Live from Staples- Lakers vs. Jazz
Paul Simon in the house! He's quite wee.
BK will have the first.
Starting lineup: Odom, Ariza, Bynum, Kobe, Fish. Marielle Stoermer and Mel Trudell delivering tonight's game ball. Solid work by both. Smattering of boos for Steve Javie, upon his introduction.
First team to score wins!
11:15- Well, hopefully not, as Kirilenko hits a three in front of Ariza. The Lakers go down 5-0 when nobody boxes out Brewer, and he dunks an Okur miss.
8:33- While it's always fun to be at the game, I always enjoy watching the Jazz on TV, because what they're doing offensively is easier to see. The endless back screens and picks away from the ball to free people. Lord knows it gave the Lakers trouble in November. It'll be interesting to see how they do with it tonight. Thus far, not great, as the Jazz have been able to generate some pretty clean looks.
6:59- Drew already has six points and four boards, three on the offensive side. It's good to see him so active this early, given the craptastic game he had back in Utah. 13-12 Jazz.
6:41- Ariza makes a nice cut to the hoop, and Fish hits him with the pass for an easy lay in. Right now, the Lakers are doing a very good job attacking the rim, and bringing the offense to the basket. I don't think they've taken more than a handful of jumpers, which explains the solid percentage early.
5:28- Timeout on the floor. Thus far, L.A. is taking advantage of Bynum's length and mobility around the basket. He's able to find space, and they're just lofting the ball up there for him to catch adn put home. The kid is so good at going up, getting the ball at the highest point, whether it's on offense or defense on the glass. And they're getting really good at recognizing it, too.
5:01- Kobe comes out of the TO with a three. Kwame into the game. 21-13 LAL.
2:42- 30-17, good guys. To say they're operating well offensively would be an understatement. Great spacing, great aggressiveness. Everything is being funneled toward the basket, and now they're finding space all over the court. Defensively, it's hard to complain, either. Utah is shooting 35%, and finding it tough to get to the hoop. After that early burst (I mean very early- like the first three or four trips) Utah hasn't been able to make much hay.
Tough call on Kwame, there. Looked like it might have been a makeup call for what could have been a charge on Odom on the previous possession. Good for Kwame, he looks pretty mobile tonight.
END OF THE FIRST- Lakers 38, Jazz 23. Very, very, very little to complain about in that quarter. Lakers shoot 62.5% from the floor, Utah shoots 33%. Lakers outrebounding Utah 16-10, have racked up an incredible 13 dimes on 15 buckets- holy ball movement, Batman!- and have seen contributions from everyone. 6/4/4 from Odom, 8/4 from Bynum, big plays from Ariza, nice minutes from Kwame. Plus 13/2/6 for Kobe.
AK will have Q2.
11:10 - I'm not sure I've ever seen anybody ever set the tone for an impending foul, but after Ronny Turiaf gives a ferocious swat to a Mehmet Okur attempt under the basket, he's floored by- of all people- point guard Jason Hart while trying to corral the loose ball. Ronny seemed stoked by the sequence. Either that or he just felt like dancing about for the fun of it.
9:39 - Ronny pops the baby jumper for two, then sets up Jordan Farmar on a touch pass give and go for the bucket. Before I can even finish describing what just happened for you good people, Farmar snags an errant pass from Hart, then feeds the rock to a streaking Turiaf. He gets fouled under the basket and the ball fails to go down, but he'll get two for his troubles. A very energetic start for Ronny (shocking, I know).
Ronny's first freebie is good, but the next flies into Okur's mitts. It ends up a Laker ball, however, after scrappy lil' Sasha Vujacic manages to wrestle the Spalding out of the seven footer's grasp. The possession ends up dry once Okur eventually blocks Drew's shot, but still, a worthy effort from Sloevnia's Favorite son.
6:32 - Vladdy gets a second (and successful) attempt at a trey ball courtesy of Bynum, who funnels the former Cat Stevens' miss and shuttles it to Farmar. Jordan finds Vlad in the exact same corner as before. Money.
5:28 - Kwame gets called for the goaltend on AK-47's layup, but I liked the spring in his step getting up for the try. Pretty quick ups for a guy dealing with a balky knee and ankle. All in all, Kwame's been more active tonight than I would have expected.
4:15 - Chaos and mayhem under the Jazz bucket, with Kobe, LO, and Kwame all battling in the scrum for the pingponging basketball. Finally, Odom corrals it, takes two steps and goes
3:10 - Back to back trey balls from a recently T'ed up and very obviously amped up Kobe bust the Laker lead open to a 25-point spread. I'm no barista, but I think Kobe may have had a second cup of coffee before this here contest. Dude is seriously hyper and animated.
2:46 - Lamar for three. The lead's even wider.
46.7 - KObe's at the line shooting a pair and the "MVP" chants are deafening. Truth be told, the building has been way louder than normal from start to finish. I don't know if Laker fans are pissed that SLC residents chose to boo Fish or they're serving 2 for 1 beers somewhere, but there's a lotta heckling, especially Boozer's way.
Halftime - Lakers up a whopping 75-48. This absolutely has to be the best half this team's played all season. They're holding Utah to 38% from the field, outrebounding, diming, blocking and even ball-caring ("only" 6 turnovers to the Jazz's 8). I don't wanna jinx anything, but seriously, this better have the makings of some Critter n' Mihm time come the fourth quarter. We'll see.
Utah opens the third with Kirilenko on the bench. No idea if it's an injury thing, or something else.
8:07- Timeout Utah, 87-55 LAL. The Lakers have come out in the third and basically taken any shot the Jazz had at thinking comeback and snuffed it out (knock on wood). A Fish 3 puts them up by 32, a third of the way throught the third. 12-7 thus far. And again, they've been active, and are forcing the issue. A few more minutes of this, and it could be a good time for Javaris Crittenton to get some run.
BTW, the word on Kirilenko is that he has a strained right biceps tendon, and won't return. HE hurt it in the first, tried to play with it, but couldn't. And there's certainly no point in putting him back in for this one.
5:41- Kobe gets an easy lay in off an L.O. feed. 95-63 LAL. Basically, they're kicking the crap outo f them on every level. At this point, it'll be a question of how much they actually win by. It's pretty natrual for the defenisve intensity to go down a touch up by 30+. It's really just important at this point that they don't get freakishly loose on the other end. Trading baskets doesn't hurt.
3:14- Really, I'm running out of stuff to say about this one. They're still up by 30, 96-66. Coming out of the TO, they still have Kobe, LO, Fish, and Drew on the floor, but I wouldn't expect to see them in the fourth, short of a massive Utah run to end the third.
Wow, that was a terrible call on Drew. All ball. Second bad call in a row on AB. Kwame will come in after the first Boozer FT.
:40- Kobe out of the game. Hopefully, it stays that way, because if 24 has to return, things have gone horribly, horribly wrong.
Buzzer: Farmar hits a three, to put the Lakers back up by 32 to end the quarter, 106-74. No question that was good.
AK will have the fourth. Not even he can screw this up.
11:20 - I was about to write that there better be nothing particularly interesting to write about this quarter, but then Sasha went down hard in a scrum and layed on the ground holding his knee for a few seconds. He got up limping, but seems okay after walking it off for a minute or so. Glad to see. Again, after these opening three quarters, that anything interesting would proceed to happen would be more than a little disappointing.
9:29 - One brick of a shot from Vlad Rad. And by "brick," I mean, hit the backboard and missed the net by at least a foot." After starting the season out like he was rebounding from last season's disaster, Radmanovic has strung together a series of nothing games for basically the entire month of December. Assuming Kwame can actually stay on the court following this return to action, that's gonna allow Ronny Turiaf to spend a lot of time at his natural power forward position. And I have a feeling a lot of those minutes will come at Vlad's expense, unless he can regain some touch and production.
7:37 - The second unit has gotten pretty sloppy, turning the ball over three times and allowing the Jazz to "chip away" (relatively speaking) at the lead. The latest gaffe involves Farmar, who opts to share the ball with Paul Milsap, who is unfortunately not a teammate. The ball is shuttled to Hart for an easy bucket. The lead isn't actually endangered at 20, but you wanna see it increase, not slide the other way.
6:40 - Nice drop step move by Vlad, then the ball on the floor and to the hole for a layup. That'll help keep his minutes on the northern side of things.
6:17 - The Critter checks in to some pretty enthusiastic applause. Not sure if the fans really want to see the rook's skills or they just figure he's the human victory cigar equivalent, but either way, a nice reception.
5:19 - Bynum backs down Collins, backs down Collins, then puts up the rock... and it doesn't draw iron. He may have an alibi, but that shot was U.G.L.Y.
4:14 - A three pointer from Ronnie Price makes it a sub-20 lead for the Lakers. 18, for you math geeks watching. Again, nothing to be alarmed about. But if I'm Phil Jackson, nothing to be thrilled about, either.
3:03 - Ronny connect from 18-feet out, bumping the Laker advantage back to 18. Were I a member of this second unit, I'd be very afraid of tomorrow's practice if the final score doesn't feature a gap of 25 or more. Maybe I'm overestimating PJ's annoyance at the dwindling returns, given the security provided by the opening three frames. But I have a feeling I'm not.
I know he's just a rookie, but if I'm the Critter, I'm demanding Vlad Rad buy me a steak dinner after blowing the dunk. Aside from it being a sweet pass, Javaris needs him some stats. Each assist counts when you're a third stringer.
Well, there you have it. 123-109, Lakers. The garbage time in the fourth quarter made his look slightly more competitive than it should have been, but make no mistake, this was a straight up purple and gold ass whuppin'. All five starters and Farmar off the bench in double figures. Battle of the boards and dimes won. 9 blocks. And Kwame returning and actually looking pretty spry after a long layoff. Not much to bitch about, so you won't hear any on this end. Thanks for dropping by.