Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Utah Game 2 thoughts

Game 2 musings, as they happened with later additions:

1st Quarter:
* Bynum is off to a huge start (he faded and ended up with 10 points on 5/11, still out of sync).

* The defensive rebounding looks much better (it faded a bit in the 4th, but I'm happy with 23/32).

* Fisher's 3 point shooting tough is returning, a welcome development.

* D Will's 3 point shooting - not so welcome (he finished 6/11 but was once 5/7, fluke game).

* Just an incredible offensive display by the Lakers, if a little sloppy. 18/21 shooting (!) for the quarter with a streak of 11 in a row at one point.

* I like seeing the game called looser, but I don't like the 5-1 disadvantage in calls. Utah is pretty physical to get whistled for one foul in a quarter.

2nd Quarter:
* The second unit is flat again. Then again, Farmar is on the second unit so what did you expect?

* Many fewer free throws so far (they made up for it in the second half, but FTA were only 11-7 Utah in the first half).

* The offense has again gone into a long lull, which should not be happening against this team. Some of it has to be laziness after things are so easy early.

* Fisher made an extremely dumb hustle play, running the ball down and flipping it over his head while falling into the crowd...but toward Utah's basket, resulting in an easy layup. Inexplicable, he had to think he was throwing it to the middle of the court instead but you have to be sure there.

* Just a half of lazy defense (they shot 60% for the half) and a quarter of careless offense, letting another 20 point lead to get cut in half pretty quickly.

3rd Quarter:
* Another flat start to the second half, this is now a trend, and not one I'm enjoying.

* Great work exploiting the mismatch when Collins left the game, leaving Boozer to switch to Bynum (also a mismatch) and Millsap to come in and try to guard Pau. This time we got the ball right to Pau to get some easy baskets and force them to double and scramble.

* But ultimately, another poor offensive third quarter.

4th Quarter:
* Both teams are in the penalty already, with 10:11 to go in the quarter! This is going to be a long one, good thing I didn't want to sleep tonight.

* After spending most of the quarter letting them chip away at the lead, they had gotten it to 3 when Lamar came up with a classic Kobeball play - a twisting three pointer with 12 seconds left on the shot clock. Luckily Korver gave the ball back on the other end, but you cannot make those kinds of plays late in a competitive game.

* Not to be outdone, Kobe gained possession off a Fisher steal, up 5 with 1:42 to play, and threw a 60 foot pass downcourt that was easily picked off by Brewer. Somewhere, Bret Favre was smiling, and it's a tough call between Fish's "save", Odom's 3 and Kobe's pass for the Idiotic Play of the Game award.

* Trying to put it away, up 5 with the clock ticking down to half a minute, we go to...Ariza for 3?!? He drains it, making him 3/3 from distance for the game and I think 6/7 on the series, but it would not have been my first choice to say the least.

Box score notes:
* I mentioned the sloppy play, and I wasn't kidding - 21 turnovers. That...will not...get it done.

* 60% for the game, including 55% from 3 - without all those turnovers, this would have been a truly special offensive performance. 33 assists on 45 made baskets, nice.

* When Kobe is taking 17 shots and 10 free throws, this team is going to be VERY hard to beat.

* Utah again had the free throw advantage on the road, this time 29-24. We have to clean that up or it could get ugly on the road.

* Ariza with 9 assists? Can that be right? Wow...

So it's off to Utah, home of the loudest and most intimidating arena in the game and a place where we've lost 7 of 10, including games 3-4 in last year's second round. Get game 3 and put the series on ice, lose game 3 and face a very dangerous game 4 situation. This will be a big test for this team, which has seemed bored with the end of the season and the first two games of this series. This one will not be boring.

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