The Jazz played their best game, they were the aggressors on Friday night. In the first quarter D-Will was penetrating on Fisher (as Darius pointed out, often going away from the pick and just taking him off the dribble), plus Carlos Boozer found his game near the basket and that confidence extended to his jumper (he had 12 makes, 7 in the paint and 5 outside it, but his early baskets, all but one in the first half, were in the paint).
And as Reed who was at the game said, that crowd is very loud and fueled the Jazz.
That said, the Lakers lost by just five. The question is: Confronted by the best and most desperate team they have faced so far, how do they adjust and respond? That means personally, as well as team adjustments.
Some other thoughts:
• What stymied the Lakers offense was turnovers — 20.5% of Lakers possessions ended in a turnover. We discussed this before the series, but the Jazz can play well in transition and to beat them you need to limit the easy baskets they get in transition and early in the clock. Turning the ball over that much feeds the transition game, and with D-Will being so aggressive it meant some early lay-ups that got the Jazz going.
• In the first two games, the Lakers got some buckets early in the clock as well by pushing down court then getting the ball into the post. In this game, it seemed the Lakers settled for a lot more jumpers and three-balls in those situations (I didn’t chart the shots, so that’s just my feeling). Missing threes fueled the Jazz transition as well.
• Pau Gasol is not a soft player. We’ve had this discussion about Odom and a host of other players – do not expect them to be what they are not. Pau Gasol is 7 feet but don’t expect him to play like Andrew Bynum or Patrick Ewing. He brings a different skill set, one that is a perfect triangle fit, but don’t expect him to be a banger with his back to the basket every trip down. That is not his game.
• That said, Gasol needs to take a lesson from Kobe about playing through the physicality of the Jazz and not looking to the refs. He’s clearly thinking and not reacting, not going after his man when single-covered. He needs a couple of early buckets of his own creation (not a Kobe dish for a dunk) early in the game.
• I think I could change out the word Odom for Gasol in the above paragraph and it would still apply,
• Bill Bridges said it and I think we all agree – Less Farmar, more Sasha.