Lakers/Jazz Game 4 Recap
Jazz are swept for the first time since 1989.
by Maurice Bobb / @reesereport
Before last night’s Game 4 in which the L.A. Lakers sought to close out the Utah Jazz and hand them their first sweep in the post-season since going 0-3 in 1989, I had just one thought: With the Phoenix Suns sweeping the San Antonio Spurs and the Orlando Magic sweeping the Atlanta Hawks, did David Stern have enough brooms to go around or did he just use one broom that traveled the League like the Stanley Cup? I mean, I can’t remember the last time I saw so many sweeps in the same round of the post-season and I’m not too sure I like it. The Playoffs, after all, are supposed to be about the best playing the best and the best don’t just roll over like your girlfriends’ poodle at the sight of danger.
Then prior to the contest, Coach Jerry Sloan had the bright idea of calling out Kobe:
“He draws so much attention,” Sloan said. “You give too much help, somebody else is open. If you don’t give enough help, he’s got what he wants. Kind of like Miss America. She gets what she wants.”
Phil Jackson said the quote was a message and the message was not lost on the Black Mamba. Then there was Charles Barkley’s comments, but we’ll get to that later.
Needless to say, given the circumstances and the fact that they had eliminated the Jazz the last three seasons, I really had no doubt that the Lake Show would go into Energy Solutions Arena and do a little spring cleaning. Heck, even the home team’s newspaper, The Salt Lake Tribune, had a grim outlook with the huge headline declaring, “All Hope is Lost.”
So when the defending champs put the smack down on the Jazz for a 111-96 win to advance to the Western Conference Finals for the third straight season, it was about as surprising as Iron Man 2 taking the top spot at the box office. (Side bar: The movie was dopeness, but as good as it was, the movie I saw the night before, Kick Ass, was much better.)
Leading all scorers was Pau Gasol, who went muy ridiculoso on the Jazz defense for 33 points and 14 rebounds. If the Spaniard keeps playing like he did last night, I may have to start calling him “Pow!” Screw it, I’m calling him “Pow!” for the rest of this recap. And despite the Chuckster’s proclamations, Kobe dropped 32 on Sloan & Co., notching his fifth straight 30-point game in the post-season.
Deron Williams and Paul Millsap paced the home team with 21 points.
The score lingered on 0-0 for almost two minutes before Kobe sank a 12-footer at the 10:20 mark. Then CJ Miles dropped a triple to give the Jazz the lead, which they were able to hold onto until Ron Artest hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 3:23 remaining. From there, Pow! added six points and LetShannondunk.com got a nasty throwdown with one tic on the clock to help the visitors end the quarter up 29-24.
Morgan Freeman might as well have been driving the second period because there were only nine combined points scored in the first three minutes of play. Then Lamar Odom got in on the action and ran off five points before Pow! got in a baseline juke for the deuce on the way to seven points for the quarter. Millsap was the only notable player “talking all that Jazz” for the home team, tossing in six points off the bench. DWill added four but it was not enough to keep his team from falling into a 17-point hole at halftime.
After mailing in their efforts in the second, the Jazz came out strong in the third, closing the gap to eight on a slashing drive by Williams with 5:47 left to go. The Zen Master called for a breather to slow down the momentum, but Utah kept the pressure on, staying within five on back-to-back buckets by Carlos Boozer. Kobe then manufactured a nice hanging, double-pump J and Odom buried a 23-footer to stretch the advantage back to 12 points. Kobe made one of two freebies from the charity stripe and Pow! tipped in a miss to end the quarter up 80-67.
Derek Fisher drilled a long bomb and sank three free throws to start off the final 12 minutes for the defending champs. Utah responded with a Kyle Korver trifecta and layup from DWill, but the deficit still sat at 13. Millsap closed it to 10 after two makes from the line, but Bryant countered and Brown hit two daggers from behind the arc to go up 96-83 with 6:01 left. Millsap countered with a 20-foot J, but Pow! got the lucky bounce on a sweeping hook and followed that up with nine additional points to seal the deal.
What struck me was the overall acceptance of defeat by the Jazz. They seemed to really buy into the loss of hope theory. Even DWill offered up what sounded like a pre-prepared concession speech:
“They’re a championship team and then, people made Kobe mad. People owe him an apology. I heard Chuck say he’s getting old and he’s not gonna be able to do the same things…he pretty much did ‘em”
The TNT team gave the Chuckster the business after the game about his comments, but you have to wonder why anyone thinks Kobe needs additional motivation at this point. Next up for the Lakers is the Phoenix Suns. I’m completely blown away by the Suns because they have far exceeded my expectations at this point. Sure, they were running teams off the floor early on this season, but everyone, myself included, thought it was a fluke. With their loaded bench—did you see Goran Dragic go the eff off for 23 in the fourth quarter against the Spurs?—and Steve Nash’s unyielding abilities, this should be a very interesting series.