I am not nomuskles and won’t even try, but here is my breakdown of the final five minutes of regulation and all of the overtime I could stomach.
5:06, Jazz 96, Lakers 88: Off an out of bounds after a time out, Kobe gets the ball on the wing and runs across the top of a high Gasol screen – the Jazz got better at defending this play, but rather than do things to enliven it the Lakers have made it a perfunctory part of their sets – then the ball goes to Fisher then Odom on the block. He spins and goes up with a 9-foot jumper that misses, and Gasol gets called for the over the back.
Utah is shooting free throws and Okur hits both.
4:58. Jazz 98, Lakers 88. The Lakers go through a set where they never get the ball inside and never make a serious attempt to. The end result is eventually Kobe shoots a three from three-feet behind the line with AK-47 in his face, and misses. Boozer the board.
Williams sets up the offense for the Jazz, slides to the side with Boozer at the elbow (everyone else has cleared way out), starts to make a drive. Odom is watching Williams more than Boozer, who quietly slides back into the lane. Nifty little bounce pass from D-Will to Boozer cutting to the basket, Gasol is late to rotate and fouls. Boozer hits both, and somewhere Ralph Lawler thinks the game is over.
4:21. Jazz 100, Lakers 88. This time down Fisher wastes no time throwing the ball into Gasol mid-post. Gasol certainly was better with the speed and quality of his decision in this game, but on this possession he holds on while some cutters go by then spins into Okur and draws the foul. Ball out of bounds. Fisher on the inbounds and again goes to Gasol, this time at the elbow. Kobe comes off a screen behind that, gets the pass out from Gasol and goes up with a very quick three. Miss, but long board tapped back to Kobe. This time Kobe drives into three Jazz defenders, including D-Will who has both feet in the paint. Okur isn’t sure three is enough so he races to join them. Fisher is alone in the corner, gets the kick-out and nails the short three.
3:55, Jazz 100, Lakers 91. This time D-Will and Boozer really change things up – they move to the right side of the court. Same slide and bounce pass play, same elbow/slide action without the pick, same misplayed Laker defense (except that Gasol is out on Boozer and Odom is even slower to rotate) and Boozer hits a lay-up.
3:36. Jazz 102, Lakers 91. Kobe and Gasol again go through the “we’re not really all that serious” pick on the weak side, but when Kobe comes off it he sees Fisher in the left corner and whips a pass to him. D-Will closes but Fisher is feeling it.
3:19. Jazz 102, Lakers 94. Fisher plays tighter defense picking Williams out not far inside the half-court line, the ball still goes to Boozer at the elbow but he is doubled by Odom and Gasol. He tries a return pass to Williams but Fisher reads it and deflects it, right to Gasol. Turnover.
Kobe pushes as best he can with his back, but nothing develops, so it goes to Fisher, and Fish wants the ball to work inside out so he gets it to Gasol on the block. Pau starts to make a move, Okur reaches in and gets called for it. He then says some magic words to the ref that earn him a “T.”
I will say this, Okur and the other players have a beef that the calls in this series and in this game have been inconsistent. Somebody mentioned it in the comments yesterday – they are still calling the slight hand-check fouls on the perimeter but not the hockey-game in the paint. On that point, Okur is correct – his foul is a foul most nights but not the way things are being called in this game. Still, if Bull Durham taught us one thing, it is there are certain things you can’t say to a ref.
Anyway, Fish hits the technical. Then the Lakers get the ball on the side and it goes to Kobe on the left wing. Kobe and Gasol go through the motions but Phil has thrown in a fun wrinkle – on the weak side Odom surprises D-Will by setting a back-screen for Fisher, who uses it to run free to the right corner. Kobe with the skip pass and Fisher with the rainbow as D-Will is late arriving.
2:41. Jazz 102, Lakers 98. As we have discussed here, the Jazz have stopped setting the high screen for D-Will and just letting him go right at Fisher, and that’s what happens here. And, he gets by Fish no problem. Kobe slides over from the right in the paint to take the charge, Gasol does the same from the left and is a bit late. It looks more like a soccer wall, but D-Will tries to split it and with Gasol not quite set it’s a blocking foul. Williams to the line and he hits
2:28, Jazz 104, Lakers 98. Kobe foreshadows the overtime, he comes off the Gasol screen, squares up on his man from three and just launches it. Miss, but Korver touches the ball on its way out of bounds. On their second set the Lakers move the ball well on the perimeter, get the ball into Kobe coming to the low block, and the Jazz come with the quick double of Okur and AK-47. Of course, Okur had to double off Gasol, and a quick bounce pass to Gasol means a dunk.
2:07, Jazz 104, Lakers 100. D-Will takes his time, trying to run a little off the clock. When he makes his move (away from the screen) Fisher stays with him. He comes back to the right, but Gasol shows out on Boozer, D-Will tries to reverse and Fisher is right there the entire time. He bails to Okur out at the three point line, who has nothing and gives it to Korver, who tries a H-O-R-S-E shot but the 24 second clock expires.
A couple Lakers touch it before Kobe gets it at the free-throw line with Korver on him and no immediate double. It shows how much his back is hurting that he looks around to pass before deciding to attack the single-coverage of Korver, a healthy Kobe explodes in that spot. Eventually he does drive the lane and gets the and-one. He hits the free throw.
1:25, Jazz 104, Lakers 103. D-Will wastes little time driving the lane, but the Lakers play it well collapsing on him. Williams kicks to Okur at the three-point line, but the Kobe closes fast. So Okur throws it out to Williams out top, but the ball squirts out by the center line and almost into the back court. I slowed it down, and it’s close, but I don’t think he goes over and back. He then makes a spin move and hits an impressive 17-foot fade-away over Gasol. Nice shot.
1:06, Jazz 106, Lakers 103. This time Kobe and Gasol are a little more serious about the pick-and-roll, and they run it out higher, at the arc. Kobe drives the lane and the Jazz scramble to rotate. In all the action, Odom, slides out to the arc and gets a kick-out from Kobe for a wide-open three. Odom, if you let him set his feet and get a good look, can hit that shot at a decent clip. He hits this one.
:54, Jazz 106, Lakers 106. D-Will is just impressive. This time he looks around some then comes to Boozer’s high screen, and when Gasol shows out he splits the two and gets in the lane by himself. (Part of this is Gasol is just not a great pick-and-roll defender, this is one of the places we miss Bynum.) Odom slid over, the Lakers collapsed and D-Will kicks out to Okur, but Odom is there, too. He takes a few dribbles in then remembers he’s not a guard and the ball goes back to D-Will.
And this is one of those things – Williams tries a spin-move in the lane and just looses the ball. And in a Luc Robitaille moment, the ball goes straight to Boozer who picks up the garbage and drives in and draws the foul (on Fisher or Gasol would have been gone). Just luck, which is why the best teams don’t win the most close games during a regular season, they have the most blowouts.
:34, Jazz 108, Lakers 106. Kobe gets the ball out top, comes off the Gasol screen and drives the lane to the right. The Jazz collapse on him, and Kobe kicks it to Odom for the open corner three. He can hit those at a decent clip, but not all of them. Gasol with the offensive board. He is surrounded and can’t go back up, he gives it to Kobe who passes on the open 18-footer to try to get to the three-point line but D-Will recovers, and Kobe passes to Fisher cutting to the hole. Fish draws a crowd and tries a little inside handoff to Gasol, but the ball gets loose and goes out of bounds off Boozer’s leg.
7.8 seconds left, and on the inbounds play Gasol sets a screen to free Kobe, who gets the ball mid-block. Kobe goes for the lay-up while AK-47 and Boozer go for the block. Kobe misses, but with all the Jazz out of position going for the block Odom slides in for the easy put back.
And we are on to Overtime. Rather than describe every play, here are a few plays I thought summed things up.
4:38, Jazz 108, Lakers 108. After a play where the ball ends up out of bounds, the Lakers re-set and Kobe gets the ball between the arc and top of the circle, isolated on AK-47. The other Lakers move through some picks to get to space, then stop and wait for Kobe. They are all covered, and Kobe goes up with the jumper, which he misses as he is cold and hurting.
4:02, Jazz 108, Lakers 108. The Lakers work it around to Kobe on the block on the right side, but covered by AK-47 he has no advantage down there. The other Lakers space the floor and get ready to admire Kobe on the move – and when he does Gasol and Odom set picks for Sasha and Fish to let them move freely to three-point spots. But Kobe stops his move and slides back out and keeps dribbling. Now the guys are standing around so Kobe tries to drive on AK-47 but gets rejected.
By the way, next trip down is the play where Gasol misses the dunk. Unfortunate that it came on his best and most aggressive move of the night.
Speaking of unfortunate, next Laker trip is the one where Sasha tries to drive and facilitate along the baseline with a bounce-pass to Gasol that goes wild. That said, I think we are all now onboard the Sasha as the back-up PG against D-Will train. He seemed to be the second best defender we had on him (I wish Popcornmachine.net wasn’t down so we could estimate Sasha’s +/- on Williams compared to others, maybe next game.)
2:15, Jazz 110, Lakers 108. Just after an Okur long-range two, the Lakers come back down. Kobe and Gasol try the high pick-and-roll, Kobe uses his hesitation move to split the double off it and drives the lane. Normally Kobe explodes here for a big dunk, but he’s slowed and not exploding and AK-47 comes from behind and blocks it. On the inbounds it is straight to Kobe at the arc on the wing, and he doesn’t even bother with the screen he just tries to go up with the three-ball. Misses.
I think from here we end up in a cycle that was very familiar last year but have seen little of this year – Kobe feels let down by his teammates, so he just tries to do it all himself. It’s not a good way to win playoff games.
There are good ways, hopefully we return to those on Wednesday night.