The Jazz were looking to increase their winning streak to 10 games before the All Star break, somebody should have told the Lakers, as LA decided to crush Utah 96-81 in Salt Lake.
What happened last night? Should Jazz fans be worried about the apparant lack of interest to play hard displayed my the majority of the Jazz team?
I don't think so.
After winning in Los Angeles against the Clippers on Tuesday night Utah played with very little effort and intensity last night against the Lakers, playing without Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum.
The reality of the situation is that the Jazz got back to Salt Lake City very late Tuesday night and just didn't have enough energy to keep up with a Laker squad intent on running every chance they got. Utah just couldn't keep up. Jazz fans shouldn't worry too much, this is still a really good team that just didn't have it last night.
The game was close through most of the First quarter, with the Lakers leading 19-18 with only a few minutes left LA turned up the intensity and went on a game deciding 12-0 run to finish the First Quarter with a 31-18 lead, punctuated by Jordan Farmar hitting a 3 at the buzzer.
From that point on the game was pretty much decided and the Jazz never got to within single digits again. At the end of the 3rd quarter LA was up by 20. Utah did eventually make a 10-2 run in the Fourth to keep it interesting, closing within 11, but again LA responded with an 9-2 run of their own, all but sealing the victory.
Again, the key to the game has to be the Lakers pace, from the get go they made it a point to run every chance they got, trying to take advantage of the fact that Utah played Tuesday night and might be playing on heavy legs.
Lamar Odom continued to dominate the inside and drive to the basket often finishing with three 3 point plays in the 1st quarter alone. He finished the game with 25 points, 11 boards and 2 blocked shots, on 7 of 9 shooting. Odom was in the starting lineup due to Bryants ankle injury and knew he had to step up his game, and that he did.
Pau Gasol also made it a point to try and dominate the inside, finishing with both hands and taking good shots most the night. Gasol shot 10 of 15 from the field, scored 22 points and grabbed 19 rebounds, his second 20+ point 19 rebound game in as many nights.
Alot of credit has to be given to the Laker defense, forcing tough shots, holding the Jazz to 44 percent shooting, 15 percent from 3 point land, and keeping the Jazz out of the paint. Pau Gasol finished the game with 5 blocks, 4 in the first half, and forced Utah to settle for outside shots rather than penetrating the lane and scoring in the paint.
Utah is typically a good inside team, and usually score alot of points in the paint, on defense it was apparrant that LA wanted to stop that and turn Utah into a jump shooting team. Mission accomplished, and Utah was not hitting fromt the outside at all.
Deron Williams finished with 11 points, 10 assists and 9 rebounds, 1 rebound shy of a triple double, but he only shot 3 of 9 from the field. With Williams struggling to find his stroke Utah really needed Carlos Boozer to step up, well, Utah will have to keep waiting. Boozer scored 11 points on 4 of 13 shooting, and worst of all he didn't attempt a shot the entire second half. I almost forgot that Boozer was playing he made so little impact on the game.
AK had a decent game, going 8 of 14 from the field for 17 points 5 rebounds and 2 assists. It just wasn't enough to keep the game close.
Jazz fans shouldn't read too much into this game however. Like I said before, it was the second night of a back to back, they were tired and LA was rested and playing on another level, nobody would have beat LA with how they were playing.
Utah has to be excited with the direction this team is going and with Utah 3rd in the West, they are primed to make a good second half run and finish the year strong.
Utah is playing like a team right now, and with the Trade deadline nearing I doubt Utah would make a move at this point. The team chemistry is at an all time high right now and everyone seems to like playing with eachother.
The All Star break is here and Utah doesn't play again until Tuesday against the Rockets. Until then, have a great weekend!!!!
About the Author
Written by Danny Shapiro
Danny Shapiro is 26 years old, married and a father to 2 boys, who he hopes one day to play MLB and support him and his wife in their old age. Danny's second love, mistress even, is sports and Danny is living his dream of being a sports writer right now, thanks to Prosportsblogging.com.