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After the fifth game, they rested

April 28, 2009 |  9:48 am

Kobe Bryant shoots over Ronnie Brewer  It's a measure of the high expectations for the Lakers that after beating the Utah Jazz in five games in their best-of-seven Western Conference Quarterfinals series, the death blow coming in Monday night's 107-96 victory, that the focus just doesn't go away from what the Lakers aren't doing.  This despite winning all four games by 10-plus points, and very nearly sweeping the disappointing-but-still-pretty-damn-good Utah squad. 

They don't really have anyone to blame but themselves, which is why Lamar Odom's 26 point, 15 rebound,four assist, three block night- his third straight double-double and fifth quality outing of the series- wasn't the big story.  Nor was it Kobe's 31 on 10-21 from the floor or Trevor Ariza's Swiss Army night (12/7/4 with a steal and two blocks)


What really caught people's attention (at least the people writing about the game), was another stretch run in which the Lakers had an opponent flatlining but rather than pulling the plug and calling the coroner instead juiced up the paddles and shocked them back to life. 

Monday, it meant a 21 point fourth quarter lead whittled down to six before order was restored.  There's good consistency and bad, and the propensity LA showed over the first round (and many of the 82 games that came before) for this sort of thing is enough to encourage fingernail chewing, or at the very least question whether or not what's under the hood really does match the slick body styling and excellent paint job.

Or maybe it's just not that big a deal.

Either way, the Lakers know they'll have to play better as the playoffs go along.  And who knows, maybe the tangible proof that things aren't all moonpies and pennywhistles could do them some good.  Remember, last year the Lakers lost three games en route to the Finals.  A lot of good it did them, too.

Things that are unquestionably big deals:

The Lakers will take Tuesday off before returning to the court for practice on Wednesday.