Tag: Lakers Jazz

NBA Playoffs, Lakers Jazz: As if the Jazz don't have enough problems, Kobe is back

Leave a comment

nba_bryant2_250.jpgAt one point in the first round, Kobe Bryant was showing all the leaping ability of Ron Artest. You could hardly tell them apart… well, except for the hair. And the build. And the fluidity of motion. Okay, so it wasn’t that bad.

But it wasn’t good either. Oklahoma City was blanketing him with very good defenders like Thabo Sefolosha and Kevin Durant — they deserve a lot of credit for making his life difficult. But Kobe was not his explosive self. He is the master of creating his own space then elevating for a jumper where he gets a good look. But the elevator was not going all the way to the top.

It is now. He has 61 points in two games against Utah, and that is with him largely deferring to the Lakers huge matchup advantage in the post.

Through the magic of MySynergySports I rewatched all of Kobe’s shot attempts from the first two games, as well as games three and four of the first round, and this is a different Kobe. He has said as much, as reported in the Orange County Register.

Bryant said of the Lakers’ two losses in Oklahoma City: “Played on one leg, basically.”

It’s just a matter of the explosion of the moves. Kobe in this series is moving with a real aggressiveness, a purpose, he pushes his way to the spot he wants on the floor. He is spinning and driving baseline with quick moves, something he just could not do last series.

A few times — like his second basket in game one or the late game-winning layup that same game — he comes hard off the pick to find no defense there and he has driven for a virtually uncontested layup. Blame the Jazz defense if you want (and you should) but Kobe did not do that last series because he lacked the speed to attack the same way.

Last series, Kobe slid around the picks, he glided. Given space he would take his jumpers (and he still hit them with regularity from the spots he likes, such as the elbow), but he could not create the space. He was slower.

But against the Jazz the Kobe that pushes and spins his way to those spots, then explodes for the jumper, is back. He has taken advantage when the Jazz got stuck with a smaller man on him (Deron Williams, for example). Kobe is backing guys down again. The elevation is back.

Kobe is still shooting a lot of jumpers — he is not 25-year-old Kobe with that raw athleticism that make him impossible to matchup. He picks his spots now. His game has matured.

But he is getting the shots he wants again. And that makes him a very, very dangerous player.

Just want the Jazz needed. Another nearly unstoppable problem.

Sure, but can Andrew Bynum or Pau Gasol dance as well as Kosta Koufos?

Leave a comment

Sure, Pau Gasol can get you 22 points and 15 rebounds. And Kosta Koufos can get you two points and one board and barely get off the Jazz bench in a series where they are in desperate need of size.

But if you’re going to a club, going to impress the ladies with your groove, you want Koufos. Hands down. (Via the OC Register)

Quote of the day, Jerry Sloan is a graphic man

Leave a comment

“They will take your nose and stick it in the ground and turn around on their heels on top of you, that’s how good they are.”

–Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, describing how tough the Lakers are after losing game one.

Andrew Bynum hasn't got time for the pain, but will have summer surgery

Leave a comment

Bynum_utah.jpgSpring is here – humming birds are buzzing, flowers are blooming, birds are migrating to their summer homes, Andrew Bynum is injured.

Every time Bynum makes a play right now, you can see him grimace a little. He will likely need off-season knee surgery to fix a tear in the lateral meniscus of his right knee. It hurts to run, jump, do basically all those things that you need to do to play basketball.

But Bynum is going to play through it, according to Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register.

Bynum had a serious injury to his left knee two seasons ago and then a serious injury to his right knee last season. He has been wearing a brace all season on the right knee, which he hyperextended Friday night while being boxed out by Oklahoma City center Nenad Krstic. Bynum also missed the last part of the regular season with a strained left Achilles’ tendon.

Asked about the frustration of multiple knee injuries, Bynum described the first one as “the worst one,” the second one as a feeling of “Are you serious?” and the third one now as: “I’m used to it.”

He also said: “If I can play through it, I’m in good spirits.”

Phil Jackson was happy with Byum’s play.

“He gave us a really good effort,” Jackson said. “You can tell he’s limited in some of the things he’s doing, but I thought he gave us a good effort.”

Bynum had 8 points and 10 rebounds in the Lakers game one win, although it helps that he is matched up on Kyrylo Fesenko this series. But this series is not when the Lakers will need Bynum most. They will need him more in the next round — to match up with the Spurs front line or punish the Suns smallish one — and he would be a key in the Finals when the Lakers would face either Dwight Howard or Shaquille O’Neal.

NBA Playoffs: Lakers Jazz Game 1: The Lakers are a big, long team and that's a problem for Utah


Boozer_Lakers.jpgIt was feeling like a lazy Sunday at Staples Center — Mr. Pibb and Red Vines equals crazy delicious. The Lakers were exploiting their numerous matchup advantages against the Jazz, Kobe was getting into the lane, the crowd was checking their Blackberries and LA was comfortable and up between 8 and 12 points for seeming ever. The end seemed a foregone conclusion.

But this is LA, they need some drama. The Jazz kept executing. Relentlessly running their flex offense. Defending. They were balanced  (five guys in double figures) and CJ Miles and Wesley Mathews gained confidence. Meanwhile the Lakers bench did, well, whatever it is that the Lakers bench does. It’s usually not pretty.

Suddenly we had an interesting game, with the Jazz taking the lead in the fourth quarter.

However, the end was still a foregone conclusion. The Jazz’s execution does not make up for the matchups battles they just can’t win — it was the microcosm of the game, the Lakers won 104-99.

It might be the microcosm of the series.

“Unless I grow three inches by tomorrow, there’s not much we can do…”
Deron Williams said. “Nothing we can do about it, we just have to attack

The Lakers will take the win. Not that they were all that happy.

“I thought one through seven we did pretty good, but our bench let us down,” Phil Jackson said.

Didn’t matter. Late in the game Pau Gasol was getting the shots he wanted inside and he had five blocks. Kobe Bryant drove the lane and had a wide highway to the basket for a key layup.

The Jazz played the Lakers close, but close is useless in a playoff game.

It didn’t look like it would be close at the end early on. Coming off a series against the long and athletic Thunder where every shot was contested, it had to seem like Christmas for a while for the Lakers against a smalerl, slower Jazz squad.

Kobe started 6-6 from the floor, several of those coming on layups as he blew past his man and no help could be found.

“We were playing a young guy who has never played Kobe Bryant before,” Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said of Wes Mathews.

Meanwhile, coming off a series against the undisciplined Nuggets, Denver had problems with the long Lakers front line. It took away the easy shots and the Jazz settled for poor choices. Like a Carlos Boozer fade-away 17-footer over the outstretched arm of Gasol.

“We shot a lot of jump shots early on, rather than working inside out…” Williams said. “They are a way better defensive team than Denver.”

In the second half the Jazz adjusted to get the inside-out play they need by trying to go with more guard penetration. They started to attack the paint more, and the Lakers started to look fat and happy. Kobe and Gasol sat (as did Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer) when the Jazz made a run. The Lakers offense started to settle, took the easy shots.

The Jazz, as they do, kept executing. This team got the ball inside, started passing big to big. The layups came. The shots started falling. The Lakers lead started dropping and the game looked like the style that the Jazz wanted.

Then Gasol and Bynum got next to each other again and the Lakers length intimidated the Jazz. Two straight trips down they settled for and missed threes. And that started the Lakers comeback.

The Jazz did what they could, but in the end, the Lakers are bigger and longer than the Jazz, and that is something you can’t just adjust for.