Tag: Lakers Jazz Game 4

Carlos Boozer had a worse day than you


Thumbnail image for Boozer_Lakers.jpgIf Carlos Boozer walked around singing some Boomtown Rats — “I don’t like Mondays” — I would not blame him. And I’d give him a wide berth when I can across him.

For the fourth game in the series he was utterly outplayed by Pau Gasol. Boozer was 4 of 11 from the floor and a -14 in the game. He fouled out with 3:31 left in the contest. He and his Jazz got swept out of the playoffs and embarrassed by the Los Angeles Lakers. That game, by the way, may be his last one as a member of the Utah Jazz.

Then the media bus ran into his truck.

Multiple Los Angeles based media members reported that the bus that shuttles the media from the arena to the hotel hit Boozer’s Escalade.

Just the perfect ending to the perfect day.

“I don’t like Mondays.”

NBA Playoffs, Lakers Jazz Game 4: Utah, now all hope is lost. Officially.


Kobe_layup.jpgIt’s a simple but true basketball axiom — good tall will beat good small.

The Jazz are good, they played hard and execute their offense well, but the Lakers were just a taller, longer team. A better team.

In the first two games of the series Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom punished the Jazz inside for wins. Game three the Jazz doubled the post hard to take the ball out of the Lakers bigs hands.

It worked. Well, except for the fact the ball went more into Kobe Bryant’s hands and the Jazz had nobody who could guard him.

Monday night it was a combination of the two. The Lakers were too big early on (and  the TNT announcing crew beating that fact into the ground during the Game 4 broadcast like they were getting paid a bonus for every time they used the word “length” doesn’t make it any less true). Then later Kobe got his.

Gasol had 33 points and 14 rebounds, Kobe added 32 — he scored at least 30 in every game this series — and while the Jazz battled like they always do the Lakers won Game 4 111-96. Los Angeles swept the series 4-0, first time ever Utah has been swept in a seven game series.

This game was not quite like the others, but that was because of the Jazz.

In Monday’s Salt Lake Tribune the sports section banner headline was, “All Hope Is Lost.” Jazz players ribbed the Tribune’s Jazz beat reporter about that before the game — then they went out and played like it was true. The team that fought through every pick in game three was going under them and letting Kobe Bryant have room. The Jazz were not bringing hard, aggressive double teams to the ball when Bynum or Gasol got it in deep, and the result was Gasol getting going early and having 17 first half points.

“Once we got down a little bit, it was deja vu,” Deron Williams said in a postgame interview broadcast on NBATV.

The three close losses before — by 14 points total — had taken the hope out of the Jazz. The Lakers looked like they were going to run away with this one, up 20 at one point and 17 at half.

But the Jazz do not to just roll over. They came out on a little run to start the third quarter and cut the Lakers lead to single digits, doing it by getting some turnovers and points in transition. Williams led the charge, scoring 21, a number the hustling Paul Millsap matched. Los Angeles got away from what they wanted to do — Kobe kept trying to hit daggers while Gasol didn’t get to touch the ball. And suddenly Utah was on a run.

But the Lakers steadied and for much of the second half the lead fluctuated in the 8 to 12 range. The Jazz just couldn’t close the gap.

Basically because the Lakers were taller. And couldn’t cover Kobe.The basic themes of this series playing out again.

Now it is back to Los Angeles for Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals next Monday. It’s the Lakers and the Phoenix Suns — two good teams.

But a matchup where the Lakers are taller. Again.

NBA Playoffs, Lakers Jazz Game 4: It's over, but the Jazz want it to be over on their terms


Bryant_jumper.jpgThree losses. By a total of 14 points. All where the Jazz had a fourth-quarter lead.

That is a tough out.

Tonight the Lakers look to sweep the Jazz in a series that is decided. The only thing not decided is how much the Lakers get before the Game 1 with the Suns next Sunday (it’s not official but you can bet that will be the day).

But the Jazz don’t want it to end like this, on the Lakers terms in four. After an improbable and fun defeat of the Nuggets in the first round, suffering the franchise’s first sweep ever would just suck. A huge let down.

It’s especially frustrating for Utah because it has been the little things at the end of games. Derek Fisher and Kobe Bryant nailing threes, while Deron Williams gets a good look after a beautiful crossover that just rims out. The Lakers bigs making key plays inside, Wesley Mathews tip just rolls off the rim.

It’s part of what the Lakers do. It helps to have Bryant and Fisher, but credit their coach with some of that. Phil Jackson forces his team to be “problem solvers,” to use Kobe Bryant’s words. In December, Lakers fans are screaming at their televisions begging Jackson to call a timeout when a team like the Timberwolves go on a late run. “Don’t just sit there — do something.”

But Jackson sits there, outwardly as calm as can be. The team senses that. He talks to his team about being in the moment, not getting too high or low. And the team learns — sometimes because they lose those close games — that they have to adapt and adjust by themselves. They learn to deal with the pressure. They learn that the help has to come from inside, not some outside source. It’s all very Zen, but when the real pressure comes in the playoffs, they’ve learned, they adapt and adjust on their own.

It likely will be another close one tonight — these teams are not that far apart. Especially in Utah, especially with Andrei Kirilenko back. And the Jazz simply do nor roll over, they will not quit. They play with pride and passion, they want a win.

There’s not a lot of new strategy left — the Jazz worked hard to keep the Lakers out of the paint, with double teams and quick rotations, they made the Lakers into jump shooters last game. They will do that again and try to execute it better. The Lakers will counter — or should at least — with crisp side-to-side ball movement to let their big men get better position. Also, the Jazz will want to run again and the Lakers will be more focused on transition defense.

The Jazz may get one tonight, you know they will try. The series is over and they know it, but they are not going to act like it.

Will the Jazz trade a key player to keep Boozer? Probably not.


The Utah Jazz will get some offseason help thanks to Isiah Thomas — he traded them the Knicks first round pick this year.

But who to draft will be the easy question for the Jazz, the bigger question is what to do about free agent to be Carlos Boozer. Sign him? A sign-and-trade with another team? Let him walk and let Paul Millsap have his job?

Ross Siler breaks down the Jazz’s options in the Union Tribune (via Ben Maller).

The Jazz could look to re-sign Boozer, but it’s hard to see how they would do so without pushing their payroll deep into luxury-tax territory again. The Jazz likely would have to trade either Deron Williams, Andrei Kirilenko, Okur or Millsap to a team with salary-cap space to making re-signing Boozer realistic.

Williams isn’t going anywhere, Okur is recovering from a devastating injury and Kirilenko is due to make $17.8 million next season. The Jazz could look to move Millsap, but consider that they’re looking at a potential value player these next three seasons now that the pain from Millsap’s front-loaded offer sheet is over.

So the question is whether the Jazz feel obligated to re-sign Boozer or to work with him on a sign-and-trade with another team that would bring them something in return? No team wants to just let an All-Star player leave, but the Jazz definitely are in a unique situation this summer.

Look for them to explore sign and trade options, but they would have to take salary back in that kind of deal, and paying a lot of tax is what they are looking to avoid. They may have to just let him walk.

Welcome to the squeeze mid-market teams in the NBA face. The Lakers, the Bulls, they could just sign Boozer as a cost of business. The Jazz face some serious questions.