onus on the refs to reward him. The problem is Kobe cries wolf to many times to really get that type of respect from referees.

    The good news though is teams still have no real answer for Odom and Bynum

  7. Yuck. Oh well.

    I hate to pile on, but I feel like if I woke up tomorrow and I was somehow suddenly 6’8″ and on the Laker roster, I would be about as effective as Luke was in that game. Any reason why Barnes sat the whole second half?

  8. You know, Phil is no idiot- he sees what we see on the court. He sees that Barnes should have been on the court at the end, that defensively, Bynum contributes perhaps as much as Kobe does offensively.

    With this in mind, I would absolutely love to know what Phil’s line of reasoning when he makes the adjustments he makes. I’m sure there is a lot of backstory we just don’t know. (Maybe Barnes didn’t hustle in practice e.g.)

  9. “Kobe looks old…”??

    Well, if not for that reakish last second turnover, then he delivered hell of a crunch time performance tonight. I wouldn’t worry too much about him, he had his team playing great up untill these last few games.

    I do worry about the defensive rebounding, and it isn’t just on Pau, it is everyone not boxing out. Kobe doesn’t even pick up his own man and nail him… come on guys! I am teaching my kids these fundamentals, and for the Lakers it could cost the them the biggest price in basketball… that is really frustrating.

  10. ”Kobe’s crying wolf”
    DWade -LBJ others all cry wolf.They do get respect.
    Frankly a foul is a foul, just be consistent with the whistle..
    Tired game from Lakers.On to the next one.

  11. No need to panic but I was hoping they had completely flushed these stinkers out of their system. Need to finish strong so they don’t lose the post-all star break mental edge they established to all the contenders.

  12. 2 biggest issues with this game.

    1. When Kobe lost his balance in the corner and Hayward literally takes his hands and puts them on Kobe’s chest and just hurls him away from the ball and then goes coast to coast. And all of this was literally 2 feet in front of the ref.

    2. Shannon Brown. I’m sick of watching him play basketball. On offense all he does is kill any offensive rhythm by dribbling aimlessly for 10 seconds or looking for his terrible long fade away. On defense he REFUSES to close out on shooters and I can’t remember the last time he put his hand up. Knowing this, having Brown guard Hayward was killer. He just kept leaving him and then not closing out. There was no excuse. Throw in his penchant for gambling on impossible steals over actually playing defense and I’m just sick of him. He’s more interested in amazing dunks than winning games. The exact opposite of a role player.

  13. If and when the Lakers lose in the WCF to the Spurs or in the Finals to the Bulls, we will pin-point games like the last two as the reasons b/c we lost home court advantage.

  14. Agree with Aaron about Kobe, not the same player that some years ago but still capable of leading this team to another champioship
    Still, 33% FT and 7 TOs from your team leader I guess it is not what you expect if you want to win a match
    Very poor rebounding effort by Pau didn´t help either
    Time for the playoffs

  15. 13 – If the Lakers lose it won’t be because they didn’t have HCA. I was dosing off throughout this game, but from what I’ve seen, everyone is pretty much on the money.

    Anytime Luke Walton is in the game my blood pressue goes way up. Shannon Brown, let’s face it. After his brilliant start to the season, teams have started to actually guard him and he hasn’t found a way to be effective in the triangle offense.

    And I know I have to be careful here because of how people defend Kobe, but it’s becoming very apparent that this may be his last year that he will be able to play at an elite level. Let’s just enjoy the rest of this year and the playoffs. For Gordon Hawyard to take it to him like that has to be a sign. He couldn’t stay with him.

  16. 17 – 3 since the ASG, not a bad record at all, but it was frustrating losing that game.

  17. At this point in the season I usually get basketball burnout (yet another reason I’ve been gone from the blog for so long) and I find it hard to get upset about this game. The Lakers played poorly all game long, and I never expected them to win for that reason. I was very excited when they almost did anyway, but in the end, this was just another game that won’t impact the playoff seeding very much, if at all. We’re still 17-3 since the All-Star break and 54-22 overall.

    The playoffs are a new season. It’s a re-set, a completely fresh start over. And when the playoffs start, we are one of the best four teams in the league, and we are the ones that everyone in the West are scared of.

    Bring it on.

  18. The Lakers are in the last few games of the season, and are almost certainly thinking more about the playoffs than the team right in front of them.

    What is certain is that in the opposing locker room that coach is motivating his team by saying, “Let’s take it to these guys, show our pride in front of everyone, and show the world that we can beat anyone. THAT is how we can finish this season strong and build on it for next year.”

    (Thanks for the quote Darius!)

  19. Los Feliz Laker April 6, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    Did anyone else catch Bynum shaking his head on the bench during that Jazz player’s free throws? I took it to mean, “That wouldn’t have happened with me out there.” If I have one worry about Bynum in the playoffs, it’s: Remember when he played terribly against Orland in the Finals, and his agent called reporters to complain about playing time? What is going to happen now that he’s playing great?

  20. #10, “tired game from the Lakers”? Well, tonight they are playing again, so will they lose this one against the Dubs, according to that logic?

    It was just a bad game all around, with players like Shannon and Walton continuing to be consistently bad. I was more disappointed than upset, because I’d rather see the Hornets than the Grizzlies. Still, wish they had played with a little more interest and executed better.

  21. Has everyone seemingly forgotten that Kobe’s knee is banged up, his ankle is tweaked, his elbow is banged up and his fingers are mashed? He’s not “OLD” he’s playing through a battery of injuries!

    We go through this nonsense every year with Kobe where everyone talks about him losing it- then he comes in healthy at the beginning of the year and lights up teams and suddenly it’s “Kobe rejuvenated”. Kobe still has at least 2 years of elite level play left in him, provided he stays healthy. He’s not old yet, but he’s also not real smart about resting up when he’s hurt and he SHOULD have gotten that finger surgery way back when because his handle has definitely suffered.