Monday, May 12th, 2008 at 10:30 am  |  49 responses

Game Notes: Lakers @ Jazz, Game 4

We Have a Series

by Marcel Mutoni

I didn’t write any Game Three notes, mostly out of laziness to be honest, but also because not much needs to be said about that game. The Jazz were supposed to win, I expected them to win, and they won.

Utah fell apart a little in the fourth quarter, and gave the Lakers confidence by letting them creep back into the game, but there’s no reason a team this good shouldn’t have won a desperately-needed game on their home floor. Moving on, nothing to see here…

Game Four

(First Half)

-Utah is a tough, tough place to play basketball for an opposing team. You can tell a gym and its crowd are loud when ABC has no choice but to turn the volume on its broadcast way down following each basket by the home team.

(Not that you need to be reminded of the value of homecourt advantage, but it’s worth noting that prior to Game Four, home teams were 11-0 in the second round of the postseason.)

-Should Ronny Turiaf have been thrown out of the game for his takedown of Ronnie Price? I don’t know. It was clearly after the whistle, sure, and it looked bad (we got a bleeder!), but the way calls have been made in this postseason, who can tell anymore?

(It’s no longer possible to properly determine the difference between a good, hard Playoff foul, and one that can be deemed an act of violence. Jason Kidd was deservedly thrown out for his blatant attack on Jannero Pargo; whenever a Wizard got near LeBron in their series, however, they were practically jailed, to the endless frustration of anyone not rooting for the Cavs.)

-David Stern and his people are so clearly petrified with the idea of the League dissolving back to what it was during those ugly Knicks/Heat wars from the mid-to-late ‘90s, and while no one wants to see that again, we also don’t want the natural physicality of the game (and the resulting intimidation factor) to be taken away either.

-Hubie Brown is so knowledgeable, such a good communicator, and so exceedingly competent at his job, that I feel like paying basketball camp fees every time I listen to his brilliant analysis. Tell me where to send the check, coach!

-There’s something fitting about the fact that the cast from High School Musical were the featured “celebs” in Utah on Sunday.

(Uh, Mike Tirico, please keep in mind that no grown man should be that excited to meet the kids from that show. That’s just creepy, dude.)

-Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol will not, for as long as they live, be considered as defensive stoppers. However, the job they did on Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur – who combined for a ghastly 5 points in the first half – in the first half is more than admirable.

-Now, I don’t doubt that Kobe is hurt, but it’s interesting that he only seems to notice the pain when playing defense. Offensively, he still looks like the universe’s greatest player; on the other end of the floor, he grimaces and winces like an old man with a chronically bad back.

(Second Half)

-Great halftime feature on DJ Mbenga, whose hard knock life should put to shame any other NBA player’s story.

(Oh, what’s that, Allen Iverson? Your family was so poor that sewage used to seep into your living room as a kid? Well, I escaped jail when I was a teenager, where I was scheduled to be EXECUTED! Not only that, but my teammate Kobe Bryant doesn’t seem to know my name, and simply refers to me as “Congo”.)

-Deron Williams is a flat-out stud. He may not be on Chris Paul’s level – and if you can find someone who is, I’d love to hear about him – but he’s pretty damn good.

-With an absolutely en fuego Bryant in the third quarter, and the Lakers threatening to take the lead, Derek Fisher had no numbers on the break off an Odom steal, and elected to launch an inexplicable three. A patently absurd basketball decision. I thought he was a veteran?

-Speaking of absurd decisions, I would love to hear Phil Jackson’s rationale as to why he refused to call a timeout at the start of the fourth quarter when the Jazz went nuts, and nearly ended the game right then and there.

(I mean, that’s fine and well during the regular season, when you still have time to work through things and can afford to drop a game here and there just to prove a point to your team, but you can’t afford to play these stupid mind games in the postseason.

Call the timeout, Phil. Stop the bleeding. I know it’s a pain in the butt to have to get up from your chair, but I’m begging you here.)

-How about that Ronnie Price block on Luke Walton? Incredible. It wasn’t quite as good as Tayshaun Prince’s now-classic (and endlessly replayed) block on Reggie Miller from a few years ago, but it’s definitely one of the top 5 highlights of these Playoffs so far.

(And hey Luke, thanks for taking your sweet time on the break. I know you’re not athletic in the slightest, but that was a mind-bogglingly slow layup attempt. You, my friend, absolutely deserved what happened to you.)

-Derek Fisher was unbelievable down the stretch in the fourth quarter, not only with the bombs he kept swishing, but also the lock-down defense he played on Deron Williams. Just a superb performance at a critical time.

(Lamar Odom was also huge at crunch time, but I’d be lying if I said that I expected Odom to send a Playoff game to overtime.)


-Kobe is obviously hurt, but he got away with murder when the refs called a foul on Kirilenko after Bryant shoved a forearm into his chest and sent him flying.

(After the back pain became unbearable, and Kobe went down on the floor to collect himself, leading to a Laker timeout, ABC’s cameras caught Bryant on the bench muttering expletives to get himself going. Said expletives included the word motherfu***r, which was just Kobe’s special way of celebrating Mother’s Day.)

-With an injured Kobe, and the team defense a total mess, the Lakers had no business whatsoever making the game as close (and winnable) as it was. But the Jazz once again let them back into it. They better address this issue before stepping on the plane and traveling back to L.A. for Game Five.

-In games 3 and 4, the Utah Jazz finally began to look like they belonged in the series. In the first two games, no one could’ve made this claim. Guys are now playing with undeniable swag – especially Deron Williams – and they’re starting to believe they can beat the Lakers.

-Of course, playing away from the friendly confines of the EnergySolutions Arena in a pivotal Playoff game will be an entirely different animal from anything we (and they) have seen so far. The Lakers have no reason not feel confident going back to their home gym.

Game Five on Wednesday night promises to be a war. I can’t wait.

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

    Will Shaq send Kobe some free Icy Hot pads?

  • Ken

    I like the m———— mothers day observation. Classy kobe.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Holly MacKenzie

    Oh boy. It’s been awhile since tears have been shed over a loss. Ughhhhh. Let’s right this ship on Wednesday.

  • Ken

    I also noticed the “congo” comment from Kobe and thought it was weird. Was happy to see it satirized here.

  • Chukaz

    Of course Kobe’s classy, man. Happy motherf*cker’s day to everyone.

  • Mayor of Lovetron

    Definitely the funniest piece I’ve read on this site. Well done.

  • Chukaz

    Yo, I’m sure my man will take care of the situation on Wednesday. I’ll go back to Utah up 3-2 and we will wrap it up that day.

  • http://myspace.com/2536545 Bryan

    Long time no see Holly. That game was painful to watch, watching Kobe go half speed was terrible.

  • http://myspace.com/mikebone Simmy Sosa

    Great notes Marcel. Why hasn’t anyone written any Hornets/Spurs game notes?

  • http://www.slamonline.com Cub Buenning

    I have some notes and thoughts from both games this weekend that will be posted later this AM.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Cub Buenning

    Myles, I have been away for a few, but I do my best to will resist any ‘Sweep’ comments.

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

    Maybe some other baksetball playing commentors can back me on this, but Marcel, you proobably know this, Kobe’s painful reactions while playing D stem from the fact that you have to react to the opposing players movements, which is an unnatural reaction, opposed to doing what you WANT to do offensivley and keeping your body in the postion you want to keep the pain from overtaking you. Plus scoring always makes you feel better, so there’s that too.

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

    *basketball, probably

  • Chukaz

    @ Simmy Sosa – nobody gives a f*ck about the Hornets/Spurs game. It was a blowout and the Spurs are going to win the f*ckin’ series. F*ck the Spurs.

  • http://myspace.com/2536545 Bryan

    What up Eboy?

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

    What’s up Shia.

  • Steve

    home teams weren’t 11-0 before game 4. pistons won.

  • G Diesel

    I expect the Lakers to win the next 2 games. Hopefully Kobe’s back will be fine.

  • Chukaz

    F*ck Luke Walton.

  • http://double-technical.blogspot.com Zee!

    On the “sports leader” radio coverage of the game, Will Purdue spoke of the “healing properties of the leather” once an injured player has the ball in their hands. He went on to mention MJ in the finals against Utah, Pippen’s back injury, etc. However he never mentioned having ever touched the leather…hmm.

  • Chukaz

    Yeah, athlets do have a tendency to feel all better when they have the ball in their hands/ when the game is going on. Remember when MJ was so sick before a game that he was throwing up and couldn’t walk, then he scored like 30-some points and right after the clock ran out he was all sick again and thought that he was going to die?

  • Chukaz

    Props to MJ on the action, though.

  • Gumdrop

    Getting back to your Turiaf question Mutoni, I thought that was a horrible call. And I’m not a Lakers fan. Dude was clearly going for the ball, and Price wasn’t hit that hard, he just fell hard and cracked his forehead.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Cub Buenning

    A bad back is a totally different situation, though.
    No amount of adreneline can off-set the uncomfortable pain and subsequent inability to move like you normally can.

  • bakers’ dozen (12-13)

    Utah in game 5 by 5 points.

  • MC Welk

    Kobe 0 for 7 in Utah during the playoffs for his career.

  • Tom

    for Turiaf to be tossed for that, and Posey only gets a flagrant 1 for clotheslining Lebron is just nuts……..where’s Mark Cuban to raise hell on the refs when you need him.

  • Tom

    and overtime was wierd…….I don’t know if it was the team just deferring to Kobe or Kobe wanting to be the hero, but that was so hard to watch. I was hoping they would go to Odom more, dude was money all game.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Holly MacKenzie

    Tom, Phil called out the guys after the game saying they went to Kobe to bail them out. Kobe’s post game was done while standing up with a cordless mic and he received treatment on the back all night. Here is hoping the back is better by Wednesday. Marcel, I didn’t mention it in my bitterness above but great notes, as always. You’re a funny guy :)

  • Tom

    And Marcel, your so on point about Hubie…..the man is a walking basketball clinic. Btw, has Fisher hit the rim yet? Every jumper he’s taken in this series has looked perfect.

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

    @Eboy. Good points on the backpain. I was thinking along the lines of knowing ahead of time on offense what you will do. Therefore compensating muscle intensity only for the explosive phase. Versus being at the mercy of the attacker, following and anticipating, which requires a more consistent and often longer muscle intensity level.

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

    And Cub, I disagree since the back involves many muscle groups from adjacent parts of the body. Allowing you to momentarily alleviate discomfort from the pain source.

  • http://firemitchkupchak.com Jackie Moon

    I think Kobe way playing with some broken vertebrae.

  • http://firemitchkupchak.com Jackie Moon

    I think Kobe was playing with some broken vertebrae.

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

    What? Jackie, is that specualtion or sarcasm?

  • http://slamonline.ciom Simone Lawy

    utah player were dirty … and the call??

  • http://firemitchkupchak.com Jackie Moon

    I think Vince Carter has no vertebrae.

  • tealish

    Lol at Kobe calling Mbenga, “Congo”. It does sound cool, but…

  • http://www.laballtalk.com Lakers Blog

    I’m just sick of home court advantage… it has become the refs that are the advantage and not the crowds. The Laker can play past the dumb mormons in Utah, its the whistles that don’t go their way…

  • Brado

    “play past the dumb mormons in Utah”? I didn’t know the Jazz players were mormon…lakers blog, thanks for the info. Are the 76′s dumb omish? Please, let me know home-skillet.

  • onekingdown

    Lakers Blog: this is what has me convinced the NBA is fixed. The calls make zero sense from one game to the next! And I don’t understand how teams go from playing dominating ball to looking like kids among men and vice versa..simply because they are not playing “at home” ? WTF is that? Do they all get brain transplants on the was there? NO, LA, BOSTON… wtf!!! One minute it’s sweeps all around.. next its games 7s. GREED! GREED! GREED! The NBA: where profit margins HAVE to happen. This continues and I’m done with the NBA. I can’t stand watching this crap! It’s insulting.

  • B. Long

    Lakers in 6. Bet on it.

  • tealish

    Lakers Blog: No Laker fan should ever complain about whistles. They probably have the most calls unjustifiably going their way because they’re the precious Lakers of Los Angeles.
    Oh and can’t upset them movie stars either.

  • http://firemitchkupchak.com Jackie Moon

    When Bryant was asked if he should have shot so much after injuring his back he said, “I got some pretty good looks. They didn’t fall down for me. Some nights they do, some nights they don’t.”

  • David

    Which are worse – Lakers fans or Yankees fans?

  • B. Long

    Yankee Fans. Laker fans don’t root for a dynasty fueled by steroid driven championship seasons. Two Words: Roger Clemens.

  • matt the jazz fan

    like shaq only drank water…

  • TonyG

    what an embarrassing performance by Kobe..I thought this was the same guy that “plays a team game” now..that looked very familiar to the 2004 finals..

  • Genenene

    TonyG: Yeah, being a Kobe fan I was frustrated too… but can’t blame him TOO much. Luke missing wide open dunks, Lamar missing layups, and Gasol turning it over, Kobe turned back to trusting himself only. Still, Kobe tried to do too much.. but you can’t call it being selfish. He just wanted to team to get a win. (and hey, he DID have 10 dimes)