Sunday, April 19, 2009
A month ago, the Utah Jazz were the hottest team in the NBA and in line for a possible number 2 seed. The Jazz had battled injuries all year but finally got healthy looked to be a threat in the West.
But things fell apart for Utah down the stretch. The Jazz had were terrible on the road and even had a hard time winning in Salt Lake City.
In a preview of this first round match up, Utah was again held in check last Tuesday night by Lakers, 125-112. These two teams met in the conference semifinals last year, with the Lakers having no problems beating the Jazz 4-2.
With the way Utah has been playing of late, they'll be lucky to win one game. Heck, Kobe Bryant could sit out this series and the Lakers would still win 4-2.
Case in point. LA was up 14 points late in the 2nd quarter and Kobe had just 3 points. Yeah, Kobe has learned to make his teammates better, ala Jordan. But you can expect to see Kobe get plenty of rest this series as Utah has seemed to lost its killer instinct.
But when ever LA gets into trouble, bring in the "Black Mamba." You can see the fear in the opposition. Everyone in the building is just waiting for him to explode. And it's only a matter of time.
With just 3 points more than halfway through the 2nd quarter, Kobe scored 9 in less than two minutes and the Lakers were up 62-40 at halftime.
It would be easy for the Jazz to just give up then. But Utah battled back and even cut the deficit to 9 points in the 4th quarter.
But LA's supporting cast was just too much. Pau Gasol was consistent putting in 20 points and Trevor Ariza came from nowhere with 21.
Bryant finished with a "quiet" 24 points, 8 dimes and 4 rebounds.
For Utah, Carlos Boozer was solid leading the Jazz with 27 points and 9 rebounds.
Deron Williams was sick distributing the ball giving out 17 dimes, but the all star point guard was just 4-14 from the field and 0-4 from downtown and finished with 16 points.