Tag: Lakers Jazz Game 3

NBA Playoffs Jazz Lakers: Carlos Boozer, the 75% All-Star


Carlos Boozer has been a staple in Utah. The main frontcourt player. The big free agent brought in to lead them to prominence. Boozer regressed considerably last year, and looked very much expendable, prompting the Jazz to sign Paul Millsap to a longterm extension. Then, Boozer miraculously responded! Posted near career numbers!

In no way, shape, or form should this be considered related to the fact that it was a contract year. Com-plete coincidence.

And then the playoffs came. In this series with the Lakers, the numbers aren’t terrible. He’s averaging a double double, and shooting 46% from the field. But his impact seems like an afterthought. Against the legit big men of the Lakers, Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol, and even Lamar Odom, Boozer has been overrun at both ends of the floor, hitting fadeaway tough shots which should be reserved for guards instead of powering inside (he’s been blocked 8 times in this game, though in Utah he managed to avoid it).

Boozer’s going to be a free agent this summer, likely the third best on the market, if you believe that Amar’e Stoudemire will opt-out, even if to re-sign with Phoenix. But is he a player that can really get you to a championship level? It’s possible he could. For instance, put him next to Andrew Bynum with LA’s talent, and he could get the job done with probably 75% the efficiency of Pau Gasol.

And that’s really what the LA-Utah series comes down to. The Jazz are 75% of the Lakers. And Deron Williams makes up about 60% of that.

Maybe this series will bring significant changes to the Jazz and a restructuring. They have Deron Williams. They have AK who can still be a difference maker. They have Paul Millsap who is still improving. But Carlos Boozer for Carlos Boozer’s paycheck?

That’s being proven a high quality chandelier on the Titanic. It looks nice, but it’s not helping you from sinking.

NBA Playoffs, Lakers Jazz Game 3: The Jazz get everything they want, except the win


Fisher_Korver.jpgWhat if?

Not just what if Deron Williams nailed the crossover 22-footer, a favorite move of his and a shot he has buried so many times before? Not what if Wesley Mathews tip chance off that shot had gone in?

But for the Utah Jazz, what if you do basically everything you want to do, and you still can’t win?

That’s why this Lakers 111-110 win has to hurt in Salt Lake City. Not just because the Lakers are now up an insurmountable 3-0 in the series. Okay, maybe that’s part of it. But it’s also because they have been so close, and because they did so much of what they wanted in game three.

Think about the Jazz checklist coming in to this game: Limit the Lakers inside. Make Ron Artest and Derek Fisher beat you, ideally with threes. Get off to a fast start at home. Pick up the pace. Have D-Will be more aggressive in transition and attacking Fisher off the dribble.

Check. Check. Check. Check. Check

And they still lost.

Just barely — this was one of the most dramatic games and finishes of the playoffs. There was a stretch of the game where Kyle Korver and Ron Artest were trading threes. There were big shots and answers. There was a key last minute turnover, and a chance for the Jazz to win.

What if? It’s just hard not to ask it.

There will be a game four Monday, there’s no more strategy for Jerry Sloan to employ. They did nearly everything they wanted to do. Still wasn’t enough.

“Tonight we went over getting the ball out of the post, we were trying to help on the post, make them beat us from the perimeter,” Williams said postgame in interviews shown on NBATV. “Fish hadn’t shot well, Artest hadn’t shot well in the series. So we felt like we could live with outside shots, but it kind of bit us in the butt a little bit.”

“I was so happy that Coach Sloan had that defensive strategy to play off me,” Artest said. “Got me going a little bit.”

Twittering Artest was hot from three — he had been 7 of 42 so far in the playoffs. But he hit his first three on his way to 4 of 7 from deep and 20 points. Derek Fisher was 3 of 7 from deep and had 20 points as well.

All that shooting was par It was one of the most fun, dramatic games in a postseason and the end was fantastic as the two teams combined for 20 points in just over the last two minutes.

The dramatic end started with 1:25 left and Williams blowing past Fisher, again, but then kicking out to the hottest shooter in the game, Korver. All nylon on the three. Again. He was 5-5 from three, 9-10 overall and had 23 points.

A couple possessions later, down three with 54 seconds left, the Lakers come down and at this point the triangle is forgotten in Lakers minds. It’s all Kobe setting up whatever it is he wants. Pau Gasol set a high pick and Kobe’s defender went under it, so he drained the three. Tie game. He had 35 points. Because he’s good. And feeling healthy.

D-Will comes down and just attacks Fisher again, then even with Gasol there he got to a good spot and hit a high-arcing 12-foot baseline jumper. Fisher answers with a three over Kover’s outstretched arm.

Lakers up one when Mathews passed up three looking hesitant but then got the ball back two seconds later and missed an open three. He had a rough ending to the game. The Jazz fouled Kobe and two made free throws later the Lakers were up three. The Lakers then foul Williams before he can shoot, two free throws that he makes, and we’re back to the Lakers by one with the ball.

Then on an inbounds play (on the Lakers end of the floor after a timeout) Artest threw the ball to where a cutting Fisher would be, but the rookie Mathews made a veteran play, wrapping his off arm around Fisher to slow him down, and the pass went bounding into Korver’s hands, and he called timeout to set up D-Will’s game winner. Or what might have been

Williams’ crossover was pure, he just missed it. Mathews — who was Kobe’s man but Kobe was watching the ball and not boxing out — timed it right for a great tip in. Both just rolled on the rim and out.

What if?

NBA Playoffs, Lakers Jazz Game 3: To beat LA, the Jazz are going to have to improvise

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Williams_Fisher.jpgImprovisation is one of the cornerstones of jazz.

Except in Utah.

The Jazz are one of the most structured teams in the NBA, they execute their flex offense with a precision no team in the Association can match. Crisp passes, plenty of off-the ball movement, flashes into the high post, back door cuts. It tore apart the Denver Nuggets in the first round, because the Jazz are disciplined offense and the Nuggets (especially without George Karl screaming at them) are an undisciplined team.

But the system has not worked on the Lakers. For two straight games the Lakers have held the Jazz under their offensive efficiency numbers for the regular season. Why? Because the Lakers are a team of long arms and bodies — there is a lot less space to slip that pass through to a backdoor cutter. The Lakers are taking away the Jazz’s preferred offensive plays, cutting off passing lanes and contesting shots.

The Jazz need to improvise.

To beat the Lakers they are going to have to break out of the flex offense and let one of the –if not THE — best point guards in the game loose.

Free Deron Williams.

He himself told the Desert News he is going to improvise some this game, back home at Energy Solutions Arena.

D-Will did more of that in the first series against the Nuggets, pushing the ball and getting some transition baskets on the Nuggets (who weren’t good at getting back). The Jazz are going to have to run more on the Lakers and get some baskets before their defense gets set, for one.

Williams also has the single biggest matchup advantage on the Jazz — Derek Fisher can’t stop him one-on-one. What Fisher has done well so far is guide Williams toward the long-armed help of Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. (This is where the Jazz miss Mehmet Okur, a big who can hit the long ball and pulls one of those defenders away from the basket.) The Jazz need to run some high pick-and-rolls, some pure isolations, even post Williams up on Fisher. They need to exploit that matchup.

It’s not all offense, defense matters too. The Jazz need, to use coach Jerry Sloan’s words — toughen up on defense. They have let the Lakers basically set up their offense in the spots they want. Can’t do that with Kobe Bryant and Gasol and Bynum — they will score a lot from those spots. The Lakers have matchup advantages inside and they have exploited them. The Jazz need to challenge the Lakers for every spot on the floor, make them start where they are uncomfortable.

Having Andrei Kirilenko back will help with that. The Jazz need more size in this series, and AK-47 provides that. Just his shot blocking threat will change how the Lakers can attack the rim.

The Jazz will also have its big home-court advantage — a loud crowd and some high altitude. The crowd will help; the Jazz could use the energy.

Is all that enough to take two games from the Lakers? That is essentially what the Jazz have to do, they cannot go back to Los Angeles down 3-1, the Lakers are too big and too good for the Jazz to climb out of that hole. All they have to do today is win one.

The Jazz can get that win — but they are going to have to improvise to do it.

NBA Playoffs, Lakers Jazz Game 3: Andrei Kirilenko says he is ready to play

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The Jazz are desperate for some size and another weapon to confront the Los Angles Lakers — and for Game 3 they will have one. An AK-47.

Andrei Kirilenko said Thursday that he will be ready to go on Saturday, as reported by the fantastic Ross Siler in the Salt Lake Tribune.

“I’m good, I’m ready,” Kirilenko said prior to the Jazz’s practice Thursday morning.

Kirilenko went through a strenuous workout on Wednesday, according to trainer Gary Briggs. Without a setback, Briggs estimated Kirilenko will be “90 or 95 percent” for Game 3.

Kirilenko has not played serious minutes since early March, so his conditioning will be an issue. And it’s a tough spot to be thrown into a must-win game for the Jazz and have to take on the long front line of the Lakers to do it.

But we’ve seen the results without him — the Jazz played their game, played it fairly well, and lost. AK-47 may not, likely will not, be able to change that on his own. But the Jazz will take any help they can get.