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Lakers beat Jazz 101-77: "D"-cent win

December 10, 2009 | 10:46 am
Pau Gasol blocks Carlos Boozer As far as inspirational sports cliches go, "Defense wins championships" has enjoyed some quality legs over the years. Right up there with "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing" and "We make a lot of money, but we spend a lot, too." It's a saying here to stay, and in Laker Land, preached by coach Phil Jackson and players alike. Over the past few seasons, the Lakers have worked hard to offer lock down as a calling card, a hat rack for their metaphorical chapeau. Well, last night's 101-77 win over the Utah Jazz saw the second half transform into nothing short of a hard hat haberdashery.

After shutting down the third quarter on 18-8 run, the Lakers proceeded to allow a scant six points in all for the Jazz during the ENTIRE follow up frame. And oddly enough, what ended as one of the best stands the franchise has seen in quite some time began as a second half filled with poor execution, turnovers and poor focus. Time out called. Heads regrouped. Then, instantaneously, the Lakers began rolling like a train with faulty brakes and Casey Jones at the helm after blowing off his NA meeting. Forget sucker punching the Jazz. The snowball effect was so sudden and dramatic, it even threw the bullies for a loop:
"I didn't even know we played that well because I was caught up in the competition," (Jordan) Farmar said. "The first time I really looked up to focus at the score, we were up 18. We scored again to go up 20 and it was like, 'OK, we've got this one under control.'

And with that, young Farmar took home the "Understatement of the Year" Award. Predictably, the buzz around the media campfire centered mostly around the head-spinning defensive clinic offered the Lake Show.

The O.C. Register's Kevin Ding, on the individual elements culminating in collectively great fortress:Ron Artest gets a rebound

Besides his unique defensive intensity, Ron Artest has brought a far superior grasp of team defense, especially when compared to the combination of Trevor Ariza, Vladimir Radmanovic, Luke Walton and Sasha Vujacic that previously occupied Artest's spot on the court.

But Andrew Bynum getting better at avoiding injuries, fouls and attention lapses is certainly part of it, too. Strongmen Amare Stoudemire and Carlos Boozer have come through Staples Center the past two games and basically resigned themselves to jumpers in the face of the Lakers' interior, which usually has two towers from among Bynum, Odom and Pau Gasol casting shadows at the same time.

Beyond all that, the Lakers just look like a team that actually enjoys playing defense – aggressively hustling for proper position as much as eagerly digging for steals. Gasol's greatest show of emotion Wednesday night arose from chagrin after he'd perfectly lined up and timed a help-defense block against Utah's Wesley Matthews, but Kobe Bryant fouled Matthews at the last moment instead of trusting a teammate would be there behind him.
The Daily News' Ramona Shelbourne, describing a defensive sequence that transformed into a highlight reel score:
(Jordan) Farmar stole a bad pass from Utah's C.J. Miles, then found Odom leading a fast break. Odom passed the ball back through his legs on a bounce to a trailing Ron Artest, who then found Farmar with a one-handed touch pass. Farmar grabbed the pass in full stride and laid it in for a 94-73 lead. Why no dunk?

"I don't know," Farmar said, laughing. "I guess I didn't have it in me. I could've given it to Pau and let him dunk it, but sometimes you can have too many passes. "I was right there and I just put it in."

By that point... the Jazz's heads were spinning.

The Salt Lake Tribune's Ross Siler, sharing Jazz Coach Jerry Sloan's thoughts on the display that crushed Kobe Bryant splits a double team his squad:

"In that fourth quarter, they came out and just destroyed us," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "We were hanging in the ball game but that shows you what a great team they have, the ability to be able to get up and make us turn the ball over as much as we did.

"We had a tough time getting a shot off. Their defense just stopped us. We missed a couple of shots and then we lost our confidence, it seemed like. We had some shots we couldn't put down, but they were too much outside shots."

The Jazz missed 14 consecutive shots spanning the third and fourth quarters and went 10:05 without a field goal before Williams hit a 13-footer with 4:35 left. Hard to believe after the Lakers won the fourth quarter 28-6, but the Jazz trailed just 73-71 after the third.


    -Luke Walton's time behind the mic this weekend won't include heavy critiques of Phil Jackson. After all, dude controls his PT.
    -Could former Showtime staple A.C. Green serve as an example for Tiger Woods?
    -Armed robbery in Kobe's neighborhood? Not funny at all. How Phil learned of the news? Kinda funny.


Phil, on the defensive surge, LO's struggles offensively

Phil, On bynum's rebounding, bench:


    -Tim Thomas is not to be disturbed while grubbing at your local Denny's.
    -A look at the "NBA quarter pole" good and bad from CBS's Ken Berger.
    -Dwyane Wade isn't letting his future summer affect his current season.
    -Robin Lopez's next paycheck will be light "one door."
    -Matt Barnes is questioning the amount of his appealed fine.
    -Rajon Rondo is a passing machine.  Brendan Haywood is a blogging machine, and an oft controversial one at that.
    -Greg Oden's latest injury nearly drew tears from Kevin Durant.
    -Shaun Livingston is thrilled for another shot at an NBA career.
    -The Bulls are in a free fall (losing to the Nets at home will create that vibe) but for now, Vinny Del Negro seems to be donning a parachute.    -And finally, Shaq says LeBron could be an elite NBA coach right now. Will this emerge as a dig at Mike Brown or merely praise for a current teammate he'll eventually criticize while playing for his next franchise?


Photo: Pau Gasol blocks Carlos Boozer. Credit: Alex Gallardo, Los Angeles Times
Photo: Ron Artest grabs a rebound. Credit:
Alex Gallardo, Los Angeles Times
Photo: Kobe Bryant splits a double team. Credit:
Alex Gallardo, Los Angeles Times