Lakers/Jazz Game 2 Recap
Could a scorching-hot DWill steal one against the Mighty Lakers?
In his pre-game press conference, Phil Jackson reacts to the caveats of the Lakers’ otherwise convincing victory over the Jazz in Game one, namely that they were outscored in the second half and Jerry Sloan was quoted as saying that the Jazz needed to get “nastier” in order to beat the Lakers.
-Phil says that his Lakers do not need to get “nastier” or more physical in order to match the Jazz, and says that this doesn’t feel like an overly physcial team, like the Jazz were in the ’90s, saying that only Matt Harpring reminds him of a guy on those Stockton/Malone Jazz teams in terms of his physicality.
-When asked about Andrew Bynum’s health, Phil responds that Andrew’s knee is fine, but he got into foul trouble in game 1 which kept him off the floor. When asked how he plans to try to keep him out of foul trouble in this game, Phil says the key is keeping his guards in front of the ball and stopping penetration.
-Asked why Shannon Brown, Trevor Ariza, and Pau Gasol were all able to fit into Phil’s system so quickly where veterans have struggled in the past, Phil responds that “you can’t teach old dogs new tricks” and that in the past, veterans with habits ingrained in them had come on and been slower to assimilate into his system.
Sloan states that his team’s effort picked up in the second half of game one, and that they got sloppy and frantic when they tried to score quickly or get caught up in a running game.
-Sitting down to interview Ronnie Brewer, I get asked if I’m 14 from across the room by Jarron Collins. You know you’re low on the totem pole when you’re getting ragged on by Jarron Collins. I respond I’m 20, and end up comparing birthdays with Kosta Kufos, who I’m actually older than. See? I belong here!
-Kosta Kufos was inactive for this game. -When asked how he thought he did on Kobe, Ronnie Brewer says that he thought he did a good job, that Kobe worked for every one of his shots and didn’t get straight drives to the basket or open jumpers. -When asked if Utah would look to push or slow things down, Brewer said he trusted Deron Williams and Brevin Knight to know what to do in terms of pushing the ball and making decisions.
When I tell Matt Harpring Jackson named him as a physical player, Harpring says that he’s not proud of being physical, but it’s how he’s always played the game and learned to play the game, some guys are finesse guys or speed guys, but some guys are bangers. Harpring also acknowledges he’s not the most athletic guy in the world, and that he does have a football background. When asked if he thinks the team should play more physically, he says that he thinks being more physical helps, and that they got to the conference finals by being physical. He also says there’s no mind-game element to how he plays and he’s not trying to get under anyone’s skin, but he’s just trying to play the game.
This crowd is LOUD. Before the game starts, we get a “U-Tah Sucks!” chant going pretty nice. Classy. It’s 18-9 LAL already, and 6 of Utah’s points are on Ronnie Brewer jumpers. This will not end well. It’s Jack Nicholson’s birthday! MASSIVE standing ovation. That’s the American dream, right? To just be so cool you can just become a franchise trademark because you feel like it? 41-29 after one. The Lakers were just feeding Bynum and Pau every time and scoring again and again. That was very nearly a literally perfect offensive quarter of basketball. And Kobe took one shot. Amazing. Kobe starts to back Ronnie Brewer down from the three-point line and eventually passes. “You know, that’s technically a five-second violation,” I say to the guy next to me, half-joking, because who’s calling that?. Two possessions later, Kobe does the same thing AND GETS A 5-SECOND VIOLATION! Easily my most impressive moment as a sportswriter. And now that I think about it, of course he’s getting whistled for that-successfully calling a 5-second back-to-basket violation has to be the referee equivalent of hitting a 35-footer. He was stoked to make that call. Deron Williams is absolutely unconscious. I am not kidding when I say the best offense Utah has mounted is Deron Williams jacking a three off one dribble to get his balance. And now he’s brought Utah to within six, 107-101 LAL with 4:10 to go… and the Lakers put the clamps down. Williams finishes by missing his final 5 shots, and the game is over, although Utah made them work.
Carlos Boozer thinks that having a great Salt Lake city crowd will help the Jazz find their rhythm earlier and not get off to a slow start.
Pau Gasol, when I ask if knowing Utah is undersized puts more pressure on him to be a feature scorer, responds that he enjoys the opportunity as a big man maximize the strengths the Lakers have over the other team.
Kobe, when asked on the difference between the home court and the road: “Well, a bunch of people in the stands wanna kill you. But I don’t see them blocking any shots. Yet. So it’s okay.”
When asked if the Lakers suffered from a lapse in focus down the stretch, Kobe says “No. It’s Deron Williams being a bad boy. He kept them in the game, kept them in the game. Made plays. He made great reads and kept them in that game.”
So now it goes back to Utah for a possible answer. The Lakers know Deron’s going to be ready to stop the sweep. Will the home crowd be enough to get his supporting cast in sync right out of the gate and string two halves together into a win, or will the Lakers just continue to roll?