Wednesday, May 14

Lakers-Jazz Game 5: Quarter 2

Scroll down for my commentary on the first quarter.

The Lakers take their 29-26 lead into the start of the quarter and get lucky on some early Utah misses. Gasol then bails out his teammates with a strong dunk after several missed Lakers shots. Both teams are getting offensive rebounds and both team's defenses continue to struggle.

An interesting statistic came up: there's been only one lead change during the course of the first four games. How the heck is that possible?

Farmar hits a three pointer, then Okur responds on the opposite end of the court with his own triple. I'll take that exchange any day if it helps Farmar develop some confidence after what's been a horrible shooting slump in this series.

Gasol collects a shooting foul after surviving a gang mugging by nearly every player wearing blue. The refs might want to check for some brass knuckles on the Jazz bench (whoops, that's my Lakers fandom sneaking out).

During the Inside Trax segment Odom sings along to the stadium's music. The dude's had his share of problems in the past, but Lamar has really grown up in the last couple of years and I like the guy.

Gasol hits his free throws and extends the Lakers lead to 38-33.

Fisher bodies up to Deron Williams and forces the turnover, leading to two Kobe free throws on the other end. Fisher's physical defense has worked pretty well while Farmar has been on the receiving end of Williams' upper body strength and, as Doug Collins has stated, that's fueling Farmar's shooting woes.

Some hot shooting and more Utah turnovers have widened the Lakers lead to 45-35. This is more like it as the Lakers are now getting into the lane and drawing fouls even if Utah is preventing easy buckets. Roughly six minutes are left in the quarter.

Commercial critique: I like the Charles Barkeley- D. Wade commercials, because they have believable chemistry and Barkeley is possibly the funniest ex-NBA baller around. I just wish they'd come out with a new one.

Kobe finds Gasol on a pick and roll for the first easy basket of the game for the Lakers. Okur ruins the moment by hitting a tough jumper on the end and cuts the Lakers lead to 48-39.

The energy has picked up dramatically on both sides of the court for the Lakers. They've come up with consecutive defensive stops and some open buckets. Then Kobe ruins the moment and throws the ball away. Okur jumps in and hits another jumper to add insult to injury. Kierilenko (?) takes a steal for a dunk and the Lakers momentum just took a shot to the gonads.

Lakers lead 53-46 with a little under three minutes left in the half.

Commercial critique: I've seen the Zune commercial about six times now but only now did I realize the album covers spelled out a message. Sometimes my slowness amazes even me.

Kobe hits Gasol on a fast break dunk to push the Lakers lead back up to 55-50 but turnovers continue to plague them. On the previous play, Deron Williams proved just how dangerous he is with a highlight quality crossover move to set up an open jumper. There's no question that Williams is the heart and soul of this Jazz squad.

The Lakers close out the half with a barrage of hook shots and layups and reain a 61-54 lead.

It's clear that the Lakers have refound their energy and possibly the biggest difference has been Derek Fisher's stellar defense on Deron Williams. Neither Fisher nor Farmar can match Williams' speed, but Fisher has the strength and the wiles to make him work for his shot and that limits the entire Jazz offense.

I like how Kobe came out aggressive in the first quarter and then helped set up his teammates, especially Gasol in the second period. In the Games 3,4 Kobe took over the game frequently to the detriment of his team's offensive flow so it's reassuring to see a better balance of cutting, passing, and driving out of KB24.