Lakers vs. Jazz, Game 2: A matter for the handyman
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Dissatisfied as they were with how things went over the final 24 minutes of Sunday's playoff opener against the Jazz, the Lakers were hardly despondent Monday afternoon in El Segundo. (Who can frown with AC Slater around?) Given how LA dominated the first half, and- despite what some of the postgame chatter implied- maintained control in the second, it's a matter of fine tuning the execution fine tuning as they continue the process of trying to win four different playoff series, starting with Game 2 tonight at Staples.
One place to start? Rebounding. As in, don't let Utah get quite so many of them, especially on the offensive glass. That means putting bodies on the opposition and trying to limit the penetration that forces help and opens lanes for Jazz players to pound the boards, says Pau Gasol. That same penetration helps explain The Foul Parade (no relation to The Soft Parade) that sent Utah to the line 28 times over the final two quarters in Sunday's tilt. Of course, focus matters, too, especially in the playoffs, notes Phil Jackson, where the goal is to have balanced, sustained efforts over 48 minutes.
Meanwhile, the Jazz were practicing over at the Clippers facility- perhaps an unwise choice for a team looking to build a winning spirit- and things didn't look so good.
Mehmet Okur didn't participate in practice and seems unlikely to play tonight. Deron Williams seems frustrated with his team's recent performance (no sympathy from Kobe). They're worried about defense, and can't seem to hit an outside shot.
Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln...
More talk Monday, too, of what Shannon Brown and Trevor Ariza brought for LA in Game 1. For Brown, it's a question of stepping into the spotlight after bouncing around like a ping pong ball early in his NBA career, not quite a true PG, likely too squat for work as a two guard. With the Lakers, of course, that doesn't really matter. Ariza has been a key- and extremely competitive, as Ramona Shelburne writes for the Daily News- cog for the W.C.'s best team all year, whether starting or coming off the bench.
You know, the sort of performances that have owners reaching for their checkbooks in the offseason.