Saturday, April 25, 2009

Utah Game 3 thoughts

They made a movie about the Lakers' performance in this game.

This one was painful, because it was there for the taking but we again had no interest in putting forward the effort to take it. Everybody except Lamar shares in the blame here.

Again, some "as it happened" musings:

First quarter:
* I turned the TV on expecting Lakers-Utah, but a San Antonio-HOuston game broke out.

* Bynum's health looks ok but two quick fouls.

* The Lakers lack energy and intensity in the early going; not surprisingly, the Jazz are back to killing us with offensive rebounds (they ended up with 14 of 38, an unacceptable 36.8%).

* Boozer ends up with 9 and the quarter (23 and 22 for the game, good Lord).

* After shooting 71% and 85% in the previous first quarters, the Lakers shoot 24% (6/24) in this one.

Second quarter:
* A Sasha sighting! He hits a 3, grabs 2 offensive boards and outrebounds Utah 3-1 in the first few minutes.

* Bynum picks up his third foul early; some nights trouble just finds you.

* It's a hockey game; muggings inside and almost no free throws, have to fight through it some way but this favors Utah.

* The bench starts out on a 6-0 run! In related news, Farmar is not playing.

* Except for Lamar, the offense is terrrrribull.

* But the defense is pretty good, keeping us in the game.

* Kobe is short on most of his shots (finished the half 1/10).

* The Lakers shoot 14/46 in the half, including a ghastly 11/40 on two points shots.

* 4 assists to Utah's 13, 24 rebounds to their 34, amazing to only be down 4 at the half.

Third quarter:
* Odom starts the second half, probably a combo of his effectiveness and Bynum's foul trouble.

* DWill is an 85% free throw shooter, but he bricked 4 in a row.

* Time to stop the game and issue Lamar a Gammy Award for his Grown Ass Man performance so far.

* Our third quarter woes are over for now, as a 25-8 run turns the 4 point deficit into a 13 point lead.

* Harpring has picked up 4 fouls in a little over 3 minutes of play - remember what I said about trouble finding you some nights? (he would be huge later)

* Bynum re-enters and picks up his 4th and 5th fouls in rapid fire fashion. He will not return, finishing with 4 fouls in 7 minutes.

Fourth quarter:
* For the third straight game, we have given up a big lead. The 25-8 run to start the half was followed by an 8-25 run, and the 13 point lead is back to down 4 where we started.

* Missed FT are really hurting us (we end up missing 10 of 26 on the night).

* Uh oh...a terrible case of Kobeball right after Utah takes their first lead in a good while, dribble dribble dribble try to crossover jack up a contested 3 pointer with 5 left on the shot clock. That is an ominous sign.

* Utah has hit 9 shots in a row, and not all of them easy.

* They are really mugging Gasol inside; no calls.

* More Kobeball - he's completely out of control, driving into a triple team and bowling over the middle guy for a charge; 72-75.

* They get us into the penalty at the 6:51 mark (they get there at 5:23, so not as bad as I thought).

* Millsap duplicates the Fish play from game 2, gathering the ball as he's going out of bounds and throwing right to Gasol at the rim for an and-1.

* We have made 2 FG in 6+ minutes.

* More Kobeball, he backs down into a double team with 10 seconds on the shot clock and never even looks at Fisher standing alone at the 3 point line, clanking a double-contested jumper instead; 76-all. He's killing us with these classic selfish Kobe decisions.

* With Utah leading 79-76 and 3:28 left, DWill walks it up and gets called for an 8 second violation that is not even close - TNT times it at 9.04 on replay. Good Lord, how can that happen?

* And even more Kobeball, he dribbles into another double team and agian refuses to pass it in favor of a falling left, fadeaway, off-balance 22 footer; 78-79. Awful decision after awful decision.

* Finally a good decision by Kobe; he draws the double and hits Lamar for a layup. See?

* Alas, more Bad Kobe - he dribbles into a double team and traps himself in the corner, but amazingly takes a 20 second timeout instead of firing off the expected spinning 22 foot miss.

* And somehow Utah fails to cover Kobe cutting to the basket off the inbounds play, layup for 84-84. And that gives us the 2-1, unbelievable defensive gaffe by the Jizz.

* Boozer gets away with a hook (not the first time tonight) and dunks over Gasol, 84-86. Even with Bynum haivng played so little, I'd like to see him at the rim to contest there instead of watching from the bench.

* Kobe makes his second great decision in the closing minutes, drawing another double team and hitting the cutting Gasol for the easy deuce, 86-all with 11.7 seconds.

* DWill running screen roll with Boozer, but he reverses away from the help Gasol and Odom is late with help as he drills the elbow jumper. Two mistakes here: lack of communication between Gasol and Fisher, or Derek would have funneled him into Gasol with Odom and Kobe rotating, can't tell if this was Fisher or Gasol most at fault but they both deserve blame; and Odom for some reason does not rotate off his man to help, despite having Kobe (and Gasol, for that matter) to help behind him, no reason he does not alter or block that shot. Bad defensive possession and great play by a great player, 86-88 with 2.2 seconds left.

* And, since we all know the ball is going to Kobe, you know the defense knows it, and the result is a turnaround 30+ footer that never has a chance - 5/24 final shooting line for Kobe, much of that self-inlifcted. The stubborn insistence on having Kobe take every last shot is why the Lakers are so easy to defend in those situations, and why they have one of the worst last possession records of any team in recent years. Some diversity there might win us some games.

Other random notes from this game:
* We finally cut down in the turnovers (9), but missing almost every shot was an odd way to celebrate.

* Korver (3 big threes), Millsap (14 boards) and especially Harpring (10 huge points on 5/8 shooting in 13 minutes) came up big at big times in this one.

* Our defense pretty much dominated Williams; kudos to Fish, Shannon and the team defense.

* Lamar was just huge - 21 points, 14 boards, good team defense, a diamond amongst the poo-poo.

So now you've given away three big leads in three games, and on the road that resulted in a loss. I'd like to say that this will shake this team into playing hard even when they have things in hand, but having seen the pattern repeat itself all season you start to wonder if they have it in them to do so. And they won't be playing teams where the "light switch" approach works forever, even looking beyond the extra wear and tear and injury potential that comes from playing more games on the way.

Now, if you don't win tonight you turn this into a long and stressful series. Will that be enough to bring 48 minutes of focus? Who knows at this point?

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