Thursday, May 8th, 2008 at 10:30 am  |  37 responses

Game Notes: Jazz @ Lakers, Game 2

There’s no “D” in Utah

by Marcel Mutoni

Prior to the game, the NBA (and, yes, Kia Motors) presented Kobe Bryant with the first MVP award of his Hall of Fame career. Did you know that of all the MVP winners in League history, Karl Malone and Bryant have had to wait the longest to get the coveted award?

(Obviously, as a Laker fan, I’m thrilled that the media finally pulled their heads out of their asses long enough to Kobe finally got his long-overdue recognition as the best player in the universe. A part of me, though, can’t help but feel as though Steve Nash should’ve been flown in and forced to give at least one of his trophies to Bryant. Still bitter about that? Yes, I am. Thanks for asking.)

David Stern, business-minded as always, makes sure to include the NBA’s ubiquitous Playoff tagline “There Can Only be One” in his perfunctory remarks while presenting the trophy to Bryant. The man never takes his eye off the bottom line.

As the crowd breaks out into a deafening “MVP” chant, Kobe’s teammates come over for to offer their congratulations. If one didn’t know better, you might think they actually like the guy. I kid, I kid.

Kobe is then handed a microphone, and tells the crowd that he loves them, that he’s got many years left in a Laker uniform, and that his Lakers are going to be playing until June. “Um, do kindly ignore everything I said in late May,” Bryant does not necessarily add.

First Q:

-With the game about to start, Bryant has that wild and crazed look in his eye – well, even more so than usual. This could mean one of two things: 1) An absolute evisceration of the Utah Jazz, or, 2) Kobe trying to do too much on the offensive end, and the series going back to Salt Lake City all knotted up. We’ll see what happens…

-Derek Fisher stars the night’s festivities by hitting a wide open three.

-Andrei Kirilenko knocks in the Jazz’s first two shots. A wide open jumper, followed up by a mechanical move inside.

-Both teams are playing well offensively, and the Lakers – following a devastating in and out crossover by Lamar Odom on Mehmet Okur – have started the game 6/6.

(AK 47 doesn’t care about no MVP award, as he chases Bryant down on a fastbreak and catches his layup attempt. The angular Russian then knocks in another long jumper to give his team a one-point lead.)

-As Odom finds Vlad Rad, who then hits a streaking Gasol with a nice pass for a strong finish, every Memphis Grizzlies fan on the planet (all 14 of them) contemplates jumping in front of a moving train.

-Ronnie Brewer, tasked with the thankless and exhausting job of checking Kobe, has been doing a pretty impressive job of keeping Bryant in front of him, and has even gotten his hands on the ball a couple of times as Kobe tried to get to the rack.

(Of course, as soon as I type that, Bryant sizes the young man up, and drills a three in his eye. Lakers up 22-13 with a little over four minutes to go in the opening stanza.)

-Deron Williams is almost completely no-existent in the early going. The stud PG has no points, and only two assists so far. To make matters worse, he gets his sh*t sent by Ronny Turiaf after venturing into the lane.

(His point guard counterpart Derek Fisher, meanwhile, is very existent. The vet knocks in his second bomb of the game to push the Laker lead to 13.)

Second Q:

-White on white crime! Luke Walton blocks Matt Harpring’s shot in the post with extreme prejudice.

(Speaking of white people, Kyle Korver gives Utah their first sign of life as he drains a baseline three, cutting the Laker lead to nine and forcing Phil Jackson to take a timeout.

I know Phil talks about wanting to let his teams figure it out on their own as the reason why he often refuses to call timeouts when things are going badly, but I don’t think that has anything to do with it at all. I honestly think it’s because he hates having to stand up from his throne-like chair, and making that funny looking walk of his.)

-With Kobe on the bench with two early fouls, his teammates have maintained a comfortable double-digit lead, and look as though they could easily close out the half without his services. I can’t imagine myself writing what I just did at any point during the last two postseason trips for this team.

-It’s a good thing Paul Millsap showed up tonight, otherwise the Jazz might have not come out of the locker room after halftime. His relentless play inside has kept the team in the game, and the Lakers don’t have an answer for him at the moment.

-Carlos Boozer, meanwhile, has completely disappeared off the face of the Earth. Check out this hideous stat line for the hairy-chested one midway through the first half: 6 1/2 minutes, 0 points, 0 boards, 0 assists, and 3 fouls. Yikes.

-With a minute to go in the half, and its two best players a combined 1-9 from the field, the Jazz are only down by ten points (and as such, theoretically still in the game.) This is about the only thing Utah and its fans can hang their hats on at this point.

Halftime: Lakers (63) – Jazz (49).

Third Q:

-The Jazz start the second half on a strong note by scoring the first two buckets – and hey, a Carlos Boozer sighting! – but Kobe negates all of that by driving in for an easy layin.

-Kobe’s footwork is out of this world. Since he doesn’t have a prayer of slowing him down in the post (or anywhere else, really), Brewer should bring a pen and pad out there with him. Those notes could come in handy at some point in the future.

-Deron Williams seems to have taken his vitamins at halftime, as he routinely beats Fisher to the cup in the early going here. Suddenly, he has 7 points and 7 assists. His team, though, remains in a 14-point hole.

-The good news for Utah: Their shots – and especially those of their name players – are starting to fall a little bit. The bad news for Utah: the defense is a stinky mess of porous and no-existent. Oh, and Kobe is going nuts in this quarter; the newly-minted MVP has 15 points in the third (giving him 27 for the game.) That would qualify as very bad news for Utah.

-The new Mitsubishi ad, featuring assembly-line robots playing hoops with tires, is easily one of the better car commercials that I’ve seen in a long time. You would think that an industry with a practically unlimited budget, and such a vast presence in media – print and broadcast alike – would tap into the creativity well a little more often. Yet, I digress.

(Yes, I’m talking about car advertisements in the middle of an NBA Playoff game. That’s how riveting the contest has been thus far.)

-If the Jazz didn’t have to play defense, they would be in tremendous shape right now.

(To be fair, the L.A. isn’t exactly playing the stopper role in the second half (they allowed Utah to score 34 points in the quarter), but at least they tried on that end of the floor to start out the game.)

-Ten point Laker lead going into the fourth.

Fourth Q:

-After D-Will gets mugged on his way to the tin (no call; hey, welcome to L.A., Deron!), Sasha Vujacic and his greasy mane of wild hair knock down an in-rhythm jumper on the ensuing break.

(Deron, never one to get discouraged, attacks the rim again and the refs finally send him to the line.)

-Without question, Paul Millsap has been the Jazz MVP tonight. The big fella has 17 points and 8 boards (5 of them offensive) so far. His ferocious play in the paint has kept Utah in the game; they trail by 9 with a little under eight minutes to go.

-Out of the timeout, Matt Harpring curls off a screen and wets a jumper. Six point game. OK, I’ll admit it: I’m a tad nervous now.

(Um, TNT, you know I Iove your work, right? I really do. You’re the best in the biz, no doubt about it. That being said, please kill this new camera angle that you’re using; yeah, the one that looks like it’s being brought to us by a hand-held camera. It’s nauseating and I can’t focus on the action. Thanks.)

-With about six minutes to go, as an infuriated John Malkovich said in Rounders, the Jazz are just haaangiiing arrround. 99-92 Lakers. Here’s to hoping the Lakers, unlike Teddy KGB, don’t tip their hand and lose the pot in the end.

-Derek Fisher, who’s not eating any Oreos, nails a back-breaking threeball from straight away. The bomb pushes the lead back up to 10, and the nervous Staples crowd erupts.

-Moments later, Kirilenko gets inside and scores on an and-1. Lead down to 8.

(Kobe then comes back, and after splitting a double team with a spin move, he wraps the pill around a dazed and confused Okur. The gorgeous feed finds Pau Gasol for an open dunk. That may have been the final stake in Utah’s heart tonight.)

-Despite a bunch of meaningless three pointers from D-Will, the final minute is nothing more than a parade to the free throw line for the Lakers, and they close out the Jazz in rather convincing fashion to take a 2-0 series lead.

Utah can score, this they have proven in the series’ first two games. What they absolutely must do, if they plan on making this thing competitive, is defend their homecourt (literally.)

If the Jazz let the Lakers shoot 50% and above from the field again, especially in Utah (where, legend has it, the home team never loses), then this affair will be over quickly.

  • Add a Comment
  • Share
  • RSS

Tags: ,

  • http://slamonline.com Sam Rubenstein

    Kobe’s praising his teammates, hanging out with them, acting like a decent person who respects other people… A-Rod’s wife is telling stories about how he passed out in the delivery room… are these guys… human? what the hell is going on!
    Oh, nice job Mutoni. Utah needs that home court ASAP

  • http://www.freewebs.com/betcats BETCATS

    Kobe actually likes his teamates this year, so i am guessing LA will win it all. They should have kept Caron Butler and found another way to trade for Pau.

  • ciolkstar

    I’m starting to fear the shot making of the Laker bench

  • http://www.mybleedingfingertips.blogspot.com/ Myles Brown


  • http://spaceshipjay/myspace.com Spaceship Jay

    The triangle is UNSTOPPABLE. Too many options. Lamar isn’t bipolar any more (for now)

  • Elvis

    Lakers are on roll and if they take game 3 then they’ll definately sweep.

  • Young Chris #3

    When did Carlos Boozer become the new Dirk?

  • Yongster

    Caron Butler is injury prone. Every year he is hampered by injuries. He needs to get into better shape before he ends up being the next Bonzi Wells.

  • Yongster

    Hey Young Chris #3 – I wouldn’t be so hard on the Booze. His daughter has sickle cell anemia, so he may be a little distracted by more important things than basketball.

  • B. Long

    @ciolkstar:I told you the Bench Mob is deadly. That Turiaf block on Deron was sic.

  • http://myspace.com/bodiebarnett jbn74sb

    1. I realized for the first time within the last couple of days that the Lakers actually have a chance to win the championship this season. Not saying that it will happen, but it could. Without Bynum. IF that were to happen, can you even begin to imagine the vindication Kobe would feel.
    2. I live about two hours west of LA (yes, west – look at a map). I saw my first Laker flag on a car this morning in a long time.
    3. MVP. Finally.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Cheryl

    When he was with the Cavs, young Chris.

  • http://www.clutchfans.net Nick

    I hadn’t really realized how dangerous this lakers team is until now. Pau and Kobe are lights out scorers, but they’re playing as a team and getting everybody involved. Their bench is young, hungry, and athletic. Phil Jackson is shooting mind bullets at jerry sloan. This team could easily win it all.

  • peteb80

    You surely mean the new KG, don’t you?

  • http://www.clutchfans.net Nick

    And Boozer baffles me. What is the main deficiency of the lakers starting line? Post D! I love pau as much as any long-haired scraggly-bearded white guy would, but he isn’t much of a one on one defender…particularly against stronger players who can use their body to push him off balance and negate his Mr. Fantastic arms. What is boozer doing? where is he? Are there Witch Doctors in cleveland?

  • http://www.kb24.com kobe24bryant


  • John E. Sanford

    Deron Williams has to come out more agressive at the start of games. Something is up with Boozer, he hasn’t performed at the same level he performing at earlier this season. With that said though, this series isn’t going any longer than 5.


    The problem with Boozer is that he hears the Karma Police sirens collecting on stabbing an old blind man in the back. KARMA 3 JKidd, Boozer, TMac 0. KG is due..sooner or later.

  • Young Chris #3

    Pete, you’re nuts. KG may have a history of losing in the playoffs, but dude always brings it. And Ticket gonna get get the Karma reward? Sticking it out and being loyal to a franchise until he was shown the door? That’s what this year was, FLUXLAND. Dude paid his dues. When he’s had the talent, he’s gone places with it.

  • Young Chris #3

    Pau’s Spanish, not white, Nick. And about Booz, dude was missing open jumpers last night, missing underneath the basket, fumbling the ball into Laker hands, and letting passes go through his own hands and out of bounds. That was all in the 4th quarter by the way. ‘Los Dirked bad.


    Young Chris #3.. the Ticket took that giant contract preventing his team to bring along the talent to help him in the West. He could have had it reconstructed so many times.. but he refused. I’ll never for the interview when he was asked if he would consider it or something like that, to which he replied “NO! I work hard for that money.” He was loyal to the money not the franchise, IMO. Wouldn’t you be “loyal” to anyone forking over that kind of cash?

  • bballer

    It’s about damn time the voters did the right thing and give that man his MVP award. And I’ve finally gotten over Steve Nash’s 2 MVP awards! Kobe winning it this year (hopefully, he wins at least 1 more before he hangs it up.)has done that.

  • Woody

    I’m one of those 14 Grizzlies fans and if I lived in a city that actually had buses, I would throw myself in front of one, maybe I can find a tractor. I have yet to see Pau play one second for the Lakers and hope every game that he has a terrible accident on the court and if he holds the trophy up at the end of the playoffs, I may jump off the Mississippi River bridge. If they don’t or I somehow survive, I will probably give away my season tickets to the Laker game next season. I just can’t stand it.

  • http://www.rich-imaging.com Dutch Rich

    Slamonline where Spanish is an ethnic race happens.

  • John E. Sanford

    Um….not that it matters because it doesn’t, but I’m thinking Pau is caucasian. Just sayin’

  • G Diesel

    Spanish people from SPAIN are white. Do not confuse them with Latin American people because they’re mixed with Indian aboriginals and black people.

  • tealish

    Jazz need to give Harpring a lot more minutes if they want to win this series.
    Am I missing something – why is Brewer a starter over Harpring or Korver?

  • tealish

    ciolkstar: Me too. It seems like their role guys hit all the big shots. No disrespect to Kobe because we all know when the game’s REALLY on the line, it’s his time. But I’m talking about the moments in the game when it looks like Utah is on a roll. They cut it to 4 or 5 and then all of a sudden a Fisher 3 here and Vujachekaodf 3 there…throw a little Luc Walton into the mix, and the lead’s back to 12. Too deep, too talented. Funny, I thought the same thing about the Jazz.

  • http://idunkonthem.blogspot.com/ albie1kenobi

    all the bench players in PJax-coached Bulls teams were always ready to deliever whatever was necessary when needed. it’s about understanding their roles and executing them when it matters.
    in a weird way, kobe is mirroring (or trying to mirror) jordan’s unique legacy of 2 different sets of 3-peats in two different stage of his career.

  • B. Long

    Can we please stop with the Jordan comparisons. My ears start bleeding every time I hear one.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    Uh, two threepeats? That’s counting the chickens before you even HAVE eggs.

  • phanb

    Does anyone still want to call me crazy for thinking that this Laker team could challenge that 16-1 record. I did say this before the playoffs began. That dime to Gasol was the best play of the 2nd season so far… Just beautiful…

  • phanb

    Does anyone still want to call me crazy for thinking that this Laker team could challenge that 16-1 record. I did say this before the playoffs began. That dime to Gasol was the best play of the 2nd season so far… Just beautiful…

  • http://www.youtube.com/dunkadelictv Dunkadelic MC

    Kobe is the best player on the planet. He’s not the best player of all-time that goes to man named “Air Jordan”.

  • http://firemitchkupchak.com Reggie Evans

    Russ – it’s more like watching the rooster and chicken getting it on

  • Young Chris #3

    G Diesel is droppin science. I forgot where Spain was… My geography is apparently limited to North, Central, and South America…

  • http://idunkonthem.blogspot.com/ albie1kenobi

    that double 3peat “comparison” is just a theory i have. do i believe it’ll happen? with the current laker roster, i don’t see a reason why it can’t. if you don’t think kobe have this as a goal of his, then you are only kidding yourself. remember that jersey number change?