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Ron Artest-Deron Williams matchup a compelling storyline heading into Game 2

May 4, 2010 |  1:34 pm

Let's face it. There's little intrigue in the Lakers-Jazz series, with the Lakers' 104-99 Game 1 victory confirming the team's recent dominance over Utah will likely continue.

Sure, there have been compelling developments, such as Kobe Bryant's improved health, Andrew Bynum's knee and the bench's inconsistency. Let's not forget the attention on Bryant's recent photo shoot with Los Angeles Times Magazine. But there's very little regarding the Lakers-Jazz series itself that sparks excitement beyond the team's familiarity with one another.

Until now.

After Utah guard Deron Williams scored 24 points on seven-of-15 shooting in Game 1, he suggested he could exploit his quickness over Artest, who had shared duties with Derek Fisher and Shannon Brown in covering the Jazz's guard. Artest since has remained coy about it, but his body language suggests this should be an interesting match-up to watch.

When I asked Artest how he could compensate for Williams' quickness, he remained coy. "I don't know. It's something he's going to try to exploit. So it's something ya'll should look forward to seeing."

Artest provided equally quirky answers to questions involving his standing with the Lakers, a topic that will become more talked about as the team advances further in the playoffs. When I asked Artest if Coach Phil Jackson ever shared with him an assessment of Artest's performance this season, he said, with a smile: "He probably did, but I probably wasn't listening.

"I don't know. I think about playing hard every day. I go to sleep, and I just want to play hard. I even sleep rough. I'll be sleeping and knocking the wife over the head. I eat my breakfast rough."

As for Jackson, he had expressed concern entering the Jazz series that Artest wouldn't be as focused against Utah because there was no high-profile scorer for him to defend, such as Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant. Jackson plans to keep the same system in place for Game 2; we'll have to see about Artest's focus while dealing with Williams.

-- Mark Medina

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