Wednesday , Apr , 22 , 2009 C.Y. Ellis

Lakers Ward Off Jazz in Game 2


Lakers Ward Off Jazz in Game 2The Utah Jazz played much better basketball in their series against the Los Angeles Lakers, but as the final buzzer sounded, they still found themselves in the losing end of the 119-109  score.

The Lakers now find themselves two games ahead of the Jazz, thanks the Lakers’ offense. The Lakers shot 86% from the field in the first quarter en route to a 12-point lead. The Lakers’ superb shooting display in the first half kept the Jazz from tying the series, especially when the Jazz responded in the second half.

Kobe Bryant had an efficient 26 points, along with 9 assists and 6 rebounds. Trevor Ariza sustained his surprising start in the playoffs with a perfect shooting clip from beyond the arc (3-for-3) and 9 assists. The Lakers frontline of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum combined for 14-for-22 shooting and six blocks. Shannon Brown is turning out to be the Lakers’ super-sub with 12 points and hitting 2 threes.

I see Game 2 as a throwback to the Laker teams of the Shaq-Kobe Dynasty because they were again exposed by a shifty point guard. Before it was Mike Bibby and Tony Parker– now it’s Deron Williams. Williams had a do-it-all game with 35 points, 9 assists and 4 steals and he was complemented by Carlos Boozer (a double-double).

But what makes the game characteristic of the 2008-2009 Lakers is the squandered lead. The Jazz cut the Lakers’ 20 point lead to three points late in the fourth quarter until a a few baskets and a Trevor Ariza three-ball sealed the Jazz’ fate.

This game was a good test for the Lakers in the playoffs because it showed that they can avoid meltdowns and keep their composure when their opponents inch-in to them. Hopefully, the lessons they learned here in Game 2 will translate to better mental toughness in future games.

"Nastiness" is the buzzword for the series thus far and Game 2 has picked up several notches in the nastiness scale. Who knows how nasty things can get in Utah this April 23.

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